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Dedicated to the Goddess of the sea at a naval defensive position

 

 

Name: Tian Hou Temple, Dapeng Fortress, Dapeng Town, Longgang, Shenzhen, Guangdong, CHina PRC
Main figure/s: Tian Hou (also called Matsu, Masu), Empress of Heaven and Goddess of the Sea
Other figures: Two statues of Men Shen, the usual two guardians, and a host of small unidentified figures
"History":   Unknown, but Dapeng Fortress in which it is located dates to 1394, and veneration of Tian Hou in China started long before that. With the fortress's seaside location, and the naval activities of some inhabitants, it is likely that the foundation of the temple dates near the founding of the fortress, and could even precede it.
Description:   The temple has no exterior grounds.  It is a "two hall, one courtyard" type, though the courtyard is covered.  The central opening is rather square, creating a kind of "smoke tower."  It is situated over a large, squarish offering table (B).  As one enters the front door, this table first catches the eye; the main figure of Tian Hou (A) is remote and in relative darkness.  On either side of the entrance hall, small figures of the Men Shen(C, D) stand against the side walls, facing the visitor; one must literally cross between their blades to enter.  On either side of the offering table are the usual figures of Shun Feng Er and Chien Li Yen (E, F).  In addition, there are three bays or boxes on each side of the main figure: two against the side walls, and one against the back wall.  The ones against the back wall (I, J) contain three figures each.  Moving away from the main figure, the ones at the rear of the side wall (H, K) contain six figures each, and the ones nearer the front on the side wall (G, L) contain one figure each.  The identity of these figures is unknown.  The single figures (G, L) are male, and are clearly officials; the group of three on the right (J) are also male, and may be the "San Shen" (Three Gods) of Taoism (the one on the left has a Tai Ji ["Yin/Yang"] symbol), Buddhism, and Confucianism.  The remainder (the left-hand group of three (I), and both groups of six (H, K)) are female; the group of three (I) looks rather formal, but the other twelve (H, K) are clearly mothers, surrounded by children, and doing various motherly things such as suckling, dandling, bathing, etc.  A drum and bell stand next to the single figure on the right (M).
Festival/s:   Unknown, but Tian Hou's feast day is the 23rd day of the 3rd lunar month. 
Additional features: The twenty small figures are exquisite in their detail. I will spend some time trying to discover who they are!
Getting there:   Details to be added soon!
Also in the area: As mentioned, the Dapeng Fortress in which the temple is located is a major historical site. 
About the photos: All photos on this page are copyright 2004 by James Baquet

Gallery

click pictures to enlarge

The Entry Area

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Men Shen (C) Offering table (B) Men Shen (D)

  The Main Figures

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Shun Feng Er (E) Tian Hou (A) Chien Li Yen (F)

  The Smaller Figures

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Official? (G) Mothers? (H) Officials? (I)

  

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San Shen? (J) Mothers? (K) Official? (L) 

  

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