It is a temple of the highest standard for sacrificing Mazu
Quanzhou Tianhou temple is known as the “Holy Temple of Quanzhou”. It was built in 1196 in the Song Dynasty during the second year of the reign of Emperor Ningzong Qingyuan. It is one the early branches of the Mazu Temple in Putian. (Mazu is the goddess thought to protect people living around the sea). In 1988, it was listed among the Major Historical and Cultural Sites Protected at the National Level. by the State Council. Tianhou Temple is a representative relic that shows the world marine trade center pays attention to the administration and it is a construction for conducting religious rites and originates from local belief, Mazu.
Located at No. 1 Tianhou Road, South Gate of Quanzhou City, Tianhou Temple faces south and has a total area of over 7,200 square meters. All the buildings such as the Mount Gate, the Stage, the East and West Doors, the Main Hall, the East and West Corridors, the Dormitory Hall, the East and West Rooms, Siliang Pavilions, the Dressing Building, are all located on the north-south axis. Among them, the main hall, the pavilions, the corridors and so on are the remains of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and the early design pattern is still faintly visible.
Tianhou Temple is dedicated to Mazu, originally named Lin Mo, born in 960 A D, in Meizhou Island, Putian County, which was under the jurisdiction of Quanzhou at that time. Lin Mo had been kind-hearted since she was a child. Eager to help others, she was dedicated to the study of medical science and helped cure diseases of coastal people. Unfortunately, later she died from a shipwreck, in which she was trying to save people. Thus, she was worshipped as sea goddess and temple was built to worship her. In 1122, Song Huizong, one of the emperors in the Song Dynasty, named Mazu Temple in Putian “Shunji”. This was the first time that Mazu Temple had been officially recognized. Later, the newly built Tianhou Temple in Quanzhou was also named “Shunji” by Song Huizong.
In the Song and Yuan Dynasties, with the rapid development of Quanzhou’s maritime trade, Emperor Yuan Shizu sang Mazu as the “Quanzhou Goddess” and Tian Fei (the Queen of Heaven) in 1278. In the year of 1299, Emperor Yuan Wenzong called Mazu as “Sea Goddess of Quanzhou”, which established Mazu’s position as sea goddess. In the fifth year of Yongle in the Ming Dynasty (in1407), when Zheng He set sail to the West, he asked the Fujian Provincial Security Officer to rebuild the Mazu Temple. In the thirteenth year of Yongle (in 1415), a young governor Zhang Qian was sent to the Boni (now the area of Brunei in Kalimantan), who set sail from Wujiang River in Quanzhou. After his return, he asked the royal court to officially change the name of Mazu Temple in Quanzhou from “Shunji Temple” to “Tian Fei Temple.”
During the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty, Shi Lang went to the Taiwan Straits in order to recover Taiwan and was said to have been protected by Mazu in the bad sea conditions during his recovery. Thus, the royal court named the Mazu “the Queen of Heaven”. Up to then, it finally got its name “Tianhou Temple”. In the 59th year of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty (1720), sacrifice ceremonies during the spring and autumn were held in the Tianhou Temple.
Different royal titles were designated to Mazu during the Song and Yuan Dynasties and religious rites were conducted at the state level. Every year, officials would be dispatched to take charge of the religious rites. In 1281, an official who was in charge of the Marine Trade Office was dispatched to give Mazu the title of the “Goddess of Heaven.” This shows that the state will run consistently with the folk beliefs, promoting the development of Quanzhou marine trade during the Song and Yuan dynasties.