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Tianhou - Heavenly Empress



Tianhou is a Buddhist and Taoist goddess of sailors. She is a patron of the sea and those in distress. In the latter capacity, she is linked with the goddess Guanyin. Tianhou also helps with conception and in the case of serious drought. Kublai Khan titled her the Queen of Heaven; later, she was made Empress of Heaven.

Tianhou started out as a tenth century human from the Fujian province of China, according to legend. Because she didn't cry, she was named Lin [family name] Moniang for her silence. She is credited with the miraculous saving of her brothers and others from the sea.


  • "Divinity and Salvation: The Great Goddesses of China," by Lee Irwin; Asian Folklore Studies (1990), pp. 53-68.

  • "Mazu, the Patroness of Sailors, in Chinese Pictorial Art," by Klaas Ruitenbeek; Artibus Asiae (1999), pp. 281-329

Also Known As: Tianfei "heavenly princess," Shengmu "holy mother," Mazu "granny"

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