Portable shrine

This monumental multi-tiered wooden shrine comprises three separate units which are all lacquered and gilded. Its rich decoration comprises figures, mythical creatures, marine life, floral motifs, and calligraphic panels. Such a structure was used to transport the image of a major deity between temples and around the local community during festivals. These processions enable the deity to “tour” the area of his/her influence thereby distributing blessings to devotees again. The inscribed panels allude to life at sea, and hence this shrine was probably dedicated to Mazu who is the Goddess of the Sea and protector of sea farers. The decoration of this shrine suggests that it was carved by artisans in Chaozhou or Shantou in Guangdong province. It was probably commissioned by a temple in the region or among diasporic communities of Chaozhou (Teochew) or Shantou (Swatow) descent.

Late 19th-early 20th century
South China
Object size: H 221.8 x W106 x D 86 cm
Accession No.
Gilt and lacquered wood
Collection of
Asian Civilisations Museum
Credit Line
Gift of Graham and Gyoengyike Honeybill