Search results for: "junk boat"


This figurine belonged to the Tanka tribe, a group who lived on junks by the bay and fish for a living.  In the Guangdong area, it said that their junks used to be tied together which stretches a mile long.  As time goes by, with development along the coastline, better living offer on land, most and almost all of the junks have disappeared.

This is an ancestor figurine of a middle ranking female, the crane symbolizes a departure from this world like the saints.


W70D60H150mm, China

This a a figure of Ne Zha, perhaps the only child deity of China.  His legend, however, is no bed time story.

Ne Zha was born in the Shang dynasty, son of general Li Jing, the miracle drama started the minute he arrived to this world.  After being pregnant for three and a half years, his mother gave birth to a ball of flesh.  General Li thought it was a demon and split the ball opened with his sword, there a boy jumped out of the opened ball.  This boy was Ne Zha, he was already capable of walking and speaking and soon became a disciple of Tai Yi Zhen Ren.  One day in May when he was seven, he took a bath by the sea and disturbed the dragon palace, the Dragon King send his coast guard to see what had happened.  Ne Zha started and argument which turned into a fight and killed the guard, the Dragon Prince came and was also killed (I wont go into the detail of his injuries …)  The dragon king was on his way to complain to Jade Emperor and got beaten up badly by Ne Zha.  The news traveled to the Jade Emperor anyway and the entire family was sentenced to death, General Li and his wife was captured to be executed.  Ne Zha turned himself in and said he is the one who made the mistake and should be the only one being punished, before his execution, he carved out his own flesh and bone to return to his parents.  Moved by his act the Jade Emperor and let his parents lived.

Through a dream Ne Zha asked his mother to build him a temple so there is a place for his soul.  Unlike Lady Li, his father is still upset at Ne Zha and punish his soul, when he found out about the temple he had it burnt.  Ne Zha was angry, with the help of his master he rebuild his body with lotus roots and now armed with the iconic wind Fire Wheels and the Universe Ring.  General Li was saved from Ne Zha by the powerful Rand Deng Dao Ren and the boy finally tamed.

In this figurine, he is holding the Universe Ring, the Fire Wheels are replaced by the typical dragon and tiger that the junk boat god rides.

Ne Zha was worshiped by the fisherman for his power to control even the dragon king who is in charge of the sea.


A chant for inviting Ne Zha to the temple.

junk boat god

junk boat godjunk boat god

W70xD50xH150mm, Macau

This dragon and tiger rider was an ancestral saint that was kept at the alter of the junk boat for keeping the fisherman’s journey safe.  The multiple faces offer a supernatural power for this ancestral saint which is an usual expression for these figurines.  Or would the fisherman had been to Bangkok on one of their fishing spree and got their inspiration from the famous Erawan Shrine?

Click here to see our other junk boat gods.

H170xW50xD70mm, Macau

I have been pondering about this figurine for a long time.  It is a Tanka god which would have been worshiped on the junk boat, keeping them safe on their fishing voyage.  But what kind of god would it be to be on a bicycle?!!  All my research led to dead ends.

A couple of days ago, I was in Tai O, an old fishing village in the remote part of Hong Kong.  I was attracted by the artworks surrounded a small convenience store, to my surprise they were created by the 84 years old owner, Mr. Lu, who was borned in Tai O of the Tanka clan.  He is like a walking history book and I took the opportunity to find out from him the nature of this figurine.  The figurine was indeed for worshiping, however it is not a proper god as such but someone in general who might harm you (giving you trouble, tummy ach, etc.)  So these people are made into figurines and offerings are made to them as if they are some kind of gods.  From the costume of the figurine, he is likely to be an official similar to today’s policeman.

Decoration outside Tokyo Store, Tai O.
They were created each year for the Chinese New Year with the corresponding animals from the zodiac signs, this was for the year of the rabbit.
If you are visiting Hong Kong, Tai O is a great place to go if the city and the malls becomes too overwhelming.

H150xW50xD70mm, Macau

Along the coasts and waterway of the southern China there is a tribe called the Tanka who reside on the junk boats.  Each family would have two small boats,one anchored for living and the other for fishing.  Wooden figurines of Gods and ancestors are made for worshiping and to offer blessing when they are out at sea.  With the decreasing number of fish and the better job opportunities on land, there are now only 1/5 of the Tanka still living at sea.


W300xH250mm, China

 A wood block print about the story of the child fighter Nezha.

Ne Zha was born after 3 and a half year, came out as a lump of flesh, the flesh sudden glows and inside came a little boy.  His father, General Li, was rather worried at the unnatural birth until he was visited by a Taoist Saint, Tai Yi Zhen Ren, who gave the boy a golden ring at that can enlarge and contract by Ne Zha’s will (Qian Kun Quan) and a long ribbon that causes anxiety to the enemy (Hun Tain Ling).

Ne Zha lived in a Chentang Pass in the Shang dynasty, a time when people was sacrificing what they have for the rain.  They made offering to Dragon King for a good supply of water for the crops.  No matter how much food they offer, they receive no rain, the Dragon King instead demand for a boy and a girl as human sacrifice.  One day, at the age of 7, Ne Zha was having a bath in the lake with his 2 friends.  A sea guard was send to capture the children as offering, Ne Zha in order to save his friends defeated the guard.  The Dragon King send his third son, Ao Bing, to match with Ne Zha and this is a scene taken from the fight

To find out who won and what happened to Ne Zha click here.

W85xD70xH200mm, Hong Kong

This is an effigy of a elder female ancestor of the Tanka tribe.  These ancestor figurines were kept at the boats of the Tanka fisherman offering them safety at sea.

Click here to see our other junk boat gods.

W100xD70xH180mm, Macau

The courageous looking figurine, riding on a tiger on the right and stepping on a dragon on the left is in fact an ancestral saint of the fisherman of Hong Kong.  For the Chinese both the dragon and tiger are creature of power, being able to control them would give extraordinary strength.  These ancestral saint are kept and worshiped on the junk boat by the Tanka tribe for keeping safe their journey at sea.

See our other junk boat gods; Tanka Wooden EffigyJunk Boat God (god?), Junk Boat God, Crane Riding Mother Saint

W40xD50xH130mm, Macau

This is an old figurine worshiped by the fisherman on the junk boats of Hong Kong, it is one of the ancestral saints – Crane Riding Mother Saint, a figurine representing the female ancestors.  It is believe that ancestors would protect the fisherman at sea.  In Taoism, the Taoist saints be believe to travel around by riding a crane.

See our other entry of the Junk Boat Gods;
Tanka Wooden Effigy, Junk Boat God (god?), Junk Boat God

W50xD40xH120mm, Macau

We have posted this form of wooden figurine (Junk Boat God, Junk Boat God, god?) twice already in the blog, but this time with a new understanding.  Last week I was at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum visiting the Picasso Exhibition (Masterpieces from Musée National Picasso, Paris), if you are visiting Hong Kong try to prebook a ticket to see, its well worth the trip.  Now I have got you all excited, well, the effigy has nothing to do with Picasso, I found similar  figurines in the local history section of the museum and here is the describsion;

“Wooden Effigies – People who lived on land worshipped wooden tablets with the names of their ancestors written on them.  Fishermen worshiped wooden effigies instead.  the appearances of the effigies vary according to the status and sex of the deceased.  The usual practice was for a family to hire a spirit medium to conduct a ceremony, and sculpt a wooden effigy of the deceased according to her instuction.  As time passed and fishing families became better educated, wooden effigies were replaced by wooden tablets.”

If this is correct, I wonder if the person this effigy is made for had an ambition to become a concert conductor.  The explanation from the museum is quite different from the one told me by the old Tanka gentlemen in the Tai O fishing village (see Junk Boat God, god?).  Would a Tanka person help me to clarify this?