Archives for posts with tag: fisherman


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.

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

H300x W190mm, China

The fisherman is one of the fundamental role in old agricultural based China.  Fisherman, wood cutter, farmer and intellectual are the four main roles; they have been the theme for many artworks, in fact, the 4 are a collective noun “yu qiao geng dou”.  Yu refers to the fisherman, yan zi ling, Yan was a classmate of the first emperor of the East Han dynasty.  Despite numerous invitation to become an government official, he declined and remained  a fisherman until old age.  Qiao, was the wood cutter Zhu Mai Chen, a high official of the Han dynasty.  Zhu love reading, from a poor family he was in such poverty that even his wife left him but for his determination he was recognized.   Geng, farming, is Emperor Shun (the legendary second emperor, 1700BC) teaching his people how to farm.  Dou, the intellectual, is Su Qin, the hardworking scholar who would use an awl to pitch himself if he has fallen asleep at his study.  The phase “yu qiao geng dou” not only recognized the 4 roles being fundamental, it also projected a desire of the rural commoners to become the part of the officials.

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?

%d bloggers like this: