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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

Cross-Strait cultural exchange continues


15:49, December 15, 2011

TAICHUNG, Taiwan, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) -- A 130-cm-tall Matsu statue carved from emerald on the Chinese mainland has become the third statue sent as a gift between sister temples across the Strait since 1991.

The sculpture, which arrived by sea in Taichung Harbor in central Taiwan on Wednesday morning, is one of two similar statues that symbolically link believers on both sides of the Strait.

Weighing 1,500 kg, the piece was created by the Fujian province-based sculpture master, She Guoping, for a jewelry company in Shanghai. The engraving of the statue took a whole year.

It will be donated to the Da Jia Jenn Lann Temple in Taichung, one of the most popular Matsu temples in Taiwan, by the Meizhou Matsu Temple in the mainland's Fujian province. The two temples established a sister relationship in 1989.

Taichung Mayor Jason Hu, who received the idol at Taichung port, said such religious events, which he described as "an exchange of beliefs and feelings" between people from both sides of the Strait, will "pull the two sides closer."

Matsu is the indigenous goddess of the sea, said to protect fishermen and sailors. She is widely worshipped in the southeastern coastal areas of the mainland and Taiwan.

The dedication and donation ceremony was held Monday on Meizhou Island, the legendary birthplace of the goddess, with tens of thousands of believers from the mainland and Taiwan participating. Then the statue was shipped to Xiamen, a city facing Taiwan across the Strait. It left Xiamen for Taichung Harbor on Tuesday.

It is estimated that there are more than 16 million Matsu believers in Taiwan, accounting for more than 70 percent of the island's population. Taiwan has more than 2,000 Matsu temples.

After its arrival in Taiwan, the Matsu statue will be shown around Taichung for four days starting from Wednesday. The procession will make stops at major Matsu temples around the city before reaching Jenn Lann Temple on Dec. 18, when there will be an enshrining ceremony, expected to attract more than ten thousand Taiwan followers.

Another Matsu statue of the same size will be unveiled next year and be placed in the Meizhou Matsu Temple, to show that people across the Strait share the same origin of Matsu culture.

The Meizhou Matsu Temple sent one statue as a gift to a Matsu temple in central Taiwan's Beigang in 1991, and a second to a Kinmen Matsu temple in 2005.

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