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Gongtian Temple

Coordinates: 24°34′17″N 120°42′33″E / 24.5714°N 120.7091°E / 24.5714; 120.7091
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Gongtian Temple
LocationTongxiao, Miaoli County, Taiwan
Geographic coordinates24°34′17″N 120°42′33″E / 24.5714°N 120.7091°E / 24.5714; 120.7091
Direction of façadeSoutheast

Baishatun Gongtian Temple (Chinese: 白沙屯拱天宮; pinyin: Báishātún Gǒngtiān Gōng) is a temple located in Baishatun, Tongxiao Township, Miaoli County, Taiwan. The temple is dedicated to the sea goddess Mazu, who is the deified form of Lin Moniang. Gongtian Temple is noted for its annual Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage, where worshippers travel to Chaotian Temple in Beigang, Yunlin on foot.


The coastal village of Baishatun was first inhabited during the reign of Qianlong Emperor, where a rudimentary temple was built here to pray for the safety of fishermen. Towards the end of Xianfeng Emperor's reign, local residents donated money to build a larger temple made of brick, which was completed in 1863 (Tongzhi 2); this temple was named Gongtian Temple. Later, the temple was renovated twice, in 1936 and 1990, into the reinforced concrete structure today.[1]

Formerly, visitors by car must cross railway tracks and drive through tight alleys to get to Gongtian Temple, which caused congestion and traffic accidents. Therefore, in 2019, an overpass was built specifically for tourists, which goes around Baishatun to connect Provincial Highway 1 with Gongtian Temple's parking lot.[2]

Architecture and deities[edit]

Gongtian Temple is a three-story reinforced concrete building, where the first floor is dedicated to Mazu, the second to Guanyin, and the third to Jimnu Niangniang. There are also altars for Shennong and Guan Yu.[1]

The Mazu statue that is used on the annual pilgrimage is named Dama (大媽) and has movable limbs. This statue predates the temple itself; temple officials believe that the statue is at least two hundred years old.[3] The temple also owns two more Mazu statues known as Erma (二媽) and Sanma (粉面). The former's face is painted black, while the latter's face is skin-toned. These two statues do not embark on the pilgrimage to Beigang; however, Erma is used on tours within Baishatun itself, while Sanma is used during festivals in the temple.[4]

Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage[edit]

Pilgrims in Fangyuan, Changhua County

Prior to the completion of Gongtian Temple, Baishatun residents already had the practice of making pilgrimages to Chaotian Temple and other major temples in the south on foot. Unlike the similar Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage, the Baishatun Mazu Pilgrimage does not have a set route; rather, the route is determined on the way by Mazu and the people that carry the statue. In 2010, the pilgrimage was recognized as a national cultural asset.[5]


  1. ^ a b 通霄鎮志 (in Chinese (Taiwan)). 苗栗縣通霄鎮公所. 2001. pp. 560–561. Retrieved 22 November 2020 – via National Central Library.
  2. ^ 何冠嫻 (4 November 2019). "白沙屯拱天路千里眼、順風耳石雕開光點眼保佑平安" (in Chinese (Taiwan)). China Times. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  3. ^ "歷史年代難考據 白沙屯拱天宮的媽祖與將軍" (in Chinese (Taiwan)). SET Taiwan. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  4. ^ 葉蒼秀 (19 May 2015). "拱天宮 北港徒步進香 百年歷史" (in Chinese (Taiwan)). China Daily News. Retrieved 22 November 2020.
  5. ^ "白沙屯媽祖進香". 重要民俗文化資產導覽系統 (in Chinese (Taiwan)). Bureau of Cultural Heritage. Retrieved 22 November 2020.