From my base in Shenzhen, over 11 years of travel across
the Middle Kingdom to find what's ancient in a modern land

(more about my travels in China)

Under the Wishing Tree, Chiwan, Shenzhen

At the Tian Hou Temple in Shenzhen's Chiwan area (near the Tomb of the Boy Emperor) stands a wishing tree.

The first temple was completed on this site in 1410. Legend says that the famous admiral-eunuch Zheng He was commissioned by emperor Zhu Di to "sail west" (subject of the fictional book parading as history, 1421: The Year China Discovered America). Reaching the Pearl River Delta near Chiwan, the fleet encountered a storm and was enabled to carry on. Tian Hou appeared to the emperor, saying it was she that saved the fleet, and that the emperor was to built a temple near the site to show his thanks. Thus the temple was built, and the Wish-Giving Tree in the courtyard (or perhaps its ancestor?) was planted by Zhang He and his staff.

Today, under that tree, sit two happy figures: Tu Di, the ubiquitous Earth God (a sort of genius locii) and Mrs. Tu Di, his wife. They are surrounded by other familiar figures (like the Laughing Buddha) and actually block the view of a memorial tablet with Tu Di's name on it. As you can see, devotion is still strong, both to the gods and to the tree, often festooned with red papers bearing wishes.

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