Flag or hanging depicting Ziwei Dadi

Said to be the flag of the Chinese pirate Shap Ng Tsai but more likely to be a shrine hanging from one of the junks in his fleet. Most Chinese vessels had a small shrine on the poop dedicated to T’ien Hou. The characters say 'T'ien Hou Sheng Mu' (Empress of Heaven, Holy mother). T'ien Hou was regarded as a calmer of storms and protectoress of marine commerce, fishermen and sailors. The flag is painted with a depiction of Ziwei Dadi, one of the four Emperors of Heaven who assist the Jade Emperor. Ziwei Dadi is regarded in Cantonese communities as a major deity in his own right. He is seated on a mythical beast with a pillar behind him, holding a taijitu symbol surrounded by eight trigrams. The bats at the side of the hanging are a punning reference to good luck. A hoist (possibly a later addition) is placed on the right hand side.

Shap Ng Tsai's fleet of 27 junks was destroyed in a joint action by an Anglo-Chinese squadron under Captain John Charles Dalrymple Hay and Major General Hwáng on 20 October 1849. Shap Ng Tsai succeeded in escaping, although his ship and its flag were burned in this action.

Object Details

ID: AAA0554
Collection: Flags
Type: Flag
Display location: Not on display
Date made: 1849
People: Hou, T'ien; Hay, John Charles Dalrymple, Capt Tsai, Shap Ng
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Royal United Service Institution Collection
Measurements: Frame: 2310 mm x 3000 mm x 50 mm
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