Using the blockchain could increase interest in the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, which is already a profitable business in Taiwan.
The Mazu deity is well-known in Chinese cultures all over the world. In Taiwan, it has long been seen as a protector of sailors. From Taichung City’s Dajia Jenn Lann Temple, hundreds of thousands of worshippers make the 300-kilometer, 9-day trip carrying a statue of the goddess.
As a result of these pilgrimages and celebrations, a “Mazu economy” has grown up, with people giving money to charity and spending money on goods and services with a Mazu theme.
The Dajia Jenn Lann Temple, which was built in the 1700s during the Qing Dynasty, has decided to use Web 3.0 methods in the way it runs. In this process, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that are dedicated to the sea goddess are made and sold. These tokens can be used as a kind of fast-track entry pass for the annual Spring pilgrimage.
The MazuDAO NFTs went on sale in August for NT$18,880 (US$615) at the temple’s online store, MazuBuyBuy, and other places. So far, the temple has made and sold more than 2,800 New Faith Tokens.
The nine-day pilgrimage is expected to bring in more than NT$5 billion (about US$163 million). Mingkun Cheng, vice chairman of the board of the Dajia Jenn Lann Temple, told Forkast that about 500,000 people joined the pilgrimage on the day that Mazu returned to the home temple.
Cheng says that the MazuDAO NFTs are popular with younger people, which is why more people their age are going on the trip.
Associate Professor Mao-Hsien Lin of the Department of Taiwanese Languages and Literature at National Taichung University of Education told Forkast that many traditional cultural practices are incorporating digital and technological innovations.
Lin, a scholar of the Mazu religion, says that many of the group’s more experienced followers are still skeptical about the new changes.
Lin said that they like to be able to touch the statues of the gods. People who do their religion on the internet tend to have less faith that their gods can hear and answer their prayers.
Lin, on the other hand, warned that the priority pilgrimage benefit for NFT holders might not be very appealing to people of more conservative religions.
You don’t have to be very close to the statue when you pray. He said, ““They prefer the physical touch and the direct contact with the statue of the deities.” It’s been advertised too much,” they said.
This NFT project took a different approach than most NFT projects, which focus on marketing channels on the internet. Instead, they coordinated offline marketing activities to reach traditional believers.
Jerry Yan, the project lead for MazuDAO, told Forkast that many of the group’s older members “live in a Web 0.0 environment” and don’t even have smartphones.
Yan said that a telephone customer service team was needed to reach senior temple-goers, and that promotional kiosks had to be set up in front of the temple to tell Web0 believers about MazuDAO NFTs.
“Often on the phone, we’d ask them to call for their grandchildren to help out and set up crypto wallets on their behalf.”