Matsu is a Chinese goddess that protects fisherman and sailors from dangers of the sea. As a mortal, Matsu learned how to swim at the age of 15 and quickly became one of the best swimmers in her village, eventually becoming a guide to sailors and fishermen by wearing red garments on the shore to attract their attention back to the village. On the night of a storm, Matsu's brother and father were out at sea fishing. Their boat broke and they started to drown. Realizing that they were in danger, Matsu fell into a trance and tried to guide them back home. As she was doing so, her mother found her and awakened her from her trance. Though she was successful in helping her father home, her brother drowned.
After her death, the families of many fishermen and sailors began to pray to Matsu in honour of her acts of courage in trying to save those at sea. Worship of her spread quickly. Much of her popularity in comparison to other sea deities resulted from her role as a copmassionate motherly protectors in contrast to authoritarian father figures like the Dragon Kings. However Matsu is unique as she is portrayed as both authoritative deity and a compassionate being.