Hainan 108 brothers 108兄弟公
During the late Qing dynasty, China was crumpling under the weight of Imperialism and life became increasingly difficult. Many Chinese left China in search of work to support their families. The Hainan 108 brothers was a tragedy from this period of history.
History of Hainan 108 Brothers
During the reign of Emperor Xian Feng (1831-1861), 109 Hainanese men left Hainan for Vietnam.
These 109 men were very good friends who look after each other and after much hard work, they prospered in Vietnam.
Dream of all sojourners; return home in glory
Like many sojourners, they worked hard and eventually managed to return home to visit their family members. This was the ideal dream of all Chinese migrants. To work hard, prosper and to return home in glory and with resources to look after their family.
Being from the same region, many Hainese in Vietnam asked them to help send their savings and gifts to families back home in Hainan.
The 109 brothers left Vietnam on the 15th day of the 9th lunar month. Unfortunately, on their way to Hainan, their ship was attacked by pirates.
The pirates seized all the valuables before murdering their victims and sinking the boat. The murdered victims’ bodies were casted overboard and only one of the brothers survived.
Shortly after their murder, huge waves and strong winds occurred near the Vietnam coastline. Large numbers of crows also appeared above the Vietnam king’s palace. The palace priest interpreted the signs to be caused by resentment over some injustice.
Meanwhile, a Chinese in Vietnam noticed a ring wore by a stranger in the market. It resembles the one that he gave to one of the 109 brothers to send as a wedding gift to his brother.
He confronted the man and a fight erupted leading to their arrest. The ring did belong to the Chinese man and the person wearing it turn out to be one of the pirates who confessed to the piracy.
The Vietnam king ordered a ritual to appease the spirits of the 108 brothers and the super natural signs soon disappeared.
Hainan protector deities
The news eventually reach Hainan and the local community built a temple in their memory. Every year, commemoration ceremonies are conducted on the 27th day of the 5th lunar month to mark their deaths.
The 108 brothers became protector deities especially on the sea and their miracles led the Qing Emperor conferred them titles.
Along with Goddess Shui Wei, the 108 brothers became Hainanese protector deities and their worship spread to the Hainan diaspora around the world. Temples to the 108 brothers and their tablets can be found in places with Hainanese community.
Temples where the 108 Brothers are worshipped
Penang Hainan Temple, Penang, Malaysia
Caow Eng Bio, Bali Indonesia