Tagawa Matsu

Tagawa Matsu

Tagawa Matsu (田川松), or Weng-shi (翁氏) (1601 - 1646), was the mother of Koxinga, a Chinese national hero, and Tagawa Shichizaemon (田川七左衛門), a servant to a Japanese feudal lord. She was a Nagasaki Japanese who lived most of her life in the coastal town of Hirado, then later to China. She was the daughter of a minor vassal or worker of the Marquis of Nagasaki.

Giving birth by the stone

Tagawa Matsu was married to Zheng Zhilong (鄭芝龍), a Hakka who frequently traded with the Japanese in Nagasaki. She gave birth to Koxinga during a trip with her husband when she was picking seashells on the Senli Beach, Sennai River Bank (川內浦千里濱), Hirado.

The stone beside which she gave birth still exists today as the Koxinga Child Birth Stone Tablet (鄭成功兒誕石碑), which is 80-cm tall and 3-metre wide, and submerged during high tides.

Tagawa Matsu raised Koxinga in Japan by herself until he was seven, and her closeness with her son is evident in some of the accomplishment and decisions Koxinga made in his adult life.

In 1630, she was reunited with Koxinga by moving to Quanzhou, Fujian. In 1646, when Koxinga was away, the city was invaded by the Manchus. Koxinga, upon hearing of the invasion, immediately returned to Quanzhou, only to discover that his mother had hanged herself in a refusal to surrender to the Manchus. Some people say she was raped and killed by the Manchus. After this, Koxinga developed a growing and powerful antagonism with the Qing Empire.

Chinese relations

In the Zheng family geneaology, Tagawa Matsu is recorded under the Sinicized name of Weng-shi. Some Chinese records indicated that this is because after she moved to Quanzhou, an old ironsmith neighbour, Weng Yihuang (翁翌皇), treated this foreigner newcomer like his own daughter.

There are a small amount of Chinese sources mistaking Tagawa Matsu as Weng Yihuang's blood daughter, with a Japanese mother surnamed Tagawa. This is unlikely, as this would necessitate either Weng Yihuang moving to Japan (but he was an ironsmith, neither a sailor nor a trader) or the migration of the Tagawa women back and forth between the two nations (but travelling of women was restricted).

In Koxinga Memorial Temple (鄭成功祠) in Tainan County, Taiwan, Tagawa Matsu's ancestral tablet is placed in a chamber called the Shrine of Queen Dowager Weng (翁太妃祠). The title "queen dowager" is a posthumous title based on the princeship/kingship of Koxinga (Prince-King of Yanping Prefecture) in the Southern Ming Empire.

References


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