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Religions in China - Zhao Gongming 趙公明


Zhao Gongming 趙公明 is a mythological person related to popular belief in fortune as the God of Money and in health as the God of Pestilence. The religious compendium Sanjiao soushen daquan 三教搜神大全 says that "Marshal" Zhao 趙元帥 came from Zhongnan 鍾南 and lived during the late Warring States period 戰國 (5th cent.-221 BCE). When the king of Qin 秦 founded the Qin empire 秦 (221-206 BCE), he withdrew to the mountains and cultivated the Dao 道. The Jade Emperor 玉皇 therefore bestowed him the title of "Vice marshal of the Divine Clouds" Shenxiao fu yuanshuai 神霄副元帥. In iconography he is depicted with the cap of an official and an iron club as symbol of his power. It is said that he had a black face and a long beard and was riding on a tiger. He was able to chase away thunder and lightning and to invoke clouds and rain. His most important religious function was to dispel pestilence and to ward off natural disasters. He also functions as a judge who rectifies unjust verdicts, and is appealed as a god of money. In this capacity he is commonly called Caishen 財神, the God of Money. The character of Zhao Gongming as a "general" repelling diseases is first mentioned in a story of the book Soushenji 搜神記. Another name of Zhao Gongming is Zhao Xuantan 趙玄壇 "Mysterious Altar", which is an abbreviation of his full canonical title Shangqing zhengyi xuantan feihu jinlun zhifa Zhao yuanshuai 上清正一玄壇飛虎金輪執法趙元帥 "Marshal Zhao, preserver of the law of the Supreme Purity and the Orthodox Unity on the mysterious altar, with the flying tiger and golden wheels".

Source: Yuan Ke 袁珂 (ed. 1985), Zhongguo shenhua chuanshuo cidian 中國神話傳說詞典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), p. 268.

October 19, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald · Mail