Exorcism and Money: The Symbolic World of the Five-Fury Spirits in Late Imperial China

By Qitao Guo | Go to book overview

2
Ming Taizu,
Religious Hierarchy,
and Ghost Exorcism

Two of the most important turning points in the history of popular Wuchang worship came in the Ming dynasty The first push came from the political sphere, from no less powerful a figure than the founding emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang

. This “Grand Martial” (Hongwu ) Emperor incorporated Wuchang into the imperial rituals to the (deity of) military banners (qidu). In the beginning, sacrifices to the military banners were made together with those to other deities. In the ninth year of the Hongwu reign (1376), an independent temple was built for worshipping the military banners. The official Ming History notes,

Every year in mid-autumn, on the day when the Son of Heaven personally
offered sacrifices to the [deities of] mountains and rivers, [the emperor]
sent the banner bearers and imperial guardians over to pay tribute to the
military banners. The sacrifices were offered to the Great General of the
Banner-Head; the Great Generals of the Six Banners (Liudu dajiang


); the Banner Deity of the Five Directions (Wufang qishen
); the Honest Deity Commanding Military Ships; the Deity of Golden
Drums, Bugles, Blunderbusses, and Cannons; the Deity of Crossbows,
Flying Spears, and Flying Stones; and numerous other deities such as the
Celestial and Terrestrial Wuchang in the Battlefield and Barracks (Zhen-
qian Zhenhou Shenqi Wuchang ). Totaling seven,
[these deities] shared one altar facing south. Wearing a leather cap, the
emperor went to the Fengtian Palace and offered incense there.1

1. Mingshi, p. 1302. This is just one of four occasions when sacrifices were offered to the military banners in the Ming. For the other three occasions, see ibid., pp. 1301–1302.

-40-

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