Scripture Attendant

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Origin of the Title of Scripture Attendant ( 侍經Shijing )

The function of Scripture Attendant is a role played by a Daoist ritual attendee. No records remain about the post of Scripture Attendant in early Daoist rituals, for these were rather simple. The role of Scripture Attendant appeared as late as the Regulations and Penalties for the Use of Lanterns and Candles in Pervasive Mystery Numinous Treasure Offerings ( 《洞玄靈寶齋說光燭戒罰燈祝願儀》 Dongxuan Lingbao Zhai Shuo Guangzhu Jiefa Deng Zhuyuan Yi ) compiled by eminent Daoist Lu Xiujing (406-477) of the Southern Dynasties. The title of Scripture Attendant wasn't used widely until the Tang and Five Dynasties. Today, Daoist Offering Altars ( 齋壇Zhaitan ) still have Daoists especially in charge of scriptures.

Functions

The scripture Regulations and Penalties for the Use of Lanterns and Candles in Pervasive Mystery Numinous Treasure Offerings says that the Scripture Attendant should "manage the lofty scriptures, and clean the desks and chairs without laziness." The book Preaching Commandments for Assigning Tasks during Golden Register Great Fasts ( 《金籙大齋補職說戒儀》 Jinlu Dazhai Buzhi Shuojie Yi ) of the Tang and Five Dynasties regulates two roles for the Scripture Attendant. First, he should "cleanse the covers, put the rolls in order, and gather the books," and exhibit, arrange, and gather the scriptures. Second, he should "harmonize the voices, set an example for various roles, and thus please the spirits and men with splendid sight and songs," by preparing for chanting scriptures and singing odes. Also, according to the Supreme Yellow Register Ritual by Du Guangting of the Tang and Five Dynasties, the Scripture Attendant should, before the ritual, "arrange the Ritual Space, and inspect the desks, scriptures, and offerings." After the ritual, he should "gather the scriptures, cleanse the desks and the offerings, and keep others from the ritual altar. These are the tasks of the Scripture Attendant." Failing this, "the Scripture Attendant will suffer blame and punishments."