The Emperors of the Soil

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Immortals and Immortalism
The Heavenly Lords
The Primeval Lord of Heaven
The Heavenly Lord of the Numinous Treasure
The Heavenly Lord of Dao and its Virtue
The Great Jade Emperor
The Heavenly Lord of Supreme Oneness and Salvation from Misery
The Three Great Emperor-Officials
The Four Heavenly Ministers
The Emperors of the Soil
The Queen Mother of the West
The Thunder Patriarch
The Stellar Sovereigns
The Great Perfect Warrior Emperor
Imperial Sovereign Wenchang
The Stellar Sovereign of the Five Planets and Seven Stars
The Four Numinous Animals and Twenty-Eight Constellations
The Big Dipper
The Sixty Daily Spirits of the Celestial Trunks and Earthly Branches
Spirits of Mountains, Rivers, Seas and Thunder
The Great Emperor of the Sacred Mountain of the East
The Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud
The Five Supreme Commanders of the Thunder Agency
The Father of Thunder and the Mother of Lightning
The Dragon King
The Master of Rain
The Earl of Wind
Spirits of the Soil and Local Protector Spirits
The City God
The Door Spirits
The Earth Spirit
The Kitchen Spirit
Spirits of Wealth and Longevity
The Spirit of Wealth
The Stars of Luck, Wealth and Longevity
Guardians of Hell
The Great Emperor of Fengdu
The Yamas of the Ten Halls
Perfect Men and Immortals
Guanyin (Avalokitesvara)
The Eight Immortals
The Motherly Matriarch
Emperor Guan
Patriarch Lü Numinous Official Wang
The Water-Margin Lady
The Three Mao Perfect Sovereign Brothers
The Great Life-Protecting Emperor
The Saintly Founder-King of Zhang
The King of the Three Mountains

Origin of the Emperors of the Soil

The Emperors of the Soil ( 土皇 Tuhuang ) are the earth spirits of Daoism. Ancient China had a God of Earth ( 地神 Dishen ), who was the Earth Spirit in charge of Yin-Yang and creation, as well as of the mountains and rivers. The Goddess of Earth ( 后土 Houtu ), whose divine title is "Imperial Earth Queen Who Receives and Follows Heavenly Laws and Promotes Kind Virtue" ( 承天效法厚德光大后土皇地祇 Chengtian Xiaofa Houde Gaungda Houtu Huang Diqi ), is one of the Four Heavenly Ministers, second in rank only to the Three Pristine Ones ( 三清 Sanqing ). During the Southern and Northern dynasties, as the Daoist theory of the creation of the universe developed, distinctions were made between the heavenly realms where the Immortals live. The Chapter 'Three Worlds' of the Essential Secrets of the Most High ( 無上秘要 Wushang Miyao ) by Yu Wenyong of the Northen Zhou, divides Heaven into 28 heavens and Three Worlds ( 三界 Sanjie ) (World of Desire ( 欲界 Yujie ), World of Form ( 色界 Sejie ), and World of Formlessness ( 無色界 Wusejie )). Adding the Four Pure Heavens ( 四梵天 Si Fantian ) lying above the World of Formlessness, there are 32 heavens in total. The Book of Salvation ( 度人經 Duren Jing ) also describes the theory of the 32 heavens, allocating eight to each of the four directions. A commentary by Yan Dong of the Northern Qi dynasty says: "It totals 32 heavens with eight in each direction and three heavens covering it." In the Tang Dynasty, it was thought that there was an All-Embracing Heaven ( 大羅天 Daluo Tian ) covering the Three Pristine Ones, and thus totaling 36 heavens. Each of the Thirty-Six Heavens has its emperor. According to the theory of Correspondence between Heaven and Earth, Daoism holds that, under the 36 heavens and emperors, there are 36 earth-realms, each with an Emperor of the Soil. Therefore, the Emperors of the Soil are the spirits in charge of the earth realms in all directions. According to the Fasting Rituals of the River Chart of the Numinous Treasure of Pervasive Mystery, for Honouring the Thirty-Six Emperors of the Soil ( 《洞玄靈寶河圖謝三十六皇齋儀》 Dongxuan Lingbao Hetu Yangxie Sanhuang Yi ), "By the pervasive divine law, 36 altars are set to symbolize the Thirty-Six Heavens; lanterns and incense are lit and burnt to correspond to the Thirty-Six Earthly Realms."

Distinctions and Names

Four Emperors of the Soil are allocated to each of Nine Realms ( 九磊 Jiulei ), each with its own name, for a total of 36 Emperors of the Soil. According to the Fasting Rituals of the River Chart of the Numinous Treasure of Pervasive Mystery, for Honouring the Thirty-Six Emperors of the Soil, "

  1. The first Realm is the Realm of Colourful Humid Brilliance ( 色潤地 Serundi ). The first Emperor of the Soil is named Xiaojingchun and surnamed Qin; the second Emperor of the Soil is named Changshangwen and surnamed Huang; the third Emperor of the Soil is named Xuanwenji and surnamed Qing; the fourth Emperor of the Soil is named Zhongzhenhuang and surnamed Fei.
  2. The second Realm is the Realm of Diamond Brilliance ( 剛色地 Gangsedi ). The fifth Emperor of the Soil is named Shenwenguang and surnamed Wu; the sixth Emperor of the Soil is named Huangmusheng and surnamed Yu; the seventh Emperor of the Soil is named Qiandewei and surnamed Xuan; the eighth Emperor of the Soil is named Huangming and surnamed Chang.
  3. The third Realm is the Realm of Paraffin Brilliance ( 石臘色澤地 Shila Seze Di ). The ninth Emperor of the Soil is named Weishen and surnamed Zhang; the tenth Emperor of the Soil is named Boshangren and surnamed Zhou; the eleventh Emperor of the Soil is named Mingchezi and surnamed Zhu; the twelfth Emperor of the Soil is named Wenjingshi and surnamed Yu.
  4. The fourth Realm is the Realm of Humid Brilliance ( 潤澤地 Runze Di ). The thirteen Emperor of the Soil is named Yunzigao and surnamed Jia; the fourteenth Emperor of the Soil is named Bowuyuan and surnamed Xie; the fifteenth Emperor of the Soil is named Wenzhentai and surnamed Ji; the sixteenth Emperor of the Soil is named Jizhengfang and surnamed Xing.
  5. The fifth Realm is the Realm of Golden Millet Brilliance ( 金粟澤地 Jinshuze Di ). The seventeenth Emperor of the Soil is named Yanqiming and surnamed Hua; the eighteenth Emperor of the Soil is named Lingworong and surnamed Huang; the nineteenth Emperor of the Soil is named Tanwuyuan and surnamed Yun; the twentieth Emperor of the Soil is named Tongbaguang and surnamed Jiang.
  6. The sixth Realm is the Realm of Diamond and Iron Brilliance ( 金剛鐵澤地 Jingang Tieze Di ). The twenty-first Emperor of the Soil is named Shangshaojun and surnamed Li; the twenty-second Earth Emperor is named Lailian and surnamed Fan; the twenty-third Emperor of the Soil is named Lijiyuan and surnamed Zhang; the twenty-fourth Emperor of the Soil is named Sinurong and surnamed Wang.
  7. The seventh Realm is the Realm of Water Brilliance ( 水制澤地 Shuizhize Di ). The twenty-fifth Emperor of the Soil is named Chushengying and surnamed Tang; the twenty-sixth Emperor of the Soil is named Zhengfatu and surnamed Wu; the twenty-seventh Emperor of the Soil is named Gaowenche and surnamed Han; the twenty-eighth Emperor of the Soil is named Zhonglongshou and surnamed Jing.
  8. The eighth Realm is the Realm of Great Wind Brilliance ( 大風澤地 Dafengze Di ). The 29th Emperor of the Soil is named Xuanshengguang and surnamed Ge; the 30th Emperor of the Soil is named Maoyunchang and surnamed Hua; the thirty-first Emperor of the Soil is named Zhendongxuan and surnamed Yang; the 32nd Emperor of the Soil is named Shangjingyuan and surname Zhou.
  9. The ninth Realm is the Colourless Diamond-Link Realm of the Pervasive Abyss ( 洞元無色剛維地 Dongyuan Gnagwei Wuse Di ). The 33rd Emperor of the Soil is named Wuxhangxuan and surnamed Ji; the 34th Emperor of the Soil is named Lingyuanhao and surnamed Ling; the 35th Emperor of the Soil is named Shangboxuan and surnamed Zhao; the 36th Emperor of the Soil is named Lewubo and surnamed Nong.

The Great Yellow Register Ritual Offering of the Most High ( 《無上黃籙大齋立成儀》 Wushang Huanglu Dajiao Licheng Yi ) by Jiang Shuyu of the Southern Song dynasty lists the names of the Emperors of the Soil preceded by the names of the "Imperial Goddess of the Earth" before each. This shows that in the Southern Song, Daoism regarded the Emperors of the Soil as subordinate spirits to the Imperial Goddesses of Earth, with the task of mastering Yin and Yang, eliminating darkness, and elevating divinity.

Worship in Temples

In big Daoist temples, images or divine seats, often of the Imperial Queen of Earth but seldom of the 36 Emperors of the Soil, are set in the Hall of the Four Heavenly Ministers ( 四御殿 Siyu Dian ). However, in large-scale Daoist rituals, divine seats are often set for the 36 Heavenly Emperors and the 36 Emperors of the Soil. Since the Tang dynasty, with the spread of geomancy, Daoist adherents, during the construction of houses, bridges and roads, often hold rituals to respect the Emperors of the Soil and to pray for good luck and the good functioning of the bridge or house.