Commandment Plaques

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Religious Practise
Morning and Evening Rites
Refining the Vital Breath
Wandering About and Seeking Masters
Religious Discipline
Commandments of the Orthodox Oneness Sect
Commandments of the Complete Perfection Sect
Temple Regulations
Talismans, Registers, and Magic Skills
Divine Incantations
Finger Gestures
Pacing the Big Dipper
Magical Transformation Skills
Praying for Happiness and Offering Sacrifice
Summoning Spirits for Interrogation
Healing Diseases
Expelling the God of Plague
Names of the Three Fasts
Great Ritual Offerings to the Overarching Heaven
Lantern Rituals for the Destruction of Hell
Rituals of Purification and of Sacrifice to the Ancestral Souls
Rituals of Purification and Salvation
Rituals of Scattering Flowers and Communicating with Spirits through Lanterns
Rituals for Sending Petitions to the Heavens
Ceremonial Altars
Altars for Fasts
Altars for Ritual Offerings
Altars for Commandments
The Ancestral Altar of All Skills
Daoist Headdresses and Dress
Ritual Implements
Wooden Fish
Commandment Plaques
S-shaped Ornamental Objects
Magical Seals
Magical Staffs
Magical Swords
Shallow Pans
Inverted Bells
Horsetail Whisks
Large Cymbals
Ritual Specialists
High Priest
Cheif Cantor
Inspector of Fasts
Incense Attendant
Lantern Attendant
Scripture Attendant
Ceremonies to Celebrate the Birth of Spirits
Assemblies to Entice Spirits
Pilgrimage Times and Temple Fairs

Origin of the Commandment Plaque

The Commandment Plaque is a Magical Instrument ( 法器 Faqi ) frequently used in Daoist rituals of Fasts and Offerings ( 齋醮 Zhaijiao ). It originates from the Tiger Talisman used for giving orders by the armies in ancient China. The item "commandment plaque" in the Daoist Book of Accordance with Spirits ( 道書援神契 Daoshu Yuanshen Qi ) states: "it is recorded in the Rites of the Zhou ( 周禮 Zhouli ) that an ivory plaque is used for arousing armies to action. The copper Tiger Talisman of the Han dynasty is round in the upper part and square in the lower part with five characters inscribed on it, and is shaped like a dewdrop. At the back of the talisman is carved a sitting tiger and an inscription with the words: the Tiger Talisman is made like an ancient ivory plaque. Recent use of the Commandment Plaque for summoning generals takes this as its model".


The Commandment Plaques used in Daoism are usually made of wood or metal. They are rectangular lumps with pictures and characters carved or cast on all six sides. The Highest Clarity Numinous Treasure Golden Book of the Great Achievement of Aid and Salvation ( 上清靈寶濟度大成金書 Shangqing Lingbao Jidu Dacheng Jinshu ) of the Ming dynasty contains an illustration and text of the Commandment Plaque of the Five Thunders. On the front of the picture is a carving of a dragon brandishing a sword, and on the reverse side are the Talismanic Characters of the Thunder Commandment, which say: " the Right Commandment Plaque is made of jujube wood struck by lightning. It is five cun and five fen long, two cun and four fen wide, and five fen thick. It is made according to rules on auspicious days. The names of the Twenty-Eight Constellations are engraved on its four sides." The plaque is held in an embroidered bag. When Daoist priests perform rituals, they often strike the commandment plaque violently at the ritual altar when, in the name of the Heavenly Spirits or Celestial Masters, they give orders, summon wind and rain, convoke spirits and generals to descend to the ritual altar, escort the souls of the dead, or dispel evil spirits and control ghosts.