Numinous Official Wang
Origin of Numinous Official Wang
Numinous Official Wang ( 王靈官 Wangling Guan ), also known as the Perfect Sovereign of Great Kindness ( 隆恩真君 Long’en Zhenjun ), was a Heavenly General of the Jade Pivot Fire Office ( 玉樞火府 Yushu Huofu ). The chapter 'Records of Etiquette" in the History of the Ming Dynasty says: 'The Perfect Sovereign of Great Kindness refers to Numinous Official Wang, a Heavenly General of the Jade Pivot Fire Office, who followed Perfect Sovereign Sa and learnt Talismanic Skills. During the Yongle reign, because Zhou Side was good at teaching the Skills of Numinous Officials, the Temple of the Heavenly General ( 天將廟 Tianjang Miao ) and the Hall of Patriarchs ( 祖師殿 Zushi Dian ) were constructed in the west of the Forbidden City. During the Xuande era (1426-1435), the Temple of the Heavenly General was expanded into the Great Virtue Temple ( 大德觀 Dade Guan ) and respectable titles were conferred on the two Perfect Sovereigns. In the first Chenghua year, the Great Virtue Temple was expanded as the Temple of Numinous Manifestation ( 顯靈官 Xianling Gong ) ". The book also says: Perfect Sovereign Sa's Skill became famous owing to Numinous Official Wang, and Numinous Official Wang's Skill had been revealed by Zhou Side. The skill actually originated from the false tradition alleged by people like Lin Linshu". According to the biographies of immortals of the Ming and Qing dynasties, Numinous Official Wang's name was originally Wang E. As a spirit worshiped in temples of Fuliang, Xiangying area, he used to force locals to provide him little boys and girls to eat. Afterwards, Sa Shoujian, who was a disciple of Perfect Man Xuqing, the 30th generation Celestial Master, burned his eyes into Fiery Eyes and Diamond Pupils ( 火眼金睛 Huoyan Jinjing ) with a Flying Talisman. Wang E felt so angry that he sued to the Celestial Court. The Jade Emperor gave him discerning eyes and a golden whip, permitting him to follow Perfect Man Sa and detect his wrong doings, which would give him a chance to avenge himself on Perfect Man Sa. In the following twelve years, Wang E oversaw Sa with his discerning eyes, but he found no fault. After that, he came to Fujian to follow Perfect Man Sa, acting as his assistant. Perfect Man Sa changed his personal name E, which means 'the bad', into Shan, 'the good'. So since then his name was Wang Shan. Perfect Man Sa reported it to the Celestial Court. Wang Shan was designated as Thunder Office Ruler of the Three-and-Five Fire Cart ( 雷部三五火車雷公 Leibu Sanwu Huoche Leigong ), and was also popularly known as Numinous Official of Clarity and Brilliance ( 豁落靈官 Huoluo Lingguan ).
Protector of Skills and Altars
In most Daoist temples, Numinous Official Wang's statues depict a red-faced warrior with a warping goatee, his long-toothed mouth open, wearing a suit of armor, a iron whip in his hand. Normally, Numinous Official Wang's statues faced the gates of temples because, with the help of his Fiery Eyes and Diamond Pupils, he was good at telling the false from the true. That was the reason why Numinous Official Wang was considered to be the protector of Daoist Skills and Altars. During the Yongle era of the Ming dynasty (1403-1424), Zhou Side, a Daoist in Hangzhou, claimed that he had been taught Numinous Official Skills and that spirits had descended into his body. Some people came to him and prayed for their wishes, which were all realized. So Zhou Side became incredibly famous in the capital city. He had the Temple of the Heavenly General and Patriarch Sa Hall constructed in the west of the Forbidden City. Numinous Official Wang was considered to be the Heavenly General of the Fire Office, acting as leader of the 26 heavenly generals in the Celestial Court. During the Xuande era (1426-1435), the Temple of the Heavenly General was changed into the Fire Virtue Temple, where sacrificial activities were held on due festivals.
Worship for Numinous Official Wang
Because the halls dedicated to Numinous Official Wang were normally located at the gates of Daoist temples, Daoist believers used to worship Wang first, while entering the gates. As an exception, people in Fujian area worshiped Wang as Heavenly General and constructed temples exclusively dedicated to him, which were known as Temples of Heavenly General. It is said that Numinous Official Wang was born on the 13th day of the sixth lunar month (in another version, on the 23rd day of the sixth lunar month). On his birthday, a lot of Daoist believers normally thronged Daoist temples, and held sacrificial activities to worship Numinous Official Wang.