The Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud
Origins of the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud
The Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud, also known as the Heavenly Immortal Jade Maiden of East Mt. Tai, is commonly called the "Mt Tai Granny". Opinions vary on her origins. One version says that she is the daughter of the Spirit of Mt Tai, and another version says that she was originally a Heavenly Immortal and a Divine Maiden. According to the Investigations on the Jade Maidens quoted in the Biographies of the Jade Maidens written by Wang Zhigang of the Ming dynasty, the Yellow Emperor sent seven Jade Maidens to build the Daiyue Temple on Mt Tai. These seven Fairies, wearing high hats and robes made of feather, burnt incense and held Ritual Offerings to welcome the Perfect Man of the Western Kunlun Mountains. Only one of them, the Primordial Lady of the Emereald Cloud, Cultivated and attained Dao. But another version says that she was formerly the daughter of mortals. It is said that during the reign of emperor Ming of the Han dynasty, Shi Shoudao, a noble man of Fengfu county of the Prefecture of Sunning in the Kingdom of Xinui, and his wife Mrs Jin, gave birth to their dignified and intelligent daughter Yuye. She understood human relations at the age of three, studied Daoist Skills at seven, and once presented herself to the Queen Mother of the West. When she was fourteen, she entered Tiankong Mountain, i.e., Mt Tai for Cultivation and Refinement in Huanghua Grotto, i.e., the Stone Chamber of the Mountain Peak. Three years later when she succeeded in Refining Elixirs, the original Essential Matter was brought into existence and the light was given off. Hence she filled Mt Tai with her soul, and became the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud, the Goddess of Mt Tai. It is recorded that there is a goddess on Mt Tai in the books Jottings of Rarities and Miscellaneous Stories and Investigations into the Divine of the Jin dynasty. But it was during the reign of emperor Zhen of the Northern Song dynasty that the Goddess of Mt Tai received her title. According to Casual Chats in the Pine Hut, there were carved Golden Boys and Jade Maidens on the mountain before the reign of emperor Rensheng of the Han dynasty. But during the Five Dynasties, the hall collapsed and the statues fell, the statue of the boy breaking to pieces and the statue of the maiden sinking into a pool. Later, emperor Zhen of the Song dynasty went to the east to hold sacrificial rites, and when he returned, he stayed in the imperial tent. When he washed his hands in the pool, a stone statue emerged, which, after being taken out of water and washed, was found to be the statue of the Jade Maiden. So the emperor ordered officials concerned to build a shrine to worship her, named her Daughter of the Saintly Emperor, granted her the title "Heavenly Immortal Jade Maiden and Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud". The shrine was called the Shrine of Revelation of Truth, which should be regarded as the origin of today's Shrine of the Emerald Cloud on the summit of Mt Tai. It was extended into a temple during the years of Chenghua of the Ming dynasty. Its name was changed into the Temple of Numinous Correspondence during the years of Hongzhi, and later changed again to the Shrine of the Emerald Cloud.
Influence on the people
The Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud, who was ordained as Immortal Perfect Woman, commanded the heavenly generals and divine soldiers in the mansion of Mt Tai to inspect all the virtuous and evil deeds and life and death in the human world by order of the Jade Emperor. She had vast magic powers, cured the sick and saved patients, and protected all the affairs of farming, trade, travel and marriage. It is said among the people that one of the statues of the maids of the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud holds an infant in her arms. It indicates that the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud protects the health and safety of women and children in secret, so as to make the barren become pregnant and the pregnant have a natural delivery.
Since the Ming and Qing dynasties and up to this day, the popular worship of the Granny of Mt Tai has always been quite prosperous. The birthday of the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud is on the 18th day of the fourth lunar month, around which spring has come and the flowers are in blossom in the area of Mt Tai. Pilgrims who ascend to the top of the mountain to burn incense and offer sacrifices to the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud, and devotees who make and redeem vows crowd every place from the foot to the top of the mountain. There are many temples in the north where the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud is enshrined. It is said in the District Gazetteer of Wanping and other sources that in old days, the temple fair to celebrate the divine birth of the Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud was held from the tenth to the eighteenth day of the fourth lunar month in the area of the High Bridge and Miaofeng Mountain in Wanping, Beijing. Throngs of visitors went there in an endless stream, and "women of the whole city went to resort to her and prayed that they would bear children".