The Saintly Founder-King of Zhang

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The Saintly Founder-King of Zhang
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Origin of the Saintly Founder-King of Zhang ( 開漳聖王 Kaizhang Shengwang )

Also known as Revered Sage King ( 聖王公 Shengwang Gong ) and Sage King Chen, his name was Chen Yuanguang and his literary name Yanju. He styled himself Nonghu. He was born on the fifteenth day of the second lunar month in the second Xianqing year of the Tang dynasty (AD 657) in Gushi, Guan district, Henan province. Even during his childhood, he began to show his interest in Dao. When he was thirteen years old, he came to Fujian with his father's army. During the Gao era of the Tang emperor, his father was in charge of the Tang military forces in southern Fujian. After his father died, Chen Yuanguang took over his post. He commanded a small army to attack an ethnic army occupying some areas of Fujian. Fierce battles lasted a few months, after which the ethnic force was totally defeated. The General History of Fujian, which was published in the tenth Tongzhi year of the Qing dynasty, claimed that in the third year of the Tang emperor Zhong's reign, Chen Yuanguang suggested to the emperor that a new district should be set up between Quan and Chao, and that the original seven administrative districts be replaced by eight. The emperor approved his plan. He was authorized to create the Zhang district and Zhangpu prefecture. He was also designated as the highest military leader of southern Fujian and hereditary governor of the Zhang district. Then he wrote a report to the emperor, detailing the merits of his subordinates such as Xu Tianzhen and Ma Ren. He suggested to the emperor to give them promotions. The Emperor approved his advice. After that, his troops started to cultivate land and grow crops in the Zhang district as pioneers. He suggested to the emperor to establish a local government there. Since then, a peaceful life totally took the place of chaotic wars. In the second Jingyun year of the Tang dynasty (711 AD), Chen Yuanguang died in a war against a revolt led by Lan Fonggao. The emperor conferred on him the title of 'Senior Great General and Brave Protector' ( 右豹韜衛大將軍 Youbao Taowei Dajiangjun ), and ordered him to set up a temple dedicated to him in the Zhang district. In the fourth Kaiyuan year of the Tang dynasty (716 AD), he was granted a higher title, Governor of Yinchuan, as well as the memorial title 'Gentleman of Brilliance and Eminence'. In the Song dynasty, he was further granted titles such as 'King of Extensive Salvation' ( 廣濟王 Guangji Wang ), 'King of Numinous Tranquility' ( 靈著王 Lingzhu Wang ) and 'King of Accomplished Benevolence' ( 成惠王 Chenghui Wang ).

His Influence on Folk Culture

For a long time, the Saintly Founder-King of Zhang has been worshiped by people in the Zhang district of Fujian as well as by Zhang people who live in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia. In the Zhang district, worship for the Saintly King remains unchanged. In Taiwan, worship for the King is popularly seen in areas inhabited by people originally from the Zhang district. Every year, on the fifteenth day of the second month, the Saintly Founder-King of Zhang's birthday, people from Zhang usually go to temples dedicated to the Saintly King and hold worship services and memorial rituals there.