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Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 www.brill.nl/tpao

Ming Princes and Daoist Ritual

Richard G. Wang*
(University of Florida)

This essay explores the relationship between the patronage of Ming princes and local
Daoism, focusing on ritual. While the role of Ming princes in local religion is an
under-appreciated subject, this essay demonstrates that their support is crucial to our
understanding of Daoism during that period. The efforts of princes made local Daoist
ritual visible. In fact, they occupied an important role in propagating Daoism as an
element of cultural and religious identity. Moreover, by different approaches to Daoist
ritual, the Ming princes represented the various religious and social needs of lay patrons
in the local community.

Cet article explore la relation entre le patronage des princes Ming et le taosme local,
en sattachant plus particulirement au rituel. Alors quon tend sous-estimer le rle
des princes Ming dans le domaine des religions locales, larticle montre que prendre en
compte leur soutien est dcisif pour notre comprhension du taosme pendant cette
priode. Les efforts des princes ont rendu visible les rituels taostes au niveau local. Ils
ont en fait jou un rle important dans la propagation du taosme comme lment
didentit culturelle et religieuse. En outre, par leurs approches diffrentes du rituel
taoste les princes Ming taient reprsentatifs de la varit des demandes religieuses et
sociales des laques au sein de la communaut locale.

Ming princes, Daoist ritual, Divine Music Abbey, patron, ordination

* I wish to express my gratitude to Vincent Goossaert and Ken Dean for their invaluable
suggestions. I also thank John Lagerwey for having provided me with generous comments.
Finalizing this article was supported by a grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation
for International Scholarly Exchange.

Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2009 DOI: 10.1163/008254309X12586659061488

52 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

Besides studying the thought of some Daoist thinkers and being
interested in Daoist sects, scholars of Ming Daoism have paid particular
attention to the interaction between the court and certain Daoist priests
and to the political results of such interaction. That is to say, the focus
has been on either emperors or Daoist masters. Yet in the Ming era a
special group of people patronized Daoism and Daoist establishments:
they were the members of the imperial clan who were enfeoffed as
princes (wang ). Edward Farmer rightly observes that, together
with the military nobility, the status of the Ming princes was hereditary,
and they outranked the civil officials in ceremonial and social standing.1
This group was so large that the princely estates (wangzhuang )
granted to them, or established by them, were economically quite
Ming princes played an important cultural role as well by promoting
the development of local religions.3 The relationship between their
group and religions, in particular local religions, has received very little
academic attention. This essay explores the interaction between Ming
princes as religious patrons and local Daoism, focusing on ritual
institutions and practice. I will first examine the Ming princely
patronage of Daoism focusing on princely ritual institutions, including
the Divine Music institution. Then I will discuss three groups of
Ming princes: those who joined the Daoist order by receiving ordination
or were initiated into the neidan lineages; the activist patrons; and
ordinary patrons. Although I will be only dealing with ritual, it should
be noted that the Ming princely patronage of Daoism included many
other aspects, such as writing books on and practicing Daoist self-
cultivation; princely printing, collecting, handcopying or reading of
Daoist canonical books; patronage of temples; participation in religious
associations; friendship with Daoists; literary patronage; and the

Farmer, Early Ming Government, p. 58. See also Hucker, Ming Government, p. 29.
For a general discussion of Ming princely estates, see Shimizu, Mindai tochi seidoshi,
pp. 15-36, 44-90, 157-204; Wan Guoding, Mingdai zhuangtian, pp. 295-310; Zheng
Kesheng, Mingdai zhengzheng, pp. 87-184, 205-221; Wang Yuquan, Mingdai de wang-
fu zhuangtian, pp. 110-242; Li Longqian, Mingdai zhuangtian de fazhan, pp. 346-430;
Huang Miantang, Mingshi guanjian, pp. 159-233.
For a discussion of the cultural impact of Ming princes, see Du Yue, Mingdai zongshi
de wenhua chengjiu, pp. 88-93; Su Derong, Mingdai zongshi wenhua, pp. 21-24.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 53

adoption of Daoist sobriquets. I should also point out that many Ming
princes patronized Buddhism as well, simultaneously with Daoism.4
This essay argues that, while the promotion of Daoism was a national
policy of the Ming court, in particular during the Jiajing reign
(1522-66), the activities and maintenance of local Daoist institutions
were the result of royal support from princely establishments. Ming
princes were barred from any serious political or military engagement,
but they were ex officio managers of state rituals at the local level, with
Daoist priests as key performers, and for this reason they became very
closely involved in Daoist clerical and liturgical life. While the role of
Ming princes in local religion is an under-appreciated subject, this
article shows that the princedom served to mediate between official
religious policy and the commoners interests.
In the Ming tradition, all the sons of an emperor, with the exception
of the crown prince, were invested as Imperial Princes (qinwang ).
The eldest son by the principal wife of an imperial prince became his
Designated Heir (shizi ); other sons were entitled to the lesser title
of Commandery Prince (junwang ). In turn, the eldest son by the
principal wife of a commandery prince became Designated Heir of the
Commandery Prince (junwang shizi ); other sons were entitled
to the even lesser title of General (jiangjun ), or Commandant-
in-ordinary (zhongwei ). In this essay, princes, and princely
establishments refer to imperial princes and their establishments, or
commandery princes and their establishments, as well as princely
members with lesser titles.5

Ming Princes: An Overview

Zhu Yuanzhang , or Ming Taizu (the Hongwu
emperor, r. 1368-98), established a feudatory institution that gave his

For the Prince of Huis patronage of the Buddhist Yuquan Monastery in Dangyang
county (Hubei), see Brook, Praying for Power, p. 291.
The justification for using the term prince to refer to these lesser-titled royal relatives
lies in that in the Ming (and reflected in the Qing), these princely members were some-
times referred to by their proper titles, sometimes by the term zongshi (members
of the imperial clan), and sometimes were simply called wang (princes) of certain
54 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

sons the title of imperial princes and enfeoffed them as a protective

screen for the imperial court. During the Hongwu period the princes
political power was gradually weakened, but their military power grew
stronger. Taizu relied on the princes to supervise and check the border
generals and military nobles who had command positions at the
provincial level. They extended the emperors representation across the
empires territory and served as a military presence. They were the
highest stratum of the military nobility.6 This situation continued
during the early Yongle period (1403-24).7 In effect, the princes during
these periods replaced the early Ming dukes, marquises, and earls of
merit as military nobles. Thus they can be treated along with the
military nobility as components of a military elite.8
After the late Yongle period the Ming government gradually reduced
the princes military authority, however; likewise, after the Xuande
period (1426-35) the Ming court further restricted their power and
rights. These restrictions barred holding military commands,
participation in politics, holding government office, and engaging in
the professions of scholar, peasant, artisan or merchant. The princes
were barred as well from entering the court, engaging in friendship
with officials, or getting together with princes from different locales.
In other words, their freedoms were rigorously restrained and they
could live only on the official stipend granted by the court.9 As a
consequence of such restrictions towards princes (fanjin ) they
often became mere idlers.
We can therefore divide the activities of the Ming princes into two
periods, early and late. In the earlier period, from the Hongwu reign

Farmer, Zhu Yuanzhang and Early Ming Legislation, p. 88; Farmer, Early Ming Govern-
ment, pp. 73, 85; Dreyer, Early Ming China, pp. 85, 149; Wu Jihua, Mingdai zhidushi,
pp. 35-43, 268, 273-281; Zhang Dexin, Mingdai zhuwang fenfeng zhidu, pp. 77-81,
90; Hok-lam Chan, Ming Taizus Problem, pp. 49-50; Gu Cheng, Mingdai de zongshi,
pp. 90-93.
Xiao Lijun, Ming Chengzu de qinwang shoubian, pp. 59-63; Tang Gang and Nan
Bingwen, Mingshi, pp. 135-36; Sat, Mindai fu, p. 255; Zhang Yishan, Duoguo hou
de Ming Chengzu, p. 52.
Farmer, Early Ming Government, p. 58; Dreyer, Early Ming China, pp. 68, 150-51.
Wu Jihua, Mingdai zhidushi, pp. 43-47, 283-290; Zhang Dexin, Mingdai zhuwang
fenfeng zhidu, pp. 81-82, 91; Zhang Xianqing, Mingdai qinfan, pp. 172-73; Bao
Hongchang, Mingdai fanjin, pp. 53-56; Gu Cheng, Mingdai de zongshi, pp. 94-95;
Nunome, Mincho no sho seisaku, pp. 429-42; Sat, Mindai fu, pp. 77, 199.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 55

to the early Yongle reign, the princes were equivalent to military nobles
with regard to social standing and importance. In the latter period,
starting at the end of the Yongle reign, they gradually lost their military
power and became decadent and parasitic to such an extent that they
could be described as discarded useless beings by an early-Qing
writer.10 In short, the princes in this later period were different from
the military nobility, and we shall deal with them separately.
In terms of their family education the early princes were fundamentally
different from those Chinese who received a Confucian education
aimed toward the civil service examinations or Confucian scholarship.
As Romeyn Taylor observes, There is, indeed, evidence that Chu
[Yan-chang] was hostile towards the scholars and contemptuous of
them. As emperor, Ming Taizu was often in deep conflict with the
civil officials in his service, and he was little influenced by them in his
policies.11 Taizu set up offices in princedoms staffed with such officials
as Administrators (wangxiang , later named Chief Secretary, or
zhangshi ), Princely Mentors (wangfu ), and so on. He
appointed experienced and upright Confucian scholars to teach the
princes loyalty, obedience, and statist values.12 Taizu also expected
the princes to have a sound understanding of military strategy, as they
were responsible for defending the imperial court.13 He apparently
paid extremely close attention to their military exercises and bravery
drills.14 As for the Yongle emperor, although he was said to be relatively
good at literature and diligent in scholarship, he still regarded the
sword as superior to the pen, being particularly fond of granting high-
sounding titles of nobility and military posts.15 In short, both [the
Hongwu and Yongle] emperors were profoundly hostile to the Confucian
ideal of the monarch in their style of rule and their policy goals.16

Gu Yanwu (1613-1682), Rizhi lu jishi, 9.22b.
Taylor, Social Origins, pp. 45-46, 58, 60-61.
Langlois, The Hung-wu Reign, p. 132. See also Hok-lam Chan, Ming Taizus
Problem, pp. 51-52.
Zhu Hong, Ming Chengzu yu Yongle zhengzhi, p. 23.
For a discussion of Ming Taizus training of the princes military capabilities, see Zhang
Yishan, Duoguo hou de Ming Chengzu, pp. 7, 12-15, 37, 67; Wu Jihua, Mingdai
zhidushi, pp. 38-42, 277-281; Langlois, The Hung-wu Reign, p. 139; Dreyer, Early
Ming China, p. 148.
Zhu Hong, Ming Chengzu yu Yongle zhengzhi, pp. 89, 245.
Dreyer, Early Ming China, p. 139.
56 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

In Edward Dreyers words, Yongle was an emperor on horseback

whose previous experience had been as a soldier, and this was the life
he preferred.17
Given this family and educational background, it would seem likely
that the princes show a deeper interest in such intellectual or religious
traditions, not completely manipulated by Confucian literati, as
Buddhism and Daoism, and take refuge in them more often than
scholars.18 Zhu Di , the prince of Yan (1360-1424, the later
Yongle emperor), Zhu Quan (1378-1448), the prince of Ning
, Zhu Bo (1371-99), the prince of Xiang , and Zhu
Ying (1376-1420), the prince of Su , were all commanders,
and famous for their military exploits.19 At the same time, they all took
great interest, and even took refuge, in Daoism. This can be seen as a
kind of natural result of their education.20
As aforementioned, the later princes were barred from holding
government office or engaging in scholarly careers. As Timothy Brook
pointed out in his study of the Ming gentrys accommodation to
Buddhism, Finding the traditional career ladder choked with
competitors, many within the expanding gentry became less devoted
to the Confucian curriculum. Not able to enter public office, they
may have felt less compelled to embody the Neo-Confucian world
view in their personal lives.21 If such was the case for Confucian

Ibid., p. 173.
Of course, even scholars who believed in Confucianism could be influenced by Bud-
dhism and Daoism. But the nature of the Buddho-Daoist impact on Ming Confucian
scholars is different from that of the Ming princes belief and refuge in Buddhism and
Daoism, which is a reason for treating them separately. On Daoist influence on Ming
Confucian scholars, see Liu Tsun-yan, The Penetration of Taoism, pp. 76-148; Taoist
Self-Cultivation, pp. 291-330; Mabuchi, Mindai kki, pp. 275-96; Furth, A Flourish-
ing Yin, pp. 190-206, 216-18.
For information on these four princes, see Zha Jizuo (1601-76), Zui wei lu, Biography
, 4.21b, 47a; Sat, Mindai fu, pp. 49-50, 143, 156, 160, 164-65, 167-169, 252-254;
Zhang Tingyu (1672-1755) et al., Mingshi, 117.3581; Zheng Xiao (1499-1566), Wu xue
bian, 12.1b; He Qiaoyuan (1558-1632), Mingshan cang, 36.1b; Wu Jihua, Mingdai
zhidushi, pp. 40-41, 278-279.
Zhu Hui (1379-1428), prince of Gu , was established in Xuanfu during
the Hongwu period. He successfully took charge of military affairs on the frontier. Yet at
the same time he piously believed in Buddhism. This can be seen as a case of a prince
who, influenced by his military background and education, took refuge in a religious
tradition other than Confucianism. See Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 118.3603-4.
Brook, Praying for Power, p. 55.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 57

scholars or gentry, it should be even truer of the Ming princes. I am

not suggesting here that most Ming princes deviated from Confucian
moral principles: this would have been impossible as Confucianism as
the governing ideology influenced everyone, including the members
of the ruling house. What I am arguing is that the Ming princes
Confucian moral training was disconnected from the two main careers
opened to Ming literatigoing through the civil service examinations,
and spreading Confucian teachings by taking disciples or lecturing in
academies. Irrelevant to the Confucian curriculum aimed at public
office or teaching positions, the princes showed flexibility in embodying
non-orthodox worldviews in their personal lives, even though
Confucianism was still guiding them in areas related to their social
More importantly, the later princes were not allowed to foster their
military capabilities or develop their military ambitions. The fanjin
institution resulted in princes who could not manifest themselves
even though they were capable and virtuous, and who had nowhere
to put their abilities into practice even though they were intelligent
and brave ().22 They were in want of
mental satisfaction, particularly, as sons unable to perform their filial
duties and as brothers unable to show their brotherly love as a result
of the fanjin system. As a prince, a son would not be able to visit his
sick father, as one prince lamented: Whenever I think of my parents
mercy I cannot help feeling heartbroken.23 The princes were not
allowed to leave their fief-cities to sacrifice at their ancestral mausoleums,
nor were they permitted to hasten home for the funeral of their parents
or siblings: it was as if they were in custody though innocent.24
Brothers were enfeoffed to separate places, so that when they departed
they cried, we wont be able to see each other this life any more!25 In
a Chinese society which emphasized blood relationships and family,

Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 120.3659.
Prince of Ansai (Zhu Zhijiong , 1427-73), memorial to Emperor
Yingzong (r. 1436-49 and 1457-64), in Chen Wen (1405-68) et al., eds., Ming Yingzong
shilu, 256.5a.
Gu Yanwu, Zhu Zidou shixu , in idem, Tinglin wenji, 2.11b.
Zhao Yi (1727-1814), Nianer shi zhaji, 32.747; Bao Hongchang, Mingdai fanjin,
pp. 54-55.
58 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

such measures no doubt brought great mental suffering and a sense of

guilt to at least some of the princes.26
The fanjin system also reduced the princes social status to some
extent. Initially, regional governors were required to call on the princes.
However, given that the rents on aristocratic estates were collected by
civil officials rather than the princes themselves, their income was
effectively reduc[ed] to a mere stipend.27 Even the official stipends
the princes lived on were directly supplied by the local administrations.
Later on, as a result,

The proprieties more and more deteriorated, to the extent that some regional
governors no longer paid their respects to the imperial princes; some princes made
friends with all kinds of lesser functionaries with visiting cards as equals; some
princes were summoned out of their households by local administrators; some
commandery princes even dismounted their chariots shunning the officials; and
some magistrates of subordinate counties and towns no longer had an audience
with the imperial princes.28

In other words, local officials no longer paid respect to the princes,

and the princes had to shun them. The ones that the princes could
befriend were lesser functionaries whom they would even treat as their
equals. After the Xuande period, local officials were able to stand up
to the princes as equals, sometimes even curbing their activities and
refusing to execute tasks requested by their establishments.29 It was not
uncommon, from the mid-Ming on, for officials to extort money and
wealth from the princes.30 A few famous scholars even thought it
beneath their dignity to associate with them.31
Mental suffering, a sense of nothingness, and social isolation caused
many Ming princes to become abnormal in terms of social psychology

Wu Jihua, Mingdai zhidushi, p. 288.
Ray Huang, Taxation and Governmental Finance, p. 310.
Yu Shenxing (1545-1608), Gushan bizhu, 3.25.
On this issue, see Zhang Xianqing, Mingdai qinfan, p. 173; Bao Hongchang, Mingdai
fanjin, p. 56.
Zhu Qinmei (fl. 1615), Wangguo dianli, 4.89b-92b; Lei Bingyan, Guanyu Mingdai
zhongqi zongshi, p. 233.
Su Derong, Mingdai zongshi wenhua, p. 24.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 59

and standards of personality.32 A number of them committed suicide.33

What was needed, of course, was some sense of spiritual consolation.
Religions then, including Daoism, became the princes natural

Ming Princely Patronage of Daoism

Ming Taizu had a family tradition of Daoist belief, and both he and
the Yongle emperor maintained a close relationship with Daoism and
Daoist priests.34 This family tradition probably had an impact on the
princes and imperial descendants religious orientation. More
importantly, as the huge numbers of people attached to the Ming
princely establishments might present a threat to the central government,
after Taizus reign the Ming court silently acknowledged or even
deliberately carried out a policy of encouraging the princes religious
activities, while at the same time continuing to pay lip service to the
prohibition against their establishing temples themselves.35 Many of
the members of princely establishments had bad reputations, or were
considered unworthy according to Confucian moral standards. Yet
those among them who believed in Buddhism or Daoism, or were
practicing painting, calligraphy or music, would be praised by the
court as the worthy who stood out above their fellows.36
In short, the above-mentioned educational background of the
military nobility and spiritual suffering and nihilism caused by the
fanjin system, along with the religious tradition of the early emperors

For a discussion of the abnormal social psychology and personality of some members
of the Ming princely establishments, see Bao Hongchang, Mingdai fanjin, p. 57; Zhao
Zhongnan, Ming Xuanzong de xiaofan, p. 106.
Examples are the prince of Tan (Zhu Zi , 1369-90), the prince of Xiang
(Zhu Bo), the prince of Gu (Zhu Hui), the prince of Guishan (Zhu Danghu
, titled 1488-1514), Prince Kang of Zhao (Zhu Houyu , titled 1521-60),
and the prince of Hui (Zhu Zailun , titled 1551-56?).
Yang Qiqiao, Mingdai zhudi, pp. 5-14, 22-25, 27-30; Hok-lam Chan, Xie Jin as
Imperial Propaganist, pp. 92-94; Langlois, The Hung-wu Reign, p. 120; Taylor, Official
Religion, p. 851; Mao Peiqi and Li Zhuorang, Ming Chengzu shilun, pp. 350-54; Zhu
Hong, Ming Chengzu yu Yongle zhengzhi, pp. 204, 206-7, 209.
Ming Shizong shilu, 82.11a. Ming Taizu, however, was severely critical of his sons
involvement in religions. See Ming Taizu, Yuzhi jifei lu, pp. 108, 115, 117-18, 133.
Zhang Yi (1604-91), Xiaowen xubi, 3.6b.
60 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

and the religious policy of the court toward the princes, contributed
to stimulate them to patronize Daoism and Buddhism as a common
practice. In 1429, the officials of the Ministry of Rites submitted to
the Xuande emperor (r. 1426-35) a memorial requesting that Buddhist
monks and nuns, Daoist priests and priestesses, and shamans be
prohibited from entering princely households and that the princedoms
be forbidden to build Buddhist and Daoist monasteries.37 Obviously,
the patronage of Buddhism and Daoism had become a widespread
practice among the princes. Indeed, some modern scholars have pointed
out that under the fanjin institution a number of princely members
were involved in Buddhism and Daoism and abandoned themselves
to nature, living a life that freed them from the mundane realm.38
To be sure, the Ming court did prohibit Buddhist nuns and Daoist
priestesses from entering the princely palaces; but the prime concern
here was not religion, it was illicit relations between princes and nuns,
for the offspring of such relations would be illlegitimate princely
descendants who might cost the court a lot of money to support and,
worse, pollute the purity of the imperial blood line.39 On the same
occasion, the court forbade princes to erect new Buddhist and Daoist
monasteries.40 This should not be seen as a direct ban on princely
patronage of Daoism, however. Rather, it was part of the early Ming
states intervention and attempt at reform in the realm of religious
affairs. According to Taizus amalgamation order promulgated in 1391
and incorporated six years later into the Ming Code, the private
founding of monasteries was banned after that date.41 But as Timothy
Brook pointed out, it was not presented in documents of the period
as a suppression of Buddhism [and Daoism], but as a means of achieving

Huang Yunmei, Mingshi kaozheng, p. 1000.
For a modern evaluation of the Ming princes involvement in Buddho-Daoist religions,
see Su Derong, Mingdai zongshi wenhua, pp. 21-22.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 7.52a. The terms here are sengni nguan . Seng
can, of course, be rendered as Buddhist monk. But since no male Daoist priest (dao) is
mentioned, I tend to interpret sengni as Buddhist nuns instead of Buddhist monks and
nuns. This interpretation is in accordance with the context of the Ming courts regulations
on princes in which any princely sexual liaison with illegitimate concubines (lanqie )
or female entertainers (nyue ) was prohibited.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 7.52a-b.
Brook, At the Margin of Public Authority, p. 145.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 61

a more efficient use of resources.42 As mentioned, the 1429 Ministry

of Rites memorial to the Xuande emperor testifies to the widespread
princely patronage of Buddhism and Daoism. There is no evidence
that the ban on the princely founding of monasteries, whether in the
1391 edict, in the same law in the Ming Code, or in the 1429 memorial,
was ever enforced. No Ming prince was ever punished solely for building
a Daoist temple. It was only in cases where a prince had committed a
severe crime that his founding of a Buddhist or Daoist monastery
might be mentioned as an unlawful side violation, together with other
minor wrongdoings.
Book publishing by princely households contributed greatly to the
print culture of the Ming. Unlike commercial publications designed
to appeal to the book market, the princely printing projects usually
reflected the personal interests of their sponsors. In his summary of
the features of the Ming princes printing endeavors, Chang Bide
points out that, first of all, they strove for the arts of nurturing
life and self-cultivation, and therefore composed and printed Daoist
works on nourishing inner nature and protecting life.43 Indeed, the
conduct of the Ming princes was summarized by Zhang Yi
(1604-91), a late Ming official and later a Ming loyalist, as believing
in and serving Daoism and Buddhism.44
Before scrutinizing the Ming princes involvement in Daoism, an
academic myth concerning their relationship with Daoism should be
clarified. According to this myth, many Heavenly Masters married into
the imperial family.45 In one example cited by certain scholars, it is
claimed that the forty-seventh Heavenly Master, Zhang Xuanqing

Chang Bide, Mingfan keshu kao, p. 39.
Zhang Yi, Xiaowen xubi, 3.6b. There is a description of Zhang Yi (alternative name
Wei , zi Yaoxing ) in the Taohua shan (The Peach Blossom Fan), an early
Qing play by Kong Shangren (1648-1718). As a Ming loyalist, Zhang Yaoxing
is a character who sums up the rise and fall [of the Ming] in Kong Shangrens The Peach
Blossom Fan. Thus, his view of the members of Ming princely establishments has a con-
clusive significance. See Wang Xianming, Liaozhai zhiyi, p. 94.
Little, annotation to Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang (Cat. no. 57), in idem et
al., Taoism and the Arts of China, p. 224, n. 14; de Bruyn, Daoism in the Ming, p. 611;
Zeng Zhaonan, Mingdai qian-zhongqi, pp. 99, 102. Little bases his claim on Pierre-
Henry de Bruyns chapter in the Daoism Handbook (p. 611). De Bruyn claims that he
drew this conclusion from Chuang Hung-is Mingdai daojiao zhengyi pai. However I could
not find such a statement in Chuangs book.
62 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

(fl. 1470s-1509), married a daughter of Zhu Yi (1427-96),

the Duke of Chengguo , who has been identified as a member
of the imperial family.46 I have gone through all the extant biographies
of Zhu Yis family members, including his ancestors and descendants,
but have not found any mention of them as relatives of the imperial
family.47 In fact, this family produced powerful hereditary military
nobles from the Yongle reign down to the very end of the Ming, and
it was not subject to the fanjin system. Obviously, the Ming imperial
family did not acknowledge Zhu Yis family members as relatives, nor
did Zhu Yis family boast of its kinship to the imperial clan. It is
unlikely, then, that they were related to the imperial house. Actually,
the marriage between Zhang Xuanqing and Zhu Yis daughter was in
keeping with a marriage pattern between the Heavenly Masters and
Ming military nobles that was sanctioned by the emperor.48
In my research I have found only two cases of Heavenly Master
imperial matrimonial alliances. The first is that of the fiftieth Heavenly
Master, Zhang Guoxiang (fl. 1577-1611), who married Xie
Zhaos (1512-67) daughter.49 Xie Zhao had married Imperial
Princess Yongchun , a daughter of the Hongzhi emperor
(r. 1487-1505), in 1527.50 Zhu Youyuan (Prince Xian of Xing
, 1476-1519), the Jiajing emperors father, was a half brother

Little, op. cit., p. 213; Zeng Zhaonan, Mingdai qian-zhongqi, p. 99; Qing Xitai,
ed., Zhongguo daojiao shi, 3: 400.
Regarding the original family background, even the most detailed biographies of
members of the family such as Zhu Neng (1370-1406), Zhu Yis grandfather, do
not reveal such a link. What these biographies tell us is that Zhu Liang (d. 1394),
Zhu Nengs father, was a native of Huaiyuan county, Fengyang prefecture
(Anhui), and an early follower of Zhu Yuanzhang, and that he was later promoted to
Battalion Vice Commander of the Central Escort Guard of the Yan Principality
. See Zhang Fu (1375-1449) et al., eds., Ming Taizong shilu, 60.6a-7a; Xu
Qianxue (1631-94), Mingshi liezhuan, 21.9a; Xu Hong (jinshi 1490), Huang Ming mingchen,
On this marriage pattern, see Zhang Guoxiang (fl. 1577-1611), Huang Ming enming
shilu, 5.11b, 7.25a, 8.2b, 11a-12b, 9.16b. For a brief discussion of it, see Wong Shiu-hon,
Mingdai de Zhang tianshi, pp. 18-19.
Huang Ming enming shilu, 9.23a.
Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 121.3674; Chang Bide et al., ed., Mingren zhuanji ziliao
suoyin, p. 886. But according to Li Chunfangs (1510-84) biography of Xie Zhao, Princess
Yongchun was a younger sister of the Jiajing emperor. See Li Chunfang, Zeng Shaobao
jian Taizi taibao Fuma duwei Guyong Xie Gong muzhiming
, in idem, Li Wending Gong Yian tang ji, 7.45b.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 63

of the Hongzhi emperor. Thus Princess Yongchun was a not-so-close

cousin of the Jiajing emperor when she was married. In other words,
Xie Zhao and Princess Yongchuns daughter were distant relatives of
the same emperor. Xie Zhao was commander of 1,500 Great Han
Generals of the Imperial Bodyguards and was in charge of protecting
the imperial palace. All five sons of Xie Zhao and Princess Yongchun
became military officers.51
The second case is that of Zhu Zhencai , the wife of the
fifty-second Heavenly Master, Zhang Yingjing (fl. 1636-1651),
who was a Commandery Princess of the Yi Principality
(enfeoffed in Jianchang prefecture, Jiangxi).52 This commandery
princess was a daughter of Prince Ding of Yi (Zhu Youmu
, 1588-1634). While the imperial court might nod at the timing
of marriage for a commandery princess and grant imperial presents
and titles, the choice of her ceremonial companion (yibin ), i.e.
husband, did not require imperial approval.53 The geographical closeness
between Mount Longhu and Nancheng (the seat of
Jianchang prefecture) as well as the Zhang familys status as nobility
played an important role in cementing this marriage.
These two cases are fundamentally different, in fact, and they do
not form a consistent pattern. In the former, Xie Zhaos daughter was
a distant imperial relative. Xie Zhao, however, was an important
military noble favored by the Jiajing emperor. The marriage of his
daughter to Zhang Guoxiang followed the marriage pattern established
between Heavenly Masters and daughters of military nobility.54 While
I do not deny the possibility that this pattern was a form of political
control by the court,55 I believe that the issue is much more complicated,
as it was related to the political alliance that existed between the

For information on Xie Zhaos life, see Li Chunfang, Zeng Shaobao, 7.44b-48b;
Chang Bide, Mingren zhuanji ziliao suoyin, p. 886.
Lou Jinyuan (1689-1776), Longhu shanzhi, 6.40a.
Fan Zhiqing, Mingchao huangshi de jiasu, p. 109; Sat, Mindai fu, pp. 206-7, 209,
Li Chunfangs biography of Xie Zhao mentions that all of his daughters married into
official noble families (huanzu ). See Li Chunfang, Zeng Shaobao, 7.47b. For a
discussion of Ming princesses marriage into noble and elite families, see Chen Jiang,
Ming fanwang hunpei zhidu, pp. 90-92.
Wong Shiu-hon, Mingdai de Zhang tianshi, pp. 18-19.
64 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

emperor, the military nobility, the religious clergy, and the eunuch
bureaucracy, as a counterweight to what Frederick Mote has called
the oppressive and restrictive domination of the Neo-Confucian
ideology and scholar-officials.56 This marriage pattern represents an
important issue regarding the marriages that were arranged or sanctioned
by the emperor, and where Ming military nobles, including Zhu Yi
and Xie Zhao, played a role with respect to Ming Daoism.
In the latter case, given the completely different status of an imperial
princess and a commandery princess, Commandery Princess Zhu
Zhencai was even more distant from the emperors family. The fact
that the Heavenly Masters family was obviously an outstanding noble
family certainly carried weight in this marriage, in addition to the close
geographical distance between the two families. It had nothing to do
with imperial policies or court politics. Therefore, we should dismiss
the notion of a so-called Heavenly Master imperial marriage
Many Ming princes were involved in Daoist affairs. Throughout the
dynasty there existed 367 effective imperial and commandery princely
establishments. 263 princes (162 imperial princes and 101 commandery
princes), hailing from all the 43 effective imperial princedoms and
from 89 commandery princely establishments,57 are recorded to have
had Daoist activities. Unlike imperial princes, commandery princes
are less well covered by historians, and the figure of 89 here does not
give us a real picture of their Daoist involvement. In addition, I have
come across 164 princely members with lesser noble titles who were

Mote, The Cheng-hua and Hung-chih reigns, p. 363. For an excellent account of
the distrust and conflict between the Ming emperor and his court scholar-officials, see
ibid., pp. 358, 362-63, 366-70, 403-5, 412.
Throughout the Ming there were 43 effective imperial princely establishments and 324
effective commandery princely establishments, that is, 367 in total. Strictly speaking, there
were 50 fief-states to which the imperial princes physically went. In my statistics, how-
ever, I exclude the following groups of princes: 1) the first-generation princes who were
deprived of their princely titles and whose fief-states were eliminated, except when they
left any rich information; 2) the first-generation princes who died youngor occasion-
ally died old as a matter of factwithout leaving any heir and whose establishments were
thus eliminated; 3) the young princes who later became Heir Apparent (taizi ); 4)
the commandery princes who later became imperial princes; and 5) the princes either
entitled too late at the end of the Ming or ennobled during the Southern Ming after 1644.
The rationale for these exclusions lies in the available information on a prince and in my
intention to avoid double counting.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 65

likewise involved in Daoist affairs. Some of these members are not

identified with any particular lineages. Given that they must have come
from certain commandery princely households, the identifying the
latter would certainly have increased the figure of commandery princely
establishments involved in Daoism. Unfortunately, compared with
commandery princes, lesser-titled princely members are even less
recorded and harder to identify. In short, the number of princes
involved in Daoism must have been much higher than the above figures
if we consider the missing records and include the lesser-titled princely
members activities.
In what follows I will briefly classify princely activities according to
various categories of patronage. I only examine the ritual aspect of
Ming princely patronage of Daoism. I will first sketch the princely
ritual and, in particular, the Divine Music institutions. Then I will
proceed to the domain of princely ritual practice per se, investigating
princely ordination or initiation rites, princely ritual performance, and
princely participation in observances, before presenting conclusions
on the importance of the princely presence in Daoist ritual in the
Ming. While I provide various scattered examples to support my thesis,
I am more interested in the institutional edifice of such patronage, and
will therefore address this overall pattern.

Princely Rituals and the Divine Music Institutions

Each imperial princely establishment had ritual places and temples,
such as the clan temple (zongmiao ), family shrine (jiamiao ),
also known as the mortuary palace (xiangtang or yanglao gong
), the Altar to Soil and Grain (Sheji tan ), the Altar of
Wind, Cloud, Thunder, Rain and Mountains and Rivers (Fengyun leiyu
shanchuan tan ), and the Temple of Flags and Banners
(Qidao miao ). Among these, the clan temple and the family
shrine (mortuary palace) were dedicated to the ancestors, the former
to the imperial Zhu clan and the latter to the particular princely clan.
The family shrine was located at the central rear part of the inner
princely city. The clan temple was located at the southeast corner
outside the inner princely city but within the outer princely city. They
occupied an important place in the princely establishments. Routine
66 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

sacrifices were made there. The Altar to Soil and Grain was located at
the southwest corner outside the inner princely city but within the
outer princely city. The Altar to Wind, Cloud, Thunder, Rain and
Mountains and Rivers was situated at the same location, west of the
Altar to Soil and Grain.58 And finally, the Temple of Flags and Banners
was located west of the Altar to Wind, Cloud, Thunder, Rain and
Mountains and Rivers, at the southwest corner of the outer city. Rituals
were also frequently performed there.59 In addition, Taizu decreed in
1373 that the sacrifices to the Five Deitiesthe inner door (hu ),
the hearth (zao ), the impluvium (zhongliu ), the outer door
(men ), and the well ( jing )must be performed in their respective
places in each princely household.60 There were also ritual places such
as the family shrine (jiamiao) in the establishments of commandery
princes, though they might not have the Altar to Soil and Grain, the
Altar to Mountains and Rivers, and the Temple of Flags and Banners.61
Even lesser princely households had family shrines.62 Moreover, a prince
was required to perform the sacrifices at the Altar for The First Farmer
(Xiannong tan ), which was located southeast outside the princely
city, as well as participate in the rite in the princely estate to rescue

It should be noted that these princely shrines and temples were located differently from
those in the county cities where no princely establishment was enfeoffed. In the latter
case, the Altars to Soil and Grain, and Altars of Wind, Cloud, Thunder and Rain and
Mountains and Rivers were situated outside the city gates. For the locations, orientations
and layouts of some of these shrines and temples in non-princely county seats, see Taylor,
Official Altars, Temples and Shrines, p. 98.
Ming Taizu, Huang Ming zuxun, pp. 394-95; Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 2.73b,
77b-78a, 4.7a-25a; Guo Zhengyu (1554-1612), Huang Ming dianli zhi, 19.6b; Wu
Hongqi and Dang Anrong, Guanyu Mingdai Xian Qinwang fucheng, p. 159; Jing
Huichuan and Lu Xiaoming, Ming Qinwangfu, pp. 45-47; Chang Maolai (1788-1873),
ed., Ru meng lu, pp. 7, 9-10, 13-14; Li Xieping, Mingdai Beijing ducheng, pp. 172-73,
277; Qi Zhaojin, Ming Jingjiangwang de jueji, pp. 81-82; Yang Shiqi (1365-1444) et
al., ed., Ming Xuanzong shilu, 13.13a, 15.2b; Zhang Juzheng (1525-82) et al., ed., Ming
Shizong shilu, 112.14a, 220.3a-b; Gu Bingqian (b. 1550) et al., ed., Ming Shenzong shilu,
86.5a; and many local gazetteers of the regions where Ming princes were enfeoffed.
Ming Taizu, Huang Ming zuxun, p. 395; Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 4.7b, 14b-15b;
Shen Shixing (1535-1614), Zhao Yongxian (1535-96), et al., Da Ming huidian, 56.27b.
The sacrifices offered to the Five Deities were ancient rites traced back to pre-Han
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 4.20b; Shi Hongshuai and Wu Hongqi, Mingdai Xian
chengnei, p. 75; Ming Xuanzong shilu, 58.2b; Jiangzhou zhi (1521), 6.9a.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 4.20b.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 67

the Sun and Moon during a solar or lunar eclipse.63 All these rituals
played an extremely important role in the lives of the princes and of
their courts.64 Timely and liturgically correct performances were crucial
to them: improper rites and ritual conduct by a prince could entail
remonstrance, draconian punishment, or even the deprivation of his
own and his whole clans noble title.
The institution of the enfeoffed princedom consisted of several
official agencies located at the princely court. Among these offices, the
Foods Office (Dianshan suo ) was in charge of meals for the
prince, the consort and their guests in sacrificial rites. The Sacrificial
Office (Fengci suo ), for its part, was in charge of religious rites
and ritual music and dance. Finally, the Ceremonies Office (Dianyi
suo ) was in charge of ceremonies.65 A commandery princely
establishment enfeoffed in a city separated from its main imperial
princedom also had a Sacrificial Office (Dianci shu ), a
Ceremonies Office (Dianli shu ), and a Foods Office (Dianzhuan
shu ), which provided the same ritual services as their counterparts
in an imperial princely establishment.66 Most commandery princely
establishments were installed within the same cities as their respective
imperial princedoms, without their own jurisdictions. The rituals at
their commandery princely courts were therefore provided by the
agencies in the imperial princedoms. But even in these commandery
princely establishments the Foods Office (Dianshan suo), or sometimes
a Foods Official (dianshan ), was responsible for meals for the
prince, his consort and their guests in sacrificial rites.67 In sum, many
rituals and sacrifices were practiced in the princely establishments.68

Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 4.16a-b; Guo Zhengyu, Huang Ming dianli zhi, 20.36a.
For the location, orientation and layout of the Altar for The First Farmer in non-prince-
ly county seats, see Taylor, Official Altars, Temples and Shrines, p. 98.
Wu Hongqi and Dang Anrong, Guanyu Mingdai Xian Qinwang fucheng, p. 159;
Shi Hongshuai and Wu Hongqi, Mingdai Xian chengnei, p. 75; Fan Peiwei, Zhouwang
yu Mingdai Kaifeng, p. 113; Sat, Mindai fu, p. 91; Chen Wannai, Zhu Zaiyu yanjiu,
p. 5.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 8.1b, 3a-b, 5b-6b, 23a-24a, 25b, 41b; Da Ming huid-
ian, 4.10b-11a, 7.45b-46a.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 8.7a-8a.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 2.79b, 8.9a, 25a, 26b, 43b; Chang Maolai, ed., Ru meng
lu, p. 18; Shandong tongzhi (1533), 9.33b.
Sat, Mindai fu, pp. 91, 325; Chen Wannai, Zhu Zaiyu yanjiu, p. 5.
68 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

In order to ensure the rituals and ceremonies in fief-states, members

of the miscellaneous corve households (zayi hu ) who had
special training in dance, music and rituals were required to provide
ritual performances as corve service.
Beginning with the Hongwu reign, five performers of music and
dance, who were Zhengyi (Orthodox Unity) Daoist priests from the
Daoist Abbey of Divine Music (Shenyue guan ) in Nanjing, or
later Beijing, were sent to each princedom to train musicians and
dancers in the princely court.69 Moreover, the Manager of Music
(dianyue ), a senior official in charge of music in each princely
establishment, was selected from among the candidates for Daoist
musician-dancer of the Divine Music Abbey.70 These candidates were
trained as prospective Daoist musician-dancers.
According to rules enacted by the state at the beginning of the Ming,
ritual services at the princely court were usually performed by thirty-
six musicians (yuesheng ), seventy-two dancers (wusheng ),
twenty-seven musicians from hereditary low-caste music households
(yuehu ),71 as well as many incense-burning ritual acolytes (shaoxiang
daoshi ),72 ceremonial apprentices (zhailang ), masters
of ceremonial (lisheng ), shop-keepers on corve duty, livestock
raisers, and butchers. This kind of service obligation for the princely
establishments was without compensation and, as a result, entailed for
many people the exhaustion of their wealth and loss of family
fortunes.73 Therefore, in 1429 the Ming government decreed that all
the performers of music and dance (yuewusheng ) required for
the rituals and ceremonies at princely establishments be replaced by
Daoist priests (daoshi ) and Daoist novices (daotong ) from
the fief-states, that is, from the prefecture where a prince was enfeoffed,

Taylor, Official Religion, p. 878; Yao Guangxiao (1335-1418) et al., eds., Ming
Taizu shilu, 165.2b; Ming Xuanzong shilu, 54.4a; Jiao Fang (1436-1517) et al., ed., Ming
Xiaozong shilu, 103.8b.
Taichang xukao, 7.16b-17a.
For a discussion of the importance of yuehu for ritual performance in the local society,
see Johnson, Confucian Elements, pp. 130-31, 150-51, 159; Johnson, Temple Festi-
vals, pp. 643, 648, 654, 661, 668, 673, 685-88, 690-91, 695-701, 713-15.
I do not translate shaoxiang daoshi as Daoists because the term refers here to a job
filled with lower-ranking ritual acolytes who were not necessarily Daoists and whose re-
sponsibility was incense-burning.
Ming Xiaozong shilu, 103.8b.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 69

while all the positions of incense-burning ritual acolytes (shaoxiang

daoshi) would be filled by those elite Daoists from the large temples
(gongguan daoshi ) who had certificates.74 This policy was
carried out for example in 1457 at the Min principality , to be
discussed later.75 The regulations also allowed such lower-ranking
princedom official positions as Foods Official, Manager of Music, and
Houseman Receptionist (Yinli sheren ) to be purchased by
the physicians, ritual musician-dancers and cooks at the princely court.76
The ritual musician-dancers as Daoist priests now were able to purchase
these official titles and become princely officials. In addition to the
Manager of Music and the ritual musician-dancers at the princely
court, some other princely official positions were now also filled by
Daoist priests. In addition, some princedoms hired more Daoist ritual
musicians and dancers (yuewusheng) at will.77
This kind of regulation on Daoist ritual specialists at the princely
courts went hand-in-hand with changes in the constituencies of ritual
specialists at central government level. Lisheng had a long tradition in
Chinese history, probably traceable to the Zhou Li (Rituals of
Zhou), or at least definitely to the Eastern Han dynasty. Lisheng were
ritual specialists who received Confucian training to perform state
rituals at both the central and local government levels. They were
functionally and institutionally different from Buddhists and Daoists.
From Tang to Yuan times, they were trained and hired at the national
level to serve government ritual agencies. At the local level they played
an important role in the elites daily and ritual practices. The Ming
regime inherited the Yuan institution of lisheng, but the Ming court
made a significant change: now it was Daoists instead of Confucian
ritual specialists that fulfilled the role of lisheng. Ming emperors used
Daoist musician-dancers from the Abbey of Divine Music as lisheng

Sat, Mindai fu, pp. 95-96, 325-326; Ming Xuanzong shilu, 54.4a; Zhu Qinmei,
Wangguo dianli, 5.46a-b.
Ming Yingzong shilu, 281.4a-b.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 8.26b, 39a-b.
For instance, in the Lu Principality (enfeoffed in Yanzhou , Shandong),
Prince Jing of Lu (Zhu Zhaohui , titled 1403-66) increased yuewusheng to
120 with state stipends, beyond the official quota of 108. But this act was later cited as a
violation. See Lufu zhao, p. 7a.
70 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

in the Court of Imperial Sacrifices (Taichang si ) and other

Lisheng were also installed at the princely courts. Institutionally,
princely court lisheng were different from ritual musician-dancers. At
first, the Ming government regulated that, unlike their counterparts
in the central government ritual agencies, lisheng at princely courts
must be drawn from Confucian students or corve commoners instead
of Daoists.79 The 1429 decree of the Ming government paved the way
to change this situation at the level of princedoms. Then in 1457 the
government granted a request from the prince of Min to use elite
Daoists from the large temples (gongguan daoshi) and Daoist novices
(daotong) from the fief-state as performers of music and dance.80 In
other words, the rituals at princely establishments, which were originally
undertaken by the miscellaneous corve laborers, including lisheng,
were now carried out by Daoist priests, at least at some princely courts.81
Due to the importance of these rituals and ceremonies, the Daoist
priests who performed them held an indispensable role in the princely
establishments and in the princes life.
A more interesting development in the institutional Daoist
involvement at princely establishments was the Abbey of Divine Music
(Shenyue guan). As is well known, the Abbey of Divine Music was
originally located in the capital at Nanjing. A new Abbey was built in
Beijing when the capital was moved. The original Nanjing Abbey was
preserved, however. It housed and trained musicians and dancers
(yuewusheng) identified as registered monastic Zhengyi Daoist clerics

For a succinct survey of the history of lisheng and its transformation in the Ming, see
Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi de lisheng, pp. 2-6; Liu Yonghua, Yi li yi su, pp. 56-59;
Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi de Shenyue guan, pp. 6, 12-14; Lee Fong-mao, Lisheng
yu daoshi, pp. 341-50. See also Johnson, Confucian Elements, pp. 130, 135, 141-42,
150-51, 159; Johnson, Temple Festivals, pp. 705-6, 711-15. I am grateful to Liu Yonghua
for sending me his unpublished research works.
Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi de lisheng, p. 6.
Ming Yingzong shilu, 281.4a-b.
The Lu principality increased lisheng to twenty in the first half of the fifteenth cen-
tury, although this addition was unlawful. Xu Hongzu (1586-1641) in his Xu
Xiake youji also mentions his meeting with a lisheng from the Gui Principal-
ity in 1637. Thus, some Ming princely establishments might have kept some lisheng
for conducting certain rituals different from those performed by Daoists. See Lufu zhao,
p. 7a; Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi de lisheng, p. 6.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 71

who were placed in charge of music and dance during state rituals.82
However, it is not well known that some Ming princedoms had their
own local Abbeys of Divine Music.
Since each fief-state had its ritual musicians and dancers for princely
rituals and ceremonies, and since after 1429 these yuewusheng were
certified Daoist priests, while the Manager of Music (dianyue) at the
princely court was selected from the candidates for Daoist musician-
dancer of the Divine Music Abbey, the local ritual institution at the
princely courts obviously copied the Divine Music system at least from
the personnel perspective. I have also mentioned that five Daoist
performers of the central government Divine Music Abbey were
routinely sent to each princely court to train the local musicians and
dancers. This systematic training pattern from central government to
princedoms can serve as the link between the Divine Music Abbey in
the capital and the local fief-states.
Now, where were these local ritual musician-dancers housed? Like
their teachers in the capital, they were installed in Daoist temples which
were responsible for ritual music and dance at the princely courts,
although under slightly different names. This was not known to scholars
until I discovered an entry about the Abbey of Exalted Perfection
(Gaozhen guan ) of Nanyang (Henan), where the Tang
Principality was located, in both the 1554 and 1577 editions of
the Gazetteer of Nanyang Prefecture (Nanyang fuzhi ). The
entry in both gazetteers reads: The Abbey of Exalted Perfection is
located outside the Yuyang Gate in the south of the city. Shi
Xuantai , Manager of Music, rebuilt it. The divine music (shenyue
) of the Tang Principality is housed in it.83 Zhang Jiamou
(1874-1941), the famous modern local historian of Nanyang
who annotated the 1554 Nanyang prefectural gazetteer, further
elaborates: The Tang Principality used the Abbey of Exalted Perfection

For studies of the Abbey of Divine Music, see Shiga, Minsho no Shingakukan,
pp. 32-45; Shiga, Mindai Shingakukan k, pp. 15-25; Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi
de Shenyue guan; Taylor, Official Religion, pp. 841, 878-79; Lam, State Sacrifices and
Music, pp. 50-51, 103-4, 115-16; Standaert, Ritual Dances, pp. 78-82. See also Jinling
xuanguan zhi, 13.1a-11a; Taichang xukao, 7.7a-9a; de Bruyn, Daoism in the Ming,
p. 596; Li Yangzheng, Xinbian Beijing Baiyun guanzhi, pp. 506-8.
Ming Jiajing Nanyang fuzhi (1554), 11.53b; Nanyang fuzhi (1577), 13.75b.
72 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

in the south of the city as its Abbey of Divine Music (Shenyue guan).84
As I have argued above, the Manager of Music in charge of ritual music
and dance in a princely establishment had been trained as a prospective
Daoist musician-dancer. In the case of the Tang Principality Abbey of
Exalted Perfection, the Manager of Music was Shi Xuantai, who
renovated this temple of divine music. Given the importance of a divine
music abbey to a princely establishment, it is no surprise that the Tang
principality renovated that same temple several times, during the
Hongzhi reign (1488-1505) and again in 1515.85
In addition to the Abbey of Exalted Perfection of the Tang principality,
which was its Abbey of Divine Music, other princely establishments
had similar temples of divine music. Thus, there was an Abbey of
Performing Music (Yanyue guan ) in the Qing Principality
enfeoffed in Ningxia Guard (present-day Yinchuan
, Ningxia). From Ming Taizu onward, the Divine Music Abbey in
the capital was considered one of the central governmental agencies,
under the Court of Imperial Sacrifices, different from other Daoist
temples.86 Likewise, the Abbey of Performing Music in Ningxia is listed
under Governmental Agencies (gongshu ) and completely
distinguished from the other Daoist temples, which are listed under
Temples (siguan ).87 This temple, then, was most likely a princely
temple of divine music.
Another interesting development in the Divine Music institution
and its princely branches was the reverse influence exerted by the latter.
During the Xuande reign, as Liu Yonghua has discovered, while
the central Abbey of Divine Music still sent Daoist musician-dancers
to princely courts as tutors, the quality of the performances at the
Beijing Abbey of Divine Music had declined to such an extent that
some of the Daoist musician-dancers at princely courts were summoned
to the central Divine Music Abbey to train ritual musician-dancers in
the capital!88 In terms of Daoist ritual music and dance, these local

Ming Jiajing Nanyang fuzhi (1554), 11.54a.
Ming Jiajing Nanyang fuzhi (1554), 11.53b-54a; Nanyang fuzhi (1577), 13.75b.
On this issue, see Shiga, Minsho no Shingakukan, pp. 38-41; Hucker, Ming
Government, p. 84; Taylor, Official Religion, p. 841.
Ningxia xinzhi (1501), 1.26a-b, 35a-b.
Ming Yingzong shilu, 25.1a; Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi de Shenyue guan,
p. 15.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 73

ritual specialists apparently had more knowledge. One can sup-

pose that some of their patrons, that is, the princes, also shared this
Liu Yonghua has also established that all the state rites, including
the most important jiao rites (, i.e. the Suburban Imperial sacrifices)
at the round and square altar (Yuanqiu tan ), the imperial
ancestor worship, the sacrifices to the deities of the sacred mountains
and rivers nationwide as ordered by the imperial court, and even the
state sacrifice to Confucius, were performed entirely by Daoist musician-
dancers from the Abbey of Divine Music.89 As a result, some Daoist
gods and rites were incorporated into the state ritual system.90
The situation was similar in the case of princedoms. For instance,
the ceremonies of conferment of princely title, capping, engagement,
and wedding for a young prince were regulated to be performed in the
capital before he went to his fief-state. The performers of these rites
and ceremonies were mostly comprised of the Daoist musician-dancers
(yuewusheng) from the Abbey of Divine Music, and also included such
ritual officials from the Court of Imperial Sacrifices (Taichang si) as
Chief Musicians (xiel lang ), Ceremonial Assistants (zanli lang
), and Music Directors (siyue ).91 These Taichang ritual
officials, although no longer belonging to the Divine Music Abbey,
had been promoted to their official positions from among the certified
Daoist musician-dancers originally from the Divine Music Abbey.92
On the arrival of the imperial prince at his fief-state, the welcoming
ceremony was performed by a hundred and twenty ritual musician-
dancers, forty ceremonial apprentices, ten lisheng, twenty-seven

Of course, the sacrifices to Confucius at Queli , the Confucian temple in Qufu,
at the Confucian shrine in the imperial academies, at Confucian temples in the prov-
inces or counties, and at the shrine to Confucius in the local schools, were different from
the Ming state sacrifices as far as musician-dancers as ritual performers are concerned. See
Standaert, Ritual Dances, pp. 85-87, 90.
On this issue, see Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi de Shenyue guan, pp. 12-16; Ding
Huang, Guoli zhongyang tushuguan cang Ming Xuande banian kanben, pp. 5-6; Seidel,
A Taoist Immortal, p. 491. See also Standaert, Ritual Dances, p. 79.
Da Ming huidian, 48.1a-3a, 65.5a-10b, 69.2a-3a, 15b-16a, 29b-32a; Zhu Qinmei,
Wangguo dianli, 1.49a-57a, 2.1a-b, 9b-39b; Guo Zhengyu, Huang Ming dianli zhi, 8.9b-
11a, 9.11b-29a; Taichang xukao, 7.1b. The regulations are not clear about the young
princes who had been born in their princedoms.
Liu Yonghua, Ming-Qing shiqi de Shenyue guan, p. 6; Da Ming huidian, 5.7a.
74 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

musicians from yuehu households, and four incense-burning ritual

acolytes.93 Here, the Daoist musician-dancers were dominant. When
princes came to the capital to have an audience with the emperor and
then left the capital to go back to their princedoms, or when they made
offerings at Taizus mausoleum in Nanjing, the attendant ceremonies
were also provided by the ritual officials and performers from the Court
of Imperial Sacrifices,94 most of whom had a Daoist background. In
their own fief-states, during the sacrifices to the Altar of Soil and Grain,
to the Altar of Wind, Cloud, Thunder, Rain and Mountains and Rivers,
and to the Temple of Flags and Banners, the Daoist ritual musician-
dancers actively performed the rites while the Manager of Music was
the conductor.95 In the case of the sacrifice to the clan temple, again,
the Manager of Music conducted and 144 yuewusheng, including thirty-
six yuesheng, seventy-two martial wusheng and thirty-six civil wusheng,
performed the ritual.96 It is clear from these samples that most, if not
all, regular ceremonies related to a princes life were performed by
Daoist musician-dancers, and that as a result the princely courtly rites
were characterized by a Daoist flavor.
The foregoing discussion demonstrates that, institutionally, a solid
foundation was in place that allowed the members of the princely
establishments to become familiar with and value Daoism. In the rest
of this essay I will examine the Ming princes involvement in Daoist
ritual, dividing them into three groups. The first group includes the
princes who joined the Daoist order by receiving ordination or were
initiated into the neidan lineages; they were considered to be Daoists
in the Daoist community. Opposite this group were the princes who
commissioned or participated in Daoist ritual, but did not show a
strong identity with Daoism and seem to have been lay patrons; they
assumed this role either for their personal needs or for the lay community,
just like any local leader. A third group of princes occupied an
intermediary position. Those belonging to this middle group were not
ordained priests, but they clearly identified themselves with Daoism
and were able to perform some Daoist rites themselves. This division

Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 4.29a; Da Ming huidian, 56.3b, 215.7b-8a.
Taichang xukao, 7.12b-13a; Da Ming huidian, 56.4a-b, 215.7b-8a.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 4.9b-13b; Da Ming huidian, 56.28b-29b.
Zhu Qinmei, Wangguo dianli, 4.16b-19a, 5.45a-b; Da Ming huidian, 56.32b.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 75

into three groups roughly corresponds to that of the Buddhist patrons

designated as monks/nuns, activist donors, and ordinary donors,
respectively, on the occasion of the two Song-Yuan Buddhist canon
reprint projects as described by B. J. ter Haar in his study of their merit
dedications97even though in the present case it was the first group
of princes who functioned as monks. By classifying the Ming princes
into these three groups we can see the diversity of the princely patronage
of Daoism in local society. Ming princes participated from different
perspectives in communion with Daoist ritual, representing different
social constituencies in the lay community.

Princely Ordination and Initiation

I have not found any record on the process of Daoist ordination ritual
for Ming princes. On the other hand we do have, among the few Ming
liturgical registers (lu ) conferred on the ordinands that exist, the
ordination certificate of Empress Zhang, a color handscroll held in the
San Diego Museum of Art. Empress Zhang (1470-1541), the wife of
the Hongzhi emperor (r. 1488-1505), was ordained as a Daoist priestess
in 1493 by Zhang Xuanqing, the forty-seventh Heavenly Master.
This certificate is a painted scroll bearing an inscription that outlines
a ritual or series of rituals in which an important group of scriptures,
talismans, and registers (lists of gods names) were transmitted to the
empress.98 The painting depicts fifty-two gods and immortals, and
the inscription lists sixty-two documents, including scriptures,
talismans, registers, and other accompanying covenants and objects.
The ordination consisted of a series of complicated rituals performed
in the imperial palace. Empress Zhangs status explains the quality of
the painting that depicted them on the certificate.99 In contrast,
liturgical documents for most ordinands were no more than ordinary
woodblock printed forms.

Ter Haar, Buddhist-Inspired Options, pp. 138-47.
Little, annotation to Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang (Cat. no. 57), in Little et
al., Taoism and the Arts of China, p. 208.
Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang (Cat. no. 57), pp. 209-12; Little, annotation
to Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang, p. 208. For details of this ordination process,
see Little, ibid., pp. 208-9.
76 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

fuchi Ninji provides a description of the lu conferred

in 1754 on Yunmi (1716-73), a Manchu imperial prince of the
Qing dynasty, by the fifty-sixth Heavenly Master, Zhang Yulong
(fl. 1742-1766). It is preserved in the Tenri Library in Japan. Fifteen
registers remain of the original set of lu. They were blockprinted.100
Given the continuity of political institutions, and of the Heavenly
Master institution as well, from the Ming to the early Qing, it seems
legitimate to infer the Daoist ordination for a Ming prince from that
for a Qing prince. If this is correct, then the set of ordination lu
conferred on a Ming prince, also by a Heavenly Master or other high-
ranking Daoist official in the Zhengyi hierarchy, must have been similar
to Yunmis set, with the same originally prepared blockprinted registers
and other documents.
The Yangzhou local gazetteers give an account of a set of Daoist
ordination documents conferred on Tian Hongyu (d. 1644?)
and his wife ne Wu , dated 1637. Tian Hongyu held the title of
Right Commissioner-in-chief of the Front Chief Military Commission
(qianjun dudufu you dudu , rank 1a), and Mme
Wu was First Ranking Dame-consort (yipin furen ).101 Tians
social status was lower than that of an imperial prince, but as he was
the father of Precious Consort Tian (d. 1642), the favorite
imperial concubine of the Chongzhen emperor (r. 1628-44), in actuality
he must have been comparable to a prince in terms of social standing.
Tian Hongyu and his wifes ordination documents consisted of 146
registers with painted images of gods and immortals.102 If Tian was
comparable to a Ming prince, as I suggest, then the size of a princes
ordination registers must have been similar.
Completing the ordination ritual was a lengthy process.103 In the
case of Empress Zhang it took seven months.104 Peng Shujie ,

fuchi, Chgoku jin no shky girei, Plate 93, pp. 453-59; Ding Huang, Zhengyi
dahuang yuxiu yanshou jinglu (1), p. 388. For a discussion of the fragmentary nature of
the fifteen ordination registers conferred on Yunmi, see Ding Huang, ibid., p. 384.
Ding Huang, Zhengyi dahuang yuxiu yanshou jinglu (1), pp. 381-84.
According to Vincent Goossaert, the Zhengyi novitiate lasted longer than the three
years commonly required in Quanzhen before the ordination ritual. See Goossaert, The
Taoists of Peking, pp. 102-4.
Ordination Scroll of Empress Zhang, pp. 209-12; Little, annotation to Ordination
Scroll of Empress Zhang, p. 208.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 77

the wife of Sheng Yi (jinshi 1505) and a lady of literati background,

spent more than forty days to receive a single ordination register, the
Passport from the Shangqing Ancestral Altar to a Road in the Dark-
ness (Shangqing zongtan mingtu luyin ).105 Even a
commoner ordinand in modern days had to undergo many different
rites over a long period of time to receive full ordination.106 Once
ordained, the ordinand was granted an ordination name (faming
). Even though we lack any direct documentation about Ming
princes ordination rituals, some princes did receive their faming, and
thus ordinations with the ritual protection of certain Daoist gods, from
their Daoist masters. In this sense, granting faming in ordination
entailed a ritual process.
As close imperial relatives, Ming princes were obliged to represent
the emperor in the regions assigned to them, but at the same time they
represented a certain threat to the imperial court as legitimate
challengers. Thus, generally speaking, most princes, who were under
the control of the fanjin system, were not free to join the Daoist order
even if they wanted to. Still, some of them became real Daoist priests
and received ordination. The first in this category is of course Prince
Xian of Ning (enfeoffed in Nanchang , Jiangxi), Zhu
Quan, who committed himself to Daoism and was said to have an
immortal fate. He possessed such Daoist hao as Quxian , Hanxuzi
, and Xuanzhou daoren . He also claimed a divine
identity with Nanji chongxu miaodao zhenjun .
When he went to Nanchang to stay in his fief-state, he is alleged to
have told the Yongle emperor that he was looking for Xu Xun

Ding Huang, Zhengyi dahuang yuxiu yanshou jinglu (3), pp. 347-49.
Ding Huang, Zhengyi dahuang yuxiu yanshou jinglu (1), pp. 376, 425, 349; (3),
p. 349. For a description of the investiture rite for Princess Gold-Immortal and Princess
Jade-Perfected of the Tang dynasty, which lasted ten days, see Zhang Wanfu (fl. 713),
Chuanshou sandong jingjie falu leshuo, 2.18a-20b; trans. in Benn, The Carven-Mystery
Transmission, pp. 115-20. As Charles Benn points out, this account only refers to a single
rite among the various stages and phases of initiation and investiture the two princesses
underwent. They had completed one or more stages of investiture by 710, and would
continue receiving ordinations at higher levels after that year. For example, Princess Gold-
Immortal was ordained into priesthood in 706, and both princesses were transmitted the
Shangqing canon and attained the highest level in the Daoist hierarchy in 712. See Benn,
ibid., pp. 9, 12-13.
78 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

, the legendary founder and god of Pure Illumination Daoism

(Jingming dao ). He also visited the Iron-Pillar Palace (Tiezhu
gong ), the main Jingming monastery in Nanchang.107 He once
moved to the Cave of Heavenly Treasure (Tianbao dong ),
which was the thirteenth Daoist grotto-heaven, on West Mountain
(Xishan ), where he practiced Daoist arts and was fully instructed
in the teachings of Jingming Daoism.108 He subsequently visited West
Mountain several more times.109 He also once lodged in a stone chamber
at Mengshan , part of West Mountain, for self-cultivation.110 He
compiled or wrote at least eighteen Daoist works and three zaju plays
with Daoist dimensions. Among these works were the extremely
important Tianhuang zhidao taiqing yuce (Most
pure and precious books on the Supreme Dao of August Heaven; CT
1483), in eight juan, and Gengxin yuce (Precious books on
the Realm of Metals and Minerals), also in eight juan. The former is
an encyclopedic work on the Daoist faith and liturgy claiming that
Daoism is the true faith of China. The latter is the last major work on
laboratory alchemy (waidan ) in Chinese history.111

Zha Jizuo, Zui wei lu, Biography, 4. 47a, 48a.
Hanxu Zhu zhenren zhuan, , in Zhu Daolang (1612 or 1614-89),
ed., Taishang jingming zongjiao lu, 6.98-99; Jin Duixin (fl. 1878) and Qi Fengyuan, Xiaoyao
shan Wanshou gong tongzhi, 5.44a-45a.
Zhu Tongji (late Ming), Ning Xianwang shishi , in Xuyi Zhushi
bazhi zongpu, 1.16a.
Xuyi Zhushi bazhi zongpu, juan 1, Beiji , 1a-3a.
Yao Pinwen, Ningwang Zhu Quan, pp. 364-66, lists thirteen Daoist works by Zhu
Quan. Among his works not classified as Daoist by Yao Pinwen, the Jiuming suo
is listed as a Daoist work in both Gao Rus (fl. 1540) Baichuan shuzhi and Zhu Mujies
(1517-86) Wanjuan tang shumu; the Shenyin is listed as a Daoist work in both Zhao
Yongxians Zhao Dingyu shumu and Zhao Qimeis (1563-1624) Maiwang guan shumu;
the Yunhua xuanshu is listed as a Daoist work in Zhao Qimeis Maiwang guan
shumu; the Huangting jing zhujie is by any criterion a Daoist work, and the
Xialing dongtian zhi was listed by Zhu Quan himself as a canonical Daoist
work in his Tianhuang zhidao taiqing yuce. See Gao Ru, Baichuan shuzhi, 11.164, under
the works on Immortality (Shenxian ) in the Philosophers (zi ) branch; Zhu
Mujie, Wanjuan tang shumu, 3.7a, under the Daoist Works (Daojia ) in the Phi-
losophers Branch (zibu ); Zhao Yongxian, Zhao Dingyu shumu, p. 57, under the
Daoist Works (Daojia shu ); Zhao Qimei, Maiwang guan shumu, pp. 36b, 40a,
under the works on Immortality (Xianjia ) in the Philosophers Branch; Zhu
Quan, Tianhuang zhidao taiqing yuce, 2.4b. For a discussion of Zhu Quans Tianhuang
zhidao taiqing yuce, see Schipper and Yuan, Tianhuang zhidao taiqing yuce, pp. 947-48;
de Bruyn, Daoism in the Ming, p. 606; Boltz, A Survey of Taoist Literature, pp. 237-41.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 79

Zhu Quan became a master of Jingming Daoism. He was invested

as Perfected Hanxu (Hanxu zhenren ) by the emperor, and
revered as Perfected Zhu (Zhu zhenren ) in the Daoist
community.112 He built a Daoist temple named Southern Pole Palace
of Longevity (Nanji changsheng gong ) in front of his
future mausoleum.113 The temple had many halls and shrines dedicated
to Daoist gods, and it was planned that Daoist priests would be housed
there while preparing for ascending to heaven as immortals.114 On all
sides of the monuments erected at his tomb were carved Daoist
talismans. Inside the tomb, a Daoist crown (daoguan ) was placed
on his head, and two more daoguan on his breast; his body wore a
Daoist robe (daopao ). Obviously his clothes were in Daoist fashion
when he was buried.115 Concerning the ritual function of these Daoist
crowns and robe, in addition to Zhu Quans personal identity with
Daoism when alive there is the fact, pointed out by Vincent Goossaert,
that after death, a Taoist wearing a robe obtained through the guanjin
ritual would be protected from punishments.116 Zhu Quan may have
been ordained into Daoism and have gone through the ordination
ritual. The problem for us, however, is that we only know his hao or
sobriquet, but not his faming, and it is a fact that a hao in Daoist style
(daohao) and a faming are different. Most Ming princes had Daoist
sobriquets but no faming. (I will deal with this issue in another study.)

For a discussion of Zhu Quans Gengxin yuce, see Ho Peng Yoke and Chiu Ling Yeong,
Prince Zhu Quan, pp. 11-24; Needham, Ho Ping-y (Ho Peng Yoke) and Lu Gwei-djen,
Science and Civilisation in China, 5.3: 210-11. Jonker and Ho Peng Yoke think that the
Gengxin yuce no longer exists. See Jonker, Chu Chan, pp. 305-7; Ho Peng Yoke, Prince
Zhu Quan, p. 1. Yao Pinwen, however, mentions a copy of it in the National Library of
China (Beijing). See Yao Pinwen, Ningwang Zhu Quan, p. 364.
Jin Duixin and Qi Fengyuan, Xiaoyao shan Wanshou gong tongzhi, 5.44a-45a. On Zhu
Quans relationship with Jingming Daoism, see Akizuki, Chgoku kinsei Dky, pp. 161-63;
Yao Pinwen, Ningwang Zhu Quan, pp. 117-20; Zeng Zhaonan, Shilun Ming Ningxian-
wang Zhu Quan, pp. 11-14; Qing Xitai, ed., Zhongguo Daojiao shi, 3: 514-16.
Jiangxi tongzhi (1525), 7.127a; Nanchang juncheng (1663), 9.20a; Jiangxi tongzhi
(1683), 25.44b.
Wei Zuoguo, Zhu Quan chongdao chuyi, pp. 96-97.
Chen Wenhua, Jiangxi Xinjian Ming Zhu Quan, pp. 202-4; Xu Zhifan, Jiangxi
Mingdai fanwang mu, pp. 16-17; Jin Laien and Tian Juan, Mingchao Gandi fanwang,
p. 69; Xu Zhifan, Fanwang tan caishi, p. 88; Su Derong, Mingdai zongshi chutu
wenwu, p. 56.
Goossaert, The Taoists of Peking, p. 102.
80 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

Here, I give the example of Zhu Quan partly because of his important
role in the Daoist community, and partly because of his strong
identification with Daoism.
In the commandery princely establishment of Shicheng
(enfeoffed in Nanchang), a collateral branch of the Ning principality,
Zhu Daolang (1622-88), probably a Supporter-commandant
of the State (fengguo zhongwei ), followed the tradition of
Zhu Quan and became a Jingming Daoist priest before the collapse
of the Ming. He was the founding patriarch of the Green Cloud
Monastery (Qingyun pu daoyuan ) and took many
disciples. He also claimed to be the fifth-generation patriarch after Liu
Yu (1257-1308), the first patriarch of the Jingming school.117 Zhu
Daoming (1625-72), Zhu Daolangs younger brother, was also
a Jingming priest, serving as the associate founding patriarch of the
Green Cloud Monastery.118 The two brothers had their faming and
obviously were ordained. Since Zhu Daolang, and probably Zhu
Daoming, took many disciples, they also conferred ordination and
granted faming over other Daoists. Zhu Baoxu , the son of Zhu

Huang Hanqiao and Xu Zhongqing (b. 1885), Jiangxi Qingyun puzhi, pp. 11b-12a,
14b-15a, 17b-20a, 21a-26a, 27b-28a, 33b-36a, 37a-b, 42a, 47a, 50a-52a, 61b, 70a-74a,
97b; Jin Duixin and Qi Fengyuan, Xiaoyao shan Wanshou gong tongzhi, 13.10a, 16.5b-6a;
Akizuki, Jmyd kenky, pp. 527, 531, 533-34; Akizuki, Jmyin mysai shinp,
p. 5; Zhou Tiguan (fl. 1645-1676), Dingshan qiao Meixian daoyuan ji, 17.19a-b; the
tablet inscribed with Zhu Daolangs name and portrait in the memorial hall (gongde tang
) of the Green Cloud Monastery, quoted in Li Dan, Bada shanren congkao,
pp. 107-08; Zhu Jie , Quxian Zhouhou jing xu , in Zhu Quan,
Shiji zhouhou jing, 4a-b; Zhu Daolang, postscript, in ibid., 1a-2b; Xiao Hongming,
Daojiao Jingming pai Qingyun pu, pts. 4-5, 7, 12. In 1920, when Xu Zhongqing, the
abbot of of the Green Cloud Monastery, reprinted the Jiangxi Qingyun puzhi, he confused
Zhu Daolang with Bada Shanren (1626?-1705?), another descendent of the
Ning principality. In 1960 the modern scholar Li Dan proposed the same identification,
based on the Jiangxi Qingyun puzhi. His theory, accepted at the time by a number of
scholars, has been subsequently challenged by Yeye , Wang Fangyu and Wang Shiqing
. Yeye and Wang Shiqing provide conclusive evidence that Bada Shanren and Zhu
Daolang were two different people. See Li Dan, Bada shanren congkao, pp. 95-97,
99-100, 106; Yeye, Lun Hu Yitang shibian, pp. 20-26; Yeye, Du Zhu Daolang ba
Quxian Shiji zhoughou jing hou, pp. 497-508; Wang Fangyu, Bada shanren he Zhu
Daolang, pp. 414-17; Wang Shiqing, Bada shanren bushi Zhu Daolang, pp. 519-24.
Jingming zhongxiao zongpu , quoted in Li Dan, Bada shanren congkao,
p. 107; the tablet inscribed with Zhu Daomings name and portrait in the memorial hall
of the Green Cloud Monastery, and Zhu Daomings tomb, quoted Li Dan, ibid.,
pp. 107-08.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 81

Daolang, was also a Jingming Daoist and was in charge of the Green
Cloud Monastery after Zhu Daolang and Zhu Daoming.119 Zhu Deqin
(original name Tongtao ), Zhu Deshi and Zhu
Hongxuan , three other members of the same commandery
princely establishment, also became ordained Jingming priests.120
In the Ji Principality (enfeoffed in Changsha , Hunan),
Zhu Changchun (faming Taihe , ca. 1557-1632), the
Designated Heir to the Imperial Prince, was regarded as the ninth-
generation disciple of a certain Longmen lineage of the Quanzhen
(Complete Perfection) order. Wu Shouyang (1574-1643), the
patriarch of this particular Longmen lineage, stayed in the Prince of
Jis house from 1613 onward. Zhu Changchun honored Wu Shouyang
as his master.121 In fact, Zhu Changchun seems to have been Wus
earliest and most important disciple, for most of Wus works are
responses to Zhu Changchuns questions.122 Wu responded to Zhus
questions as early as 1613. In 1615, for the first time, he formally
transmitted to Zhu Changchun the cultivation secrets known as the
Secrets of refining essence within a hundred days (bairi lianjing koujue
). In 1622 he conducted the second transmission to
Zhu Changchun with the oral secrets known as the Secrets of culling
great medicine (cai dayao koujue ). In 1628, for the third
time, he transmitted to Zhu Changchun the secret method of the Five
Dragons bearing aloft the Saint (wulong pengsheng koujue
), also known as the secret of the Great Medicine passing through
the Pass (dayao guoguan koujue ). In 1632, finally, he
transmitted to Zhu his work Xianfo hezong yulu

Jiangxi Qingyun puzhi, pp. 74a-b.
Jiangxi Qingyun puzhi, pp. 91a, 103a, 109b; Xiao Hongming, Daojiao Jingming pai
Qingyun pu, pt. 4. Their names, together with those of Zhu Daolang and Zhu Daoming,
matched the generation characters of the Jingming lineage poetic line: ()
Wu Shouyang, Tianxian lunyu xianfo hezong, 1.1a-b, 4.44b; Esposito, The Longmen
School, p. 655. Judith Boltz and Mori Yuria have erroneously identified this Prince Ji,
whose faming was Taihe, with Zhu Youlian (titled 1621-36) and Zhu Cikui
(titled 1639-?), respectively. Zhu Youlian and Zhu Cikui were actually the son and
grandson of Zhu Changchun. See Boltz, A Survey of Taoist Literature, p. 200; Mori,
Zenshinky rymonha, p. 191.
Qing Xitai, ed., Zhongguo Daojiao shi, 4: 40-41.
82 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

(Recordedsayings on the merged tradition of Daoism and Buddhism),

together with the Longmen lineage.123
For the purpose of Daoist learning and cultivation, Zhu Changchun
did not want to succeed to the principality. In 1618, when it was time
for him to assume the princely title after his father had died the year
before, he faked his death, thus winning the false posthumous princely
title Prince Xian of Ji , and arranged to have his son succeed
him in 1621.124 If we believe the accounts in the Bojian xu
(Sequel to the Examination of the bowl) and in a biography of Wu
Shouyang by Xie Taiyi (hao Ningsuzi ), Wus disciple,
Wu fled to the Tiantai mountains from the house of the prince of Ji
for fear of the consequences of the trouble he had caused.125 What kind
of trouble could he have caused after 1617, while he was safe before?
I propose as a plausible explanation that the imperial court may
have discovered that Zhu Changchun had faked his death and taken
refuge in Daoism. Wu Shouyang, as the cause of Zhu Changchuns
ordination and of his subsequent faked death, would have been

Wu Shouyang, Tianxian lunyu xianfo hezong, 1.1a-26b, 4.42a-46b; Wu Shouyang,
Xianfo hezong yulu, Bi ji 1 of the original Daozang jiyao ed., pp.1a-41a; Wu Shouyang,
Tianxian zhengli zhilun zengzhu, Bi ji 4 of the original Daozang jiyao ed., pp. 21a-b,
33b-34a, 58b-59a; Wu Shouyang, Tianxian zhengli qianshuo, Bi ji 5 of the original
Daozang jiyao ed., pp. 1b-2b, 14a-19a, 20b-21b; Wu Shouyang, Wu Zhenren dandao
jiupian, Bi ji 6 of the original Daozang jiyao ed., pp. 20a, 22a-37a; Min Yide (1758-1836),
Jingai xindeng, 2.1b; Fu Jinquan (fl. 1813-fl. 1844), Tianxian zhengli dufa dianjing, p. 21a;
Qing Xitai, ed., Zhongguo daojiao shi, 4: 40-41; Mori, Zenshinky rymonha, p. 208,
n. 59. The edition of the Xianfo hezong yulu contained in the Daozang jiyao ,
and thus in the Zangwai daoshu , which reprinted the text from the Daozang
jiyao, is entitled Wu zhenren dandao jiupian (Nine chapters on the elixir path by the
Perfected Wu). The work entitled Xianfo hezong yulu in the Daozang jiyao and Zangwai
daoshu is in fact a different text recording Wu Shouyangs conversations with his disci-
For information on Zhu Changchun, see Wu Shouxu , commentary, in Wu
Shouyang, Tianxian lunyu xianfo hezong, 1.1a-b; Changsha fuzhi (1748), 10.11a; Chang-
sha xianzhi (1817), 15.9a-b; Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 104.2922. It was a common, though
illegal, practice that many princely establishments did not faithfully report to the impe-
rial court the death of their princes in order to continue receiving stipends for them. See
Fan Yu, Mingdai zongshi de huji guanli, p. 8. In the case of Zhu Changchun, he did
the opposite: reporting his death though he was still alive.
Bojian xu and a biography of Wu Shouyang by Xie Taiyi, paraphrased in Min Yide,
Jingai xindeng, 2.1b-2a. Monica Esposito holds that the Bojian is a possibly fictitious
work attributed to Wang Changyue (?-1680). If this is true, then the Bojian xu
could be of the same nature. See Esposito, The Longmen School, p. 622.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 83

endangered because of this. Of course this explanation depends upon

the reliability of the Bojian xu and of Xie Taiyis biography of Wu
Zhu Changchun formally received oral transmissions of Daoist
teachings as well as his faming Taihe from Wu Shouyang, who recognized
him as a legitimate disciple of this particular Longmen lineage. He
must have gone through ritual practice along with the ordination
conferred on him, but the details are lost. Fortunately, one edition of
the Xianfo hezong yulu preserves some remnants of an initiation rite,
albeit not an ordination. It records that in receiving Wu Shouyangs
final transmission of this text in 1632, Zhu Changchun adjusts cap
and dress, bowing the knee to [Wu Shouyang]; then, standing on
the west, he gives Wu Shouyang his fourth set of neidan questions.
In another occasion, Zhu Changchun salutes [Wu Shouyang], and
then bends the knee, asking the fifth set of questions. When proceeding
to the sixth set of questions, smearing his mouth with the blood of a
sacrificial victim, [Zhu Changchun] makes a covenant with Heaven
(shaxue mengtian ); then he salutes and bows to [Wu
Shouyang] four times. Prostrating on the ground, he asks.126 These
three brief episodes are too fragmentary to be used for reconstructing
the whole initiation rite, but it is clear by now that Zhu Changchun
performed these sets of ritual not just as a courtesy: they were parts of
his formal investiture, wherein he received the transmission of the
Daoist teachings and secrets.
The relatively detailed indications of the care for his dress, the
direction of his standing, and the way and number of his bows and
prostrations demonstrate a seriousness and solemnity that one would
not find in an ordinary relationship between a Confucian teacher and
his student. No prince or princes heir was required to respect his
Confucian tutor that way. Moreover, smearing ones mouth with the
blood of a sacrificial victim (shaxue ) signifies a sacrifice, which
can be traced to pre-historical times, and Zhu Changchun faced
heavenly gods when he made the covenant (mengtian ). It is
interesting to note that a similar liturgy, described by Wu Shouyang

Wu Shouyang, Xianfo hezong, pp. 6a, 7a, 12a. The character sha is mistaken as cha
84 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

as pricking oneself and taking blood (shaxue tongmeng )

was performed by Wu himself when he was initiated into this Daoist
lineage by his master, Cao Changhua (1562-1622). When one
of his disciples inquired of him about the meaning of shaxue tongmeng,
Wu Shouyang elaborated: From ancient times on, when an immortal-
perfected transmits [to someone] the true Dao, they must perform
purification rites and make offerings as the regulations stipulate,
supplied with a pledge and presents. Pricking themselves and taking
blood, they make a covenant with Heaven (shaxue mengshi yu tian
). Only after they have memorialized the Supreme
Sovereign, [the starry gods of ] the Three Terraces, the Northern Dipper,
the Southern Star, the Three Officials, the Four Sages, the Five Emperors,
and the Ruler of Fates, asking for their approvals, can the immortal-
perfected transmit [the teachings].127 For Wu Shouyang, this initiation
rite is a solemn business. Wu Shouyangs phrase, shaxue mengshi yu
tian, is almost the same as the one, shaxue mengtian , used
by Zhu Changchun. Zhu Changchuns liturgical actions thus seem to
have come from Wu Shouyang. Certainly they were part of the solemn
ceremony of Daoist transmission and investiture (note that several of
Wus transmissions to Zhu consist of oral secrets, or koujue ).128
If the above accounts of the princes ordinations or initiations are
certain, the ones that follow are not. In the Tang Principality, Zhu
Yuying (fl. 1599), Defender-general of the State (zhenguo
jiangjun ), had the ambition of cloud and mist,
wholeheartedly partaking of herbal medicines. He visited many Daoist
masters, forming extensive Daoist ties. He also read Daoist scriptures
within the Daoist canon and without. Moreover, he asked to be taken
as a disciple by Immortal Lata (1521-1628), a Quanzhen master
from the Grotto-heaven Shrine of the Peach-blossom Spring (Taoyuan
dongtian ci ), a full-fledged monastery on Mount Qiyun

Wu Shouyang, Xianfo hezong yulu, Bi ji 2 of the original Daozang jiyao ed., pp. 13a-b.
Wu Shouyangs elaboration is quoted in Wu Shouxus commentary on Wu Shouyangs
expression, shaxue tongmeng . In both occurrences the character sha cited
here is written as ci , though later on the use of sha is correct.
For the details of the transmission ritual elaborated by Wu Shouyang and Wu Shouxu,
who was Wu Shouyangs cousin and also honored Cao Changhua as his master, see ibid.,
pp. 13b-14a; Bi ji 3 of the original Daozang jiyao ed., pp. 53a-b.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 85

(Anhui).129 We do not know whether Immortal Lata accepted

Zhu Yuying as a disciple, and thus conferred ordination on him; but
another princely members case is interesting. In his princedom, Wang
Taiyuan , allegedly the son of the last prince of Tang,130 is said
to have been raised by Huang Shouzhong (Yedaposhe
, ?-1792), better known as the Jizu daozhe (Daoist of
Chicken Foot Mountain), and to have become the latters disciple at
Jizu shan (Chicken Foot Mountain) in Yunnan. Huang
Shouzhong, disputably a direct disciple of the famous Quanzhen master
Wang Changyue (?-1680), belonged to the eighth generation
of the so-called Longmen orthodox lineage (Longmen zhengzong
) in the early Qing, and was credited with establishing the Xizhu
xinzong (Heart School of West India), a Longmen branch
in Yunnan. Changing his royal family name of Zhu to Wang to signify
his original status as a prince (wang ), Wang Taiyuan became the
ninth-generation disciple of the Xizhu xinzong branch as well as the
Longmen lineage, with Taiyuan as his Daoist faming. He was also
known locally as Dajiao xian .131 Given that all the details about
Wang Taiyuan come from Min Yides (1758-1836) Jingai
xindeng (Transmission of the mind-lamp from Mount

Zhu [Yu]ying [], Shang Lata xian shu , in Lu Dian (fl. 1599-fl.
1637), Qiyun shan Taoyuan dongtian zhi, pp. 9b-10b. For information on Immortal Lata,
see ibid., pp. 5b-7a, 10a-b, 12a-b; Qiyun shanzhi bianzuan bangongshi, comp., Qiyun
shanzhi, pp. 193-94.
At the end of the Ming there were three last princes of Tang. Zhu Yujian
(1602-1646) was entitled Prince of Tang in 1632, but was deprived of the title and put
in jail in 1636. His younger brother Zhu Yumo (after 1602-1641) succeeded him
and became Prince of Tang that year. Zhu Yumo died in 1641 when rebels captured
Nanyang, where the Tang princely establishment was located. In the Southern Ming, Zhu
Yujian ascended the imperial throne in Fuzhou (Fujian), establishing the reign title
Longwu , and confirmed another brother, Zhu Yuao (after 1602-1647), as
successor to the title of Prince of Tang in 1645. After the defeat of the Longwu emperor,
who died in 1646, Zhu Yuao assumed the imperial throne in Guangzhou (Guangdong)
with the reign title Shaowu , but he was defeated and killed in 1647. Wang Taiyuans
mother escaped to Jizu shan (Yunnan) after her husbands death; she gave birth
to Wang Taiyuan there. Given the geographical distance between Nanyang and Yunnan,
it is likely that Wang Taiyuans father was either Zhu Yujian or Zhu Yuao, who were in
Fuzhou or Guangzhou during the Southern Ming.
Min Yide, Jingai xindeng, 6A.5b.
86 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

Jingai), which is not very reliable, we do not know how much in his
case is legendary and how much historical.132
Prince Duanyi of Jingjiang (Zhu Yueqi , titled
1490-1516 and enfeoffed in Guilin, Guangxi) called himself Perfected
Zhu , and would often wear a Daoist turban (daoshijin
).133 His brother, or cousin, Zhu Yueji (fl. 1551-58) wrote
a collection of his Daoist works, the Guanhua ji , which focuses
on neidan, as well as other writings on Daoist immortals and masters.134
Zhu Yueji honored Master Guguang as his Daoist master,
and he took Xie Yingkui as his disciple in neidan teachings.135
Presumably he was initiated into a neidan lineageat least there was
a formal transmission process similar to that of Daoism between Master
Guguang, Zhu Yueji, and Xie Yingkui. Likewise, in the Zheng
Principality (enfeoffed in Huaiqing prefecture, Henan), the
oldest son of a certain prince of Zheng took Yang Budai , a
Daoist priest, as his master.136 We are not certain about the last two
princes standing in Daoism, however.
The aforementioned examples from the Ning, Ji, Tang, and probably
Jingjiang and Zheng principalities provide us with comparatively
detailed information about the place the princes in question occupied
in Daoist lineages, leading to the conclusion that they were ordained,
or at least initiated, with attendant rites. The next cases are not as
concrete, but they derive from accounts issuing from the Daoist
community. Thus, a Daoist robe (daopao) was discovered by
archaeologists in the tomb of Prince Xuan of Yi (Zhu Yiyin
, 1537-1603 whose Daoist hao was Huangnan daoren

On the unreliability of the Jingai xindeng, see Esposito, The Longmen School,
pp. 622, 628, 640, 654, 657, 660, 671-74.
Su Derong, Mingdai zongshi wenhua, p. 24; Guangxi tongzhi (1599), 6.4a-b.
The Guanhua ji is included in the Daoist Works Listed by Title (Daojia lei cunmu
), in the Branch of Philosophers (zibu), in the Siku quanshu zongmu tiyao
, and is extant. See Zhu Yueji, Guanhua ji; Ji Yun (1724-1805) et al.,
comp., Qinding siku quanshu zongmu, 147.1967; Lingui xianzhi (1802), 3.10b, 20.10b-
Zhu Yueji, Guanhua ji; Yuan Fuzheng (fl. 1544-1551), Guanhua ji xu
, in Guanhua ji, prefaces, p. 3b; Luo Hongxian (1504-64), Guanhua ji
xu , ibid., pp. 1b-2a; Shen Yingkui (fl. 1556-1557), Guanhua ji xu, ibid.,
p. 17b; Lingui xianzhi, 3.10b, 20.10b-11a.
Ruyang xianzhi (1690), 9B.67b; Chongxiu Runan xianzhi (1938), 22.44a-b.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 87

, in the Yi Principality. Likewise, a Daoist cloth robe with a

decorative pattern of white clouds was found in the tomb, excavated
in Nancheng (Jiangxi), of a certain Commandery Prince of Luochuan
(enfeoffed in Jianchang), who was a collateral member of the
Yi Principality.137 Although we can see the apparent identification with
Daoism of the princes concerned, we do not know whether they were
actually ordained. More important, a member of the Yi principality
with the daohao Xiaoxian was a Jingming Daoist master. Xiaoxian
honored Xie Ling as his master, and transmitted the Jingming
teachings. In Jingming Daoism there was a prognostication myth
known as the Prognostication of the Pine Tree and Sandy Islet (songsha
chenyu ) or the Prognostication of the Dragon Sandy Islet
(longsha chenyu). According to this, Xu Xun, the legendary
Jingming founder and god, had prognosticated that 1,240 years after
his ascendance to heaven in 374 eight hundred Earth Immortals would
appear in the Yuzhang regionthat is, the area centering around
Nanchang in Jiangxiwho would promote Jingming teachings. A pine
tree and a sandy islet called Dragon Sandy Islet at Nanchang would
be proof of the event.138 Thus the time for the appearance of these

Liu Lin, Yu Jiadong and Xu Zhifan, Jiangxi Nancheng Ming Yi Xuanwang Zhu
Yiyin, pp. 17, 21, 26; Xu Zhifan, Jiangxi Mingdai fanwang mu, pp. 20-21Xue Yao,
Jiangxi Nancheng Mingmu, pp. 319-20. This Commandery Prince of Luochuan was
either the Commandery Prince Yi [?] of Luochuan (i.e. Zhu Changqing
), or the last commandery prince of Luochuan (i.e. Zhu Youxuan ).
Songsha ji , in Xu Xun (attrib.), Lingjian zi, pp. 14a-b, 20b-21a; Chen
Daling (fl. 1174), Wuzhen pian zhu xu , in Ziyang zheren wuzhen
pian zhushu, preface, 4b; Bo Yuchan (1194-1229), Jingyang Xu zhenjun zhuan, 33.8b;
Zhao Daoyi (fl. 1294), Xu taishi, 26.8a-b. See also Akizuki, Chgoku kinsei Dky, p. 162.
The last three sentences at the end of the passage regarding the 1,240-year prophecy in
the citation from the Lingjian zi in the 1926 Hanfen lou edition of the Daoist
Canon (Daozang) and its reprints (such as the most commonly used 1977 Xinwenfeng
edition) have been corrupted, due to the misplacement of a whole folio. At this point, I
use the better edition published by Wenwu chubanshe, Shanghai shudian and Tianjin
guji chubanshe in 1988, known as the Sanjia ben , which reflects the original
condition of the Ming Daozang. Catherine Despeux dates the Lingjian zi to the eleventh
or twelfth century (before 1145), while Zhu Yueli dates it from the Northern Song pe-
riod (960-1127). See Despeux, Lingjian zi, p. 788; Zhu Yueli, Lingjian zi de niandai,
pp. 132-35. In the early version represented by the Songsha ji, the Prognostication of
the Pine Tree and Sandy Islet has nothing to do with the figure of 1,240 years after Xu
Xuns ascent, which belongs to a separate myth. Some time in the early Southern Song
(1127-80) the two myths were conflated into one that had both the pine tree-sandy islet
88 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

Jingming earth immortals was predicted to be 1614, in the late Ming.139

Now Jianchang was located within the Yuzhang region and Xiaoxian,
the above-mentioned member of the Yi principality, was regarded as
one of the eight hundred immortals in the Jingming community.140
Presumably he received the Daoist ordination.
Similarly, thirteen members of the commandery princely establishment
of Qingjiang (enfeoffed in Raozhou prefecture, Jiangxi),
which was under the Imperial Huai Principality , seem to have
been ordained as Jingming Daoists, and were regarded in the Jingming
community as counting among the eight hundred disciples turned
Earth Immortals who carried on Xu Xuns teachings.141

Princely Performance of Ritual

This section will examine the Ming princes ritual practices other than
ordination or initiation. The princes discussed here are different from
those in the preceding section in that they are not known to have been
ordained; yet they identified themselves with Daoism. This classification
is of course based on the available sources: evidence revealed in the
future may lead us to reclassify some of them into the preceding group.
In any event, these princes were enthusiastic about Daoist ritual and
participated in person in it, playing certain roles. So far as Daoist
liturgical performance is concerned, they were activist patrons.
The first case is the prince of Xiang (Zhu Bo, 1371-99). Zhu Bo,
whose fief-state was in Jingzhou (Hubei), was a pious believer in
Daoism. He used Zixuzi as his Daoist-style sobriquet (hao),142

and the 1,240 years elements: see Chen Dalings preface, Bo Yuchans Jingyang Xu zhenjun
zhuan, and Zhao Daoyis Xu taishi (all cited above).
Some early biographies of Xu Xun give earlier dates for his ascent. For example, the
date is 281 in Xu zhenjun, 14.100; 292 in Xiaodao Wu Xu er zhenjun zhuan, p. 13a; and
301 in Wang Songnians (tenth century), Xianyuan bianzhu, 3.12b. Since Bo Yuchans
Jingyang Xu zhenjun zhuan (33.14b) the date was given as 374 in all subsequent biographies
of Xu Xun. In fact the earlier dates are all anachronistic because they place the event in
the mid-Western Jin (265-316), when Xu Xun, according to his biographies, was active
in the mundane realm, before his transcendence, during the Eastern Jin (317-419).
Yingzhou xianji (1662-1825), 2.4b.
Ibid., 2.7b.
Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 117.3581.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 89

and identified himself as Zhu Bo, Prince of Xiang, disciple of the

Three Luminaries of the Great Arcane at the Shangqing Mysterious
Capital (Shangqing dadong xuandu sanjing dizi Xiangwang Zhu Bo
).143 In 1390, five years after he had
proceeded to his fief-state, he visited the Daoist center located on
Mount Wudang , the most holy Daoist mountain during the
Ming, to worship the Perfect Warrior (Zhenwu).144 In 1393 he enlarged
the small Zhenwu temple (Zhenwu miao ) at Jiangling
county, the seat of Jingzhou prefecture, and made it into a large
monastery with the new name Abbey of Great Radiance (Taihui guan
), as a travel-temple for the god Zhenwu. He then invited Li
Zhongmin , a Daoist priest, to be the abbot of the new
Archaeologists have found a gold dragon (jinlong , 1.15 cm),
a jade tablet (yujian , 0.15 2.9 cm) bearing an inscription on
one side and a talisman (fu ) on the other, and a jade disk (yubi
) at the Zixiaowo , near the Palace of the Purple Empyrean
(Zixiao gong ) on Mount Wudang. The inscription on the jade
tablet reveals that they were ritual objects used in a single liturgy.146
According to it, in 1399, during the Upper Prime Festival (Shangyuan
jie , on the seventh day of the first lunar month) that honored
the Heavenly Official (Tianguan ), one divinity of the Three
Officials (Sanguan ), Zhu Bo committed himself to have the Great
Universal Heavenly Offering (Putian dazhai , better known
as Putian dajiao ) presented to 1,200 deities. The rite
was performed for five whole days and nights, and the ritual altar,
named the Three Luminaries of Great Radiance (Taihui sanjing lingtan

Wang Yucheng, Ming Wudang shan jinlong yujian, p. 148; Ding Anmin, Wudang
shan chutu wenwu, p. 137.
Ren Ziyuan (fl. 1406-31), Chijian Dayue Taihe shanzhi7.132; Xiangyang fuzhi(1584),
41.14a-b; Huguang zongzhi (1591), 73.60a; de Bruyn, Daoism in the Ming, p. 595.
Jingzhou fuzhi (1532), 10.3a; Lu Yong (fl. 1392-1402), Taihui guan ji
, ibid., 12.34b-36a; Kong Yanmo (original name Zhu Yanmo , fl. 1643-53),
Jiangling zhiyu (1653), 7.3a; Huguang zongzhi (1591), 45.9b; Liu Zuozhong, Lishi
wenhua mingcheng: Jiangling, p. 211; Sun Qikang et al., ed., Hubei shengzhi, p. 119.
Wang Yucheng, Ming Wudang shan jinlong yujian, pp. 148-49, 151, 153; Ding
Anmin, Wudang shan chutu wenwu, p. 137.
90 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

), was set up at the Abbey of Great Radiance. Zhu Bo

played the role of ritual patron (zhaizhu ).147
The Great Universal Heavenly Offering is the grandest Daoist ritual
at the highest level, and it is presented to 3,600 deities. In the Daoist
tradition the Offering was conducted only by the imperial court, or
by high-ranking officials on behalf of the state. Ordinary people were
not allowed to commission such a ritual.148 Zhu Bos conduct in having
this rite practiced was certainly transgressive of his status. To be sure,
he was not a commoner (shuren ), but an imperial prince. Still,
he was not a high-ranking official operating in the name of the state
in this particular circumstance, but apparently did this for his own
personal purposes. It is true, on the other hand, that the Great Universal
Heavenly Offering he commissioned was performed on a smaller scale,
with the number of deities reduced from 3,600 to 1,200. At any rate,
at the conclusion of the Offering, during the rite of tossing the tablets
and dragons (tou longjian ), Zhu Bo himself inscribed a pledge
on the jade tablet and then had the Daoist master Zhou Sili ,
with whom he had gone to Wudang, toss it, together with the gold
dragon and the jade disk, in the mountain there. The gold dragon was
supposed to transmit the message to heaven, while the jade disk served
as a treasure presented to it.149
A stone ritual object was also found in another archaeological site
located near the Palace of the Southern Precipice (Nanyan gong
) on Mount Wudang. This little stone (7.3-8 cm) is inscribed with

Wang Yucheng, Ming Wudang shan jinlong yujian, pp. 148-49. See also Ding
Anmin, Wudang shan chutu wenwu, p. 137. On this particular date of the Upper Prime
Festival, which is different from the ordinary Upper Prime Festival today (on the fifteenth
day of the first month), see Lagerwey, Taoist Ritual in Chinese Society, p. 24; Zhu Quan,
Tianhuang zhidao taiqing yuce, 7.21a.
Zhang Shangying (1043-1121), ed., Jinlu zhai toujian yi, pp. 7a-b; L Yuansu (fl.
1188), comp., Daomen dingzhi, 3.3b-4a. For an actual performance of the Great Univer-
sal Heavenly Offering that complied with the above-mentioned rules stipulated in the
Daoist tradition, see Da Yuan toudian longjian zhi ji , in Chen Yuan,
comp., Daojia jinshi le, pp. 862-63, which mentions that the Great Universal Heavenly
Offering performed in 1315 and presented to 3,600 deities was commissioned by Em-
peror Renzong (r. 1312-20) of the Yuan and the Empress Dowager.
Wang Yucheng, Ming Wudang shan jinlong yujian, pp. 148-49, 151, 153. See also
Ding Anmin, Wudang shan chutu wenwu, p. 137. For a comprehensive study of the
rite of tossing the tablets and dragons, see Chavannes, Le jet des dragons,
pp. 53-220.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 91

a prayer sent to the god [i.e. Zhenwu] by Zhu Bo on one side and
a fu on the other.150 We are not sure whether this prayer was part of
the rite of tossing the tablets and dragons performed by Zhou Sili.
Given that the Palace of the Purple Empyrean and the Palace of the
Southern Precipice were, and still are, two different establishments
situated at a certain distance, I surmise that Zhu Bos worship of
Zhenwu with this stone prayer was a separate liturgy performed when
he went to Mount Wudang to attend the rite of tossing the tablets
and dragons.
Shortly after his ritual participation and performance at Mount
Wudang, Zhu Bo committed suicide as a result of a political conspiracy.
The Yongle emperor decided to patronize Mount Wudang in 1402,
and his lavish rebuilding and subsequent support of the Daoist
establishments there started in 1412.151 From 1390, when he was
nineteen, to 1399, right before he died, Zhu Bo as a Daoist believer
visited and patronized Mount Wudang, engaged in commissioning the
transgressive performance of the Great Universal Heavenly Offering
as well as an unknown liturgy worshiping Zhenwu. This was obviously
not influenced by the Yongle emperor, but was on Zhu Bos own
Much later, the last prince of Liao (Zhu Xianjie , fl.
1537-1582?, also enfeoffed in Jingzhou) showed himself to be another
devout follower of Daoism. For this he was favored by the Jiajing
emperor, who conferred on him the Daoist title Qingwei zhongjiao
zhenren and gave him a set of the Daozang , or
Daozangjing (Daoist canon) as known in the Ming, a gold seal, a
Daoist vestment (fayi ), and a Daoist crown (faguan ). Zhu
Xianjie was keen on Daoist scriptures, talismans, spells and other magic.
In ordinary times he dressed up with Daoist clothes and crown, and
he preferred to be addressed as a perfected instead of a prince. Even

De Bruyn, Wudang Shan, pp. 570, 581, n. 121, based on an archaeological discov-
ery made in 1984. Note that Zhou Sili performed the rite of tossing the tablets and
dragons and Zhu Bo signed for his prayer to Zhenwu with a talisman on the same day.
See Wang Yucheng, Ming Wudang shan jinlong yujian, p. 148; Ding Anmin, Wudang
shan chutu wenwu, p. 137; de Bruyn, loc. cit.
De Bruyn, Wudang Shan, pp. 570-71; Mano, Mindai bunkashi, pp. 336-41, 345;
Ishida, Eiraku tei no Taiwa san fukk, p. 50.
92 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

when he granted local civil officials an audience, he always wore his

Daoist vestment and crown, looking like a Daoist priest. Whenever
he went out he donned the Daoist vestment and crown bestowed by
the emperor and carried a tablet inscribed deities are exempted from
greeting [me] along with a stick for flogging ghosts. According to the
record, whenever there was a Daoist rite or offering, even in a
commoners family, he would go to the ritual arena and perform the
rites for the family. He also proclaimed himself Master of High Merit
(gaogong ), that is, chief officiant. Chanting the golden scriptures,
he prostrated himself before the altar and presented memorials to the
gods together with other Daoist priests. He also performed a rite
praying for rain.152 Thus, his obsession with Daoist rituals is beyond
doubt; but we do not have details on whether or how he was
In the Xiang Principality (enfeoffed in Xiangyang , Hubei),
Prince Huai of Xiang (Zhu Youcai , titled 1491-1504)
and his brother, Prince Kang of Xiang (Zhu Youzhi ;
1475-1550), were both fond of Daoism and its arts and had many
Daoist thunder altars and images of Daoist gods erected in their
respective palaces. Zhu Youzhi was said to be able to summon certain
Daoist gods. It is even said that Prince Jian of Xiang (Zhu
Jianshu , titled 1489-90), the father of the two brothers, had
a dream in which two Daoist priests were entering his princely palace.
The brothers were born in the same month shortly after this dream.153
Whether this was a legend or an authentic dream of Zhu Jianshus,
Zhu Youcai and Zhu Youzhis identity with Daoism was clear, and Zhu
Youzhi performed some Daoist rites himself.
Prince Zhuang of Su (Zhu Ying, enfeoffed in Lanzhou
, Shaanxi [present-day Gansu]), the first prince of this household,

Ming Shizong shilu, 341.3a; Xu Xuemo (1522-93), Liao Feiwang shiji ,
in idem, Guiyou yuan gao: Wenbian, 4.14a-b, 21b; Shen Defu (1578-1642), Wanli yehuo
bian, 4.119, 121-22; Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 117.3588; He Qiaoyuan, Mingshan cang,
37.16b-17a; Jiao Hong (1541-1620), Guochao xianzheng lu, 1.57b-58a; Deng Tingyan
of the Ming, Liaocheng yingu , in Chen Shi (1748-1826), Hubei
jiuwen lu, 15.644; Jingzhou fuzhi(1757), 22.30b-34a; Jiangling xianzhi(1794), 16.20b,
Xiangyang fuzhi (1584), 11.11b; Chen Shi, Hubei jiuwen lu, 15.653; Xiangyang xianzhi
(1874), juan 1, Dili yange , pp. 6b-7a.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 93

was familiar with the Qingwei (Clarified Tenuity) Thunder Rites,

in addition to his patronage of local Daoist temples and priests.154
Following his ancestor Zhu Ying, in a collateral line of the Su principality,
Commandery Prince Kangmu of Chunhua (Zhu Biguo
, d. 1583, enfeoffed in Lanzhou) promoted Daoism and
practiced Daoist ritual and magic. On the occasion of a drought, the
local officials asked him to perform a ritual praying for rain as if he
were a Daoist priest.155
If Zhu Bo, Zhu Xianjie, and certain princes from the Xiang and Su
princedoms actively performed or participated in Daoist rituals, the
next record is about princely involvement in a ritual in an allegedly
passive way. Prince Gong of Hui (Zhu Houjue , 1506-50,
enfeoffed in Junzhou , later renamed Yuzhou , Henan) was
also a follower of Daoism. He befriended Shao Yuanjie
(1459-1539) andTao Zhongwen (1481-1560), the two most
important senior Daoist priests in the court, both of whom were much
favored by the Jiajing emperor. Zhu Houjue was also treated by the
emperor as a favorite; he was awarded a golden seal inscribed the
perfected (zhenren ) and received the title Taiqing fuxuan xuanhua
zhongdao zhenren .156 His son, Zhu Zailun
(titled 1551-56), the last prince of Hui, also believed in Daoism.
He served and respected Tao Zhongwen as his master as well, and
befriended the Daoist priest Liang Gaofu . Zhu Zailun had a
faith in and made offerings to the Immortal of the Moon (Yuezhong
xianren ), one of the highest gods of Jingming Daoism. Zhu
Zailun, who was himself practicing, trusted Daoist alchemy and partook
of Daoist elixirs. By offering Daoist elixirs to the Jiajing emperor as a
tribute he was unduly trusted by the emperor and granted a golden
seal and the title Qingwei yijiao fuhua zhongxiao zhenren

Zhu Ying, Jintian guan jiming , in Zhang Wei (1890-fl. 1950), ed.,
Longyou jinshi lu, 6.2b-3b. On Zhu Yings patronage of Lanzhou Daoist temples and
priests, see Richard Wang, Four Steles, pp. 58, 68.
Lintao fuzhi (1604), 5.5b-6a. On Zhu Biguos patronage of Daoism, see Richard
Wang, Four Steles, p. 68.
Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, 4.119-21; He Qiaoyuan, Mingshan cang, 40.7b-8a; Jiao
Hong, Guochao xianzheng lu, 2.47b-48a; Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 119.3637-38; Ming
Shizong shilu, 438.1a; Kaifeng fuzhi (1585), 15.16b.
94 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

.157 Later, however, he offended the emperor and was

deprived of his princely title and imprisoned. The Hui principality was
abolished. Yet some Daoist priests who had been patronized by the
Hui princely establishment remained sympathetic to Zhu Zailun. They
erected wooden statues in the Hall of Literary Glory (Wenchang dian
) of the Cave of Zhang Liang (Liuhou dong ) in Junzhou,
inscribing them with such names as Holy Mother (shengmu ),
Empress (wanghou ), Heir of the Imperial Prince (shizi),
Princess (gongzhu ), etc., each with a Daoist title. These figures
all corresponded to authentic identities who were members of the Hui
principalitypresumably the last princes mother, wife, sons, and
daughters. In other words, these princely members of the Hui princedom
were sacralized in the Daoist community and secretly worshiped in a
Daoist fashion.158

Princes Participating in Observances as Lay Patrons

The third category of princely Daoist activities I will describe is the
invitation to or hiring of Daoist priests by princes to perform Daoist
rituals for them privately or for the community. Sometimes the princes
also participated in the observances. This kind of patronage, however,
differs from the last category insofar as that they did not perform
themselves, regardless of whether or not they were real Daoist followers,
and even though they put in more financial resources and paid more
rewards to Daoist priests. To be sure, some of the princes examined in
this section may actually have performed parts of Daoist rituals, but
since the limited sources available do not allow us to know the actual
facts they have been included in this third category by default. What
the princes in this category did was hiring Daoist priests to perform
rituals, or participating themselves in the rituals performed by those
priests, as well as worshipping in Daoist templesin short, activities
analogous to a lay patrons engagement in Daoism.

Shen Defu, Wanli yehuo bian, loc. cit. and 27.697, 699; He Qiaoyuan, loc. cit.; Jiao
Hong, loc. cit.; Zhang Tingyu, loc. cit.; Kaifeng fuzhi (1585), loc. cit.; Nanyang fuzhi
(1694), 5.61b; Ming Shizong shilu, 388.2b, 425.1a.
Yuxian zhi (1939), 30.26a.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 95

Prince Xian of Shu (Zhu Chun , 1370-1423, enfeoffed

in Chengdu, Sichuan) represents a transition from our second to our
third category of Daoist patronage. He claimed that he took refuge in
Daode tianzun , even though he is described as a Confucian
model prince in the official historiography.159 Zhu Chun told Zhu Bo,
his brother, that he had wanted to commission a grand Daoist ritual
for a long time, but could not find a competent Daoist master. This is
why around 1392 he requested Zhu Bo to send the Daoist master/
alchemist Ju / from the Southern Marchmount, who was
then housed by Zhu Bo, to the Shu princedom in order to perform a
ritual for him.160 Zhu Chun also invited the Daoist master (gaoshi
) Guo Benshu , a ritual official at the capital with a state
stipend, to Chengdu to perform a Yellow Register Ritual (huanglu zhai
) for him.161 From 1390 to 1398 Zhu Chun went to many
Daoist temples to worship Daoist gods, including the god Wenchang
at the Wenchang Palace (Wenchang gong ) at Mount Qiqu
in Zitong county (Sichuan), the headquarters of the
Wenchuan cult, and Marshal Zhao Xuanlang at his new
templewhich Zhu Chun had just builtwith prayers composed by
himself.162 He also observed a rite at the Black Sheep Palace (Qingyang
gong ) in Chengdu.163
In the Yan Principality (enfeoffed in Beiping, present-day
Beijing), Zhu Di, still the prince of Yan before becoming the Yongle
emperor, attended the Daoist ritual commemorating the completion
of the renovation of the Palace of Eternal Spring (Changchun gong
)todays White Cloud Abbey (Baiyun guan )in Beijing.
In 1395 he worshipped there and participated in the Yanjiu
festival on the nineteenth of the first month, which celebrated the
birthday of the Quanzhen patriarch Qiu Chuji (1148-1227)
and was the most important public festival ceremony organized at this

Zhu Chun, Xiangyuan ruizhi ji, 13.9b. For his description as a Confucian model, see
Zhang Tingyu, Mingshi, 117.3579-80.
Zhu Chun, Da Xiangfu shu , in idem, Xiangyuan ruizhi ji, 4.8b-9a.
Zhu Chun, Xiangyuan ruizhi ji, 13.9b.
Zhu Chun, Xiangyuan ruizhi ji, 7.4a-7b, 9a-12b. The Wenchang Palace at Mount
Qiqu was staffed with Daoist priests. See ibid., 7.5a.
Zhu Chun, Xiangyuan ruizhi ji, 14.1b.
96 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

monastery.164 Zhu Gaozhi (1378-1425), his son and designated

heir (later the Hongxi emperor), also visited the Palace of Eternal
Spring, worshipping there in 1396. He also had the priests at the
monastery perform the Grand Golden Register Ceremony (jinlu dazhai
) several times.165
Since the Yan principality only produced two generations of princes,
in a sense Zhu Di and Zhu Gaozhis participation in rituals can be
seen as their collective involvement. Similarly, in the Zhou Principality
(enfeoffed in Kaifeng, Henan), another powerful senior
establishment, generations of princes prayed on the 7th day of each
month to the Big Dipper at the Terrace of the Seven Stars (Qixing tai
), located within the Zhou princely estates.166
The last case of the Zhou princely ritual performance dedicated to
the Big Dipper deserves special attention. The Big Dipper played an
important role in Daoist cosmology, meditation and ritual, and worship
to the Big Dipper (baidou ) was a key rite in its own right as well
as an indispensible component in many rites in Daoism.167 In this
light, it is no surprise that Prince Xuan of Shen (Zhu Tianjiao
, titled 1552-82, enfeoffed in Luan prefecture, Shanxi),
like most Daoist patrons, also prayed to the Big Dipper in a Daoist
liturgy at an altar where Daoist priests performed the ritual dance of
pacing the void (buxu ).168 The commandery prince of Fanshan
(Zhu Yichi , 1568-fl. 1628, enfeoffed in Qi sub-
prefecture, Hubei) also worshipped the Big Dipper (to be discussed
Prince Xuan of Yi (Zhu Yiyin), mentioned above, and his son Zhu
Changqian  (d. 1615), then the designated heir to the princedom

Koyanagi, Hakuunkan shi, 1.555; Hu Ying (1375-1463), Baiyun guan chong-
xiu ji , in ibid., 4.582; Zhao Shixian (1460-1511), Baiyun guan
chongxiu bei , in ibid., 4.583; Shuntian fuzhi (1896), 17.8a-b. On the
Yanjiu festival, see Goossaert, The Taoists of Peking, pp. 161-62, 232, 256-57; Li Yangzheng,
Xinbian Beijing Baiyun guanzhi, p. 273.
Koyanagi, Hakuunkan shi, 1.555; Hu Ying, Baiyun guan chongxiu ji, loc. cit.; Zhao
Shixian, Baiyun guan chongxiu bei, loc. cit.
Chang Maolai, ed., Ru meng lu, p. 10.
For a discussion of the Daoist worship of the Big Dipper, see Robinet, Taoist Medita-
tion, pp. 200-25; Lagerwey, Taoist Ritual, pp. 48, 73, 81, 113, 125, 131, 170, 197.
Zhu Tianjiao, Lyun xuan gao, 8.7b-8a. For a discussion of buxu, see Schipper,
A Study of Buxu, pp. 110-20; Schafer, Pacing the Void; Robinet, Taoist Meditation,
pp. 221-24.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 97

and later Prince Jing of Yi , went to the Abbey of Sublime

Mystery (Xuanmiao guan) in Nancheng county during the Shangyuan
Festival and participated in an offering (jiao).169 Besides, Zhu Changqian
observed a great liturgy on the Middle Prime Festival (Zhongyuan jie
, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month), involving such
terms as (the rite) of summoning for investigation (kaojiao )
and marvelous petitions (xuanzhang ).170 The Zhongyuan
Festival, also known as the festival of Universal Salvation (pudu ),
was dedicated to those who had died a violent or accidental death and
to the orphan souls.171
Commandery prince Rongyi of Qingcheng (Zhu
Shenzhong , fl. 1563-1606, enfeoffed in Fenzhou
prefecture, Shanxi), who belonged to a collateral branch of the Jin
Principality , also commissioned the performance of a great rite
on the Zhongyuan Festival. He describes this great Offering in a poem
full of sacrificial fruits and food, incense smoke, and flag-raising, and
mentions the hell from which those deprived souls are released.172 The
great liturgy on the Zhongyuan Festival was but one of the many
services for the dead that constituted one major type of Daoist ritual.
The other major type was the rituals for the living at the pure
communal offerings. Zhu Shenzhong also participated in a pure
communal offering (qingjiao ) at a local place named Xilin ,
in which Daoist priests in full attire set up a Daoist altar, chanted the
scriptures, and prayed for the gods blessings.173
While Zhu Shenzhong provides us with rich information about the
nature of the Daoist rituals he observed, we do not know the ritual
details of the following princes participation. Thus, the prince of Tan
(Zhu Zi , 1369-90, enfeoffed in Changsha, Hunan)
summoned a Daoist priest from Mount Longhu and had him set up

Zhu Changqian, Dongguan fouyin, 4.7b.
Ibid., 8.10b. The kaojiao fa , also known as kaozhao fa, refers to a Daoist
therapeutic ritual popularized in the Song and afterwards. The xuanzhang, or simply zhang,
was a Daoist liturgical genre. For a detailed study of Song kaozhao rites, see Davis, Society
and the Supernatural, pp. 96-107.
For an introduction to the festival of Universal Salvation, see Goossaert, The Taoists
of Peking, pp. 333-41.
Zhu Shenzhong, Baoshan tang gao, 1.1b.
Ibid., 1.14b-15a.
98 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

a Daoist altar at the court, apparently for a ritual purpose. He also

worshipped the Jade Emperor.174 Prince Ding of Shen (Zhu
Chengyao , 1549-1621) burned incense at the Daoist Palace
of Divine Empyrean (Shenxiao gong ) in Changzhi county,
the seat of Luan prefecture, displaying his admiration of the immortal
realm, but the context is not provided.175 In the Commandery Princely
Establishment of Mengjin (enfeoffed in Huaiqing prefecture)
under the Zheng Principality, Zhu Youshan , who was in charge
of the affairs of the establishment, sent an envoy to present incense for
the ritual performed by the senior Daoist priest Tao Zhongwen at the
Altar to Heaven (Tiantan ).176 Likewise, Commandery Prince
Duanhui of Yiyang (Zhu Gonggui , 1497-1551,
enfeoffed in Nanchang), who belonged to a collateral branch of the
Ning principality, commissioned a ritual in which the Daoist priests
burned talismans and succeeded in summoning a crane.177
Occasionally princes made pilgrimages to certain holy mountains
with the courts approval. Thus, Prince Jian of Qin (Zhu
Chengyong , 1458-98, enfeoffed in Xian, Shaanxi) went on a
pilgrimage to Huashan , the Western Peak, where he participated
in rituals that included a liturgical service held at the Temple of the
Western Peak (Xiyue miao ), the liturgical memorial to the god
being penned by himself.178 For his part, and like his ancestor, Prince
Cheng of Shu (Zhu Rangxu , titled 1510-47) prayed
at the Black Sheep Palace in Chengdu and at the Wenchang Palace on
Mount Qiqu, in this case for the birth of the Jiajing emperors heir, as
well as at Mount Heming in Dayi county (Sichuan) to
celebrate the emperors birthday.179 Praying for an heir and birthday

Ming Taizu, Yuzhi jifei lu, p. 117.
Zhu Chengyao, Xiuye tang gao, 11.21a.
Ming Shizong shilu, 365.11b. In 1484 the Commandery Prince of Mengjin (Zhu
Jiancong , d. 1491) was found guilty, put in jail and deprived of his commandery
princely title. His son Zhu Youshan was designated as Manager of the Princely Establish-
ment (zongshi guanli ). Under such a situation the manager of a princely estab-
lishment functioned as an imperial or commandery prince.
Zhu Gonggui, Dongle xuan shiji, 1.7b-8a.
Zhu Chengyong, Xiaoming gao, 9.35b-36a, 10.24a-b; Zhang Weixin (jinshi 1577),
ed., Huayue quanji, 11.5b-6a.
Zhu Rangxu, Changchun jingchen gao, 1.8a-10b.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 99

celebrations thus constituted two important occasions to commission

Daoist rituals. Bulwark-general of the State (fuguo jiangjun )
Zhu Gonghui (fl. 1540s), from the above-mentioned collateral
commandery princely establishment of Yiyang, prayed for his own
heirs at Mount Huagai , a sacred mountain of Celestial Heart
Daoism (Tianxin zhengfa ) in Chongren county
(Jiangxi).180 Likewise Prince Xian of Shen (Zhu Yinyi ,
fl. 1526-49), who is described as having indulged in Daoist mystery,181
commissioned a Daoist rite at a Daoist altar to celebrate the Jiajing
emperors birthday;182 and Prince Gong of Chu (Zhu Yingxian
, titled 1551-70, enfeoffed in Wuchang prefecture, Hubei)
sent envoys several times to Mount Wudang, worshipping Zhenwu
and praying for the Jiajing emperors longevity.183
The popularity of Daoism in the Ming can be verified by its affinity
with various local cults and temples in towns and villages, in particular
the cults of Zhenwu,184 of the City God,185 and of Guan Yu.186 As is
well-known, the cult of the City God plays an important role in Chinese
popular as well as official religion.187 The proliferation of City Gods
may also have been influenced by Buddhist deities such as Vaisravana,
and Buddhists perhaps had a hand in incorporating City Gods into
Buddhist ritual. It was the Daoist clergy, however, which incor-
porated the City Gods into its own pantheon, so that the City God

Li Weizhen (1547-1626), Yiyang wangsun Zhenji muzhiming
, in idem, Dabi shanfang ji, 77.7b. For a study of Mt. Huagai and Celestial Heart
Daoism, see Hymes, Way and Byway.
Pei Yu (b. 1510), preface to Zhu Tianjiao, Lyun xuan gao, 4a.
Zhu Yinyi, Baohe zhai gao, 3.18b-19a.
Wu Guolun (1524-93), Danzhuidong xugao, prose section, 12.19a-20a.
For a study of the formation of the Zhenwu cult and its dissemination in popular
religion and Daoism, see Grootaers et al., The Sanctuaries in a North-China City, pp. 82-90;
Grootaers, The Hagiography of the Chinese God Chen-wu, pp. 123-70; Lagerwey, The
Pilgrimage to Wu-tang Shan, pp. 293-332; Wong Shiu-hon, Xuandi kao, pp. 121-56;
de Bruyn, Wudang Shan, pp. 553-90.
For a study of the City God cult in late imperial China, see Johnson, The City-God
Cults, pp. 363-457; Feuchtwang, School-Temple and City God, pp. 581-608; Deng
Siyu, Chenghuang kao, pp. 249-76.
On the spread of Guan Yu temples and the Guan Yu cult in the Ming, see Diesinger,
Vom General zum Gott: Kuan Y, pp. 99-181, 187-259; Inoue, Kan U shiby no yrai
(2), pp. 61-72.
Johnson, The City-God Cults, passim, esp. pp. 363-64, 440, 443-45, 447-49.
100 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

held a position in both the Daoist pantheon and lay religion.188

As T.H. Barrett demonstrates, the tendency for incorporating the City
Gods into Daoist liturgy was strengthened from the Song onwards;189
and Romeyn Taylor has convincingly pointed out that, at least in the
Ming, popular religious activity in the temples of City Gods was
carried on under the auspices of the Taoist clergy despite official
Although Guan Yu is a familiar deity in Buddhist monasteries and
Confucian shrines today, the Daoist connection with the origin and
spread of his cult is significant. According to B.J. ter Haars study,
Guan Yu as a minor demon general was invoked by Daoist priests in
Daoist exorcist rituals with bloody sacrifices. In ter Haars words, in
quantitative terms, the evidence testifying to a Taoist context is also
much richer than that concerning the cults early Buddhist connection.
The popularity and attractiveness of the cult of Guan Yu was partly
attributed to this Daoist image and connection. Ter Haars random
accounts suggest that a large number of the Guan Yu temples in the
Song and Yuanalmost all in his samplewere founded by or closely
connected to Daoist priests.191 Inoue Ichii also provides evidence that
the Guan Yu cult from the Yuan to the Republican period was
characterized by the increasingly zealous Daoist adoption of it.192
If the cults of the City God and of Guan Yu were closely connected
with Daoism, the cult of Zhenwu was essentially Daoist despite its
adoption by Buddhists and Confucians. In any event, Ming princes
were engaged in all three cults. Below are examples of their participation

Hansen, Gods on Walls, pp. 76, 88, 92, 93, 95, 98, 99, 101; Barrett, Buddhism,
Taoism and the Rise of the City Gods, pp. 21, 23.
Barrett, ibid., pp. 15-19, 22, 24-25, esp. 19.
Taylor, Official and Popular Religion, pp. 152-53. Deng Siyu also argues that the
City God cult was more closely connected with Daoism than Buddhism and Confucian-
ism by providing evidence that the majority of the City God temples in late imperial
China and modern times were inhabited and controlled by Daoist priests. Livia Kohn
examines the Daoist adoption of the City Gods in her study of the celestial City God in
one of the Daoist scriptures of the City God. See Deng Siyu, Chenghuang kao, pp. 256,
263-64, esp. 270-272; Kohn, The Taoist Adoption, pp. 72-73, 79-81, 86-88, 91-98.
ter Haar, The Rise of the Guan Yu Cult, pp. 185-88, 192-94, 199, 200-4.
Inoue, Kan U shiby no yrai, pp. 42-43, 45 (1); 58-59, 61-66, 69-70, 72-73,
76-77 (2). For a Buddhist connection to the Guan Yu cult, see Brook, Praying for Power,
pp. 288-89.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 101

in each of the three, including worship in temples identified as Daoist

institutions. Thus, in 1396 Prince Xian of Shu (i.e., Zhu Chun)
worshipped Zhenwu in the new temple dedicated to him, which he
had just built.193 Prince Gonghui of Jingjiang (Zhu
Bangning , titled 1527-72) prayed to the Dark Emperor
(Zhenwu) before he reopened the Cliff of Great Peace (Taiping yan
) on Duxiu Peak in Guilin and erected a statue of the
Dark Emperor and six statues of his attendants there in 1533. In 1534
he went to the Cliff of Great Peace and worshipped the Dark
Both Zhu Chun and Zhu Bangning also prayed in the City God
temples, an indication that the Ming princes simultaneously worshipped
these popular gods. Zhu Chun in particular prayed to the City God
in his temple in Chengdu three times in 1395 and 1396, using his
own prayers.195 In 1509 Prince Cheng of Tang (Zhu Miti
, titled 1487-1523) prayed in the City God Temple of Nanyang
prefecture.196 Finally, Prince Gong of Dai (Zhu Tingqi
, fl. 1536-73, enfeoffed in Datong , Shanxi) offered prayers to
Guan Yu in the King Guan Temple (Guanwang miao ) in
Datong in 1567.197
Sometimes a prince commissioned either a grand ceremony or a
private rite when no particular context was provided. As a result, we
do not know the purposes of these rites. Here are two examples. First,
Prince Jing of Qing (Zhu Zhan) once gathered every Daoist priest
and Buddhist monk of Shaanxi province to perform a ritual at the
end of which he venerated the Zhengyi Daoist priest Liu Zongdao
.198 Second, Prince Xian of Xiang (Zhu Zhanshan

Zhu Chun, Xianyuan ruizhi ji, 7.4a-b.
Zhu Bangning, Shidai Jingjiang wang gongfeng Xuandi ji ,
in Chen Yuan, Daojia jinshi le, pp. 1278-79; Yang Guoliang and Zhou Zuoming, Ming
Jingjiang wangcheng, p. 70.
Zhu Chun, Xianyuan ruizhi ji, 7.11b-13a; Guangxi tongzhi (1531), 33.6a; Zheng
Wan (fl. 1526), Guilin Chenghuang miao beiji , in ibid.,
Wang Hongru (fl. 1487-1519), Chongxiu Chenghuang miaoji
, in Nanyang fuzhi (1694), 6.40a-43b.
Datong xianzhi (1830), Juanwei , p. 760.
Shaanxi tongzhi (1542), 36.5b; Xian fuzhi (1779), 37.47a. During the Ming Ning-
xia Guard, where Zhu Zhan was enfeoffed, belonged to Shaanxi province.
102 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

, 1406-78) ordered someone to worship the supernatural with

burning memorials and let the Daoist priest Xiao Daozhen
perform planchette sances (fuluan).199
The aforementioned princes participated in rituals performed either
by themselves or by Daoist priests for various purposes, including
honoring gods. The next four events involve the key function and
source for reputation of Daoist ritual specialists, that is, exorcistic rites
performed for the benefit of the princes or the safety of their houses.
It is interesting to note that, because of the special skills and training
required by such rites, no princes personal prayers are mentioned on
such occasions. On the contrary, the princes relied heavily on Daoist
priests to chase demons. Thus, in the Zheng Principality, the princely
mansion was once haunted by a demon and a prince of Zheng hired
the Daoist master Yang Budai, whom we encountered above, to exorcise
it.200 Yang Budai seems to have been very famous in Henan. In addition
to being the master of a son of a certain prince of Zheng and providing
the above-mentioned exorcistic service for the princely household, he
was also consulted by princes from other fief-states. In the Chong
Principality , for example, Commandery Prince Zhuanghui of
Huaian (Zhu Houqian , titled 1515-78, enfeoffed
in Runing prefecture, Henan), who admired Yang Budai, invited
him to stay at his princely mansion. Yang Budai exorcised a demon in
his house and Zhu Houqian gave him a hundred taels of silver as
reward.201 Because of their lofty social status some princes were able
to hire elite Daoist priestsin other words, priests who ranked highly
in the Daoist bureaucracyand Yang Budai may have been one of
The next account concerns the highest ranking Daoist priest in the
Ming. Because his household was haunted with demons and other
abnormalities, Prince Duan of Gui (Zhu Changying ,
1597-1644, enfeoffed in Hengzhou prefecture, Hunan) invited
Zhang Yingjing, the fifty-second Heavenly Master, to perform an
exorcistic ritual at the Abbey of Numinous Treasure at West Lake

Ming Yingzong shilu, 52.5a.
Ruyang xianzhi (1690), 9B.67b; Chongxiu Runan xianzhi (1938), 22.44a-b.
Zhu Zhidong (early Qing), Suojian ouchao, p. 814; Runing fuzhi (1796), 20.13b-
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 103

(Xihu Lingbao guan ) in Hengyang county, the seat

of Hengzhou prefecture, in 1634.202
Finally, in the Tang principality the commandery prince of Wencheng
(Zhu Miqian , titled 1479-1516, enfeoffed in Nanyang)
also hired a Daoist priest, Xiong , to perform a rite in order to
pacify his household, which was presumably haunted by some demonic
In many occurrences the rites performed by Daoist priests were
considered to be therapeutically effective, in addition to their exorcistic
function. In the Rong Principality (enfeoffed in Changde
prefecture, Hunan), Prince Zhuang of Rong (Zhu Zaijing
, fl. 1537-57) invited the female Daoist saint Gou Ruixian
(ca. 1526-ca. 1590) to his house, where she healed the sickness of
the Great Consort (taifei ), Zhu Zaijings mother. Moreover, when
the Great Consort consulted Gou Ruixian about an heir to the prince,
Gou prophesized the birth of a son, and it did happen.204
Under the Jin Principality, Commandery Prince Gongding of Xihe
(Zhu Qisu , titled 1491-1557, enfeoffed in
Pingyang prefecture, Shanxi) hired Daoist priests to set up an
altar and perform liturgy for the recovery of his mother from illness.205
Similarly, in 1526, before his worship of Zhenwu at the Cliff of Great
Peace on Duxiu Peak and while he was still Heir of the Prince, Prince
Gonghui of Jingjiang (Zhu Bangning) also prayed for his father in the
City God Temple of Guilin.206 As mentioned above, it was for his
mothers health that the commandery prince of Fanshan (Zhu Yichi)
prayed to the Big Dipper.207
While the last four stories (those from the Rong, Xihe, Jingjiang
and Fanshan princely establishments) illustrate that filial piety played

Hengzhou fuzhi (1682), 23.28a-b; Hengyang xianzhi (1761), 10.24b-25a.
Zhu Miqian, Qianguang tang shiji, 2.13b.
Mei Qiu (fl. 1596), Guanguo shan ji , in Shimen xianzhi (1818),
49.10a-12b. For information on Gou Ruixian, see Yang Erzeng (1573-ca. 1623), Xinjuan
xianyuan jishi, 9.4a-b; Mei Qiu, Guanguo shan ji, 49.10a-12b; Shimen xianzhi (1868),
13.11a-13a, 14.13b.
Taiyuan fuzhi (1783), 60.31b.
Guangxi tongzhi (1531), 33.6a; Zheng Wan, Guilin Chenghuang miao beiji,
Zhu Yichi, Guangyan tang ji, 14.11b.
104 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

a key role in the princes prayers to Daoist gods, either by themselves

or through the intermediary of hired Daoist priests, some princes also
did it for their own health. In the Zhou principality, a Bulwark-general
of the State from the collateral commandery princely establishment of
Zuocheng (enfeoffed in Kaifeng) prayed at Mount Tiantan
, part of the Daoist holy Mount Wangwu (Henan), to
be relieved from his illness in 1515.208 And at the commandery princely
establishment of Wencheng, mentioned above, the Daoist priest Wang
saved with his efficacious medicine the life of the wife of Zhu
Miqian, the commandery prince, who suffered from a severe illness.209
As nobles and leaders of the local society, Ming princes also often
organized Daoist rituals for the public interest, the most common
instance being prayers for rain in time of drought. Thus, in 1405 in
the Shu Principality, Prince Xian of Shu (Zhu Chun) searched for great
Daoists and finally found the Daoist priest Zhong Shanxuan ,
whom he ordered to perform a rite praying for rain.210 Another prince
of Shu summoned the Daoist priest Luo Yongzheng for the
same purpose.211
As already mentioned, in 1509 Prince Cheng of Tang (Zhu Miti)
prayed in the City God Temple of Nanyang prefecture. The purpose
of his prayer was actually to get rain.212 In the same principality, the
commandery prince of Wencheng (Zhu Miqian), in addition to
ordering a rite pacifying his household, also commissioned a Daoist
master Zhang to perform a Five Thunder rite (wulei fa
) praying for rain for the local community.213
Also, Prince Xuan of Shen (Zhu Tianjiao), besides participating in
the rite dedicated to the Big Dipper, also commissioned some Daoist
priests to perform a rite praying for rain, in which the priests practiced
the ritual walk following the cosmic patterns known as the Steps of Yu
(Yubu ).214 Yet again, the commandery prince of Yongding

He Tang (1474-1543), Baizhai Zhang xiansheng xiujian beiji
, in idem, Bozhai ji, 8.13b-14b.
Zhu Miqian, Qianguang tang shiji, 1.25a.
Jiangxi tongzhi (1683), 42.46a-b; Jiangxi tongzhi (1732), 103.53a.
Baoning fuzhi (1843), 48.4a; Langzhong xianzhi (1926), 26.48a.
Wang Hongru, Chongxiu Chenghuang miaoji, 6.40a-43b.
Zhu Miqian, Qianguang tang shiji, 1.30a.
Zhu Tianjiao, Lyun xuan gao, 7.8b-9a. For a discussion of Yubu, see Andersen, The
Practice of Bugang, pp. 15-53.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 105

(Zhu Zaisheng , d. 1550, enfeoffed in Qi sub-prefecture,

Hubei) under the Jing Principality revered the Daoist priest Hao
Wutong and ordered him to perform a rite praying for rain.215
All in all, as a Qing historian observes, Ming princes were all fond of
praying for blessings.216

This study has examined the incentives for the Ming princes patronage
of Daoism and involvement in Daoist ritual. In terms of social
institutions, the temples and ritual arenas situated within the princely
establishments offered the princes a liturgical atmosphere and religious
experience. The Abbey of Divine Music with its local branches, in
particular, provided them with Daoist knowledge and enabled them
to participate in ritual practice. Given such background and facilities,
a great number of Ming princes became involved in Daoist rituals in
ways ranging from actual joining of the Daoist order to lay patronage
of Daoist practitioners.
Two cases, incidentally, deserve particular attention. While the
majority of Ming emperors patronized Daoism, two of themYongle
and Jiajingappear to have been especially devout followers. While
the former is well known for his belief in Zhenwu and extensive
patronage of Daoist institutions on Mount Wudang, the latter was a
pious believer and a genuine Daoist emperor, the last one in Chinese
history. Now, the Yongle emperor was originally the prince of Yan and
became emperor only by usurping the throne. The Jiajing emperor, for
his part, was initially heir apparent to the prince of Xing (enfeoffed
in Anlu sub-prefecture, Hubei) and came to the imperial throne
from a princely establishment. In other words, both emperors beliefs
and patronage of Daoism began when they were princes, and these
two cases of imperial patronage can actually be interpreted as typical
examples of the relationship between Ming princes and Daoism.217

Huangzhou fuzhi (1884), 41.17a-b.
Yin Jiajun (fl. 1872) and Peng Yulin (1816-90), Hengyang xianzhi
(1872), 10.19b.
For a discussion of the Yongle emperors belief in Daoism when he was Prince of Yan,
see Yang Qiqiao, Mingdai zhudi, pp. 22-23. The sources regarding the Jiajing emperor
106 R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119

The present study of the Ming princes involvement in Daoism

makes it clear that their activities should be seen within the context of
the dynastys official religious policies, including policies regarding
princes. Although supporting Daoism was a national policy, the efforts
of the princes, who maintained a long tradition of Daoist belief, made
Daoist activities and rituals at the local level a very lively and, more
relevant to our purpose, highly visible business. The evidence adduced
in this essay enhances my earlier hypothesis that Ming princes played
an important role in propagating Daoism as a vehicle of cultural and
religious identity.218
Scholars studying religion in its social context have paid attention
to the institutional support provided to such religions as Daoism. This
support could come from the state, the emperor, or local authorities.
Equally important was the systematic support provided by hereditary
aristocrats, in this case Ming princes. Ming princes, ranging from
ordinands, believers identified with Daoism without joining the Dao,
to lay patrons, roughly represented the different spiritual and social
needs of local society.
In the study of Ming Daoism, examining court politics and the
religious policies of the Ming government has yielded great results.
Research into the relationship between Daoism and local temple
associations and clans applying anthropological and field-oriented
methodologies has also been initiated. In contrast, the connection
between Ming princes and local Daoism remains an under-appreciated
subject. This approach differs from the study of the Ming courts

when he was a princely heir apparent are scarce. His father Zhu Youyuan (Prince Xian of
Xing) apparently demonstrated his patronage of Daoism by getting involved in ritual
ceremonies, supporting Daoist temples, sponsoring Daoist priests, and writing poems and
panegyrics for Daoist deities. Zhu Youyuan insisted on training Zhu Houcong (the later
Jiajing emperor) in religious rituals from the early age of ten. From then on Houcong
participated in almost all the customary rituals and ceremonials at the princely court and
became extremely familiar with them, including most likely Daoist ritual performance.
He is also recorded to have built a Daoist temple. See Gao Yanlin, Lun Da-Ming Gong-
mu, pp. 14, 19; Zhongxiang xianzhi(1867), 20.10a; Zhongxiang jinshi kao(1933), 2.18b;
Zhongxiang xianzhi (1937), 6.10b, 28.15b; Pengze xianzhi (1582), 8.2a-3a; Zhou Zhao
(1442-1521), Wuxian miao ji , in Hubei tongzhi (1804), 95.16a-17b;
Wang Jingfu, Zhongxiang guji lansheng, pp. 310-11, 315; Geiss, The Chia-ching
Reign, p. 441; Lienche Tu Fang, Chu Hou-tsung, p. 317.
Richard Wang, Four Steles, pp. 58-59, 67-68, 80.
R.G. Wang / Toung Pao 95 (2009) 51-119 107

political relationship with Daoism, which emphasizes purely historical

documents, because the historical records of Ming princes are extremely
limited. Field studies are confined to modern society and do not provide
a historical picture beyond the Qing dynasty. Therefore, the approach
adopted in this study has been to combine the above two methods by
attempting a historical/historiographical use of anthropology. Once
the conventional historical sources have been mastered one must make
extensive use of epigraphy, collected literary works, local gazetteers,
archaeological reports, Daoist canonical texts, anecdotal literature, and
critical bibliography in order to understand local societies and Daoism.219
In dealing with the affinity between Ming princes and Daoist rituals,
this essay represents just such an attempt. More sophisticated work
awaits further effort.

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