Por Mae HamiltonLast updated on December 2, 2022
One of the most important and popular characters inchinese mythology, the Jade Emperor (玉皇) is the supreme ruler of heaven and the first emperor of China. He is also considered a particularly important character.taoistdivinity. With all its specialized roles and social hierarchies, the Jade Emperor's court parallels the structure of ancient Chinese monarchies. The emperor's justice, benevolence, and mercy were qualities that true Chinese emperors wished to emulate.
Even today, the Jade Emperor plays an important role in Chinese life, especially in the surrounding area.Chinese new year. During the new year, the Jade Emperor is said to judge each individual's character in the past year and punish or reward them accordingly.
The name of the Jade Emperor is composed of the Chinese characters yù (玉) meaning "jade" and dì (皇) meaning "emperor". However, the Jade Emperor also has many other names and titles. His full title, written as yǜ huáng shàng dì (玉皇上帝), means "Pure Emperor Augustus on High", although it is rarely used. The Jade Emperor is better known as tiān gōng (天公) or "heavenly grandfather".
In art and film, the Jade Emperor is often portrayed as a middle-aged man with a thin mustache and a long, wispy goatee. He is usually depicted in long flowing robes and seated on a royal throne, although he is sometimes depicted in full battle armor and wielding a greatsword.
The Jade Emperor is married to the Heavenly Queen Mother,Xiwangmu(西王母). The couple is said to have had a large number of children together, and three of their daughters hold important places in Chinese mythology.
Zhu niang-niang is a fertility goddess who helps couples in need of children, and Yen-kuang nian-niang is the protector of the blind who can grant the power of sight to those in need. Perhaps her most famous daughter, Zhinü, is not famous for her role as a goddess, but for her deeds: she fell in love with a human and suffered as a result.
- Yen-kuang nian-niang
In some versions of his origin story, the Jade Emperor came into being when the universe was created.My(盤古). In most popular myths, he is often depicted as a mortal man before becoming a god.
The origin of the Jade Emperor as a soldier
It is said that the Jade Emperor was a soldier named Zhang Denglai who fought in a bloody civil war during the Zhou Dynasty. In the midst of a particularly bitter battle, Denglai and his entire battalion were wiped out. When Denglai awoke in the afterlife, he found his commander giving each of the other soldiers honorary posts in the celestial court.
Gradually, all men were given positions at court except the commander and Denglai. His commander secretly planned to secure himself the highest position of the Jade Emperor. But when he was about to declare himself emperor, he stopped and said "děng lái", which means "wait a minute". It was common in those days for high officials and kings to pause before accepting a promotion to consider the great responsibility they were about to assume. Seeing a great opportunity, Denglai pretended to ignore this tradition and pretended to have heard his name. Therefore, Denglai stepped forward and accepted the role of Jade Emperor.
The Origin of the Jade Emperor as a Virgin Birth
In other versions of his story, the Jade Emperor was born to a chaste queen who prayed for an heir to the throne for her elderly and sick husband. One night, while sleeping, the queen had a vision of the Taoist philosopher,Lao Zi, and miraculously became pregnant. From the moment the baby was born, it was clear that he was something special. He acquired the ability to walk and talk at an early age, and was remarkably patient and kind for a child.
When his father died, the Jade Emperor ascended the throne and devoted his time to helping those in need and ensuring the prosperity of his subjects. After achieving all of his goals in just a few years, the Jade Emperor ceded the throne to a relative, seeing no point in having so much power.
After leaving court, the Jade Emperor dedicated his life to meditation and the study of Taoist philosophy. After years of study, he attained enlightenment, learned the secret of immortality, and became a powerful deity.
The Seamstress and the Shepherd
The Tale of the Seamstress and the Cowboy is one of the most famous Chinese folk tales ever told and remains immensely popular to this day. Once upon a time, the Jade Emperor's daughter, a talented weaver and a lowly cowgirl fell in love. Furious that his daughter left heaven to marry a human, the Jade Emperor banished the couple to live on opposite sides of the Milky Way. However, after seeing how unhappy his daughter was, he allowed them to see each other once a year. "chinese valentine's day' is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the day the two lovers meet each year.
Journey to the West
One of the most popular myths in the Chinese canon,Journey to the Westis the story of a humble Buddhist monk named Tang Sanzang, who travels from southern China to India to bring back sacred texts and help enlighten his countrymen.
The Jade Emperor's role in the story revolves around the Monkey King,sol wukong(孫悟空). Wukong was once a member of the Jade Emperor's court, but was cast out of heaven and imprisoned under a mountain for 500 years for defying the Emperor's authority. While Wukong is the epitome of jealousy, impatience and bitterness, the Jade Emperor is a paragon of kindness, compassion and wisdom. After repenting and serving as Sanzang's disciple, Wukong attains Buddhahood and is reinstated in the Jade Emperor's court.
One day, the Jade Emperor sent letters to all the animals in his earthly kingdom, inviting them to join him in his palace. The animals presented must be honorary members of thezodiac.
Knowing that he was the most beautiful of all animals, the cat was sure he would get a place. However, he was also very lazy and loved to sleep. The cat felt sleepy and asked his mouse friend to wake him up when it was time to go to the Jade Emperor's palace.
The rat had not been invited into the Jade Emperor's palace and he knew he had no chance of entering the zodiac, not if people were disgusted by his mere presence. The mouse saw only one option: he had to let the cat sleep and go in her place.
When the cat woke up the next morning, she found that she had slept most of the day. He looked at the mouse to ask why he didn't wake him up and see him walking the streets happily. Angered by the mouse's betrayal, the cat began to chase him; That's why cats hunt mice to this day.
The Jade Emperor is one of the most important and popular deities in Chinese folk religion. There are hundreds of temples dedicated to the Jade Emperor across Asia and almost every temple has at least one shrine dedicated to him.
The celebration of the Jade Emperor's birthday takes place on the ninth day of the lunar calendar, and this day of worship is an integral part of Chinese New Year celebrations. During the new year, the furnace god tells the Jade Emperor about everyone's actions,Zao jun(灶神), who lives in the kitchen and witnesses everything that happens in the house. The Jade Emperor then decides whether to reward or punish that family for the next year based on their behavior in the previous year. People often give Zao Jun sweets to sweeten him up or make his mouth so sticky he can't speak.
During the New Year, worshipers often erect elaborate tiered sacrificial shrines, burn incense, and pray to the Jade Emperor to appease him and bring him good luck in the coming year. It is said that he is able to help and intervene in all the problems of the faithful, so it is especially important not to miss his celebration. One of the most popular prayers is the following:
Help the sick and all who suffer, protect hermits from snakes and tigers, sailors from the raging waves, peacemakers from thieves and bandits! Keep all contagions, caterpillars and locusts away from us. Preserve us from drought, flood and fire, from tyranny and captivity. Free those who are tormented there by Hell... Enlighten everyone with the Teaching that saves. Rebirth what is dead, and let what is dry become green again.