Three Views of Zhao yuanshuai 趙元帥 Marshal Zhao

The images below show three different representations of Marshal Zhao, Zhao yuanshuai 趙元帥, one of the main guardians of the Daoist sacred area. With multiple functions in Chinese popular religion since antiquity, including those of a god of epidemics and a god of wealth, Marshal Zhao, referred to as the Marshal of the Dark Altar, Xuantan yuanshuai 玄壇元帥, has been viewed as a major protector of Daoism since at least the 13th century. The first image is from the Tenri Library version of the Scripture of the Jade Pivot, Yushu jing 玉樞經, where he occurs both in the initial series of portraits of deities and, as shown here, at the very end of the scripture, guarding the rear of the sacred text. The second image is a detail from the famous 13th century sketchbook, Ink Treasure of Wu Daozi, Daozi mobao 道子墨寶, attributed to the legendary 8th century "painter-sage," Wu Daozi 吳道子. The third example is a contemporary ritual scroll possessed by Daoist High Priest, Chen Rongsheng 陳榮盛 of Tainan, Taiwan. It clearly shows a number of developments in iconographic features, compared to the earlier standards.

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