The Legend of Ji Gong

The legend of Ji Gong (a legendary monk who helped people with a magic fan) is a folk tale evolved from the story of Dao Ji, a hierarch of the Chan sect in the Southern Song Dynasty. Dao Ji was named by people as "Ji Lunatic" owning to his lunatic-like acts. Also, he was awarded by the earthlings the title of "Ji Gong" living Buddha for his pleasure in defending people against injustice, rewarding virtue and punishing vice, as well as his almsgiving to the poor. Before and after Dao Ji's death, there were many occult legends about him going round on Tiantai Mountain, a famous Buddhist holy land in Zhejiang Province. Since the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the legend of Ji Gong has been extensively spreading across China as a widely known folk tale. There also exist abundant folk customs and stories related to him.

The legend of Ji Gong takes root in a real historical figure, featuring regional originality and supernatural plots. Meanwhile, it is characterized by extensive involvement of all aspects of life as well as rich and diversified contents. It is an embodiment of common people's joy, anger, grief and happiness.

Over these 800 odd years, the legend of Ji Gong has been serving as inexhaustible materials for literature and art. Other than verbal performance, it is performed in the form of singing, dancing, drama, fiction, movie, TV play, painting, calligraphy and carving. It has hereby exerted great influence on every aspect in the field of culture and art. Its impact has extended from Chinese mainland to Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan as well as Japan, South Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe and America, etc. According to rough statistics, there exist up to a thousand of Ji Gong Temples merely in Taiwan. As a peculiar cultural phenomenon deeply impressive to common people, the legend of Ji Gong has been included in the List of National Oral and Intangible Culture Heritages.

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