Imperial Lord Wenchang holding a ruyi scepter
According to Taoist tradition, the Birthday of Imperial Lord Wenchang (文昌帝君聖誕 Wenchang Dijun Shengdan) is observed on the 3rd day of the 2nd Chinese lunar month. Imperial Lord Wenchang (文昌帝君 Wenchang Dijun), also known as Imperial Lord Zitong (梓童帝君 Zitong Dijun), is the Taoist god of literature and academic success.
Wenchang was originally the collective name for a group of stars located in the Great Bear (Ursa Major) constellation. According to the ancient Chinese constellation system, the six Wenchang stars are included in the Purple Forbidden Enclosure (紫微垣 Ziwei Yuan) group of stars that are located in the sky near the north celestial pole. In this system, Wenchang means administrative center and stands for six governmental departments or officials. The six stars are named as follows: Highest General (上將 Shangjiang), Assistant General (次將 Cijiang), Noble Premier (貴相 Guixiang), Controller of Destinies (司命 Siming), Controller of the Middle (司中 Sizhong), and Controller of Fortune (司祿 Silu).
Image of Imperial Lord Wenchang holding
a writing pen in his right hand and a book in his left hand
(Image: Source unknown)
, students, scholars, and those that planned to take the imperial civil service examinations always prayed to Imperial Lord Wenchang without exception. There are many tales from pre-modern China telling about how praying to Imperial Lord Wenchang brought examination success either through signs and revelations in dreams or through some other indicating factors. Even today, many Chinese students in China Asia still flock to temples to venerate Imperial Lord Wenchang right before exams and other academic undertakings.
A writing brush and book are the symbols of
Imperial Lord Wenchang that stand for academic success
It should also be noted that Imperial Lord Wenchang is not only a god that is strictly concerned with matters related to academic and examination success, although that is his special area of jurisdiction. He is also very much a deity that encourages good moral conduct and the performing of virtuous deeds. In the morality tract called Text of the Hidden Good Deeds of Imperial Lord Wenchang (文昌帝君陰騭文 Wenchang Dijun Yinzhi Wen), there are many examples of different meritorious deeds and the karmic rewards that they bring. Therefore, Imperial Lord Wenchang is actually a deity that embodies benevolence and moral virtue in general, and academic and scholarly success in particular.
Text © 2011 Harry Leong