Jade Emperor is also known as the Jade Sovereign, Great Emperor, ‘Tiangong’ or ‘Tiangongzu’. In Volume Eight of ‘Biography of Zhenzong’ in History of Song, ‘Preparing documents for the sacred title of Jade Emperor’, the simplified term ‘Yuhuang’ or Jade Emperor was used. There is also another record that cited, ‘The Great Taoist ascends to Heaven with talisman and imperial calendar in hand, he possesses the true knowledge of the Dao, with the Jade Emperor as the sacred and respected title.’ The full title of Jade Emperor is also recorded: “Jade Emperor was honored as ‘Taishang kaitian zhifu yuli hanzhen tidao Yuhuang da tiandi.’” That is, ‘Great Celestial Jade Emperor, Opening the Heavenly Gate in the Utmost Heights, Holding the Talismans, Commandeering the Ages, Including the Perfectness and Personifying the Way.’

  •   Jade Emperor, the Emperor Houtian in ancient period of time, lived in Yujing in Heaven. The existence of this highly revered deity marked the beginning of the universe. His celestial rank was also the highest and was in charge of all the deities, spirits, mortals and ghosts, including the life, death, calamity and blessing of the mortal world. In popular belief, Jade Emperor lived in Lingxiao Treasure Hall. Like an emperor in human world, he gathered together the officials and gods in heaven every day to deal with the matters in Heaven, Earth, and Underworld. In Taoism, Jade Emperor is only second to the Three Pure Ones. For popular belief, Jade Emperor is regarded as the lord of Heaven, supreme god mastering the universe. Taoists believe there are multiple heavens. Each heaven is under the command of different emperor. In classics of Taoism, these heavenly emperors are generally referred to as Jade Emperor. During the six dynasties, although Taoism confirmed the Three Pure Ones as the supreme gods, according to general custom, since the supreme authority is the emperor on Earth, the supreme sovereignty in Heaven shall be the Heavenly Emperor. Probably because of this, some classics of Taoism have started referring to Jade Emperor as a specific god rather than a generalized title, and elevating the divinity to connect it with the Three Pure Ones.

      The ninth day of the first lunar month, ‘Yang Jiu’ is the birthday of Tiangong (Heavenly Emperor). On this day, the worshippers would set an altar to worship Heaven at home. In the past, the worshippers would hang a Heavenly Emperor (Tiangong) Censer over the girder of the main hall of their house, burning incense in the morning and evening to pray for god’s blessing.

      For thousands of years, Chinese people have worshipped Jade Emperor. Because of its supreme divinity, Jade Emperor was usually formless. The temple for Jade Emperor only worships Heavenly Emperor (Tiangong) Censer without an idol. After Tang and Song dynasties, the specific image of Jade Emperor have gradually formed as an emperor in Jiuzhang liturgical vestments with a crown with twelve rows of beads, and a jade tablet in his hand.