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Chung Kwei - 'The Protector Against Evil Spirits'


by Sky 

Part I: The Legend of Chung Kwei

The legend of Chung Kwei takes us to ancient China. It involves the outstanding scholar, the Chinese Emperor and the red demon.
According to legend, Chung Kwei was a bright scholar from Tung-nan Shan of Shensi Province during the reign-period of Wu De (A. D. 618 - 627) of the Emperor Kao Tsu of the T'ang Dynasty.

He was as famous for his literary skill as he was for his repulsive appearance. At that time, literature was the prime subject of imperial exams, which allowed successful applicants to gain entrance to the bureaucracy. Therefore, Chung Kwei easily became the best candidate to be admitted as the First Academician of the Metropolitan Examinations.

It was customary at that time for the Emperor to personally confer (with his own hand) a rose of gold to the successful candidate. So, the outstanding scholar Chung Kwei, presented himself before the king in accordance to the custom so as to receive the reward which was by right due to him. Unfortunately for Chung Kwei, his appearance was so ugly and deformed that the sight of his repulsive face caused corrupt officials to refuse him entrance. This threw him into total despair because he had been unfairly deprived of his rightful honors. The rejected scholar then took his own life on the steps of the Imperial Palace.

The Chinese Emperor Ming Huang (A. D. 712 - 742), also known as Tang Xuan Zong, who ruled in the reign-period of K'ai Yüan, was kept ignorant of this regrettable incident. However, the act of suicide had desecrated the precincts of the palace, subsequently allowing malign spirits to enter.

Not long after an expedition to Mount Li in Shensi Province, the Emperor Ming Huang succumbed to a fever. His Majesty dreamt of an annoying little demon in bright red trousers with a shoe on one foot and the other shoe hanging from his girdle. The mischievous imp broke through the bamboo gates and took possession of the Emperor's jade flute and an embroidered musk pouch belonging to His Majesty's favorite imperial concubine Yang Gui-Fei. Then the rascal proceeded to make a tour of the palace grounds creating further mischief.

Seeing the extensive damage caused by this red devil, the Emperor Ming Huang flew into a rage and demanded an explanation. At this, the red demon responded, "Your humble servant is named Xu Hao of Emptiness and Devastation." To which the Emperor replied, "I have never heard of such a person." At once the demon rejoined, "Xu means to desire Emptiness, because in Emptiness, one can fly just as one wishes; Hao means Devastation, as it changes joy to sadness.

The Emperor Ming Huang was so annoyed by the red demon's impertinence that he turned to called for his imperial guards. Suddenly, a great big devilish-looking creature appeared; he was wearing a torn headdress, a blue robe, an ivory belt-clasp, and official boots on his feet. This hideous fellow subdued the red demon and swallowed the unfortunate sprite.

Surprised, the Emperor Ming Huang asked this demon-catcher for his name and position. He replied, "Your humble servant is Chung Kwei, Physician of T'ung-nan Shan in Shensi Province. In the reign-period Wu De of Emperor Kao Tsu of the Tang Dynasty, I was ignomiously rejected and unjustly defrauded of first class honors in the public examinations. Overwhelmed with shame, I took my own life on the steps of the imperial palace. After having been alerted of this unfortunate incident, The Emperor Kao Tsu ordered me to be buried in a green robe (an honor which was reserved for royalty). So, out of gratitude for the honor bestowed upon me, I pledged to protect the reigning sovereign in any part of the Chinese Empire against the evil red demon Xu Hao."

After hearing him out, the Emperor Ming Huang awoke and discovered himself to be completely cured of his illness. Since the ghost of Chung Kwei appeared in the nick of time and exorcised the evil spirit, the Emperor decided to further honor Chung Kwei by having his portrait painted. His Majesty sent for Wu Tao-Tzu who was then well-known as one of the most celebrated Chinese artists. At the Emperor's request, the artist proceeded to paint Chung Kwei, exactly as His Majesty had seen in his dream. Subsequently, Chung Kwei was canonized with the title, "Great Spiritual Chaser of Demons for the Whole Empire."

Chung Kwei is also known as K'uei Xing, the Star God of Literature for his outstanding scholastic abilities. In this capacity, his duty is to oversee scholars and to ensure that they receive their dues. .

Part Two :Protective Feng Shui with Chung Kwei