Photographs and Information about Taiwan's Culture, Nature and People by Rich Matheson

Baosheng Dadi 保生大帝

Yesterday was the fifteenth day of the third lunar month. Baosheng Dadi’s Birthday.

Lord Baosheng (保生大帝 Baosheng Dadi or Pao Sheng Ta Ti) was known in his mortal life as Wu Tao (吳本 here the 本, is often mispronounced as ‘ben’, the common pronunciation, the correct pronunciation is ‘tao.’)

Ming Hua Yuan Taiwanese Opera actress performs for Tainans Fulong Temple Pao Sheng Ta Tis birthday celebrations

A Song Dynasty Physician and Taoist Practitioner born in Fujian (福建) to father Wu Tong (吳通) and mother Huang Shi (黃氏), Wu Tao led a diligent and virtuous life devoted to healing the sick and ridding the world of disease. Even after his enlightenment he chose to stay in the mortal realm to continue to ease suffering.


Paper Effigies adorn Tainans Fulong Temple for Baosheng Dadis birthday celebrations

His birth was extraordinary, not dissimilar to Nezha San Taitz’s birth in many respects. One night when his mother was deep in sleep, she dreamt of swallowing a white turtle (an auspicious omen), immediately upon waking an immortal fetus entered her womb. During labor, Tai Bai Jin Xing (太白金星 – the deification of Venus and one of the highest ranking gods in the Taoist pantheon) and 南陵使者 (Nanling  County Messenger – don’t know who this is) and Bei Dou Xing Jun (北斗星君 – deification of The Big Dipper, registrar of deaths, petitioned to for the prevention of disasters and bestowing a long life) delivered an infant immortal to her door and spoke; ”Behold the incarnation of heavenly Zi Wei Xing descended to the mortal realm” or “此乃上界紫微星,前來投胎降世.” Immediately upon the god’s departure, the prodigious one was born. The room filled with a wondrous fragrance and brilliant light, more gods descended from the heavens to offer congratulations, and an auspicious five colored cloud overflowed filling the courtyard with an auspicious purple cloud. Strange indeed!


Ming Hua Yuan Taiwanese Opera troupe performs on Pao Sheng Ta Tis birtday celebrations

It was the morning of the 15th  day of the third lunar moon.

The precocious young Wu Tao was gifted from birth and — here similarities with Nezha diverge — was a diligent student and a voracious reader who remembered everything he read with a propensity for pharmaceutical studies and leaning towards Taoist magical spells and potions.

Devout chant and express their devotion on the eve of Lord Baoshengs Birthday. Tainan

Three of the most common Baosheng Dadi legenda are:
The Curing of a Dragon Eyes (點龍睛); where a dragon takes human form to be treated, and cured, by the renown physician,
Doctoring a Tiger’s Throat (醫虎喉); in which he removes the bone — belonging to a damsel the tiger had eaten — from the throat of a tiger it had been vexing,
and a story of Wu Tao treating the Emperor’s daughter wherein she tries to trick him by tying a string used to check her pulse — no mortal was permitted to touch or even gaze upon the princess and taking the pulse (necessary in Chinese medicine) involved tying a string to the princesses wrist and feeling it in another room — to a chair. Needless to say, the great physician passed the test and his esteem grew.


A paper effigy is hung from a pillar on Baosheng Dadis Birthday

Wu Tao continued on in the mortal realm after his enlightenment  curing the diseased and sick. After his death he ascended to heaven, continued his work, grew even more in the people’s esteem and is now revered as a very powerful god and patron deity for physicians and pharmacists.


Shiu-Kim Taiwanese Opera Troupe performs at Xing Ji Temple 興濟宮 during 2011 Baosheng Dadi birthday celebrations

Other common appelations include Da Dao Gong (大道公), Wu Zhen Ren (吳真人), Wu Zhen Jun (吳真君), Zhen Ren Xian Shi (真人仙師), Hua Jiao Gong (花轎公) Ying Hui Hou (英惠侯), Wu Gong Zhen Xian (吳公真仙).

Any temple devoted to Lord Baosheng will be a great place to observe local festival, but the most famous Baosheng Dadi celebration in Taiwan is at the Asia-Pacific Baosheng Cultural Festival at Taipei Baoan Temple.

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