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

Liching — The Pagoda Bearing King (托塔李天王)

I’ve just been posting single pictures recently so I have more time for other things. Sadly this means my site is less informative so here is Liching (李靖), father of Nezha Santaitz (哪吒三太子) with a description of his path to becoming a god copied from my culture.tw article. The whole article about Santaizi can be read here:

Taiwan Culture Portal – 15 November 2011
© Taiwan Culture Portal

Liching with his pagoda, Qiming Temple, Lotus Pond, Zuoying, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Nezha in ‘Creation of the Gods’ (封神演義 or 封神榜)

These legends endear the reader to Nezha’s mortal stubbornness, conceit and selfishness as it chronicles his trials and tribulations in becoming immortal. He murders, suffers, takes revenge and reaches reconciliation in his journey of enlightenment and loss of ego.

Zhen Zhong's modern Santaitz

Birth

Following a three-year, six-month gestation, Liching’s wife has a dream of Taiyi Zhenren entering her bedchamber. That very night she gives birth to a red, light-radiating flesh ball with a strange odor that rolls about like a wheel. Li Ching, supposing it is a demon, slashes at it with his sword and a fully-clothed, fully-formed child leaps out.

From birth, the irreverent Santaizi is precocious and prodigious in size and ability, but lacks maturity. Taiyi Zhenren names him Nezha and promises to take him as a disciple when seven.

Zhen Zhong's modern Santaitz

Slaying the Dragon King’s Son

In a well-known story which nicely illustrates his arrogant and cavalier attitude, Nezha goes for a stroll when aged seven. Tired and dirty, he washes his magic robes in a river, creating a temblor and alarming the East Sea Dragon in his underwater palace. The officer sent to investigate is quickly dispatched of when he tries to seize this haughty child. The East Sea Dragon next sends his third son, Aobing; a further dispute occurs and the Dragon King’s son attacks Nezha. In the ensuing battle, after famously threatening to skin and pull out Aobing’s sinews, Nezha overcomes him by throwing fireballs and striking him with his universe ring.

After learning of Li Ching’s errant son’s misdeeds, the furious East Sea Dragon confronts Nezha’s father. Li Ching, ignorant of his son’s transgression, brings the Dragon King to Nezha to prove his innocence. They find Nezha, not fully comprehending the damage he has caused, cheerfully skinning and tearing the tendons from the Dragon King’s son’s carcass. The understandably upset king sets out to inform the Jade Emperor.

Nezha seeks Taiyi Zhenren’s assistance and receives a spell granting invisibility. Utilizing this gift he is supposed to surmise the damage and report to his master, but, in his immaturity, gives the Dragon King a thrashing while invisible and only spares him on the condition of vindication for his crimes. The Dragon King reneges on his word, which was given under duress, and reports to the Jade Emperor who decrees that Nezha must be put to death. Nezha returns home to find his parents being dragged off in his place.

Zhen Zhong's modern Santaitz

Returning his flesh and bone

In his first great act of responsibility, Nezha takes his own life so his parents may be spared. Nezha slices into his abdomen, gouges out his intestines and then fillets his flesh from the bone, separating his soul from his body and - obviously - precipitating his death.

Zhen Zhong's modern Santaitz

Resurrection

On Taiyi’s advice; Nezha’s formless soul beseeches his mother (via a dream) to build him a temple so he may become whole again through virtue of worship. Afraid of her husband’s wrath, she only complies after her son resorts to threats. A temple is built without Li Ching’s knowledge. Alas, as the temple grows in fame, Li Ching hears of it and upon visiting the temple and seeing the statue - a spitting image of his dead son - flies into a rage. He smashes the idol, razes the temple to the ground and disperses the worshippers; such was his hatred for the son who ruined his family.

Although the three-year period needed for reincarnation is incomplete, his master is able to revivify Nezha using a lotus.
Nezha, livid at his fathers attempt to thwart his reanimation (even after returning his flesh and bone to them), seeks his father for vengeance and bests him in the ensuing battle. His father takes refuge with a Taoist master (actually sent by Taiyi to teach Nezha a lesson) who subdues Nezha and gives Li Ching a talisman with which to protect himself - a golden pagoda.

The story weaves back into the main scheme of things; Nezha and his father reconcile their differences, Li Ching is granted immortality to fight on the side of the Chou Dynasty, and Nezha fights alongside his father - finally fulfilling his destiny to fight against the Shang Dynasty.

Zhen Zhong's modern Santaitz

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