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The Origin of the Taoist Petition-Wushang Jiuyou Fangshe Gaoxia Zhenke--At Lingbao Taoist Altar in Tainan
This article explains the denotation of Taoist Petition and investigates its origin. Based on the example of an Taoist Petition, Wushang Jiuyou Fangshe Gaoxia Zhenke 〈無上九幽放赦告下真科〉, which is commonly used at two-days funeral rituals in Tainan, the author explores the function of such a religious document. Taoist Petition is the embodiment of the Taoist doctrine; that is, to help the living and to relieve the dead. The term “Fangshe” implies to absolve the dead from sin and release him from sufferings. On the other hand, the Taoist Petition also serves as a documentation to communicate among the divine, the mundane, and the nether worlds. Based on the exampling Taoist Petition, three pieces of talismanic orders (Fuming) and one document of pardon are consisted of writings and perfect talishmans. Two pieces of pass permits and one piece of announcing document are texts. According to the contents of the scriptures, talismans, petitions and mantras as well as its paper format, and the writing style, it is proven to be closely related to the Lingbao ritual texts of Tung-hwa School in Southern Sung Dynasty. The earliest transcription of the three copies of Fuming Taoist Petition that are prevailing in Tainan might be made between the Southern Sung (1225-1264) and Yuan Dynasty (after 1295).
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