The cultural development
The development of Zhong Kui Culture
1、Before Tang Dynasty the figure of Zhong Kui was not widely publicized. Since the Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty was said to dream Zhong Kui seizing demons, the story was then spread vigorously and the figure of Zhong Kui was then personalized and humanized. The legend of Zhong Kui and belief in Zhong Kui co-exist, communicating with and dependent on each other. Only with the support of legend can people’s belief in Zhong Kui be developed continuously. And the legend of Zhong Kui is then passed from generation to generation with its connection with people’s belief in Zhong Kui.
2、The embodiment of Zhong Kui Culture：
1）Zhong Kui painting: Since the first Zhong Kui painting being drawn by our forefather Wu Daozi of Tang Dynasty and throughout the five dynasties and two-song dynasties, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties, a great number of modern and contemporary artists have created many distinctive and diversified Zhong Kui paintings for thousands of years, still more new year paintings and caricatures themed in Zhong Kui etc..
2）Zhong Kui culture at Dragon Boat Festival: The Dragon Boat Festival falls on the lunar 5th of May and is also called Zhong Kui Culture Dragon Boat Festival. The Dragon Boat Festival is also called Duanyang Festival, The Daughter’s Festival, The Midday Festival, The May Festival, The Artemisia Argyi Festival, Duan Wu, Chong Wu and Summer Festival etc.. Zhong Kui Culture Dragon Boat Festival, Spring Festival, Tomb-sweeping Day and Mid-autumn Festival are the four traditional Chinese festivals. The necessary activities in that day include ritual for inviting Zhong Kui, Zhong Kui dance, Zhong Kui opera, eating rice dumpling, dragon boat racing, hanging calamus, wormwood, folium artemisiae argi, rhizoma atractylodis, radix angelicae, tying five-color thread and making fragrant slots etc. to avoid and drive away evils and prevent diseases. In Tang and Song Dynasties, people would hang Zhong Kui paintings to avoid “Nian” (a vicious beast in ancient times) on the eve of lunar New Year. While in Ming and Qing Dynasties, Zhong Kui paintings were also used to prevent five poisonous creatures, eliminate evils and as blessings for a smooth and lucky new year both on the lunar 5th of May and during the Spring Festival.
According to the folk proverbs, “It is getting warmer on Dragon Boat Festival, the five poisonous creatures awake and interrupt people’s normal life.” All plants and animals are thriving and start reproduction. The five poisonous creatures of scorpion, centipede, gecko, snake and toad frequent our house and attack people. In old custom people used three magic items of Zhong Kui painting, Taoist master charm and realgar wine to exorcise evils on Dragon Boat Festival, all associated with Taoism. As quoted the folk sayings, “If you drink realgar wine, all diseases are warded off you.” People in many regions cut paper calabashes to block off five poisonous creatures using five color papers and paste them on the door, window, brick bed and wall of their houses in this special season. Children wore red, yellow, blue, white and black threads on their necks, arms and legs, have on sachet as well as bellyband, waistcoat, shoes and hats with five poisonous creatures in order to suppress those evils harmful to children in evil for evil and using one thing to overcome another, and protect children against any disease affection. Besides, people in some northern areas of China like Shaanxi, Hebei, Shanxi and Beijing etc. have the habit of wearing copper of Zhong Kui dispelling five poisonous creatures on Dragon Boat Festival. This practice spreads in Guanzhong Area (mainly in Xi’an city) and the copper carries an evil exorcising picture with the figures of centipede, scorpion, snake, toad and gecko being arrayed on the left side, a picture of Zhong Kui who is holding a sword stands on the right side of copper, and the word of “compel order” casted on top of the square hole, all displayed in this copper of only 28 mm in size in such a concise and graceful pattern. The image of five poisonous creatures and Zhong Kui are arranged in a same copper, indicating eliminating the demons and punishing the evils. As researched and verified by experts, as exorcism numismatics, those coppers are not circulated in the market in ancient times, and the origin of which has an inseparable connection with the Dragon Boat Festival. From Ming and Qing Dynasties through to the Republic of China, wearing copper of Zhong Kui dispelling five poisonous creatures on Dragon Boat Festival has become a fashion for all people including high officials, noble lords and common people and a popular activity in the festival.
3）Theatre production themed in Zhong Kui: The Opera of Five Ghosts and Zhong Kui, The Chinese Ghostbuster, Blessings from Zhong Kui etc.
4）Literatures themed in Zhong Kui: Biography of Zhong Kui Seizing the Ghosts, Complete Biography of Zhong Kui, Biography of Seizing Ghosts etc.
5）Rites of Belief in Zhong Kui: Chinese throughout the world all have belief in the benedictory and stabilizing-house sage of Zhong Kui, especially in the Southeast Asia Region. The belief is more popular in Shaanxi province, Yangtze River and Huai River area, Southern Fujian Province of China and Taiwan. People hang Zhong Kui paintings and have Zhong Kui exorcising devils show on Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, commencement ceremony, opening ceremony for new real estate, ploughing wasteland, new business, new temple, theoretical performance, burial ceremony, house moving and harvest celebrations, marriage and birthday ceremony, praying ritual and other ceremonial events. Artists are dressed up as Zhong Kui, wear wizard mask and official robe, hold bats and sword and perform wizard dance, implying receiving blessings and fortune, longevity and good year, praying for good fortune and dispelling evils, stabilizing house and protecting us safe. But how is Zhong Kui dance performed? During the Spring Festival when people welcome a new year’s fortune, every household would have a thorough cleanup, indicating cleaning all evil things of last year and welcome a fortunate new year. In the old ages, there was a custom of performing Zhong Kui dance at end of the year to invite a new year’s luck. This custom is most probably originated from Nuo dance (also called devil exorcising Nuo dance). Nuo dance is a ritual for ancient people to dispel plague. It is interesting to see that the Zhong Kui dance performers recorded in many books are all beggars. Does that mean the Zhong Kui dance should be performed only by beggars? By performing the dance and saying a few words of good omen, the beggars are rewarded with a few more coins from those wealthy, which represents the popularity of Zhong Kui dance among people in ancient times. Zhong Kui dance is also a very mysterious folk performance in Taiwan. The Spirit Festival on the lunar 15th of July is also called Hungry Ghost Festival or Obon Festival when Chinese people will hold various universal salvation activities in addition to worshiping ancestors. During the period commonly known as Ghost Month, each area of Taiwan will hold various sacrifice rites, including the rite of Zhong Kui dance, which is one of the most popular Taoist activities and the most prevalent ghost exorcising ritual in Taiwan.
In Japan, people’s belief in Zhong Kui is displayed in a systematic form. People build Zhong Kui Shrines, make straw puppet of Zhong Kui and perform Zhong Kui dance. Zhong Kui tiles are placed on the roof of and Zhong Kui flags and paintings are hung in many houses. The divine music society also puts on Zhong Kui show, and even an aircraft of Zhong Kui model is manufactured.
6）Television documentary themed in Zhong Kui: The Legend of Zhong Kui, Ghost Catcher-Legend of Beauty etc.
7）Zhong Kui temple: There is a Zhong Kui temple at Fu Rong Mountain on the west of Yangtze River of Changsha city, which is said to be built in memory of the devils exorcising hero of Zhong Kui by local people.
8）Sculpture themed in Zhong Kui: The sculpture is made in various forms of clay, shadow puppet, porcelain, kite, facial makeup and snuff bottle etc.