Jade Emperor

Jade Emperor


Yu Huang Da Di



The Jade Emperor is the spirit at the very pinnacle of the Chinese pantheon, the celestial emperor, ruler of the world. As perhaps befitting someone so high up, he is a distant, remote figure. Taoism envisions Heaven as a bureaucracy; the Jade Emperor its chief official. The Jade Emperor is the boss. He has final say in all matters. He is the organizer of the universe. However, once he had organized order from the prior chaos, he left the mundane matters of everyday life in the charge of lesser spirits.

The Jade Emperor is the divine equivalent of China’s Emperor, ruling over lesser deities in the same way that the Emperor rules over local leaders. The Jade Emperor keeps track of each human life on Earth via a broad bureaucratic network of lesser spirits, as for instance, the Kitchen God.

His Chinese name technically translates as “Superior Emperor.” The reference to jade is a metaphor: jade is perceived as the most perfect, precious substance. The Jade Emperor is believed to have once been a prince in ancient China, deified after death. Since approximately the eighth century, he has been regarded as the Emperor of all Spirits. Emperors of the Sung Dynasty (960–1279 CE) encouraged this spiritual tradition in order to strengthen and legitimize their own imperial authority.


Between the twenty-fourth day of the final month of the Chinese lunar calendar and New Year’s Day, all spirits must visit the Jade Emperor in order to present their annual report.


Green Jade Mother; Hsi Wang Mu; Kitchen God; Kwan Kung; Lady Horsehead; Lieu Hanh; T’ai Shan, Lord of; Weaving Maiden


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.