Life History of Real Jiang Taigong
Jiang Taigong, a native of Donghai in Zhou Dynasty, was said to be a descendant of Emperor Yandi of remote ages. One of his forefathers had been a holding high position during the reign of Emperor Shun. Later, because of his achievement in helping Yu the Great to harness rivers, he was granted the fief of Lu (west of today’s Nanyang City in Henan Province) and addressed as Marquis of Lu. Jiang Taigong was also called Lu Shang or Lu Wang. To show him respect, later generations called him Jiang Ziya. In ancient times “zi” was an honorific title for men.
King Wen way on the journey to seek talents and met Jiang ZIya by chance. Jiang Ziya was a learned man and always wanted an opportunity to put his talents into practice. However under the reign of King Zhou, the last ruler of Shang Dynasty, he was unable to serve him as King Zhou was a tyrant.
Most of his life was spent in obscurity and poverty. He only was able to use his abilities when he was seventy years old. Jiang had heard that King Wen, chief of Zhou clan in the late Shang dynasty, was amiable and easy to approach, respecting the elder and loving children, placing those able and virtuous people in important positions. Thus Jiang moved to Wenshui. Building a hut near Panxi, he made a living by fishing, while waiting for the important post to be conferred by King Wen that would enable him to use his wisdom in assisting King Wen. Despite waiting for the wise ruler for a long time, Jiang hair turned grey and his hope seems futile. However as destined one day he heard the sound of horses and people’s voices coming from afar. A delicate featured man dressed up as a King approached him. When told the distinguished visitor was the King Wen of Zhou, who was eagerly seeking talents, he felt very happy and finally was appointed the Prime Minister!
He carried out political and military reforms. Domestically, he emphasizes on developing production; externally, he deployed forces to conquer small neighboring clans to expand territories and weaken the Shang Dynasty.
With his assistance King Wen defeated Quanrong, conquered Shang Dynasty’s Chongguo, and moved the capital from Qishan to Fengcheng. The territory of Zhou gradually increase and stretched from Mi (today’s Lingtai in Gansu Province) in the west of Yu (Around todays Qinyang County in Henan Province) in the east. Then Zhou territory further expanded to the valley of Yangtze, Hanshui and Rushui rivers. Its political, economic and military strength greatly surpassed the Shang Dynasty, paving the way for the founding of the Zhou Dynasty.
Unfortunately, King Wen died before he fulfilled his ambition of overthrowing the Shang. His son Ji Fa, historically known as King Wu, succeeded to the throne.
With the assistance of Jiang, he sent troops to fight King Zhou of Shang, and carried out his father’s plan to establish the Zhou Dynasty. The regime is called Western Zhou in history. Due to his merits in overthrowing the Shang Dynasty, Jiang was granted the area of Qi (the central and eastern parts of today’s Shandong Province) as his fief, and regarded as the founder of Qi.
Jiang Taigong in Legend
There are numerous legend about Jiang Taigong. One account said that his parents died when he was a child and he followed his aunt to Zhaoge, the capital of Shang. At the age of twelve he started working as a butcher because his aunt’s family needed his help. But he failed at his job and wandered away from Zhaoge, until he met King Wen and found success.
One legend said Jiang fished for three days and three nights without catching anything. Later someone taught him the way of angling. Following the advice, Jiang finally caught a carp. Upon opening it’s belly, he found a cloth roll with characters reading “Lu Wang (namely Jiang Taigong) will be granted the area of Qi as his fief”.
Based on another legend King Wen dreamed of the Heavenly Emperor calling him “Chang (King Wen was named Ji Chang), I am going to grant you a good mentor and assistant. His name is Wang”. He then saw Jiang taigong beside the Heavenly Emperor. It was the same night Jiang Taigong had the same dream. Soon afterwards when meeting Jiang, King Wen asked. “Is Wang your name?”
“Yes,” replied Jiang, smiling. “It seems that I had seen you somewhere,” said King Wen. After Jiang told him the exact date he had the same dream with King Wen, he took Jiang and offered him an important position.
This legend is the most popular among all. Jiang Taigong was originally a famous general of King Wen and a respected figure. He was even believed ton have become a supernatural being. So anyone who wants to drive evil spirits out of his house would put on the wall a poster with characters reading. “Jiang Taigong is here. All evil spirits keep off.”
Jiang Taigong is depicted as an elderly man with white beard and hair, dressed up in imperial robe, one hand holding a flag (flag denotes his power to control or dispatch armies) and the other hand holds a sword.
Jiang Taigong famous quote, ”Jiang Taigong is here. Other gods withdraw and keep off”. Thus declared Jiang Taigong at a platform after he granted titles to other gods. “Since I had offered a title to them, I should at least place myself above them”, he declared.
From then onwards, when people were building a new house, they would paste up a banner reading “Jiang Taigong is here, a hundred affairs are not forbidden as taboo”, (姜太公在此, 百事無禁忌) this would prevent evil spirits from occupying the building.
Articles Source from Taoist Secret Website.