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The Ministry of Seasonal Epidemics

The Ministry of Seasonal Epidemics

《三教源流搜神大全》紀錄:「昔隋文帝開皇十一年六月內,有五力士現於凌空三五丈,身披五色袍,各執一物。一人執杓子并罐子;一人持皮袋并劍;一人執扇;一人執鎚;一人執火壺。帝問太史居仁曰:『此何神?主何災福也?』張居仁奏曰:『此是五方力士,在天上為五鬼,在地為五瘟。名五瘟,春瘟張元伯、夏瘟劉元達、秋瘟趙公明(一說趙光明)、冬瘟鐘仕貴,總管中瘟史文業。如現之者,主國民有瘟疫之疾,此為天行時病也。』」

In the sixth moon of the eleventh year (A.D. 599) of the reign of Kao Tsu, founder of the Sui dynasty, five stalwart persons appeared in the air, clothed in robes of five colours, each carrying different objects in his hands: the first a spoon and earthenware vase, the second a leather bag and sword, the third a fan, the fourth a club, the fifth a jug of fire. The Emperor asked Chang Chü-jên, his Grand Historiographer, who these were and if they were benevolent or evil spirits. The official answered: “These are the five powers of the five directions. Their appearance indicates the imminence of epidemics, which will last throughout the four seasons of the year.” “What remedy is there, and how am I to protect the people?” inquired the Emperor. “There is no remedy,” replied the official, “for epidemics are sent by Heaven.” During that year the mortality was very great. The Emperor built a temple to the five persons, and bestowed upon them the title of Marshals to the Five Spirits of the Plague. During that and the following dynasty sacrifices were offered to them on the fifth day of the fifth moon.

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