Qing imperial patronage of the cult of Bixia yuanjun 碧霞元君
A study of the bilingual Manchu-Chinese epigraphy
(62nd Meeting Friedensau, 2019)
Bixia yuanjun 碧霞元君 (Primordial Sovereign of the Azure Clouds), whose cult centred around Mount Tai (Taishan 泰山), was the great popular goddess of North China in the late imperial period. She was called upon for children, as Songzi Niangniang 送子娘娘 (Our Lady who Sends Sons), and for healing blindness and problems related to eyesight, as Yanguang Niangniang 眼光娘娘 (Our Lady Who [Heals] Eyesight). Qing imperial patronage of Tibetan Buddhism has been the subject of many studies, but much less work has been done on the interaction between the Manchu Emperors and Chinese popular religion. This paper is based on a transcription, translation and close reading of two previously unstudied bilingual Manchu-Chinese inscriptions dedicated to Bixia yuanjun erected in the suburbs of Peking by the Kangxi Emperor in 1711 and the Qianlong Emperor in 1774.