Wufu chiensui (五府千歲)is the most common kind deities among Wanye (王爺). They are also called Wuwang(五王). Wufu means five different last name of Wanye. It is a combination of five Wanye. In other words, a temple dedicated to Wufu chiensui means there are five Wanye as the main deity in the temple. However, the combination is various. The most common one is Lee, Chi, Wu, Zhu, and Fan (李, 池, 吳, 朱, 范). The others are Xie, Zhou, Chen, Kang, Shen (謝, 周, 陳, 康, 沈); Su, Wang, Liang, Qin, Cai(蘇、王、梁、秦、蔡); Chi, Xing, Jin, He, Ma(池、邢、金、何、馬); Wen, Bai, Ji, Fan, Lei(溫、白、紀、范、雷); and Zhu, Yue, Han, Jin, Wu(朱、岳、韓、金、伍). In the most common one, the five wangye are Li Daling (李大亮), Chi Mengbiao(池夢彪), Wu Xiaojkuan(吳孝寬), Zhu Shuyu(朱叔裕), and Fan Chengye(范承業).
One kind of Wanye’s classification is Anfang (暗訪
), Shier Wenwang (十二瘟王, twelve rotated wenwang) and Wu Wenshen(五瘟神, five plague spirits). Anfang is mainly practiced in Lugan area. Shier Wenwang is a rotating system of wangwe. There are two sub branched under this kind. They are Sannian Wangye (三年王爺) and Wunian Wangye (五年王爺). The difference between them is the rotating cycle. In Sannian, it is three years. In another type, it is nominally five years, since actually is four years. Twelve wanye are in rotation. In each cycle, three or five Wanye as guest deities are dedicated in a Temple. In Wu Wenshen, the sub kinds are Wufu chiensui and Wufu Dadi(五福大帝). They share common plots of Wanye’s story. It is mainly about five students scarified themselves to save peoples from plague.
Besides sharing common legendary plots with Wufu Dadi, Wufu chiensui also has its own biography. In the light of Shi Yihui(史貽輝,1912-2001), base on undated records, he thought that Wufu chiensui were the people by the end of Sui Dynasty. They were sworn brothers following Li Yuan(李淵, ), the founder of Tang Dynasty. They were good in the martial art and knowing the strategic well. So they did great in the camp of Li Yuan. They became cabinets after Tang Dynasty was funded. After they were died, they were decreed by Jade Emperor as Wanye and descending to the world as wanye, the agent of Jade Emperor, sailing Wanye’s boat and going on as inspection. However, among the five names, only Li Daling is available in the historical records.
Though Wufu chiensui are maybe fictional figures, almost everywhere, no matter Wufu chiensui or a single wanye, they share the same plague spirits character. Taking Chifu chiensui(池府千歲), the most popular one among Wufu chiensui, as example, it was said when he was a governor of prefecture, he sacrificed himself to save people. It was because that Chi Wanye was happened to know an unidentified person. He was generous and invited him to have a drink. Both of them were glad to meet each other and they became sworn brothers. During the dining, the person accidentally revealed himself as the agent of Jade Emperor who was dispatched to scatter plague to punish peoples. When Chi Wanye knew the secrets, he deceived the person and stole the plague pills. Then Chi Wanye took the pills and died soon to save the people in the prefecture. When he was dying, his face became dark and turned many black spots out. His eyes protrude. Regarding to his sacrifice, Jade Emperor decreed him as a wanye.
Above story has the basic structure of all wanye’s legend. Basically, the stories of persons dying and becoming a plague spirit or wanye can be classified into five type according to the dying reason. The first is murdering accidentally. It was said there are 360 students who pass the imperial examination in Tang Dynasty. When they was invited by Emperor into the palace, a treacherous minister trapped and killed them in a vault. The second is criminal. It was said that the wanye are behavior badly when they were alive. They finally got capital punishment. The third is they being drowned. Wanye are the officials in Ming Dynasty. They were drowned when sailing. The fourth is they being dying in the line of duty. The Chi Wanye’s case is an example. The fifth is an unclear cause of death. Apparently, Wufu chiensui or Wanye’s origin is connected with tragic deads.
The most famous temple dedicated to Wufu chiensui in Daitian Fu(代天府) in Beiman area (北門區), Tainan city(台南市). It was established in 1817, origin from a floating Wanye’s boat. Some people also made a dividing incense, fenxiang(分香
) from Daitian Fu and set brached in New Taipei City and Thailand. Besides, there are also other temples dedicated to one or more chiensui in middle and southern Taiwan, such as another Daitian Fu in Madou(麻豆), Tainan City and Wufu wanye in Xinxhu.
Royal Lords, plague gods, The Five Royal Lords