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Zhaijiao Keyi (II)

The process of Zhaijiao Keyi is very complex. In general, it includes constructing an altar, arrangement articles for use, chanting scriptures, worship and penitence, stepping the stars on the altar, making finger gestures and reading execration, etc. Taoists play the most important role in carrying out all the procedures. The Taoists are therefore called as the deacons of the sacrificial altar.

First, the altar (called as the sacrificial altar) shall be established for the ceremony. The alter is a hathpace constructed with earth on an even ground to pay homage to deities and ancestors. In general, different altars of different scales are established for rites of different forms. Several altars are established for a large-scale ceremony. One of them is called as Dutan (main altar), and others are called as Fentan (affiliated alters).

Second, all the Taoists with specified titles and ranks are called as the deacons during the rites, mainly including: Gaogong (the chief deacon), Jianzhai (assistant of Gaogong) and Dujiang (also an assistant of Gaogong, who guides chanting and singing). The Gaogong, Jianzhai and Dujiang are collectively called Three Taoists. These three have their definite duties during the rite, and jointly guide the process of the rite.

In addition, there must be other posts such as Shijing (Taoist taking care of canons), Shixiang (Taoist looking after incense), Shideng (Taoist looking after lamp), Lianshi (Taoist who cultivates well), Sheke (Taoist who rigorously enforces the regulations and rules), Jiantan (Taoist supervising the altar), Qingdao (Taoist cleaning up the path), Zhilu (Taoist looking after the oven), Cichan (Taoist in charge of penance) and Biaobai (Taoist reading documents), etc.

Moreover, necessary articles for use and utensils must be placed on the altar, mainly including: offering utensils, such as the censer, candleholder, vase, incense holder; offerings, such as incense, flower, lamp, water and fruit, etc.; magical instruments, including the following two types: a kind of articles are used to see and invite supernatural beings, worship the founders of Taoism and drive away evils (such as slip held for awaiting deity, ruyi, jade volume, jade stamp, double-edged sword, flag of command, arrow token of authority, token, and so on); the other kind of articles are various percussion musical instruments (such as cymbals, small cymbals, bell, drum, conch, chime stone, etc.), pennant, slips drawn with magic figures and incantations, magic water and handwarmer, etc.

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