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  • Writer's picture Даосская Ассоциация России

The Token of Daoism 道教令牌

Cheng Bohan


The token is an important one among the many magical instruments of Taoism. Taoist tokens are mostly wooden, and their shape is a long strip with an arc at the top and a straight line at the bottom. The style of the token is introduced in the "上清灵宝济度大成金书" in the Ming Dynasty: its picture has a dragon sword body carved on the front and a thunder symbol on the back. And there is a text description: "右令牌,取雷击枣木造成,长五寸五分,阔二寸四分,厚五分。选择吉日,依式造之,四侧周围刊二十八宿名,以锦囊盛之” Translated into the modern language, it means: “The token is made of jujube wood struck by lightning(one of the best wood to make Taoism Artifact). It is 16.5cm long, 8cm wide, and 1.7cm thick. You should choose the auspicious day on the Chinese calendar and make it in accordance with Taoist rituals. The names of the twenty-eight stars are engraved on the four sides of the token, which should be placed in a kit for collection.” From this passage, we can see that Taoism’s respect for tokens must be respectful even in peacetime. keep properly.

Its meaning draws on the use of the token in ancient military affairs. It is used as a symbol of Taoist priests instructing spirts and gods to obey their orders when holding rituals. Raising the token and shouting, it means that the corresponding "heavenly soldiers and generals" can be summoned according heavenly the law to the Taoism altar for his own dispatch; putting down the token and slamming the table, it means giving orders to the holy spirts. It is said that if the Taoist priest has not yet called the holy spirts on the altar, he or she can slap the token three times, and usually the summoned the holy spirts must hurry to the altar and wait for command.

According to Taoist rituals, the altar should usually be displayed on the altar at least: six basic tools: 桃木剑 (peach wood sword), 令旗(Commanding Flag), 令牌(Token),天蓬尺 (TianPeng ruler). When the Zhengyi Taoist priests hold the ceremony of priesthood, and they are usually issued to the new Taoist priests.

Taoist tokens are usually made of jujube wood after lightning strikes, and various symbols, talismans, and pictures related to thunder will be sealed on it, and the role of this token is usually marked, such as "Emperor's Edict" and so on. Also known as "Five Thunder Order" or "Five Thunder Token".


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