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Zhou Gong (周公)

Chinese. Duke of Zhou, that is the Zhou Dynasty, who after his death, became a Taoist deity. He was born in 11th Century BC and his personal name was Ji Dan (姬旦). He was the brother of King Wu (武), the first emperor of the Western Zhou Dynasty, whom he helped sweep away a corrupt ruler and found the Zhou Dynasty in ca. BC 1046. In ca. 1036 BC, Zhou Gong founded what is now the modern city of Luoyang (fig.) in western Henan Province. Though very little is know about this historical figure of the Duke, the personality cult that emerged around him, describes Zhou Gong as a noble and sincere person, who governed with virtue and always seemed to do the right thing, a feat that was hard sought after in Ancient China, when most rulers behaved rather corrupt and badly, and got rid of anyone who was trying to get in their way, including close family members. In contrast, after his brother died, the Duke acted as a dutiful regent, and when his nephew came of age, he simply handed over power. He is described as a paragon of virtue, who spelled out a philosophy of a ruler in harmony with heaven, and is said to have even inspired the later philosopher Confucius (fig.), who purportedly has said that in politics, he followed the Duke of Zhou. After his death, Zhou Gong was deified and is now regarded as the legendary god of dreams, who lets people know via dreams when something important is going to happen to them. As a Taoist deity, he today stands in attendance of Yu Huang (fig.), as in the Jade Emperor Hall at Fengdu Ghost City.