Sanguan dadi, Emperors of the Three Offices, are three highest gods who administrate the world in Chinese popular religion. Sanguan dadi are Tian guan (天官), Di guan(地官), and Shui guan (水官). Tian (天), di (地) and shui (水) denote the heaven, earth and water in Chinese individually. Guan means office. Sanguan dadi are also called Sanjie gong (三界公). The early record about them is a religious healing ritual named Sanguan shoushu (三官手書). Sanguan dadi are the gods whom a Daoist confesses ones own sins to in Sanguan shoushu. Sanguan shoushu is a ritual created by Daoists in Tianshi dao (天師道), a proto Daoist sect. If a devotee confesses ones own sins by way of Sanguan shoushu, one should write three confessional documents to Sanguan dadi and place one of them on a mountain, sink one in the river, and bury one in the earth. Sanguan, Emperors of the Three Offices, were the gods revealed by Daoists in Eastern Han dynasty to respond a new cosmology. They were original representing the three primal qi (氣). They became three offices later.
By Tang dynasty, Sanguan dadi were linked to Sanyuan ri (三元日), three days of the three Primary. Sanyuan ri are the fifteenth by January, July, and October in Chinese lunar calendar. Daoists believe that these three days are the days of judgement belonged to Sanguan dadi separately. January the fifteenth is the day of Tian quan. July the fifteenth is the day of Di guan and October the fifteenth is the day of Shui quan. Another version is the three days are the birthdays of Sanguan dadi individually. People worshiping to Sanguan dadi in Sanyuan ri became a custom by Tang daynsty. In Taiwan, Sanyuan ri are three important days in popular religion. January the fifteenth is called Yuanxiao jie (元宵節). It is the last day of Spring Festival (春節) and is celebrated as the Lantern Festival. Zhongyuan jie (中元節), the fifteenth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, is the day that people take on a ritual to transform and offer food to the deceased. Xiayuan ri(下元日), the fifteenth day of the tenth month in the lunar calendar is the day that many temples invite traditional troupe to perform plays as the offering to the gods.
According to the statics, it is estimated about dozen to twenty-odd temples dedicated to Sanguan dadi in Taiwan. Most of them are named Sanjie gong temple (三界公廟), Sanyuan temple (三元宮) or Sanguan dadi temple (三官大帝廟). Though the number is few, the belief on Sanguan dadi is very popular. There are many compound houses hung a censer dedicated to Sanguan dadi. The style of censer hung in the hall of traditional compound building dedicated to Sanguan dadi is according to the identity of devotees. The devotees of Zhangzhou (漳州) use the censer with three rings. The censer with four rings belongs to the devotees of Quanzhou (泉州). Some villages also organize a gropus and place a censer dedicated to Sanguan dadi. The heads of group take the duty of worship to Sanguan dadi in turn.
Keywords: Association for Lords of Three spheres, Communal Shrine, Three spheres : Heaven, Earth, and Human, Cosmology