Sanshan guowang (三山國王), Lord of the three mountains, is an important god set of popular religion in Taiwan. It is estimated that there are about 170 temples dedicated to Sanshan guowang, in Taiwan, 1996. Lord of the three mountains is a collection of three mountain gods who originated from Chao zhou (潮州), Guang-dong privince (廣東省). The three mountains are Mountain Jin (巾山), Mountain Ming (明山), and Mountain Du (獨山). San-shan is their collective name. The primary record of Lord of the three mountains is a local history in Yuan dynasty. It is said that there are three divine human descended to a mountain peak, Yu feng (玉峰), around the three mountains. They claimed themselves as the gods of the three mountains and they were sibling. A villager was abducted by them and became their tendance. As a result, Lord of the three mountains and the villager were all worshiped by the other villagers around the three mountains and a temple were built on the foot of Yu feng.
It is credited that Lord of the three mountains is efficacious. When there is a drought, flood, or an epidemic disease, the villagers will go to the temple praying for blessing. In Tang dynasty (唐朝), when the famous Confucian scholar Han Yu (韓愈) was the staff of Chao zhou, there was a flood. He also went to the temple to pray Lord of the three mountains. In Song dynasty, Lord of the three mountains assisted both the first and the last Song Emperors. Lord of the three mountains helped the first emperor Zhao Kuang-yin (趙匡胤) defeated his major enemy, Liu Chang (劉鋹). After the war, Zhao Kuang-yin bestowed the title of duke to Lord of the three mountains. The god of Mt. Ming was named Qing-hua Wei-de bao guo wang (清化威德報國王). The god of Mt. Jin was named Zhu-zheng Ming-su Ning guo wang (助政明肅寧國王). The god of Mt. Du was named Hui-gan Hong-ying Feng guo wang (惠感弘應豐國王). At the end of Song dynasty, when the last emperor Di Bing (帝昺)was fleeing, Lord of the three mountains was protecting him from the pursuing of insurgents. Above Lord of the three mountains’ stories in Song dynasties reveals that Lord of the three mountains’ flourishing seems in relation of the royal house of Song emperor.
Scholars in Taiwan thought that Lord of the three mountains is the god in connection with the Hakka Chinese, Chinese who speak the Hakka language at first. Recently, new evidence reveal that Lord of the three mountains is the god who originated from Chao zhou only but not dedicated to Hakka people. There is almost the temple of Lord of the three mountains everywhere in Taiwan. Only in Yi-lan county (宜蘭), it was estimated about 26 temples dedicated to Lord of the three mountains.
Keywords: Lord of the three mountains, Mountain Jin, Mountain Ming, Mountain Du, Hakka Chinese