Great Emperor of the North Pole
The 22 meter tall statue of the Great Emperor of the North Pole in Lotus Pond is the tallest god statue on water in Southeast Asia. Look how marvelous he is. His right hand is holding the seven-star sword while his bare left foot is stepping on a turtle and a snake. He’s truly one of the most recognizable gods in Taiwan folk religion.
The Great Emperor of the North Pole was originally a butcher. He lived in a small village of southern China. He was tall and sturdy with enormous strength. But he also had a hot temper and constantly bulling his country folks. People were afraid of him.
One day, after being freeloaded with some wine, he wandered to a stream. He saw a woman in white robe who was doing the laundry by the stream. The woman turned to him and said “when clothes gets dirty, it’s possible to clean them. But when a man’s stomach and intestines get dirty, it would be hard to clean them.” She continued: “You have done lots of bad deeds, your stomach and intestines must be very dirty.”
To prove she was wrong, the butcher jumped into the stream and tried to clean his body. Instead the stream was severely contaminated by his sins and all the fish were killed. He was shook by the scene. When he turned around to look for the woman, she had vanished into thin air. That woman turns out to be the manifestation of Guan Yin (the goddess of mercy).
When the butcher returned to the ground, he quickly fell asleep and had a dream. In his dream, he became a pig but all tied up. A butcher came, cut open his belly, took out his dirty stomach and intestines, and then threw them into a stream. He screamed the whole time from the excruciating pain.
After he woke up in horror, he felt so remorse for all the bad things he had done and decided to give up butchery. To redeem his sins, he took a step further by digging out his stomach and intestines, and throwing them in the stream. He also hid the knife in his belly so passersby would not accidentally step on it and get hurt.
The Jade Emperor (All Mighty God) was moved by his sincerity and determination to clear his sins, he had him resurrected to become immortal. His responsibility is to expel all evils on earth.
The story does not stop here. After he became immortal, his stomach and intestines somehow had absorbed the world’s essences and transformed it into demonic turtle and snake. No one could subdue them. After hearing the news, he borrowed the seven-star sword from a deity and returned to earth to conquer the evil turtle and snake, and have them beg for mercy. The snake and turtle later became his disciples, also his means of transportation.
The Great Emperor of the North Pole apparently likes the seven-star sword too much so he never returns it. Afraid of the sword would fly back to its old master, the Great Emperor of the North Pole always sleeps with his eyes open!