The Violet Lady: The Goddess of Whores and Toilets

The Viloit Lady


A toilet god is a deity associated with latrines and toilets. Belief in toilet gods—a type of household deity—has been known from both modern and ancient cultures, and one of my favorites is the Violet Lady.I shall now bring you all to ancient china to meet her…….

The Violet Lady Spirit (Zigu Shen), also know as The Purple Maiden, was born as He Mei in Shandong. After having studied successfully in her youth, she was married as a concubine to Li Jing in the period 684–705. (In other versions, she is an orphaned peasant girl sold to a man named Wei Zixu.) However, the primary wife was jealous of her beauty and intelligence. She forced He Mei to live in a shed by the outhouse and eventually murdered her, burying the corpse by the toilet.
According to legend, the gods took pity on He Mei and made her the spirit of latrines and patron of concubines, they gave her  a bow and arrows with which to shoot cruel wives . In real life, she was canonized by Empress Wu Zetian of the Tang dynasty—herself the concubine of two emperors and the only ruling empress in Chinese history.
In ancient times, women, never men, offered sacrifices to the Violet Lady. On this night, a basket decorated with earrings, hairpins, and flowers was brought to the latrine. A young girl of about ten was selected to hold it before an altar table topped with candles, incense, and pounded rice. When the ceremony began, all prostrated themselves. Then someone drew outlines of household objects such as scissors, knives, and flowers in the rice, using a silver hairpin, while everyone prayed for abundance and good fortune in the new year. The basket was supposed to become heavier or to make sounds in answer, a sign that the Violet Lady had heard them.

Later on, people would make a kind of paper image or wooden image of the Goddess of the Toilet, and on the 15th day of Lunar 1st month, would worship it in the toilet, and even sometimes chanting:

“Tzu Hsu (husband) is not at home and Tsao ku (first wife) has gone also.
Pretty lady, you may come out to play”

If during the ritual, the image moved, it means that the deity has descended.

There is a much darker tale associated with this goddess….

The Empress Lu (wife of Emperor Gaozu, founder of the Han Dynasty) was said to be cruel and ruthless to her enemies.

She invented a torture method which she used against her husband concubine Lady Qi

The torture method is known as making a Ren Zhi 人彘 (Ren – human Zhi – pig)

She ordered for Lady Qi hands and legs to be chopped off, so she has no limbs to walk or hold

She ordered for Lady Qi eyes to be dug out so she cannot see

She ordered for lead to be poured into the ears so she cannot hear

She ordered for poison to be forced to the throat, cut off the tongue so she cannot talk

Then she was left in the toilet.

Once Empress Lu led her son Emperor Han Hui Di to see a Ren Zhi.

Emperor Han Hui Di did not know what is a Ren Zhi, so he was brought to a small toilet at an alley,

whereby he found a person without hands and legs, with two sunken fleshy sorbits, opening and closing the mouth but no words coming out.

He was to find out later that it was his own mother who brought this upon Lady Qi.

He never fully recovered from the shock of seeing this Ren Zhi and his mother cruelty, fell sick for a long time, turned to liquor and women, neglected the state affairs and died soon after.

At the moment of his Death the Gods took pity on Lady Qi and turned her into the Goddess of the Toilet.

Sources : The Lunar Tao by; Deng Ming- Dao,,

Further reading:

Spirit-writing has a long history in Chinese folk religion, and is first recorded (Chao 1942:12) during the Liu Song Dynasty (420-479 CE). Fuji planchette-writing became popular during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), when authors like Shen Kuo and Su Shi associated its origins with summoning Zigu 紫姑 “Purple Maiden”, the Spirit of the Latrine. Fuji divination flourished during the Ming Dynasty, and the Jiajing Emperor (r. 1522-1566) built a special jitan 乩壇 “planchette altar” in the Forbidden City (Despeux 2007:428). Although the practice of fuji planchette-writing was prohibited by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) Legal Code, it has continued and is currently practiced at Daoist temples in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Malaysia as well as folk shrines in China.

Margaret Chan : Jailangkung: Chinese Spirit-basket-divination in Indonesia


Art: The Purple Maiden- by;Vincent Piazza copyright 2016

The Violet Lady: The Goddess of Whores and Toilets was originally published on The Hidden Left Hand

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