The main deity of the Fude Hall is Fude (Blessing and Virtue) God, popularly known as Earth God. The tutelary deity appears in many local villages and people worshipped him for protection. In the agricultural society of China, there is also a proverb ‘At the front and back of a farmland, there will be an Earth God.’ Regarding the origin of worshipping Earth God, other than the ‘worshipping earth god’ ritual during the Neolithic era, there is also the legend of Zhang Fude becoming Earth God. Accounts differ, for example, during early Western Zhou dynasty, the deity was previously a domestic helper who was very loyal to his master, whereas some accounts mention that he was a tax official who loved his people and did many good deeds. Regardless of the versions, Fude God is known for his protection of the people and ensuring the harvest of agricultural produce.
One of the origins of Tudigong derives from the worship of nature. Therefore, the worship of Tudigong is associated with the worship of rocks and trees because they are related with soil. Another origin is from the social worship of personified deity. In Zuo Zhuan, “ Gonggong had a son called Goulong, who became the Houtu. These shared in two of the sacrifices. Houtu was sacrificed to at the altar of the land; at that of the Spirit of the grain, the director of Agriculture.” In mythology, Gonggong hit his head with Mt. Buzhou, and collapsed the Heavenly Pillar in northwest. Luckily, Nu Wa repaired it and recover the world. Goulong is the first personified Tudigong, residing in Houtu, making great contribution to the earth and water.
The legend of how Zhang Fu-de became Tudigong was prevailing in popular culture. It is said that a servant of the Great Officer in Zhou Dynasty Zhang Ming-de took the daughter of his master to seek for her father when the master served in a remote region. Encountering the snowstorm on their way, Zhang was frozen to death because he took off his clothes to protect his master’s daughter. When he was dying, the nine words “Nan Tian Men Da Xian Fu De Zhen Shen” emerged in the sky, referring to the title of the loyal servant. The Great Officer reported the story of his loyal servant to Emperor Wu, who was deeply touched and said, “He was as great as a Great Officer.” Therefore, Tudigong wears a chancellor hat.
Another legend of Tudigong is recorded in Fu De Zhen Shen Jin Jing. Named Zhang Fu-de and bron on February 2 1102 B.C. Tudigong served as a tax officer who treated his people like his own children and did a lot of good deeds. Dead at the age of 102, Zhang still looked healthy after passing away for three days. The succeed tax officer was mean to the people. Therefore, they missed Zhang Fu-de a lot. A poor man then made a small temple in honor of Zhang with four stones, one for the roof and the other three for walls. Amazingly, the man turned out to be a rich man afterwards. Believing in the blessing brought by Tudigong, the people invested together to build a temple with a golden statue to worship “Fu De Zhen Shen” respectfully. Another saying is that Tudigong was a noble person who made contributions to the place. After he passed away, Chen Huang Ye (City God) would assign him as Tudigong. Or, after a noble man passed away, the God would entitle him Tudigong. Still another legend suggests that Tudigong was a kind and good-natured officer died of public service.