Though regarded by the authorities as heretical cults, various branches of Luojiao 羅教 (Luo teaching) still propagated in northern China during the Jiaqing Period (1796-1820). Starting from the Daoguang period (1820-1850), the Viceroy of Min-Zhe aggressively persecuted the Luo sect in Hubei, having already done so in Jiangxi, Zhejiang, and Fujian. The sect’s supporters were all intellectuals who had passed the imperial exams. Despite suffering repeated persecutions, the Luo sect maintained its activities in northern and southern China in the Guangxu period (1875-1908). It continued to receive support, both from intellectuals as well as officials and gentry.
Luojiao, also called as Zhaijiao 齋教 (vegetarian teaching), was brought into Taiwan in the early Qianlong period. Although it was frequently suppressed by authorities in mainland China due to being regarded as a secret cult, there is no record of such crackdowns in Taiwan. Rather, Taiwanese records show the existence of many Zhaitang 齋堂 (vegetarian hall) established by the Luo sect in Taiwan. This article aims to study the development of Zhaijiao by means of eight plagues found in Taiwanese Zhaitang, seeking to understand the weakening of the suppression of Luojiao after the Daoguang period, as well as the support provided by officials and gentry to the development of Zhaijiao in Taiwan in the late Qing.