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hall prefect (chiden 知殿)

Literally, "in charge of" (chi, shi 知) "halls" (den殿), chief among them the buddha hall (butsuden 佛殿). An officer in a monastic bureaucracy; one of the six prefects (roku chōshu 六頭首). In Song dynasty Chinese and medieval Japanese Zen monasteries, the position of hall prefect was subordinate to that of rector (ino 維那). The hall prefect was responsible for maintaining the Sumeru altar in the buddha hall, where an image of Shakamuni Buddha was enshrined, as well as altars for arhats, ancestral teachers and former abbots, tutelary deities, and the ancestral spirits of lay patrons. Whenever offering services were held for those figures, their altars needed to be decorated with flowers and candles, etc., and offerings of food, drink, and incense had to be readied in advance. In contemporary Soto Zen, only training monasteries (Eiheiji and Sōjiji foremost among them) have a functioning office of hall prefect held by a senior monk who actually oversees the decoration of altars and preparation of offerings. The position of hall prefect survives, for the most part, only as a honorific title and seating position in various ritual observances, which some senior monk holds for the duration of the ceremony. →"six prefects."