Zhenwu rose to the height of his popularity during the Ming dynasty. The third Ming emperor, Yongle, credited Zhenwu with helping him secure the throne and ordered a massive temple building campaign at Wudang Shan, the place where Zhenwu is believed to have attained immortality and ascended to heaven. The loose hair and the bare feet are the two most salient indicators of Zhenwu's identity, the others being a tortoise and a snake, which are sometimes depicted underfoot, or entwined and placed in front of him.
According to records, in the ninth year of the reign of Chenghua, ninety-three images of Zhenwu were commissioned by the imperial household. Incomplete Ming dynasty records show that the imperial household had at least 369 images consecrated, attesting to the popularity of Zhenwu during this period.