supervisor of priests ［僧都］ ( sōzu): An official position conferred by the government on distinguished priests, designating them responsible for supervising priests and nuns under the direction of the administrators of priests. The title supervisor of priests was first conferred in China. In Japan, the imperial court established three such ranks in 624. In descending order of importance, these were administrator of priests (sōjō), supervisor of priests (sōzu), and Dharma magistrate (hōzu). At that time, Kuratsukuri no Tokusaka, a layman, was appointed supervisor of priests. Later these ranks became honorary and lost their functional significance.