AO The Four Dragon Kings Ao Chi'in, Ao Kuang,
Ao Jun, and Ao Shun, gods of rain and the sea. Subjects of the Jade
CH'ENG-HUANG God of moats and walls. Every
village and town had its own Ch'eng-Huang, most often a local dignitary or
important person who had died and been promoted to godhood. His divine status
was revealed in dreams, though the gods made the actual decision. Ch'eng-Huang
not only protects the community from attack but sees to it that the King of the
Dead does not take any soul from his jurisdiction without proper authority.
Ch'eng-Huang also exposes evil-doers in the community itself, usually through
dreams. His assistants are Mr. Ba Lao-ye and Mr. Hei Lao-ye -- Mr. Daywatchman
and Mr. Nightwatchman.
CHU JUNG God of fire. Chu Jung punishes those
who break the laws of heaven.
KUAN TI God of war. The Great Judge who
protects the people from injustice and evil spirits. A red-faced god dressed
always in green. An oracle. Kuan Ti was an actual historical figure, a general
of the Han dynasty renowned for his skill as a warrior and his justness as a
ruler. There were more than 1600 temples dedicated to Kuan Ti.
KWAN YIN, also KWANNON Goddess of mercy and
compassion. A lady dressed in white seated on a lotus and holding an infant.
Murdered by her father, she recited the holy books when she arrived in Hell, and
the ruler of the underworld could not make the dead souls suffer. The
disgruntled god sent her back to the world of the living, where Kwan Yin
attained great spiritual insight and was rewarded with immortality by the
Buddha. A popular goddess, Kwan Yin's temple at the Mount of the Wondrous Peak
was ever filled with a throng of pilgrims shaking rattles and setting off
firecrackers to get her attention.
LEI KUNG God of thunder. Lei Kung has the
head of a bird, wings, claws and blue skin, and his chariot is drawn by six
boys. Lei Kung makes thunder with his hammer, and his wife makes lightning with
her mirrors. Lei Kung chases away evil spirits and punishes criminals whose
crimes have gone undetected.
PA HSIEN The Eight Immortals of the Taoist
tradition. Ordinary mortals who, through good works and good lives, were
rewarded by the Queen Mother Wang by giving them the peaches of everlasting life
to eat. They are: >>>LI TIEH-KUAI Li of the Iron Crutch. A healer, Li
sits as a beggar in the market place selling wondrous drugs, some of which can
revive the dead.
>>>CHUNG-LI CH'UAN A smiling old men always beaming
with joy, he was rewarded with immortality for his ascetic life in the
>>>LAN TS'AI-HO A young flute-player and wandering
minstrel who carries a basket laden with fruit. His soul-searching songs caused
a stork to snatch him away to the heavens.
>>>LU TUNG-PIN A hero of
early Chinese literature. Renouncing riches and the world, he punished the
wicked and rewarded the good, and slew dragons with a magic
>>>CHANG-KUO LAO An aged hermit with miraculous abilities.
Chang owned a donkey which could travel at incredible speed. The personification
of the primordial vapor which is the source of all life.
HSIANG-TZU A scholar who chose to study magic rather than prepare for the civil
service. When his uncle chastised him for studying magic, Han Hsiang-Tzu
materialized two flowers with poems written on the leaves.
KUO-CHIU Ts'ao Kuo-Chiu tried to reform his brother, a corrupt emperor, by
reminding him that the laws of heaven are inescapable.
HSIEN-KU "Immortal Maiden Ho." A Cantonese girl who dreamed that she could
become immortal by eating a powder made of mother-of-pearl. She appears only to
men of great virtue.
P'AN-CHIN-LIEN Goddess of prostitutes. As a
mortal, she was a widow who was much too liberal and inventive with her favors,
and her father-in-law killed her. In death she was honored by her more
professional associates and eventually became the goddess of whores.
SHI-TIEN YEN-WANG The Lords of Death, the ten
rulers of the underworld. They dress alike in royal robes and only the wisest
can tell them apart. Each ruler presides over one court of law. In the first
court a soul is judged according to his sins in life and sentenced to one of the
eight courts of punishment. Punishment is fitted to the offense. Misers are made
to drink molten gold, liars' tongues are cut out. In the second court are
incompetent doctors and dishonest agents; in the third, forgers, liars, gossips,
and corrupt government officials; in the fifth, murderers, sex offenders and
atheists; in the sixth, the sacrilegious and blasphemers; in the eighth, those
guilty of filial disrespect; in the ninth, arsonists and accident victims. In
the tenth is the Wheel of Transmigration where souls are released to be
reincarnated again after their punishment is completed. Before souls are
released, they are given a brew of oblivion, which makes them forget their
TI-TSANG WANG God of mercy. Wandering in the
caverns of Hell, a lost soul might encounter a smiling monk whose path is
illuminated by a shining pearl and whose staff is decorated with metal rings
which chime like bells. This is Ti-Tsang Wang, who will do all he can to help
the soul escape hell and even to put an end to his eternal round of death and
rebirth. Long ago, Ti-Tsang Wang renounced Nirvana so that he could search the
dark regions of Hell for souls to save from the kings of the ten hells. Once a
priest of Brahma, he converted to Buddhism and himself became a Buddha with
special authority over the souls of the dead.
T'SHAI-SHEN God of wealth who presides over a
vast bureaucracy with many minor deities under his authority. A majestic figure
robed in exquisite silks. T'shai-Shen is quite a popular god; even atheists
TSAO WANG God of the hearth. Every household
has its own Tsao Wang. Every year the hearth god reports on the family to the
Jade Emperor, and the family has good or bad luck during the coming year
according to his report. The hearth god's wife records every word spoken by
every member of the family. A paper image represents the hearth god and his
wife, and incense is burned to them daily. When the time came to make his report
to the Jade Emperor, sweetmeats were placed in his mouth, the paper was burned,
and firecrackers were lit to speed him on his way.
TU-TI Local gods. Minor gods of towns,
villages and even streets and households. Though far from the most important
gods in the divine scheme, they were quite popular. Usually portrayed as kindly,
respectable old men, they see to it that the domains under their protection run
YENG-WANG-YEH "Lord Yama King." Greatest of
the Lords of Death. Yeng-Wang-Yeh judges all souls newly arrived to the land of
the dead and decides whether to send them to a special court for punishment or
put them back on the Wheel of Transmigration.
YU-HUANG-SHANG-TI "Father Heaven." The August
Supreme Emperor of Jade, whose court is in the highest level of heaven,
originally a sky god. The Jade Emperor made men, fashioning them from clay. His
heavenly court resembles the earthly court in all ways, having an army, a
bureaucracy, a royal family and parasitical courtiers. The Jade Emperor's rule
is orderly and without caprice. The seasons come and go as they should, yin is
balanced with yang, good is rewarded and evil is punished. As time went on, the
Jade Emperor became more and more remote to men, and it became customary to
approach him through his doorkeeper, the Transcendental Dignitary. The Jade
Emperor sees and hears everything; even the softest whisper is as loud as
thunder to the Jade Emperor.
The preceding information was compiled and is copyrighted 1994 by D.W.
Owens. Distribution is allowed if credit is given. Likewise, all validity,
spelling, and authenticity of information rests on the author's shoulders and
not ours. Enjoy!
This page sponsored by Not Like Most
Back to World
Mythology Home Page