The Chinese believe in death deities that will judge people after they die. Yanluo Wang is one such figure. His judgments will decide who will go to hell and who will go to Heaven. He is often called the judge of suffering, and people invoke him to prevent them from doing wrong.
The Chinese death deity Xiwangmo originally possessed animal characteristics, but over the centuries, it evolved into a benevolent deity and has lost its animal characteristics. Now, Xiwangmu is represented as a human-like figure. In some legends, the deity is seen as an older woman. In others, she is portrayed as a ferocious warrior. Whatever the case, it is clear that the deity has a role in the perception of death.
The Han dynasty saw Xiwangmu’s image change dramatically. Initially thought of as a tiger demon, she was gradually transformed into a Daoist goddess. As a result, she represents the ultimate yin. However, her role in the afterlife is still uncertain.
The earliest reference to Xiwangmu appears in the Zhuangzi. In the Zhuangzi, Xiwangmu is considered equal to male deities and legendary figures. In addition, her inclusion in the list of immortals implies a connection with immortality. Xiwangmu later became a central theme in Daoist literature.
According to legend, Xiwangmu visited the emperor on the seventh day of the seventh month. This date is known as Qixi Festival. During this night, Xiwangmu brought the emperor seven peaches, five of which he gave to his mortal lover, Zhinu.
Xiwangmu is a powerful female deity akin to the west and east goddesses. She embodies the feminine yin energy, powering the immortals’ eternal livelihood. She is also responsible for creation and destruction in the mortal realm.
Xiwangmu also held the powers of fertility and longevity. People prayed to Xiwangmu for a good harvest and rain. These traits are typically associated with other deities, but Xiwangmu held them in high regard.
The Chinese death deity Han Zhongli is often depicted in female form. Despite this, he is also associated with the male form of the demon Li Tieguai. In legend, he once met a beggar while gathering medicinal herbs, but he wasn’t the beggar, but rather Li Tieguai disguised himself. As a result, Li Tieguai granted him immortality. This deity is often depicted with a tattered blue dress and fruit basket.
In some stories, Han Zhongli is portrayed as a happy man. He is also often described as carrying a flute, the dizi. The dizi is considered a magical instrument in Chinese culture and is said to bring good fortune to those who play it. Han is also said to be the patron of all musicians.
Han Zhongli was once a state official and army officer, but he lost his life in a battle. Afterward, he became a hermit, where he learned the secrets of immortality from the Flowers of the East. His life was difficult, but he soon found the elixir of immortality. Han Zhongli was later a beggar and a priest. His ultimate goal was to save humanity from poverty.
The Chinese death deity Han Zhongli’s powers are varied, and his actions depend on how he is invoked. One of his primary functions is to judge the dead and if rites were correctly performed. Other aspects of his role are to oversee the city’s fortune, expose evil-doers in the community, and mandate proper behavior.
Han Zhongli is an important figure in Chinese culture, and his life is often celebrated in literature and art. His son, Laozi, was a literati member and later a general of the Han dynasty’s army. After being defeated by the Tibetans, Laozi fled to the mountainous regions, where he met an older man. The older man welcomed him into his spiritual sanctuary, where he learned alchemy and immortal rituals.
The Lan Caihe is the patron of gardeners and florists. He is often depicted carrying a basket of flowers, reminding us of the brevity of life. His gender is ambiguous. Some describe him as a boy or a girl, while others depict him as a man.
Lan Caihe is depicted as a young person wearing a pink tunic and carrying a flower basket. He is also commonly described as a woman with long-tressed hair. His figure is found in several different forms and is often depicted with the Eight Immortals.
The form of Lan Caihe was first recorded during the Tang dynasty. Many people believed Lan was a wandering musician who performed to attract attention. His unconventional songs often pondered philosophical ideas. These “foot-stomping” songs were sung in a half-crazy manner, with pulsating beats made by stomping feet. The music was also said to encourage people to seek the Tao.
The eight Immortals have different functions. Some are associated with healing and medicine, while others focus on the arts. The Lan Caihe is also associated with music. In addition to being a Chinese death deity, he is also a representation of skills.
He is also associated with “The Yellow Millet Dream” (a dream). Lu Dongbin was a poet and patriarch of the Complete Perfection school, a branch of Daoism. He is said to protect warriors and scholars. His image is usually depicted with a sword to ward off evil spirits. In addition to the eight immortals, eight immortals are said to reside on an island. The leader of the Eight Immortals is sometimes Lu Dongbin, a Tang poet. However, as the History of Song claimed, he probably did not live for two hundred years.
In Chinese mythology, the soul reincarnates in different bodies. To avoid this, the soul must drink the Soup of Oblivion, which Grandmother Meng serves. The soup makes the soul forget its previous life, and only powerful beings can recover it. In Chinese culture, the Lan Caihe guards artificial treasures and natural deposits. The soul must spend a certain period in this hell before being released into the afterlife or rebirth.
Heng and Ha
In Chinese culture, death deities often have male and female counterparts. This duality is reflected in their names and their images. Some gods are females, such as Heng and Ha. They are commonly represented with a gold nugget or scepter. They are also meant with a giant bird or crane, a Shuang. These deities are often worshiped during the New Year and on the fifteenth day of the third lunar month.
In China, these gods play various roles in society. Some are responsible for disasters such as floods and earthquakes. Others are responsible for specific rivers or mountains. Some are based on actual figures, such as Guanti, a real Han dynasty general. Others are based on Taoist principles. In some cases, they represent the eight opposites of the human race, or the yin and yang.
Both Ha and Heng are often depicted in Buddhist temples. The story of these two deities dates back to around 700 B.C.E., and they first appeared in the literature before the Book of History. Although there is no specific creation narrative for Heaven, some scholars believe they played a part in creating the universe. Later, the two deities merge into one entity and are worshipped.
Heng and Ha are also believed to play music and medicine. The latter is depicted with a gourd filled with potions. The latter is also known as Kong Mu and Li Ningyang. In one legend, the latter had to inhabit the body of a dead beggar with a paralyzed leg. In a subsequent myth, he was enlightened enough to achieve immortality.