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Door God

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  • Door God

    After the Stove God. likely the best-known household deities were the ubiquitous door gods. Like the Stove God. door gods have a certain universality of use and representation. but unlike the denizen of the kitchen the door gods are much more likely to adhere to one of several legends connected with classical Chinese texts. One of the most commonly held beliefs is taken from the first century BC Shanhaijing (Classic of the Mountains and Seas). which notes that the door gods Shentu and Yulei originated as guardians of the celestial peaches:

    In the vast ocean the mountain or land of Tusu lies. A large peach tree stands in it. the foliage of which extends three thousand miles. The north-eastern side of its branches is called the Gate of Spectres because it is there that the myriads of spectres go in and out. There were in that island two divine men. Shentu and Yulei by name. who direct the examination and management of the hosts of spectres. Spectres which caused evil and damage they fettered with ropes of reed or rushes. to give them as food to a tiger. Thereupon the Emperor Huang (27th cent. B.C) instituted the ceremonial usage of driving off spectres at the proper season; that is to say. he set up large images of peach wood. painted Shentu and Yulei on gates and doors. and. together with a tiger. suspended there cords of reed. in order to repulse them.

    As related in the Ming dynasty novel Journey to the West Qin Shubao and Hu Jingde have equally classic origins. and were said to have been so effective in ridding the Tang Emperor`s palace of ghosts that they were honored by having their images posted on the palace doors. In similar spirit of adopting traditions associated with mainstream Chinese culture. the seventeenth century Enfeoffment of the Gods supplies the 'Ran Deng' (Lamp Lighting) Daoist and Zhao Gongming. Guan Yu and Guan Sheng are a Grandfather-Grandson team who appear respectively in Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Outlaws of the Marsh. Whoever the door gods may be. the common denominator of all front gate Door Gods is trustworthiness. strength. and loyalty supported by a fierce martial countenance and impressive weaponry. Their posting at the most vulnerable point of an otherwise solidly enclosed court-yard situated them at the front line of defence in the spiritual security of the home.

    Although less well represented in narrative. the interior door gods were important allies of their front gate counterparts. While the front gate door gods were of a martial nature the interior doors were governed by gods of a civil nature. These interior door gods are sometimes associated with historical scholars such as the Dou Yujun. whose five sons each passed the civil service examinations and became great officials. In general. however. the civil door god simply provides balance to the cultural configuration of the house. and encourages the visitor to feel at peace in their surroundings.

  • #2
    Ha!...........I knew it!