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Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch

RASHKB and author

Vol. 38 (1998 )
ISSN 1991-7295

51
IMAGES OFSESICISED VEDIC DEITIES
ON CHINESE ALTARS
KEITH STEVENS
Introduction
The rear halls of two temples in the Western Hills of Peking each
contains some twenty-eight images which, though predominantly Chinese in appearance and style, are Vedic deities referred to in English in
Chinese temple brochures as the Deva. The main question arising from
this unique pantheon asks what led to its arrangement and character?
Buddhism in China numbers among its many deities several score
borrowed from Brahmanism and other Indian religions, in other words
Hindu deities with Chinese appearance and bearing. These tend to be
well known forms, accepted by Chinese devotees as Chinese and with
little suggestion that they had an alien Indian origin. The concepts and
forms of Buddhist deities on altars in China were almost exclusively
brought there from India either by the northern route over the mountains and deserts of North-western China or the Southern route by sea
to Kuangtung or Fukien provinces. The transit of South Asian Buddhism and its statuary to China began during the first century AD with
the statuary being uniquely Buddhist, taken from Hinduism via
Buddhism.
The Revd. J MacGowan1, during the early days of this century
wrote that "the practical, every-day, common religion of the Chinese
is idolatry, pure and simple. Ancestor worship is too profound and too
ideal and not quick enough to meet the problems that constantly face
the Chinese in their struggle for existence. To provide for this difficulty,
idols innumerable have been enshrined in homes and in temples all
over the land.. ..and many of these idols are of Indian origin, as can be
seen by their faces, as well as by the liturgies that are used, which are
certainly adaptations from the ancient Sanskrit. "
We are particularly interested here in the specifically Hindu deities referred to in English in Chinese brochures as the Devas, but in
Chinese guise, on altars in two temples in the Western Hills, the Ta Pei

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch


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Vol. 38 (1998 )
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Ssu and the Pi-yun Ssu. They were first placed there some three hundred years ago, towards the end of the last fully Chinese dynasty, the
Ming and before the overthrow of the Ming by the non-Chinese
Manchus.

The Two Temples in the Western Hills


The old Kuan Yin Hall of the Ta Pei Ssu 7C?S#, the fourth of the
Eight Great Places Ay'vlS in the Western Hills of Peking, is sealed off
and not available to the general public. It contains a modern image of
the major deity, the bodhisattva Kuan Yin with a Thousand Arms and a
Thousand Eyes together with old but refurbished images of the Deva
with their name in Sinicised Sanskrit but without providing any hint as
to their origins and legends. The statues of the Deva were originally
made during the Ming, ca. 1500 AD, and consist of clay reinforced
with hemp. They are referred to in temple literature as the Group of 28
Great Immortals Zl+A^CftijpP^. The image of the Thousand Arm
and Thousand Eye Kuan Yin was replaced by the Japanese after the
Second World War in an attempt to make amends for having taken the
original and melted it down for the brass content during the War.
The Kuan Yin Hall in the Ta Pei Ssu contains in addition to the
one bodhisattva, Kuan Yin, twenty-eight images, which can be
categorised as follows : twenty-six deities with Sanskrit titles including the five T'ien-wang [Guardians] together with two Chinese folk
religion deities. Of the twenty-six, five are deities specifically referred
to separately in the Eight Classes of Supernatural Beings3 [Deva,
Mahoraga, Kinnara, Asura and Gandharva]
It is lamentable that the Kuan Yin Hall is closed to the public;
however, fortunately, there is also a Hall of Bodhisattvas in the second
temple, the Pi-yun Ssu 8 r f \ some five kms. to the north of the Ta
Pei Ssu, which is open to the general public and it too contains the
Twenty-eight Deva; however, the images here have all been made within
the past fifteen years, probably replacements for the original images
destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and yet again without any
signs to indicate that they are anything other than Chinese deities. The
fact that all but three were originally Hindu deities brought to China by
Buddhism is not explained in temple literature, though the monks un-

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch


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Vol. 38 (1998 )
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derstood that all twenty-eight of the deities in the hall were followers
or disciples of the Kuan Yin with the Thousand Anns and Thousand
Eyes.
The twenty-eight images in the Bodhisattva Hall of second temple,
the Pi-yun Ssu, [apart from the main deity Kuan Yin], fall into three
categories : four bodhisattvas [P'u Hsien, Wen Shu, Ta Shih Chih and
Ti-tsang Wang - but not including the main deity, the Bodhisattva
Kuan Yin]; seventeen deities with Sanskrit titles [including fourT'ienwang Guardians] and three Chinese native folk religion deities.
The monks also explained that a stream which ran through the
area had attracted imperial favour and several temples had been sited
and built by palace eunuchs to enable the emperors to relax during the
summer heat or visit the nearby shrines of deities of longevity and
prosperity. Amongst these were the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yiin Ssu.
They also understood that when the decision was taken to set up the
images in the Hall each image was specially constructed and given a
name or title all in accordance with Buddhist sacred writings.
However, these two temples in the Western Hills are not quite
unique in that a further 28 deities can be seen in a cave-tunnel in a
comparatively modern temple near Taipei in Taiwan, each labelled with
a Sinicised Sanskrit or pseudo-Sanskrit name, similar to the deities in
the two temples in the Western Hills. Such alien names mean nothing
to most Chinese.
In the Ta Hui Ssu ^ c S # , a third temple, within the city of Peking,
statues referred to in the temple as the Twenty-eight Protectors of the
Buddhist Law Bl&tt line the flanking walls of the main hall. These
too are very similar in style and appearance to the Twenty-eight Deva
in the Ta Pei Ssu in the Eight Great Places and though not individually
identified as such in the Ta Hui Ssu they are probably similar Deva.
According to Soothill's Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms
Deva is a general designation of the gods of Brahmanism, celestial
beings whom he lists as the Twenty Deva [ -i ';fc ]. The Sinicised
Sanskrit titles of the deities seen in the two temples in the Western
Hills, compared with the list of twenty in Soothill's dictionary, con-

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch


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Vol. 38 (1998 )
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firms that the majority of deities in these two temples are Deva. The
categorization of the Twenty-eight Immortals as Deva was arrived at
by comparing the Sanskrit identities of the twenty-eight images and
the list of the Twenty Deva provided by Soothill. The minor variation
in inclusion and omission between the Twenty Deva listed by Soothill,
the Twenty-two Deva in the Ta Pei Ssu and the Twenty-five in the Piyun Ssu cannot be explained.
In some temples the Deva have been equated with the Asuras.
This is incorrect as the Asuras are those who are not only not Deva but
are, according to some writings, the greatest enemies of the Deva and,
in others, it is written that the Asuras are anti-gods and not, as claimed
so often in English, demons.
It would not have been possible to identify any one of the images
of the Deva without its Sinicised Sanskrit title on the tablet before it apart, that is, from the three fundamentally Chinese deities with their
Chinese titles included within the Deva groups, Wei T'o and the four
T'ien Wang Guardians.

Images within the Two Temples in the Western Hills


Within the main hall of both temples, apart from the images of the
Deva lining the side walls, stands the popular and well-known Buddhist bodhisattva, the Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin adapted from images brought from India where he [a male deity at that time] was the
Brahmanist deity Avalokitesvara. In the Ta Pei Ssu she is alone whereas
in the Pi-yun Ssu she is sitting crossed-legged and is flanked by two
pairs of secondary bodhisattva. The first pair is Wen Shu and P'u-Hsien,
whose Sanskrit titles are Manjusri and Samatabhadra respectively. They
were two of the twelve divine Buddhist teachers. They in turn are flanked
by another pair of bodhisattvas, Ti-tsang Wang, the Saviour of the
Underworld and Ta-shih Chih. The latter is one of the members of the
retinue of Amitabha [O-mi-t'u Fu] known in Sanskrit as Kshitigarbha
and Mahasthama respectively. Mahasthama is believed to be the deified Maudgalyayana, the right hand disciple of the Buddha, Gautama.
In the Pi-yun Ssu, the bodhisattva Saviour of in the Underworld,
Ti-tsang Wang, is depicted in his modern standard form, sitting side-

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch


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Vol. 38 (1998 )
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saddle on his recumbent lion, holding his rattle-stick in. his right hand
and his pearl in his left. He wears monk's robes and the five-leaf Buddhist crown and is a benign middle-aged monk. However, in the Ta Pei
Ssu he is without any unique characteristics, and is portrayed as a
middle-aged deity, standing, with palms held together in prayer before
his chest; he is dressed in multi-coloured robes and an ornate crown.
Without his label it would not have been possible to identify him.

Native Chinese Deities co-located but unconnected with


the Deva
Two of the Twenty-eight deities in the Ta Pei Ssu are not Deva,
being native Chinese deities. One is known as the Lord of the Purple
Planet, Venus, Tzu-wei Ta-ti and the other, the Lord of the Underworld,
Tung Yiieh Ta-ti.
In the Pi-yun Ssu the additional native Chinese deity, bringing the
total to three, is the Spirit of Thunder, Lei Kung, though in practice he
might perhaps be regarded as originally Hindu in that he is a form of
Garuda, a human with wings, the beak of a bird and clawed feet.
The great majority, if indeed not all Chinese visitors to these
temples, be they devotees or merely sight-seers, tend to assume that
the deities were legendary Chinese figures, possibly because the signboard outside one of the halls describes them as P'u-sa [bodhisattvas],
a term Chinese are familiar with considering it to be Chinese. Having
said that, a number of the deities have titles on individual tablets before them which, though in Chinese characters, are obviously not Chinese names such as Kan-ta-p'o, the Sinicised version of Gandharva.
These names can be somewhat confusing if not bewildering as different Chinese characters for the alien sounds are used. In addition they
are not always the full titles provided in Buddhist religious literature.
There are several major differences between the array in the Ta
Pei Ssu and in the Pi-yun Ssu. Primarily, though both groups stand
within a hall dedicated to Kuan Yin, the image of the goddess in the
closed temple hall stands some fifteen feet tall and is the thousandarm, thousand-eye Tantric version, standing, with two of her arms resting one each on the heads of her two attendants. The image of Kuan

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch


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Yin in the other temple, the Pi-yun Ssu, depicts her with only two amis
sitting cross-legged on a recumbent blue lion. Her assistants are an
unnamed dark-faced elderly minister who appears to be South Asian,
standing holding a tablet before his chest and dressed in a long blue
robe. Her other attendant is the Red Youth, Hung Hai-eh, standing on
her left hand with his hands held together before his chest, and dressed
in a red robe over green trousers with a flowing scarf-like halo.
Taking the three groups, the twenty Deva listed in Soothill, and
the two groups in the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun Ssu, we have twenty
deities common to all three.
These are :
Brahma, Indra, Pancika, Sarasvati, Laksmi, Skanda [Wei T'o],
Prthivi, Hariti, Marici, Surya, Candra, Siva, Yamaraja, Bodhidhruma,
Guyapati, Kinnara and the four T'ien-wang guardians Vaisravana,
Dhrtarastra, Virudhaka and Virupaksa.
In the Ta Pei Ssu we also have five additional Deva not present
in the Pi-yun Ssu, the Asura, Vimalakirti, Nanda Upananda and
Mahoraga. A further two Deva images are seen only in the Pi-yun Ssu.
These are Lei Kung and Sagara.
Taking each of the deities in turn, we shall examine their background and in particular their Brahmanist [or Vedic] origins, their role
in the Chinese pantheon and any ambiguities or contradictions we
encounter. The important three Brahmanist deities are known in Sanskrit as the Trimurti:
the creator

Brahma

the preserver

Vishnu

the destroyer

Siva

Brahma and Siva are indeed included in the two temples whilst
Vishnu is not3. Though a major Hindu deity today Vishnu was not so
during the Vedic era of the second millennium BC. His particular task

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch


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Vol. 38 (1998 )
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is the conservation or preservation of the divine order in the world.


Despite being a major deity and having many incarnations, of which
Rama is but one, be is not included within the 28 Deva seen in the Ta
Pei Ssu. However, his wife Lakstni is included. Another Vedic deity
not included in the groups of Devas in the Western Hills is Krishna
probably because he is the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
Popular Buddhist figures which, at first thought, we might have
expected to see listed among the Deva would, however, not be eligible
because they were purely Buddhist without a Brahmanist or Vedic
origin, and were Indians who lived and died during the lifetime of the
Buddha himself. These include, amongst others, Kasyapa, Ananda and
Lochana.
Although Ming iconography portrayed Indra and Brahma on many
altars as Chinese figures; the question remains why are they, and in
particular in these two temples in the Western Hills why are so many
Vedic deities, portrayed as Chinese?

Tales of the Ta Pei Ssu


An off-beat description of the Ta Pei Ssu in 1884 describes its
picturesque location and whilst not referring to the deities, least of all
the Deva, it does provide two colourful vignettes4. The first gave the
reason for the main entrance to the temple being blocked. It was a
punishment for the priests who had permitted a suicide to take place
within the temple confines. One of the monks so the story went had
greatly insulted a coolie and he, instead of attacking his persecutor,
had "with the perverseness of your true Chinaman" had taken vengeance on him by committing suicide. The second told of the usual
practice of the era when foreigners rented temples in the cool of the
hills for the summer. Having read various bits of graffiti the 'StudentInterpreter' claimed that the temple must have been a favourite resort
of members of the Russian Mission between 1828 and 1840.

A Third Temple containing a Group of Deities with


Sinicised Sanskrit Names
Yet another group of deities with sinicised Sanskrit names can be

Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch


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Vol. 38 (1998 )
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seen In a comparatively modern temple near Taipei. A lengthy tunnel
connects the main part of the Kuan Tu temple complex, to the Northwest of Taipei, with the front entrance overlooking the Tamshui River.
Some twenty-eight images stand in glass-fronted niches carved into
the rock down the sides of the tunnel. These large individual images
are of the Early Buddhas, the Ku Fo "Fh"#; the Buddhas of pre-history,
the Buddhas who came before Sakyamuni, The Buddha. They have no
altars and as there is an altar dedicated to the Thousand-arm and Thousand-Eye Kuan Yin P'u-sa at the river end of the tunnel they are not
offered incense individually.
Several aspects of the hagiography of the images in the cave/tunnel are intriguing. First of all, those holding weapons have them in
their left hand. The are mostly dressed in gilded armour, and finally,
their titles in Chinese, though Sinicised Sanskrit, have proved impossible to translate into the original Sanskrit and are therefore unidentified.
Several of these unidentified deities have been depicted in Taiwanese
religious literature but without any explanation apart from being listed
under a general title of Supportive Incantations to Buddha, Ta Pei Chou
po

The following Vedic deities who have been noted in one or both
of the temples in the Western Hills would seem not to be present in the
cave/tunnel:
Marici, Pancika, Hariti, Pippala [Bodhidruma], Laksmi, Prthivi,
Surya, Candra, Vimalakirti, Nanda Upananda and Skanda /Veda.
Of the scores of books, both the popular illustrated and monastic
academic, produced over the last half century in Taiwan describing the
Buddhas, bodhisattvas and the hundreds of minor deities of Buddhism,
one at least has listed what they have called The Celestial Guardians
Division Iti5^!8l?5fenf$. This list includes not only the Four Diamond
Kings, the T'ien Wang, [ Vaisravana, Dhrtarastra, Virudhaka and
Virupaksa] but nine of the Deva seen in the Western Hills. These are
India [Sakra-devanam], Brahma [Maha-Brahman], Marici, Laksmi [Sritnaha-devi], Sarasvati, Yamaraja, Guhyapati, Skanda [Wei T'o] and
Gandharva.

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Conclusion
We have been examining a particular arrangement of Indian Deva
within two temples in the Western Hills of Peking. Each group has an
image of the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin as the main deity within the Deva
hall itself. Although monks explained that the images of deities down
the side walls of the hall had been created in accordance with researches
in old Buddhist books, there was no explanation why they should all
have a Chinese rather than an Indian form. It has been suggested by
devotees that the concept of the Deva might have reflected the Manchu
dynasty's affinity withTantric Buddhism, and perhaps Vedic beliefs or
been brought by Lamaist monks during the late Ming but there is no
evidence that this was so. Yet another devotee thought that when the
images were first created during the early sixteenth century, Chinese
craftsmen had a somewhat limited idea of the origins of the deities
concerned and even, perhaps, no idea what the people of South Asia
looked like and therefore made the images in the form of Chinese. An
unanswered question is the presence of several deities within the groups
of Deva whose origins were entirely Chinese without, any connection
whatsoever with Vedic Hinduism.
A small number of individual images of deities with a Brahmanist
origin have been seen on altars in temples in all Chinese communities;
these however have not been at all widespread. Typically they were
adopted by immigrant Chinese from native Buddhism. A remarkable
example of a syncretic group of Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese folk
religion deities is to be seen in a joint Buddhist, Hindu and Chinese
folk religion temple in a quiet area of Angsila some sixty miles south
of Bangkok. The three altars against the rear wall in the main hall of
this temple are the Thai Buddhist altar, stage right with an image of
Sakyamuni Buddha in its centre flanked by two other Thai Buddhist
images. The central altar, the Hindu altar, contains one large image of
Shiva [Siva], holding a trident and dressed in a robe and turban, and
with several small unidentified images standing before him. And finally,
the Chinese folk religion altar dedicated to T'ien Hou, the patron deity
of sailors, with her small image on the altar, stage left, flanked by her
usual demonic attendants, Thousand-Mile Eye and Following-Wind
Ear. Devotees of all races pray before each altar in turn, usually beginning with the altar of their own culture and cursorily placing incense
before the other two. In the temple forecourt are large brightly painted

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concrete images of Thai Buddhas, the [Chinese] Jade Emperor and
Siva with the tiger. Temple staff of the three religions attend to their
own altars and help devotees as and when required.
The most widespread Buddhist images seen throughout China
which are obviously not Chinese deities are the four major guardians
in the entrance hall to Buddhist establishments, the Defenders of the
Faith. These and other similar minor guardian deities are former gods
of Indian folklore and include the giant guardian deities known in Chinese as Wu-shih tSidr, such as those whose images stand outside the
main hall of the Jinci in Taiyiian. A further two are the traditional guardians of Buddhist temple gates dating from at least the 8th century. The
one [facing the gate] on therighthand is opened-mouthed and coloured
vermilion, whilst the guardian on the left has a closed-mouth and is the
colour of charcoal. Both are made of stucco. In China they are known
as the two generals Heng and Ha, the Blower and the Snorter. In legend they fought with secret weapons; one blew a deadly yellow gas
from his mouth with a ha! and the second snorted a white beam of light
from each nostril with a heng! which vaporised his enemies. They can
also be seen guarding the entrances to Japanese Buddhist temples where
they are known as Kongo Rikishi. All of these guardians are undeniably foreign in form in comparison with the gilded images of the standard Buddhas which are now not even considered by Chinese devotees
to be anything but Chinese.
We know who the Deva are, when they were placed in their present
temples, both in Taiwan and the Western Hills, but not why. From our
various sources it would seem that these Sinicised Indian deities are
celestial protectors. We can guess that the concept was imported at a
comparatively late stage but who, individually, sponsored them and
had the images made is now lost in time. It is interesting to note that
present day monks in the Western Hills have little idea of their origins
and were apparently completely disinterested in the subject.
In the cave-tunnel in the comparatively modern temple in Taiwan,
however, the images were, to the religious specialists there, simply
Buddhas of Yore, the principal ones who preceded Sakyamuni.

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Appendix A
DETAILS OF THE DEITIES WITH' SINICISED SANSKRIT NAMES
WHOSE IMAGES APPEAR IN THE GROUPS
IN THE TWO TEMPLES IN THE WESTERN HILLS
OF PEKING
AND THE ONE IN NORTHERN TAIWAN
1]

Brahma [Mahabrahman]

usually known in Chinese as Fan T'ien

Brahma is the ancient Vedic creator and the Soul of the Universe,
an impersonal being, chief of the Hindu gods and celestial spirits and
the first in the Hindu trinity. He is usually paired with Indra [see Ti
Shih below] though married to Sarasvati. It is believed that the Vedas
sprang from Brahma's head
He is known in China by several titles including Ta Fan T'ienshen and Fan Wang as well as Ta Fan T'ien Wang. In India his image
varies from place to place but frequently he is portrayed with four arms
and four faces or heads. Over the centuries his worship slowly declined in favour of Vishnu and Shiva.
His image has been noted in a number of folk religion temples in
China where he is considered to be one of the forms of the Jade Emperor.
In several Buddhist monasteries he has been noted as one of the two
attendants flanking Sakyamuni Buddha, the other attendant being Indra.
In a number of temples in southern China he has been represented
as a bearded middle-aged man, standing, wearing long flowing robes
and either the standard Hanlin-style Chinese literati cap or the tiny
Taoist crown. He can also be portrayed carrying a stylised incensestick holder which looks very similar to the long-stemmed tobacco
pipe. In some temples in central China he was depicted riding a swan.
In the Ta Pei Ssu in the Western Hills he is portrayed as an imperial minister, standing with a tablet held in both hands before his chest
and dressed in a colourfully decorated robe and Ming decorated leather

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bonnet. He has a Chinese face, white moustache and beard and rather
hooded eyes.
However, in the Pi-yun Ssu, also in the Western Hills, his modern
image depicts him in what appears to be a sarong held up by a long
blue bow, and with a bare chest. His shoulders are covered with a decorated blue robe down to his knees, parted revealing his bare chest, and
an unusual bonnet which appears to have a pair of short wings extending out beyond his ears. He has a squat nose, large mouth and is holding his right hand making a mystic sign at chest height. His left hand
grips an incense-stick holder at waist height. He looks marginally less
Chinese than the other images but does not look Indian.
Paired with Indra, he stands in prime position at the head of one of
the two rows of fourteen Deva.
2]

Indra, known in Chinese as Ti Shih i| ; f? and Yin-t'o-lo W&W

He is the greatest of the Vedic deities with the dual function of


weather and war god, known also as Sakra Devanam. He has been
adopted by Buddhists as representative of secular powers, protector of
the religious body but inferior to any Buddhist saint. He is said to have
taken an oath to defend Buddhism during a former incarnation and was
reborn as the King of the Yakshas.
Although some Chinese Buddhists identify India as the Taoist
supreme deity, the Jade Emperor, Brahma is much more commonly
accepted as a form of the Jade Emperor.
His image is present in both the Ta Pei Ssu and in the Pi-yun Ssu,
and in both he is completely Chinese with no hint whatsoever of foreign origins. He is standing, an ancient minister, dressed in colourful
decorated Chinese robes and imperial bonnet, with pink flesh, a black
moustache and goatee, and with both hands held together before his
chest, fingers pointing upward.
In Hong Kong he has been paired with Brahma on altars and is
portrayed carrying a golden bowl somewhat similar to an incense pot.
He is depicted in a form and dress virtually identical with that of Brahma,

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the golden bow! being his unique characteristic.
3! Mahesvara, Mahadevi or Siva, known in Chinese as Mo-hsi-shou-

lo T'ien S S t i ? c
Mahesvara is one of the numerous titles home by one of the
best known of the Indian deities, Siva5. He has come to be regarded as the Supreme Being though he more generally represents
the more malignant forces and destruction, all part of the cycle of
creation and destruction. He is married to either Uma Mahesvara
[also known as Parvati], by whom he had a son named Skanda [see
21 below], or to Kali, who is also Durga. The latter is known as
Hariti [and in Chinese Kuei-tzu Mu : see 6 below] whose image is
also one of the twenty-eight Devi. Hariti has one face, six arms and
a necklace of skulls6.
Images of Siva stand in both the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun Ssu. In
the Ta Pei Ssu he is portrayed as a typical northern Chinese deity dressed
in multi-coloured robes and a tall Buddhist crown, but with six arms
and an ageless Chinese face of indeterminate sex. He looks like and
could easily be confused with other multi-arm Buddhist deities as he
has no unique characteristic. In the Pi-yun Ssu he is naked apart from a
skirt in colourfully decorated cloth down to his knees. He has four
arms and a smaller head on top of his normal head. He has red spiky
hair on both heads and fangs rising out of the lower jaw of his normal
head.
Soothill described Siva as having eight arms, three eyes and riding
a large white bull, holding a handful of snakes and a small drum, and
can be represented as the phallic symbol.
4] Maritci [Maritchi orMarici]/tf^JS^: known in Chinese as
Chun-t'iP'u-sa *PHFli
The Tantric [Lamaist] bodhisattva, Chun-t'i, is the Buddhist form
of the Hindu personification of light and an offspring of Brahma, Cundi
or Candi. She is often confused with the Tantric many-armed Kuan Yin
and the Taoist stellar deity, Tou-mu Hsing-chiin. Two separate deities
also are referred to by Chinese devotees as Chun-t'i; these are as

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Maritchi [or Marici Deva], fa Sanskrit term for the Indian mythological form of Parbati, the wife of Siva]; and Ma-yeh, the mother of
Sakyamuni, The Buddha 01(5, the whole being confused by devotees
who tend to describe them all as Chun-t'i, with the legends of Maritchi
and Cundi producing an inextricably involved and perplexing picture.
Images of Marici are present in both the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun
Ssu and in both temples he, rather than she, is portrayed as a standing
Buddhist deity with eight arms and with three faces. The face facing
forward is of a benign human with hooded eyes commonly seen on
Tibetan images. He has a third eye in the centre of his forehead. The
other two are faces of a pig and of a human. He is dressed in colourful
robes and a five-leaf Buddhist crown, and is barefoot.
The association between Chun-t'i and Kuan Yin goes back to the
original relationship in Buddhism of Chun-t'i with the bodhisattva
Avalokitesvara who promised to save mankind and bring them to deliverance before they, the two bodhisattvas, Chun-t' i and Avalokitesvara
themselves entered Nirvana. Marici has the face and eight arms of Chunt'i, and is one of the six manifestations of Avalokitesvara who is concerned especially with humans, rather than the deities and demons.
Chun-t'i in the form of Avalokitesvara is a male deity, though Tantric
sects, giving her an entirely different role left her feminine.
Legends about Chun-t'i usually include stories of her valour in
battle. According to the Ming novel The Deification of the Gods [Fengshen Yen-i], from which many of the beliefs of folk religion devotees
have evolved, Chun-t'i was summoned to Heaven during the legendary period of Chinese history when the heroes and Immortals were
emerged, in order to acquire the necessary skills to take on K'ung Hsiian
?L izC, one of the contestants for the dynastic throne. This was because
she had attained the required degree of perfection on Earth. She found
herself whisked aloft in a rainbow, and having acquired the skills necessary she reappeared in a cloud of fire with twenty-four heads and
eighteen arms and, throwing a silken cord around her adversary's throat,
she turned K'ung Hsiian into a one-eyed peacock on which she rode
off to the Western Heavens.
Images of Chun-t'i show her with four or nine pairs of arms, each

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hand holding a precious object including a rosary, cudgel, jar, spear,
pagoda, golden arrow, halberd, or bell, etc. and it is therefore not surprising that the images of Chun-t'i on the altars of both Buddhist and
folk religion temples portray her with eight or eighteen arms and hands,
the main two hands being held palms pressed together before the chest
in prayer. The uppermost hands hold discs of the Sun and Moon respectively and the remainder, individually, hold various attributes including a seal of office, a sword, shield and tly switch. She is variously
represented with three heads though predominantly she is depicted with
one head with three faces one of which is that of a sow. Chun-t'i again
often has a third eye in the centre of her forehead, usually a Taoist form
but attributed to her Indian origin as a metamorphosed caste mark. She
is generally portrayed sitting on a lotus throne in the same posture
adopted by the Buddha and, in one of her poses, also by Kuan Yin P'usa. According to Werner7 the legend explaining the third face being
that of a sow and the creatures supporting the lotus also being pigs
relates how one of the abbesses of the Semding monastery in Tibet in
whom the goddess Chun-t'i was believed to be successively incarnated,
had an excrescence resembling a sow's ear at the back of her head.
In northern and central China in Tantric Buddhist temples, the
Lamaist goddess Maritci, portrayed in a chariot drawn by seven pigs is
identified as Chun-t'i; in the south however, where Tantric Buddhism
hardly penetrated, images identified as Chun-t'i are said by priests,
should devotees enquire, to be the Brahmanic cult of Maritci. However,
in Tibetan and Mongol [Tantric] Buddhism Tou-mu is a common deity
with her three eyes and many arms; she is considered to be an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva known throughout China as Kuan
Yin and this doubtless explains the confusion with Kuan Yin in central
and southern China. She has been identified as Tou-mu Yuan-chun, the
main deity in the T'ai Sui Hall in the Jade Emperor temple in Tainan,
where she is flanked by two Tantric aides, Ch'ieh-ch'ih and Yao Ya.
In her Taoist form she is portrayed seated on a lotus, again of
Indian origin, which in a number of temples rests on the back of a
tortoise which in turn rests on three or seven pigs. Most likely this is no
more than a reflection of the tale in the Feng-shen Yen-i in which one
of the disciples of Tou-mu, Shui-huo T'ung-tzu yfcikmt-f', who changed
into a tortoise, bore off Tou-mu to the Western Heavens.

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In Malaysia where a number of Tamils also pray in certain Chinese folk religion temples, they refer to Tou-mu on her tortoise and
pigs as the sister of the deity Market
5]

Pancika known in Chinese as Pan-chih-chia 4-3JJS0

Pancika is the third of the Eight Great Yakshas, one of the Eight
Generals of Vaisravana, husband of Hariti. An image of Pancika is
present in both the Pi-yun Ssu and the Ta Pei Ssu. His image in the
latter depicts him as a semi-demon, with dark skin, large round eyes
and a narrow coronet with a sunburst facing forward. He is dressed in
colourful robes over armour and has the swirling scarf round the back
of his head, draped over his arms. He is making a V sign horizontally
with his right hand pointing to his left, using his fore- and middlefingers. He has no other unique characteristic. In the Pi-yun Ssu,
however, he could easily be taken for Wei T'o but without Wei T'o's
diamond sword. His hands are grasped together before his chest otherwise he is much the same as in the Ta Pei Ssu.
6] Hariti known in Chinese as Kuei-tzu Mu 5& j'fti The Mother of
Demons
Hariti is also known as the Mother of Loving Children, the children sometimes being known as the malevolent Yaksha [Yeh-sha ].
She was the mother of one thousand demons, half of them living in
Heaven and the rest on Earth. She is one of the standard group of Twenty
Devas [Erh-shih T'ien ] though she, too, is regarded by some as a
Yaksha.
Originally her diet had consisted solely of human children and
only after Sakyamuni, the Buddha, snatched one of her five hundred
children and hid it, causing her great anguish, did she come to realise
the suffering she was causing to humans by her diet. She became a
vegetarian and a devout Buddhist. She eventually became a Buddhist
deity whose images were to be seen in a few temples in northern China,
in Shansi in particular, portraying her as a tall, slim beautiful woman
whilst beside her stood one or more tiny demonic creatures, some of
her offspring.

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An image of Hariti is present in both the Pi-yun Ssu and the Ta Pei
Ssu, She is portrayed in both temples as a middle-aged Chinese woman
with a full face, dressed in colourful robes and crown, resting her left
hand on the head of a small pig-like winged demon with a child on his
shoulders.
7]

Bodhidruma who is also known in Chinese as P'u-t'i Shu Shen tf

This is an Indian Vedic goddess, the guardian of the Bo-tree; the


'wisdom tree' [peepul tree] under which Sakyamuni obtained enlightenment and became the Buddha. She is one of the group of Twenty or
Twenty-four Devas and is also known in Sanskrit as Pippaja, a peepul
tree, after the tree in question,.
Images of Bodhidruma are present in both the Ta Pei Ssu and the
Pi-yun Ssu. The image in the former has a human body and demonic
face. It is difficult to make out the sex of this deity with him/her having
black skin, colourful decorated robes and black pill-box cap with red
band, and small sunburst on the front. He/she holds a tablet before his/
her chest clasped in both hands. His/her face has the large flat nose, the
slightly jutting wide jaw and round eyes. In the Pi-yun Ssu his/her
image depicts him/her with white skin, a calm and benign face, standing,
dressed in colourful decorated robes and crown and with his/her hands
pressed together before his/her chest in prayer.
8]

Sarasvati known in Chinese as Pien-ts'aiT'ien WfA'fc

She is the Vedic goddess of speech and learning, the goddess of


rhetoric, and female energy. It is widely accepted in India that she was
the inventor of Sanskrit. Originally a mother-goddess she has developed over the centuries into her present role as the goddess of wisdom
and learning, and the patron deity of music. An image of Sarasvati is
present in both the Pi-yun Ssu and the Ta Pei Ssu. In both she is depicted as an eight-armed goddess, standing dressed in colourful, decorated robes and crown, with six of her hands each holding a symbolic
object. The main pair of hands are pressed together before her chest in
prayer. She is barefoot in both temples.

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Sarasvati is the sister of Yama and wife of Brahma and Manjusri


[depending on the legend], and sometimes assumes the form of a swan
or peacock. Chinese texts however, describe her as male. She is portrayed in India as having two arms and a lute or with four or eight
arms.
9]

Laksmi known in Chinese as Chi-hsiang T'ien-nu. if#;^^C or

She is the Hindu goddess of beauty, pleasure and wealth, that is,
fortune, and of good auspices. She was the wife of Vishnu in several of
his incarnations, including that of Vishnu's incarnation as Rama when
she was known as Sita. In some cults she is also one of the personifications of Sri Devi, as is Prthivi [see 10 below]. She is usually depicted
with two arms though in some places she has four.
The active power of creative energy portrayed by female deities
has been personified as the goddess Sri Devi. She has manifest herself
in many different forms including male and non-human. She has a number of names one of which is Laksmi.
An image of Laksmi is present in both the Pi-yun Ssu and the Ta
Pei Ssu. In both temples she is standing dressed in highly colourful,
decorated robes and crown, with no unique characteristics.
10] Prthivi known in Chinese as Chien-lao-ti-shen M4^ffiW or flH

He is the Earth-devi, the god of the soil, ground, etc. and also one
of the four with thunderbolts in the Vajradhati group. In some cults in
India Prthivi is known as Bhu Devi, one of the personifications of Sri
Devi.
Images of Prthivi are present in both the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun
Ssu. In the Ta Pei Ssu his image portrays him as a typical northern
Chinese image of a youthful minister. He is remarkably feminine in his
facial features, and is dressed in a colourful highly decorated robe and
crown without any unique characteristics. He is much the same in the
Pi-yun Ssu though here he is carrying a small symbolic club between

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the fingers of his right hand and the palm of his left.
11] Surya known in Chinese as Jih Tien-tzu

uvvi'

Surya, one of the more important deities, personifies the sun and
is the Vedic sun-god. He is regarded as a Yaksha and as the ruler of the
sun. He is the source of all knowledge; and also within agricultural
communities he controls the seasons. In India his main characteristics
are lotuses, one held at shoulder height in each hand.
An image of Surya is present in both the Pi-yun Ssu and the Ta Pei
Ssu. In the Ta Pei Ssu he is portrayed as a standard Chinese minister,
standing in colourful robes, highly decorated with a floral pattern. He
is wearing a Ming dynasty leather bonnet of an official and is holding
a tablet between both hands before his chest. He has a black moustache
and beard but no unique characteristics. In the Pi-yun Ssu the deity
would appeal' to be female. She is dressed in multi-coloured robes and
crown, but this time holding a very long-stemmed flower between her
right and left hands.
12] Candra known in Chinese as the ruler of the moon f] 'A' A; j ' .
He is male and referred to also as Yiieh T'ien and as Soma Dcva
$jfc0gH or Candra Deva.
An image of Candra is present in both the Pi-yun Ssu and the Ta
Pei Ssu. In the latter he is depicted as a youthful emperor or chief minister with an ornate official leather bonnet and highly colourful, decorated robes. He holds a tablet in both hands before his chest but has no
unique identifying characteristic. In the Pi-yun Ssu he is again dressed
in multi-coloured robes. This time, however, he is wearing an ornate
and colourful crown and his hands are held in what perhaps is a symbolic sign, with the right hand held at shoulder height, fingers poised
as if to pluck something out of the air and the left hand outstretched.
13] Yama Known in Chinese as Yen-mo-lo MMM.
In the Vedas Yama is the god of the dead with whom the spirits of
the departed dwell. He would appear to have several forms and identities,

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the primary one in China being as the Lord of the Underworld known
as Yen-lo Wang. In later Brahmanist mythology he is one of the eight
Lokapalas, the guardian of the south and judge of the dead. He was the
son of the sun, with a twin sister Yamuna - regarded by some Hindus as
the first human pair. An image of Yama is present in both the Pi~yun
Ssu and the Ta Pei Ssu.
In northern China images of Yen-lo Wang been noted in several
old temples where he portrayed as a benign elderly human, dressed in
court robes and cap of dynastic China. In the Kuan Yin Hall of the Ta
Pei Ssu in Peking his image depicts him thus, with has hands held
palms together before his chest. Fie has no unique characteristics and is
known simply as Yen Mo Lo. He is referred to by the temple staff as
Yama and appears to have no other title and is looked upon by the
monks as the Lord of the Underworld. In the Pi-yun Ssu he is a general
wearing armour under his colourful robes and has an axe clutched in
his right hand. His left hand is held across his body pointing with two
of his fingers. He has dark skin, round eyes, a short black beard and
moustache and a scarf swirling behind his head hanging down in front
of his body.
There is also Yen-mo Hu-fa WiMMffi, a Lama Buddhist [Tantric]
deity, whose image stands in the Lama Temple in Peking. It is typical
Tibeto-Mongol iconography, swathed in silken robes obscuring the body
leaving only the fierce head and the raised right arm visible. The head,
which looks somewhat like a blue pig with gold eyebrows and red
mouth, has a row of skulls across the top of the head mounted on a
coronet, with a fiery nimbus behind that. He is holding in the air in his
right hand a short rod [a heavenly cane] with a miniature white skull
mounted on the top. Without the silken robe the deity is revealed standing on a blue horse or mule which, in turn, is prostrate on a naked
human. The deity has another small blue skinned demonic figure standing before him, facing him and holding its hands up towards the deity
in supplication.
14] Sagara known in Chinese as P'o-chie Lung-wang H $ i H : and
P'o-chie-lo HftPli
Sagara is the Naga King of the Ocean Palace north of Mount Meru,

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one of the Twenty Deva. Sagara Naga, the Dragon King of Rain.
in Chinese he is the Dragon King. His image has only been noted
in one of our two temples in the Western Hills, the Pi-yun Ssu where he
is portrayed as a standing, black-skinned official in multi-coloured
robes and a pill-box cap with a small sunburst of the front. He has large
round eyes and a black beard and is holding a tablet iti both hands
clasped before his chest. His image is also present in the cave/tunnel
under the Taiwanese temple where he is known as Sha x Lo Wang
tp x 8 H3E and is portrayed as a middle-aged Chinese, standing.
dressed in gilded armour and small Taoist crown. He is holding an
unsheathed sword in his right hand and a small snake-like dragon in
his left.
15] Asura known in Chinese as Ah-hsii-lo Nf*l&
The Asura in the Lotus Sutra are one of the Eight Classes of supernatural beings - Asura originally meant a spirit or even a god - and are
regarded as demons who fight against the forces of Indra. There is an
image of an Asura in the group in the Ta Pei Ssu but not in the Pi-yun
Ssu, nor in the cave/tunnel in the Taiwanese temple. In the Ta Pei Ssu
he is a demonic human with four arms, three eyes and a further head
superimposed upon his normal head. He has fiery red spiky hair, red
moustache and beard, large round eyes and rings one in each ear. He is
stripped to the waist and is white skinned, has bare legs and feet and is
wearing a highly decorated colourful skirt.
16] Vimalakirti known in Chinese as Wei-mo Chii-shih iltflifrH:
Vimalakirti was a disciple of Sakyamuni at Vaisali who the Buddha is said to have instructed, and who later recorded it as the Sutra of
Vimalakirti. The realm of Vimalakirti is a realm of profound joy.
An image of Vimalakirti is in the group in the Ta Pei Ssu but not in
the Pi-yun Ssu, nor in the cave/tunnel in the Taiwanese temple. He is
standing, dressed in a green robe decorated with gilded roundels and
border, and a scarf round his head holding his hair in a loose knot
protruding up and through it. He has grey hair, beard, moustache and
eyebrows. There are no unique characteristics.

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1.7] Kinnara known in Chinese as Chin-na-lo WsMM The heavenly
musicians
Listed as one of the twenty Deva in Soothill, and also one of the
Eight Classes of supernatural beings in the Lotus Sutra. They are a
group who, in Java for example, are portrayed as half-bird and halfhuman, and known in their plural as Kinnari. They are also one of the
twelve spirits connected with the cult of Yao-shih Fo, the Buddhist
Master of Healing. Another version claims that they are the musicians
of Kuvera, with bodies of humans and heads of horses. In yet another
version they dwell in the tall trees which grow on Gandhamadana, Incense Mountain.
There are images of a Kinnara in both the Ta Pei Ssu and in the Piyun Ssu. In the former he is portrayed as a military figure, standing in
armour and hemet and with a scarf swirling round the back of his head
and down across his arms. His hands are clasped before his chest and
his face, pink and friendly, has a short black beard and mutton-chop
moustache. In the Pi-yun Ssu the image has a similar friendly face but
this time he is wearing robes and cap of an official and not those of a
soldier.
18] Mahoraga known in Chinese as Mo-hu-lo MffEM.
Mahoraga is one of the twelve spirits connected with the cult of
Yao-shih Fo, the Master of Healing and the Buddha of Medicine. He is
one of the twelve guardian spirits each of whom is associated with one
of the twelve hours of the day. The twelve include Vajra, Indra and
Kinnara.
An image of the Mahoraga has only been seen in the Ta Pei Ssu
and not in the Pi-yun Ssu. He is portrayed as an extremely ugly, ferocious inhuman demon with black skin. Dressed merely in a decorated
and multi-coloured skirt he is standing and has a swirling scarf behind
his head and a snake held in his right hand. He has spiky hair on either
side of his head protruding like small snakes, and his large protruding
jaw and upper lip and his sloping forehead make his face almost animal.
The hair on the head is pulled up into a high point, with two ear-pressing tufts one on either side. His eyebrows are like white flames, and his

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large, wide, gaping mouth has but four small reeih showing, these being normal human-size incisors top and bottom. Finally, he has three
small white skulls across his forehead held in place by a pink band.
19] Gandharva known in Chinese as Kan-t'a-p'o HSiSJlc
The Gandharva are one of the eight classes of supernatural beings
referred to in the Lotus Sutra. They are Indra's musicians and also in
the retinue of Dhrtarastra [they are the same as or similar to the
Kinnaras]. They do not eat meat nor drink wine but feed on incense
and fragrance.
An image of the Gandharva is in the Ta Pei Ssu but not in the Piyun Ssu. His image portrays him standing, dressed in multi-coloured
robes over armour, a helmet over black spiky hair, and is clean shaven..
His face is semi-demonic, with large protruding eyes. He has no unique
characteristics.
20] Nanda Upananda known in Chinese as Nan-t'o Pa-nan-t'o W-W>

Little seems to be known about Nanda Upananda apart from being a protector of Magadha [near Bihar]. His image has only been seen
in the Ta Pei Ssu and not in the Pi-yun Ssu. It depicts him as an elderly
man but with a semi-demonic face. He has round eyes, small ugly protrusions on his cheeks, a gaping mouth and fang-like eye-teeth, no
moustache but a short pointed beard, and is wearing decorated robes
and cap. His hands are held together as if holding a tablet [which may
well be missing] .
21] Skanda, Viharapala or Veda9known in Chinese as Wei T'o $:|?t:
Wei T'o, a Hindu deity, the Deva Protector of the Dharma, guards
the sanctuary of virtually all Chinese Buddhist temples. He stands with
his back to the main entrance in the inner temple hall facing the main
altar and back-to-back with the Laughing Buddha of the Future, Mi-lo
Fo, who greets visitors with his smiling welcome. Wei T'o is also to be
seen guarding many a folk religion temple, though only very rarely
does he appear on a household altar. Because of the prayers offered to

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him by priests he has been regarded by some foreigners as the patron
deity of monks: he was and still is, however, the protector of the Buddhist Law before whom Jots were drawn during the selection of the
new abbot.
Skanda, son of Shiva and brother of Ganesh [Tunhuang fresco) is
a major protector, a destroyer of demons and a god of war, identical
with Karttikaya.
Wei T'o in Japan is known as Idaten, whilst in Tibetan and Lamaist
Buddhism he is known as Skanda : Wei T'o T'ien-shen MfBJi^
[or
in transliterated Chinese : Ssu-chien-t'o
felli^].
Although the image in the Ta Pei Ssu is labelled in Chinese, Wei
T'o; the well produced and colourful Chinese guide to the Hall of the
Bodhisattvas produced in Taiwan gives the title in Chinese as Wei T'o
and in English as Skanda. Skanda according to Werner is the Hindu
mythological god of war, usually known as Karttikaya. He is represented riding a peacock, holding a bow in one hand and an arrow in the
other.
He has numerous appointments, all protective. Originally he was
one of the Thirty-two Generals under command of the Four Celestial
Kings - Ssu Ta T'ien-wang (see 23 below]. One such appointment is
his role as Commander of the Heavenly Hosts, the head of the Heavenly Guard [one of the Twenty or Twenty-four Devas], the protective
spirit or spirits of Buddhism and its sanctuaries. In the biographies of
Hsiian Tsang, Wei T'o is described as leader of all the kuei-shen M,ffi
[minor deities], and was charged by the Buddha who was at that moment on the point of entering Nirvana, with the protection of the Law.
Officially he is neither a Buddha nor a bodhisattva though commonly he is referred to as the latter and it is often claimed that for his
zeal he was promoted to bodhisattva when he became the commander
of the Four Diamond Kings [Chin-kang : see below]. His title would
appear to be the Chinese form for the Sanskrit term "Veda", the body
of sacred writings brought to India by invaders and from which Hinduism developed. However, it is generally said that his origin is uncertain
even though, for example, Vitasoka, the younger brother of King Asoka

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is transliterated into Chinese as Wei-t'o.


There are images of Wei T'o in both of our temples, wiihin the Ta
Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun Ssu. He is portrayed in both in his standard
form dressed in armour and helmet, and in Ta Pei Ssu with his diamond sword resting across his arms which are with his hands pressed
together in prayer.
One of the Chinese fables related in the Chinese Repository
claimed that Liang Wei-t'o IpEljSifc, a general of the King of India, was
ordered to go and find his son, Prince Fu [later to be the Buddha] who
had fled to the wilderness. He found Fu covered in snow and without
food, since when Wei T'o has been recognised as the commissary in
Buddhist temples.
His image is one of the comparatively few which can be identified
on sight without ambiguity. His antiquated, fantastic uniform, armour
and helmet, and his ponderous boots are survivals from the centuries
when soldiers did not march far but stood guard over their senior
officers. He is depicted as a clean-shaven youthful soldier standing
dressed in armour, high boots and a spiked helmet [sometimes bearing
a bird with spread-wings], and with a flowing sash halo-ing around his
head. He is standing on clouds or waves and holds what at first glance
looks like a club, cudgel or knobbly sword. This is known as a 'diamond sword' or thunderbolt used to destroy demons and other enemies.
Grootaers writing about the very far north of China, on the [nner Mongolian borderland, said that in the early days of Buddhism in
China it would seem likely, particularly during the Tang and Sung
dynasties, that the right-hand side of the visitor's entrance hall was
occupied by Wei T ' o whilst the left-hand side held the image of Pei
Wang [the Northern King] who was now called Li T'o, Li Ching or
T'o-t'aT'ien-wang with the recognition feature of a pagoda in the palm
of his hand.
22] Guhyapati Raja known in Chinese as Mi-chi Chin-kang W$m.*fc

Little appears to be recorded about Guhyapati Raja other than the

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fact that he is listed in SoothiiJ as one of the Twenty Deva. His image is
to be seen in both the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun Ssu. In both temples he
is depicted as a ferocious guardian general with a wide gaping mouth,
large round eyes and a highly decorated Buddhist crown. He holds the
standard weapon, the vajra, the diamond sword, resting in his left hand
and against his left shoulder, and has the swirling scarf behind his head.
He is stripped to the waist, has bare legs beneath a highly colourful
decorated skirt, and sandals. A mural in the Sakyamuni Pagoda in Ying
county in Shansi province depicts Guhyapati in much the same form.
The Chin-kang as a group are minor deities, guardians belonging
to the class of Lokapalas borrowed by Buddhism from Brahmanism.
The standard four Chin-kang, the Diamond Kings, are each the ruler of
the four continents surrounding Mount Sumeru and though Guhyapati
Raja is a Chin-kang he is not one of the usual four. The standard four
are the Ssu Ta T'ien-wang [see 23-26 below].
23-26] Ssu Ta T'ien-wang E3;A^:E The Four Great Celestial Kings
The Four Deva Kings, known also as the Four Diamond Kings,
Ssu Ta Chin-kang [19'AlfePli , are the four guardians whose images
stand, usually portrayed much larger than life-size, just inside temple
entrance doorways, in pairs, two to either side.
Werner points out that these are not gods but guardians, Buddhist
protectors who should be thought of as minor divinities. Chinese Buddhists adopted four Hindu Brahmin deities from Indian Buddhism, the
Lokapala, the guardians of the four sides of the fabulous Mount Meru
[the Guardians of the Four Corners of the World] who, in turn, were
later adopted by the Taoists from the Chinese Buddhists. The Four were
probably first introduced into China during the T'ang dynasty [ 6th
and 7th centuries AD] and still today are regarded as the grim-faced
temple guardian generals, enormous statues in T'ang armour, tamed
demons who were redeemed and who now symbolise the seasons and
control the elements of fire, water, earth and air. Although the majority
of images of the Four stand up to and even over fifteen feet high they
can also be as tiny as eighteen inches high. They used to be deities in
their own right and offered worship, reverence and offerings. Nowadays however although most devotees solemnly place one smoulder-

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ing stick of incense before each with a peri'uaciory bow, the Four are
looked upon as mere soldier guardians with ;-i Fifth. Wei T'o [see 21
above], their commander.
The group of Four are the product of the Mahayaua school of
Buddhism with additions from the Tantric school. Their original Buddhist title in Sanskrit is usually Dvarapala, though others claim that
they are the Chin-kang Shou sfePI^, derived from the Sanskrit
'Vajrapani', the Thunderbolt Bearer, the Great Protector.
They are responsible for the security of temples, protecting them
from demonic attack and also preventing evil spirits from sneaking in.
In Taoist temples, where they have different individual identities, they
normally stand in the side wings of the main hall, such as in the Jade
Emperor Hall at the Monastery of Ten Thousand Buddhas at Shatin in
the New Territories of Hong Kong.
Those in Buddhist temples are the Diamond Kings whilst those in
Taoist and folk religion temples are Celestial Kings [T'ien watig]. They
are easily recognisable by their stature, location and by the collocation
with the others in the group; also, because each usually holds a unique
identifying symbolic object, a furled umbrella or a rodent, etc. They
stand with defiant stares and have faces in colours identifying the direction for which they are responsible. The Buddhist Four guardians
all wear the bodhisattva's five-leaf crowns with minute Buddhas inscribed on the central leaf, and flying scarves forming a nimbus behind
and above their heads and shoulders. Many have demons, thieves, liars
and adulterers underfoot. The Taoist Four, who also have demons
underfoot, generally wear military helmets.
A manifestation of Vaisravana, the protector of the North and one
of the Four Chin-kang, appeared during his journey to aid Hsiian Tsang,
the Buddhist monk who trekked from China to India and back to obtain Buddhist scriptures. For this reason Vaisravana was later revered
by devotees, alone and in his own right, and over the years became
associated with General Li Ching.
All four of the Mo-li brothers, the Taoist identities of the Four
Temple Guardian Generals, are included and represented in the sets of

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the Twenty-four Heavenly Lords, The Four, said to be brothers, are
believed to have been born during the 11th century BC and are now
protectors of Mi-lo Fo, The 16th century novel, Feng-shen Yen-i, describes the popular myths surrounding the defeat of the four Mo-li brothers during the legendary wars of the 12th century BC who fought with
their magical weapons but whose main weapon was the white rat which
devoured all enemies. However, Yang Chien, the nephew of the Jade
Emperor and son of Li Ching [the General with the Pagoda] was swallowed by the white rat but once inside it he ate the rat's heart and at the
same time transformed himself into the white rat which was
unsuspectingly put back in to its bag by one of the Mo-li brothers.
Yang Chien stole out whilst the Four brothers were in a drunken sleep
and stole the magic umbrella, whilst Na-cha who had fought and defeated them broke their magic jade ring. The Four lost heart, were defeated and slain. The war was followed by their canonisation by Chiang
Tzu-ya who appointed them to the posts of the Heavenly Kings, controllers of the elements, from whom people sought protection from
calamities.
There are standard images of all four of the Great Celestial Kings
in both the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun Ssu.
There has been a certain amount of confusion over the colours,
names, and titles of these guardians; even their characteristics and attributes vary from monastery to monastery. Confusion has arisen over
the centuries due to non-Buddhist and even pre-Buddhist factors, with
every combination to be seen, such as the General of the North with
the Umbrella, the General of the West with the Rat or Mongoose, and
so on. The most frequently noted observations are as follows:
Taoist Titles

Symbol

Mo-li Ch'ing Magic weapons


(Sit*

or Sword/lance
or Jade Ring
or Parasol
or Lyre/lute

Characteristics

Buddhist
title

Sanskrit
title

black face
black beard
[colours :
blue/green]

Ch'ih-kuo
T'ien-wang

Dhrtarastra

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The King Protector of the East and controller o( Spring
element: water
P'i-p'u Tung-ch'aT'ien-wang M f r ! i X A " E
Mo-li Hai

Lute/guitar
or Umbrella
or Sword and Snake
or writing brush

0-W.M

Red face
Kuang-mu Virupaksa
or Green face
T'ien-wang
with Red beard !
[Colour: red]

The King Protector of the West ffi^p^EE and controller of Winter


element: fire

P'i-p'u Po-ch'a T'ien-wang MlfffiXA;:F


Mo-li Shou
0.WM

Rat or Mongoose
Pink or Green face Tseng-ch'ang Virudhaka
[which changes into and short beard
T ien-wang
a white, winged
[Colour: Red]
Jf
elephant]

or Red Bird
or Red or Golden Dragon
or Magic sword and ring
or Whip
The King Protector of the South JK73 ^ 3 : and controller of Summer [or
Spring]
element: wood
T'i-t'ou Lai-cha T'ien-wang
Mo-li Hung Umbrella
or Money bag
or Snake [and pearl]
or Rat/Mongoose
and occasionally

UWM:3zlE

Pink or white face T'o-wen Vaisravana


Cleanshaven
T'ien-wang
[Colour: Black]
or gold

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a Stupa and/or spear
The King Protector of the North jt'Jj^rE

and controller of Autumn

element: metal
sometimes identified as Li T'ien-wang
P'i-sha-men T'ien-wang S ^ P K I

In a number of older temples the Diamond Kings are portrayed as


demonic with black skins and with a total of eight in the group rather
than the usual four. In the Kai-yiian Ssu in Changchou in Fukien
province, the Eight are positioned on all sides of the main altar. They
are bare to the waist and have bare feet, and are without weapons or
attributes. In northern Chinese temples the two guardians outside the
main doors, often painted on the front walls flanking the entrance, are
blue or green skinned demons known as Wu-shih iS/ir or Li-shih ^J
:fc, simply meaning 'warriors'.
Dore claims that the Four were introduced in the 8th century during
the reign of T'ang T'ai Tsung who believed that the Four helped him
establish his empire. The Taoist group said to have assisted the T'ang
emperor is often identified with four Taoist mythological deities. These
are:
Li Yiian-shuai
[Marshal Li or Li T'ien-wang], Li Ching, the
Heavenly King who holds a pagoda10
Ma Yiian-shuai
holds two swords

[Marshal Ma] or Ma the Heavenly King who

Chao Yiian-shuai [Marshal Chao] or Chao T'ien-wang, holding


a single sword
Wen Yiian-shuai
spiked club

[Marshal Wen] or Wen T'ien-wang holding a

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Other Buddhist protective deities are also listed as Chin-kaiig, such
as their commander, Wei T o , and Huo-shou Chia-l:m :)<. rirRiiutk.
27] Vipasyin P'i-p'o Chia-lo Wang

MMMM't

Vipasyin is the first of the Seven Buddhas of


antiquity. His
image is not included in either of the temples in the Western Hills but
has been included in the cave/tunnel in Taiwan where his image portrays him as a youthful man dressed in gilded armour and helmet, with
a bared sword held vertically in his left hand before his chest. He has a
gilded halo behind his head and shoulders but no unique characteristic.
28] Kumbhira Chin-p'i-lo Wang & B M 3 E
Kumbhira is a Yaksha king who was converted and became a guardian of Buddhism. His image is not included in either of the two temples
in the Western Hills but is in the cave/tunnel in Taiwan where he is
portrayed as a youthful wanior, standing dressed in gilded armour and
gilded winged helmet. He is holding an arrow-less bow in his left hand
at waist height, whilst his right hand rests on his hip.
29] Chin Ta Wang

^XzE

The Great King Chin is the Protector of Travellers in the train of


the Kuan Yin with a Thousand Arms and a Thousand Eyes. His image
is not included in the groups within the two temples in the Western
Hills but is included within the cave/tunnel in Taiwan where he has no
Sinicised Sanskrit title and is portrayed as a middle-aged clean-shaven
Chinese with his right hand held slightly forward at shoulder height
with his hand making a mystic sign, whilst his left hand rests against
his body below the waist. He is dressed in gilded armour and has a
small Taoist crown resting on his hair which has been drawn up into a
bun. There is a flaming halo behind his head and shoulders.
30] Chin-se Kung-ch'iao

^fe?L^

The Five-colour Peacock u is depicted within the cave/tunnel group


in Taiwan but does not appear in either of the two temples in the Western Hills. He has no Sinicised Sanskrit title and is portrayed as a brown-

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skinned male with a semi-demonic face, dressed in gilded armour and
a tall decorated gilded crown. He stands with an unsheathed sword in
his left hand, held point up at waist height, and with a gilded halo
behind his head and shoulders.
31] Puma Man Hsien-jen $S{[ilA
Purna is the 'Fully-complete Immortal' whose image can be seen
in the cave/tunnel in Taiwan but not in either of the two temples in the
Western Hills. He is portrayed as a dark-skinned warrior dressed in
gilded armour, standing holding a long-handled javelin in his left hand.
He has a gilded crown and a gilded halo behind his head and shoulders.
His face is semi-demonic.

32] Ma-ho-loMU

BWBiC

Ma-ho-lo Nii, from the title, is a goddess. Her image has only
been seen in the cave/tunnel in Taiwan where she is depicted as a young
woman dressed in a long gilded gown, covering her feet. She has her
hands, palms together before her chest and her black hair drawn back.
She is Chinese and has a gilded halo behind her head and shoulders.

33] Shen-mu Tien Wang #i53^3E


The Heavenly Ruler of the Divine Mother is only to be seen in the
cave/tunnel in Taiwan where he is portrayed as a middle-aged Chinese
dressed in gilded robes and crown, holding a pair of small cybals
together, one in each hand. He has a gilded halo behind his head and
shoulders.

34] P'u-chi Tien Wang Hiff^E


The only image noted of P'u-chi T'ien Wang stands in one of the
niches within the cave/tunnel in the Taiwanese temple. He is portrayed
as a fierce Chinese warrior dressed in gilded armour and helmet, with
a gilded halo behind his head and shoulders. He is holding a short dagger in his right hand and a long handled spear in his left.

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35] Man-shan Ch'e Wang

ftft-Ifl-i

Man-shan Ch'e Wang has only been seen in Taiwan, in the cave/
tunnel where he is portrayed as a semi-demonic figure with a large
slightly open mouth, and bushy eyebrows. He is wearing gilded armour
and helmet and is carrying a short dagger in his left hand with his right
hand extended vertically. He has a gilded halo behind his head and
shoulders.

36] P'o-x - Hsien-jen

HxflLiA

P'o- x -Hsien-jen, the Immortal P'o- x, has only been seen in the
cave/tunnel under the Taiwanese temple where he is depicted as an
emaciated elderly Chinese, wearing no more than a wrap-around gilded
skirt. He is holding a small gilded scroll in his left hand at face height
and leaning on a staff with his right. He has white eyebrows and goatee
beard and has a gilded halo behind his head and shoulders.
37] Tung-yueh Ta-ti MW\T$

The Great Emperor of the Eastern Peak

Images of Tung-yueh Ta-ti are included in the groups of Deva in


both the Pi-yun Ssu and the Ta Pei Ssu but not in the cave/tunnel in the
temple in Taiwan. In the Ta Pei Ssu he is standing, dressed in colourfully
decorated robes, but with an open-winged bird on the crown which
usually is only worn by a female deity. Perhaps the present generation
of monks have misidentified the deity and this is the image of the major deity, Pi-hsia T'ien-chun, the daughter of Tung-yiieh Ta-ti. He or
she is holding a long-stemmed flower in the left hand resting up against
the outstretched right hand. The hair style too suggests a female as do
the facial features. The image in the Pi-yun Ssu, however, is an elderly
standing male, with grey beard and multi-coloured robes and cap. He
holds a tablet clasped in both hands before his chest.
Tung-yueh Ta-ti is the Lord of T'ai Mountain [T'ai-shan Yeh #
ill M ], a Chinese deity and the Supreme ruler of the Underworld12.
Many Chinese do not seem to appreciate that these two titles are one
and the same deity, a fact borne out by Mrs Goodrich when she noted
in 1931 that "no one thought of this minor god T'ai-shan Fu-chiin of
the Underworld and the Great Ruler of the Eastern Peak as one". T'ai-

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shan is one of the five sacred mountains of China and is located in
Shantung, It is believed to be inhabited by many divinities both male
and female with T'ai-shan Yeh the primary deity for most pilgrims to
the mountain even though the main deity in the temple on the peak is
the Jade Emperor. Temples dedicated to the Lord of T'ai-shan were to
be found in all parts of China, where he was regarded as the guardian
of life and death.
As the Supreme Lord of the Underworld he has a very large bureaucratic organisation responsible to him for the maintenance of the
Book of Life, the register of the due date on which the soul of every
living soul must be summoned to appear before the Judges of the
Underworld. Popular belief claimed that the entrance to the Underworld was to be found in one of the temples at the base of the mountain.
The arrest and escort of souls is carried out by lictors and runners from
the yamen of the local City Gods who drag each soul before the local
City God, together with the biography and report on the soul prepared
by the local Earth God [T'u-tij who has carried out the first, very preliminary interview to ensure that the right soul has been arrested and is
ready for onward despatch. Again, after verification of the identity of
the soul the City God endorses the Earth God's report and if available
adds any further information on the soul he might possess, and sends
the soul under escort to the First Court of the Underworld where the
process of purging the soul of all sin commences. After the soul has
passed through all Ten Courts and been fully purged of its sins, it is
then despatched either to the Western Heaven [Celestial Paradise] or
for rebirth in an incarnation to be decided upon depending upon the
weight of sins incurred during the previous incarnation.
In parts of China and in Taiwan, the alter ego is Tung-yiieh Ta-ti
with Yen-lo Wang being the senior and chief of the Ten Judges who are
under his charge. This dual role played by both Tung-yiieh Ta-ti and
Yen-lo Wang is a further complication and a confusion which appears
to be insoluble. The former is not only the Supreme deity of the Underworld but also the Judge of the Seventh Court whilst Yen-lo Wang is
not only the senior Judge in charge of all Courts but also the Judge of
the Fifth Court. The latter has been explained as Yen-lo Wang having
ten different forms, as Judges in each of the Ten Courts. This, however,
would mean that T'ai-shan Yeh of the Seventh Court would also be a
form of Yen-lo Wang.

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In addition to being the final arbiter in the judgement of souls and
the Keeper of the Registers of Life and Death, Tung-yiieh Ta-ti protects the virtuous, especially those who are truthful, good and excel at
filial piety.
Images of Yama, that is Yen-lo Wang, are to be seen in both of the
temples in the Western Hills where they are Deva, but together with
Tung-yiieh Ta-ti, indicating that they are regarded as two separate deities in these temples.

38] Tz.u-wei Ta~ti

mtX7^

The Great Emperor of the Purple Heaven, a major Chinese Taoist


stellar deity of the North Pole Star, the keeper of the book of destiny, a
controller of blessings, and one of the most potent destroyers of demons,
is revered for his power to ward off evil influences and spirits. In northern China he was occasionally regarded as one of the Four Heavenly
Kings and portrayed as a benign middle-aged Taoist, with Taoist crown
and tablet held between both hands before his chest. Icons bearing his
likeness are pasted or nailed to doors as popular charms to ward off
demonic attack.
His image stands in both the Ta Pei Ssu and the Pi-yun Ssu. In
both he is portrayed as a standard Chinese Taoist figure, with long
multi-coloured and highly decorated robes, and a small Taoist crown
on his head. He has a benign face, a small goatee and moustache and in
the Ta Pei Ssu holds both hands together before his chest as if holding
a tablet. His image in the Pi-yun Ssu is similar but has the tablet in
place.
A mural in the Mahavira Hall of the Yunlin temple at Yangkao in
Shansi portrays the Emperor Tzu-wei of the North Pole.
There is also some confusion within Cantonese communities about
the role of this deity. In some temples he has been claimed to be the
chief of the heterodox Taoist stellar deities and identified either as the
god, or one of the gods of the Pole Stars. He is popular with the Boat
People of the Pearl River estuary, and is also one of the stellar deities
seen on charms and scrolls used during rituals. A number of devotees

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pray to him for the blessing of a son. However, in Cholon [Saigon] his
image, seen in several temples are known as Tzu-wei Ta-ti but identified as T'ai-sui, the god of the planet Jupiter and of Time, though in the
major Jade Emperor temple in Cholon images of both T'ai Sui with his
bell and Tzu-wei astride his lion stand side by side.
His standard image in Cantonese communities portrays him as a
clean-shaven youth with large round protruding eyes, astride or sitting
side-saddle on a reclining mythical beast, possibly a stylised lion. He
is holding a seal aloft in his right hand, a talisman bearing the inscription "The Star looks Straight On" f?ffIEM . He also has a unique
feature, a flag pole behind him on to which is fixed a sheathed sword.
The youth holds a conch shell in his left hand and is dressed in only
trousers and a cape which hangs round his neck and down his back. He
is wearing shoes and has neck length hair which is held in place by a
tiara from which two objects, like insects' feelers, protrude upwards.
In yet another tale, an extraordinary and complicated legend, an
emperor had eighteen robes specially embroidered for the Eighteen
Lohan. These were being delivered by a trusted minister who reached
their palace in the Western Heavens only to find seventeen Lohan. He
sought the eighteenth and found him dead in the kitchen crawling with
big fat lice. As this Lohan was the god of the star Tzu-wei and this star
represented the emperor of China, the minister knew immediately that
the emperor had died since his departure and the spirit of the dead
Lohan had been incarnated as the new emperor. The minister was
puzzled - what he should do? Finally he placed the cape around the
body of the dead Lohan and returned to Earth bearing a box from the
other Lohan which would, they assured him, prove that he had accomplished his mission. When, after months of travel, he reached home,
the new emperor opened the box and out flew a crane up into the sky
and back to the stars. Artists customarily depict this in their portrait of
Tzu-wei.
39] Lei Shen If # The Spirit of Thunder
Lei Shen is portrayed and named as such in only one of the two
temples, the Pi-yun Ssu. The problem is that Lei Shen, as such, has
been noted on remarkably few altars. Lei Kung, the God of Thunder is

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ubquitous whilst Lei Tsn, the Ancestor of Thunder is rare. These two
forms tend to be confused by devotees, with a concensus accepting
that Lei Shen is another name for Lei Kung, whilst Lei Tsu is an entirely separate deity, the major deity who has two aides. Lei Kung and
his consort, Tien Mu [the Goddess of Lightning!. Numerous differing
views offered by temple keepers, devotees, god carvers and even Taoist religious specialists claim that Lei Kung himself under several different titles is a member of the Five-deity Board of Thunder but subordinate to the President, Lei Tsu.
The Thunder God, is an early Chinese nature deity, a stern god
who, though generally speaking benevolent, is one who averts evil. He
is also feared as being particularly merciless towards those who kidnap children and oppress widows and orphans. He was revered in the
very early days because of the mystery and powers of nature he and his
consort controlled. The list within temples of the evil doers against
whom he takes action is seemingly endless. It used to be that the list
only included capital crimes, nowadays however it includes the filial
impious, liars and cheats, and physical discomfort for truants and lazy
scholar students. Children were told that he would not harm them unless they told lies. On the other side of the coin he has the power to
obtain pardons for anyone who genuinely repents, and for many centuries Lei Kung has answered people's prayers and requests for cures for
all diseases, injuries and sickness. However, during the early part of
this century in and around in Peking it was believed that he would not
cure anything more severe than scratches and bruises. He has developed into a deity whose charms cure minor wounds, stomach aches
and perhaps hasten the delayed birth of a babe.
Lei Kung causes damage to property and fields with his thunderbolts whilst Tien Mu, the Lightning Goddess, merely flashes her mirrors to cause the lightning. During the late Ming and the Ch'ing dynasties images of Lei Kung were situated on high places, a roof of a temple,
for example, to ward off lightning.
His standard image is unique and the most easily identifiable deity in the Chinese pantheon. Represented as half-man half-bird, a human body and arms, chicken's feet and claws, a monkey's head apart
from his bird-like beak, he is also occasionally portrayed with a third
eye. He holds a hammer and chisel13, has a string of drums slung around

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his neck and, uniquely, he has a pair of wings. Normally he is dressed


only in a loin cloth or trousers down to just below his knees, and his
skin is entirely blue or green. Occasionally, in place of the hammer and
chisel he carries a gourd, and in a number of images he is depicted
standing on a pair of drums.
His origins go far back, possibly to animist beginnings, though
from the iconographical detail, half-man half-bird, his cult has been
strongly influenced by the Garuda, the Hindu mythical being, the eagle
who was Vishnu's steed, a concept brought to China by Buddhism. In
earlier pictures and images he was portrayed more as a human with a
cock's head and feet and with bat's wings. It was only later that he
became more like the Garuda which several foreign writers of the 19th
century certainly identified from his iconographical detail.
Lei Shen in the temple in the Western Hills is dark skinned, dressed
in colourful robes over armour and with black spiky hair. He has no
unique characteristics and is therefore unlikely to be accepted as the
Thunder God by the majority of Chinese.

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Appendix B
THE DEVA WITHIN THE BODHISATTVA HALL IN
THE PI-YUN SSU
PEKING'S WESTERN HILLS
The Chinese titles of these the Deva within the Bodhisattva Hall
in the Pi-yun Ssu are as follows together with their standard Sanskrit
name :
Fan T'ien

Brahma

[Mahabrahman]

Ti-shih
T'o-wen T'ien-wang

Indra
Vaisravana

Ch'ih-kuo T'ien-wang

Dhrtarastia

Tseng-ch'ang T'ien-wang

Virudhaka

Kuarig-mu T' ien-wang

Virupaksa

[Sakra Devaran]
Guardian of the North ) the Four
) Guardians
Guardian of the East
) of the
) Entrance
Guardian of the South ) to
) Buddhist
Guardian of the West ) Temples14

Mi-chi Chin-kang

Guhyapati

Another Diamond King Guardian

Mo-hsi-shou-lo

Siva

[Mahesvara]

Pan-chih Ta-ching

Pancika

Pien-ts'ai T'ien

Sarasvati

Chi-hsiang T'ien-nii

Laksmi

Wei-t'o

Skanda or Viharapala

Chien-lao-ti-shen

Prthivi

P'u-t'i Shu-shen

Bodhidruma orPippala

Kuei-tzu Mu

Hariti

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Chun-t'i P'u-sa

Marici

Jih T'ien-tzu

Surya

Yueh-kung T'ien-tzu

Candra

Lung Wang

Sagara

Yen-mo-lo

Yamaraja

Ah Su-lo

Asura

Kan Ta-po

Gandharva

Wei Mo-chi

Vimalakirti

Nan-t'o

Nanda

Ma-hu-lo

Mahoraga

Tzu-wei Ta-ti

a Chinese deity

Chin na-lo

Kinnara

Tung Yiieh Ta-ti

A Chinese deity

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Appendix C
THE TWENTY-SEVEN SO-CALLED DEVA,
WHOSE IMAGES STAND IN THE TA PEI TIEN,
ONE OF THE BA DA CHU [THE EIGHT GREAT
SITES]
IN PEKING'S WESTERN HILLS
Asura
Candra
Dhrtarastra
Gandharva
Guhyapati raja
Hariti
Ktnnara
Ksitigarbha
Lakstni devi
Maha Isvara
Mahabrahman - Brahma
Marici
Nanda Upar Nanda
Pancika
Pippala

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Prthivi
Sakra Devaram
Sarasvati
Skanda
Surya
Tung-y eh Ta-ti
Tzu-wei Ta-ti
Vaisravana
Viraaiakiri
Virudhaka
Virupaksa
Yama

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Appendix D
TEE TWENTY-EIGHT BUDDHAS OF YORE
Twenty-eight images of the Early Buddhas, the Ku Fo cif # ; the
Buddhas of pre-history, the Buddhas who came before Sakyamuni,
The Buddha, are to be seen in the Kuan Tu temple complex, to the
north-west of Taipei. These 28 'Old Buddhas' are :
Ta Fan T'ien Wang

[Maha Brahman - Brahma ]

P'i-p'o Chia-lo Wang [Vipasyin ; the first of the Seven Buddhas


i!li;:E
of antiquity]
Kan-ta-p'o Wang
!fSlf!l<5F.

[Gandharva : the gods of fragrance and


music : the musicians of Indra]

Ti-shih T' ien

[Indra ]

Ta Pien-ts'ai

[Sarasvati ]

Ma-hsi-shou-lo

[Siva: Mahesvara|

Ta Hai Lung Wang

[Sagara - Lung Wang]

Chien-na-lo Wang

[Kinnara]

Wu Pu Ching

[ Yama - as protector of the 1000 arm Kuan


Yin]

Chin-p' i-lo Wang


13

[Kumbhira - a Yaksha king, who was con


verted and became a guardian of Buddhism]

mmnm

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Ah-hsii-lo Wang

[Asura]

Na-lo-yenT'ien

[Narayana - son of Nara -the Original


Man]

Mi-ta Chin-kang

[Guhyapati raja]

T'i-t'ou Le-cha

[Mo-li Hai - Dhrtarastra - Guardian of the


East - one of the Four Diamond Kings]

P'i-lo Le-cha

[Mo-li Hung- Virudhaka, Guardian of the


South - one of the Four Diamond Kings]

P'i-lo-po-cha

[Mo-li Ch'ing - Virupaksa - Guardian of


the West - one of the Four Diamond Kings]

P'i-sha-men T'ien
Tc

(To-wen T'ien Wang - Mo-li Hung Vaisravana.Oneofthe Four Diamond Kings


- the Guardian of the North - Bishamen]

Chin Ta Wang

[Protector of Travellers in the train of the


1000 arm Kuan Yin]

Chin-se Kung-ch'iao

[Five-colour Peacock]

Man Hsien-jen

[Puma - The Fully-complete Immortal]

ilfiliA
Ma-hu-lo Wang

Ma-ho-lo NO

[Mahoraga]

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Shen-mu T1 ien Wang [?]

P'u-chi Tien Wang

[?]

Sha x Lo Wang

[?]

Man-shan Ch'e Wang [?]

P'o- x - Hsien-jen

[?]

H x f iA
Shan-x-Tien Wang [?]

# x 5^

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Appendix E
THE LIST OF TWENTY DEVA Z H ~ ^
IN SOOTHILL'S DICTIONARY OF CHINESE
BUDDHIST TERMS
Maha Brahman - Brahma
Sakra devanam - Indra
Vaisravana
Dhrtarastra
Virudhaka
Virupaksa

)
)
)
)
)
)

The Four Diamond Kings - Temple Guardians


of the Four Directions

Guhyapati
Mahesvara
Pancika
Sarasvati
Laksmi
Skanda
Prthivi
Bodhidruma or Bodhivrksa
Hariti
Marici
Surya
Candra
Sagara
Yama-raja

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NOTES
1

MacGowan J : Men and Manners of Modern China: T Fisher Unwin : London :


1912

Werner in his Dictionary of Chinese Mythology gives the Eight Classes of


Dragon Kings as follows :
Deva naga, Yaksha, Gandharva, Asuras, Garudas, Vinnaras, Mahonagas and
Rakshas Soothill in his Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms lists the Eight
Classes of Supernatural Beings An!$ as follows:
Deva, Naga, Yaksha, Gandharva, Asura, Garuda, Kinnara and Mahoraga.

Major well known Brahmanist deities not included in the groups of Deva in the
Western Hills of Peking include Hanuman, Parbati and Ganesh.

A Student Interpreter : Where Chineses Drive : English Student Life in Peking :


Win Allen & Co : London: 1885

As with a number of titles the ronianised spelling varies depending upon the
form used and, as examples, we have Siva and Shiva, Pancika and Panchika.

He is the esoteric cult Deva, a masculine form of the wife of Siva. He is the
tutelary god of Mongolian Lama Buddhism, and is also said to be an incarnation of Vairocana for the purpose of destroying demons.

Werner, ETC : A Dictionary of Chinese Mythology :

x stands for an illegible character.

Although images iconographically look like the standard Buddhist image of the
Temple Guardian, Wei T'o, they have been identified as being one of three
Vedic deities. Lessing in his Yung-Ho-Kung [Stockholm 1942] and the Taiwanese guide to The Guan Tin Hall of the Ta Pei Ssu both identify Wei T'o's origin
as Skanda whilst Soothill claims that he is Viharapala.

10

Occasionally Yueh T'ien-wang, that is the 12th century hero Yiieh Fei, takes the
place of Li Yiian-shuai.

" Chin-se are the Five Primary Colours permutated in various ways to represent
various ideas; also, a five coloured emblematic cord, a Brahman sign worn on

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the shoulder and forbidden by the Buddha.
12

The Afterworld is usually referred to in English as The Underworld and to most


Chinese this is apt as the entrance is often described as a large hole in the ground
in Szechuan province or at the base of T'ai Shan in Shantung. However, in
several Underworld scrolls hanging in Buddhist monasteries the Courts of the
Underworld are portrayed in the clouds with carefree humans wandering below.

13

The hammer and chisel produce the avenging thunderbolts, and the drums cause
the rumbling thunder.

14

These Four Great Celestial Kings are to be seen in the entrance hall to most
Buddhist temples. They are the Hindu Lokapala, the guardians of the Four Corners of the World and known colloquially as the Four Diamond Kings.

15

x stands for an illegible character.

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n
o
3

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at
CO

-5 S
t=! 2
X "o

Q .

5 S
C

of

>

ca
t4-H

JS
60

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HiIM

!<:

ills
Asura,one of the Hindu deities in the cave-tunnel under the
Kuantu Kung, Pei T'ou, Taiwan