A youth, whose name was originally Chang-sheng, afterward changed to Shou-chang, and then to Yuen-chang, who was born near Chieh Liang, in Ho Tung (now the town of Chieh Chou in Shansi), and was of an intractable nature, having exasperated his parents, was shut up in a room from which he escaped by breaking through the window. In one of the neighbouring houses he heard a young lady and an old man weeping and lamenting. Running to the foot of the wall of the compound, he inquired the reason of their grief. The old man replied that though his daughter was already engaged, the uncle of the local official, smitten by her beauty, wished to make her his concubine. His petitions to the official had only been rejected with curses.
Beside himself with rage, the youth seized a sword and went and killed both the official and his uncle. He escaped through the T'ung Kuan, the pass to Shensi. Having with difficulty avoided capture by the barrier officials, he knelt down at the side of a brook to wash his face; when lo! his appearance was completely transformed. His complexion had become reddish-grey, and he was absolutely unrecognizable. He then presented himself with assurance before the officers, who asked him his name. "My name is Kuan," he replied. It was by that name that he was thereafter known.
The Meat-seller's Challenge
One day he arrived at Chu-chou, a dependent sub-prefecture of Peking, in Chihli. There Chang Fei, a butcher, who had been selling his meat all the morning, at noon lowered what remained into a well, placed over the mouth of the well a stone weighing twenty-five pounds, and said with a sneer: "If anyone can lift that stone and take my meat, I will make him a present of it!" Kuan Yue, going up to the edge of the well, lifted the stone with the same ease as he would a tile, took the meat, and made off. Chang Fei pursued him, and eventually the two came to blows, but no one dared to separate them. Just then Liu Pei, a hawker of straw shoes, arrived, interposed, and put a stop to the fight. The community of ideas which they found they possessed soon gave rise to a firm friendship between the three men.
The Oath in the Peach-orchard
Another account represents Liu Pei and Chang Fei as having entered a village inn to drink wine, when a man of gigantic stature pushing a wheelbarrow stopped at the door to rest. As he seated himself, he hailed the waiter, saying: "Bring me some wine quickly, because I have to hasten to reach the town to enlist in the army."
Liu Pei looked at this man, nine feet in height, with a beard two feet long. His face was the colour of the fruit of the jujube-tree, and his lips carmine. Eyebrows like sleeping silkworms shaded his phoenix eyes, which were a scarlet red. Terrible indeed was his bearing.
"What is your name?" asked Liu Pei. "My family name is Kuan, my own name is Yue, my surname Yuen Chang," he replied. "I am from the Ho Tung country. For the last five or six years I have been wandering about the world as a fugitive, to escape from my pursuers, because I killed a powerful man of my country who was oppressing the poor people. I hear that they are collecting a body of troops to crush the brigands, and I should like to join the expedition."
Chang Fei, also named Chang I Te, is described as eight feet in height, with round shining eyes in a panther's head, and a pointed chin bristling with a tiger's beard. His voice resembled the rumbling of thunder. His ardour was like that of a fiery steed. He was a native of Cho Chuen, where he possessed some fertile farms, and was a butcher and wine-merchant.
Liu Pei, surnamed Hsuean Te, otherwise Hsien Chu, was the third member of the group.
The three men went to Chang Fei's farm, and on the morrow met together in his peach-orchard, and sealed their friendship with an oath. Having procured a black ox and a white horse, with the various accessories to a sacrifice, they immolated the victims, burnt the incense of friendship, and after twice prostrating themselves took this oath:
"We three, Liu Pei, Kuan Yu, and Chang Fei, already united by mutual friendship, although belonging to different clans, now bind ourselves by the union of our hearts, and join our forces in order to help each other in times of danger.
"We wish to pay to the State our debt of loyal citizens and give peace to our black-haired compatriots. We do not inquire if we were born in the same year, the same month, or on the same day, but we desire only that the same year, the same month, and the same day may find us united in death. May Heaven our King and Earth our Queen see clearly our hearts! If any one of us violate justice or forget benefits, may Heaven and Man unite to punish him!"
The oath having been formally taken, Liu Pei was saluted as elder brother, Kuan Yue as the second, and Chang Fei as the youngest. Their sacrifice to Heaven and earth ended, they killed an ox and served a feast, to which the soldiers of the district were invited to the number of three hundred or more. They all drank copiously until they were intoxicated. Liu Pei enrolled the peasants; Chang Fei procured for them horses and arms; and then they set out to make war on the Yellow Turbans (Huang Chin Tsei). Kuan Yue proved himself worthy of the affection which Liu Pei showed him; brave and generous, he never turned aside from danger. His fidelity was shown especially on one occasion when, having been taken prisoner by Ts'ao Ts'ao, together with two of Liu Pei's wives, and having been allotted a common sleeping-apartment with his fellow-captives, he preserved the ladies' reputation and his own trustworthiness by standing all night at the door of the room with a lighted lantern in his hand.
Into details of the various exploits of the three Brothers of the Peach-orchard we need not enter here. They are written in full in the book of the Story of the Three Kingdoms, a romance in which every Chinese who can read takes keen delight. Kuan Yue remained faithful to his oath, even though tempted with a marquisate by the great Ts'ao Ts'ao, but he was at length captured by Sun Ch'uean and put to death (A.D. 219). Long celebrated as the most renowned of China's military heroes, he was ennobled in A.D. 1120 as Faithful and Loyal Duke. Eight years later he had conferred on him by letters patent the still more glorious title of Magnificent Prince and Pacificator. The Emperor Wen (A.D. 1330-3) of the Yuean dynasty added the appellation Warrior Prince and Civilizer, and, finally, the Emperor Wan Li of the Ming dynasty, in 1594, conferred on him the title of Faithful and Loyal Great Ti, Supporter of Heaven and Protector of the Kingdom. He thus became a god, a ti, and has ever since received worship as Kuan Ti or Wu Ti, the God of War. Temples (1600 State temples and thousands of smaller ones) erected in his honour are to be seen in all parts of the country. He is one of the most popular gods of China. During the last half-century of the Manchu Period his fame greatly increased. In 1856 he is said to have appeared in the heavens and successfully turned the tide of battle in favour of the Imperialists. His portrait hangs in every tent, but his worship is not confined to the officials and the army, for many trades and professions have elected him as a patron saint. The sword of the public executioner used to be kept within the precincts of his temple, and after an execution the presiding magistrate would stop there to worship for fear the ghost of the criminal might follow him home. He knew that the spirit would not dare to enter Kuan Ti's presence.
Thus the Chinese have no fewer than three gods of literature—perhaps not too many for so literary a people. A fourth, a Taoist god, will be mentioned later.
Buddhism in China
Buddhism and its mythology have formed an important part of Chinese thought for nearly two thousand years. The religion was brought to China about A.D. 65, ready-made in its Mahayanistic form, in consequence of a dream of the Emperor Ming Ti (A.D. 58-76) of the Eastern Han dynasty in or about the year 63; though some knowledge of Buddha and his doctrines existed as early as 217 B.C. As Buddha, the chief deity of Buddhism, was a man and became a god, the religion originated, like the others, in ancestor-worship. When a man dies, says this religion, his other self reappears in one form or another, "from a clod to a divinity." The way for Buddhism in China was paved by Taoism, and Buddhism reciprocally affected Taoism by helpful development of its doctrines of sanctity and immortalization. Buddhism also, as it has been well put by Dr De Groot,  "contributed much to the ceremonial adornment of ancestor-worship. Its salvation work on behalf of the dead saved its place in Confucian China; for of Confucianism itself, piety and devotion towards parents and ancestors, and the promotion of their happiness, were the core, and, consequently, their worship with sacrifices and ceremonies was always a sacred duty." It was thus that it was possible for the gods of Buddhism to be introduced into China and to maintain their special characters and fulfil their special functions without being absorbed into or submerged by the existing native religions. The result was, as we have seen, in the end a partnership rather than a relation of master and servant; and I say 'in the end' because, contrary to popular belief, the Chinese have not been tolerant of foreign religious faiths, and at various times have persecuted Buddhism as relentlessly as they have other rivals to orthodox Confucianism.
Buddha, the Law, and the Priesthood
At the head of the Buddhist gods in China we find the triad known as Buddha, the Law, and the Church, or Priesthood, which are personified as Shih-chia Fo (Shakya), O-mi-t'o Fo (Amita), and Ju-lai Fo (Tathagata); otherwise Fo Pao, Fa Pao, and Seng Pao (the San Pao, 'Three Precious Ones')—that is, Buddha, the prophet who came into the world to teach the Law, Dharma, the Law Everlasting, and Samgha, its mystical body, Priesthood, or Church. Dharma is an entity underived, containing the spiritual elements and material constituents of the universe. From it the other two evolve: Buddha (Shakyamuni), the creative energy, Samgha, the totality of existence and of life. To the people these are three personal Buddhas, whom they worship without concerning themselves about their origin. To the priests they are simply the Buddha, past, present, or future. There are also several other of these groups or triads, ten or more, composed of different deities, or sometimes containing one or two of the triad already named. Shakyamuni heads the list, having a place in at least six.
The legend of the Buddha belongs rather to Indian than to Chinese mythology, and is too long to be reproduced here. 
The principal gods of Buddhism are Jan-teng Fo, the Light-lamp Buddha, Mi-lo Fo (Maitreya), the expected Messiah of the Buddhists, O-mi-t'o Fo (Amitabha or Amita), the guide who conducts his devotees to the Western Paradise, Yueeh-shih Fo, the Master-physician Buddha, Ta-shih-chih P'u-sa (Mahastama), companion of Amitabha, P'i-lu Fo (Vairotchana), the highest of the Threefold Embodiments, Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, Ti-tsang Wang, the God of Hades, Wei-t'o (Viharapala), the Deva protector of the Law of Buddha and Buddhist temples, the Four Diamond Kings of Heaven, and Bodhidharma, the first of the six Patriarchs of Eastern or Chinese Buddhism.
Diamond Kings of Heaven
On the right and left sides of the entrance hall of Buddhist temples, two on each side, are the gigantic figures of the four great Ssu Ta Chin-kang or T'ien-wang, the Diamond Kings of Heaven, protectors or governors of the continents lying in the direction of the four cardinal points from Mount Sumeru, the centre of the world. They are four brothers named respectively Mo-li Ch'ing (Pure), or Tseng Chang, Mo-li Hung (Vast), or Kuang Mu, Mo-li Hai (Sea), or To Wen, and Mo-li Shou (Age), or Ch'ih Kuo. The Chin kuang ming states that they bestow all kinds of happiness on those who honour the Three Treasures, Buddha, the Law, and the Priesthood. Kings and nations who neglect the Law lose their protection. They are described and represented as follows:
Mo-li Ch'ing, the eldest, is twenty-four feet in height, with a beard the hairs of which are like copper wire. He carries a magnificent jade ring and a spear, and always fights on foot. He has also a magic sword, 'Blue Cloud,' on the blade of which are engraved the characters Ti, Shui, Huo, Feng (Earth, Water, Fire, Wind). When brandished, it causes a black wind, which produces tens of thousands of spears, which pierce the bodies of men and turn them to dust. The wind is followed by a fire, which fills the air with tens of thousands of golden fiery serpents. A thick smoke also rises out of the ground, which blinds and burns men, none being able to escape.
Mo-li Hung carries in his hand an umbrella, called the Umbrella of Chaos, formed of pearls possessed of spiritual properties. Opening this marvellous implement causes the heavens and earth to be covered with thick darkness, and turning it upside down produces violent storms of wind and thunder and universal earthquakes.
Mo-li Hai holds a four-stringed guitar, the twanging of which supernaturally affects the earth, water, fire, or wind. When it is played all the world listens, and the camps of the enemy take fire.
Mo-li Shou has two whips and a panther-skin bag, the home of a creature resembling a white rat, known as Hua-hu Tiao. When at large this creature assumes the form of a white winged elephant, which devours men. He sometimes has also a snake or other man-eating creature, always ready to obey his behests.
Legend of the Diamond Kings
The legend of the Four Diamond Kings given in the Feng shen yen i is as follows: At the time of the consolidation of the Chou dynasty in the twelfth and eleventh centuries B.C., Chiang Tzu-ya, chief counsellor to Wen Wang, and General Huang Fei-hu were defending the town and mountain of Hsi-ch'i. The supporters of the house of Shang appealed to the four genii Mo, who lived at Chia-meng Kuan, praying them to come to their aid. They agreed, raised an army of 100,000 celestial soldiers, and traversing towns, fields, and mountains arrived in less than a day at the north gate of Hsi-ch'i, where Mo-li Ch'ing pitched his camp and entrenched his soldiers.
Hearing of this, Huang Fei-hu hastened to warn Chiang Tzu-ya of the danger which threatened him. "The four great generals who have just arrived at the north gate," he said, "are marvellously powerful genii, experts in all the mysteries of magic and use of wonderful charms. It is much to be feared that we shall not be able to resist them."
Many fierce battles ensued. At first these went in favour of the Chin-kang, thanks to their magical weapons and especially to Mo-li Shou's Hua-hu Tiao, who terrorized the enemy by devouring their bravest warriors.
Hua-hu Tiao devours Yang Chien
Unfortunately for the Chin-kang, the brute attacked and swallowed Yang Chien, the nephew of Yue Huang. This genie, on entering the body of the monster, rent his heart asunder and cut him in two. As he could transform himself at will, he assumed the shape of Hua-hu Tiao, and went off to Mo-li Shou, who unsuspectingly put him back into his bag.
The Four Kings held a festival to celebrate their triumph, and having drunk copiously gave themselves over to sleep. During the night Yang Chien came out of the bag, with the intention of possessing himself of the three magical weapons of the Chin-kang. But he succeeded only in carrying off the umbrella of Mo-li Hung. In a subsequent engagement No-cha, the son of Vadjra-pani, the God of Thunder, broke the jade ring of Mo-li Ch'ing. Misfortune followed misfortune. The Chin-kang, deprived of their magical weapons, began to lose heart. To complete their discomfiture, Huang T'ien Hua brought to the attack a matchless magical weapon. This was a spike 7 1/2 inches long, enclosed in a silk sheath, and called 'Heart-piercer.' It projected so strong a ray of light that eyes were blinded by it.
Huang T'ien Hua, hard pressed by Mo-li Ch'ing, drew the mysterious spike from its sheath, and hurled it at his adversary. It entered his neck, and with a deep groan the giant fell dead.
Mo-li Hung and Mo-li Hai hastened to avenge their brother, but ere they could come within striking distance of Huang Ti'en Hua his redoubtable spike reached their hearts, and they lay prone at his feet.
The one remaining hope for the sole survivor was in Hua-hu Tiao. Mo-li Shou, not knowing that the creature had been slain, put his hand into the bag to pull him out, whereupon Yang Chien, who had re-entered the bag, bit his hand off at the wrist, so that there remained nothing but a stump of bone.
In this moment of intense agony Mo-li Shou fell an easy prey to Huang T'ien Hua, the magical spike pierced his heart, and he fell bathed in his blood. Thus perished the last of the Chin-kang.
The Three Pure Ones
Turning to the gods of Taoism, we find that the triad or trinity, already noted as forming the head of that hierarchy, consists of three Supreme Gods, each in his own Heaven. These three Heavens, the San Ch'ing, 'Three Pure Ones' (this name being also applied to the sovereigns ruling in them), were formed from the three airs, which are subdivisions of the one primordial air.
The first Heaven is Yue Ch'ing. In it reigns the first member of the Taoist triad. He inhabits the Jade Mountain. The entrance to his palace is named the Golden Door. He is the source of all truth, as the sun is the source of all light.
Various authorities give his name differently—Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun, or Lo Ching Hsin, and call him T'ien Pao, 'the Treasure of Heaven,' Some state that the name of the ruler of this first Heaven is Yue Huang, and in the popular mind he it is who occupies this supreme position. The Three Pure Ones are above him in rank, but to him, the Pearly Emperor, is entrusted the superintendence of the world. He has all the power of Heaven and earth in his hands. He is the correlative of Heaven, or rather Heaven itself.
The second Heaven, Shang Ch'ing, is ruled by the second person of the triad, named Ling-pao T'ien-tsun, or Tao Chuen. No information is given as to his origin. He is the custodian of the sacred books. He has existed from the beginning of the world. He calculates time, dividing it into different epochs. He occupies the upper pole of the world, and determines the movements and interaction, or regulates the relations of the yin and the yang, the two great principles of nature.
In the third Heaven, T'ai Ch'ing, the Taoists place Lao Tzu, the promulgator of the true doctrine drawn up by Ling-pao T'ien-tsun. He is alternatively called Shen Pao, 'the Treasure of the Spirits,' and T'ai-shang Lao-chun, 'the Most Eminent Aged Ruler.' Under various assumed names he has appeared as the teacher of kings and emperors, the reformer of successive generations.
This three-storied Taoist Heaven, or three Heavens, is the result of the wish of the Taoists not to be out-rivalled by the Buddhists. For Buddha, the Law, and the Priesthood they substitute the Tao, or Reason, the Classics, and the Priesthood.
As regards the organization of the Taoist Heavens, Yue Huang has on his register the name of eight hundred Taoist divinities and a multitude of Immortals. These are all divided into three categories: Saints (Sheng-jen), Heroes (Chen-jen), and Immortals (Hsien-jen), occupying the three Heavens respectively in that order.
The Three Causes
Connected with Taoism, but not exclusively associated with that religion, is the worship of the Three Causes, the deities presiding over three departments of physical nature, Heaven, earth, and water. They are known by various designations: San Kuan, 'the Three Agents'; San Yuean, 'the Three Origins'; San Kuan Ta Ti, 'the Three Great Emperor Agents'; and T'ai Shang San Kuan, 'the Three Supreme Agents.' This worship has passed through four chief phases, as follows:
The first comprises Heaven, earth, and water, T'ien, Ti, Shui, the sources of happiness, forgiveness of sins, and deliverance from evil respectively. Each of these is called King-emperor. Their names, written on labels and offered to Heaven (on a mountain), earth (by burial), and water (by immersion), are supposed to cure sickness. This idea dates from the Han dynasty, being first noted about A.D. 172.
The second, San Yuean dating from A.D. 407 under the Wei dynasty, identified the Three Agents with three dates of which they were respectively made the patrons. The year was divided into three unequal parts: the first to the seventh moon; the seventh to the tenth; and the tenth to the twelfth. Of these, the fifteenth day of the first, seventh, and tenth moons respectively became the three principal dates of these periods. Thus the Agent of Heaven became the principal patron of the first division, honoured on the fifteenth day of the first moon, and so on.
The third phase, San Kuan, resulted from the first two being found too complicated for popular favour. The San Kuan were the three sons of a man, Ch'en Tzu-ch'un, who was so handsome and intelligent that the three daughters of Lung Wang, the Dragon-king, fell in love with him and went to live with him. The eldest girl was the mother of the Superior Cause, the second of the Medium Cause, and the third of the Inferior Cause. All these were gifted with supernatural powers. Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun canonized them as the Three Great Emperor Agents of Heaven, earth, and water, governors of all beings, devils or gods, in the three regions of the universe. As in the first phase, the T'ien Kuan confers happiness, the Ti Kuan grants remission of sins, and the Shui Kuan delivers from evil or misfortune.
The fourth phase consisted simply in the substitution by the priests for the abstract or time-principles of the three great sovereigns of ancient times, Yao, Shun, and Yue. The literati, proud of the apotheosis of their ancient rulers, hastened to offer incense to them, and temples, San Yuean Kung, arose in very many parts of the Empire.
A variation of this phase is the canonization, with the title of San Yuean or Three Causes, of Wu-k'o San Chen Chuen, 'the Three True Sovereigns, Guests of the Kingdom of Wu.' They were three Censors who lived in the reign of King Li (Li Wang, 878-841 B.C.) of the Chou dynasty. Leaving the service of the Chou on account of Li's dissolute living, they went to live in Wu, and brought victory to that state in its war with the Ch'u State, then returned to their own country, and became pillars of the Chou State under Li's successor. They appeared to protect the Emperor Chen Tsung when he was offering the Feng-shan sacrifices on T'ai Shan in A.D. 1008, on which occasion they were canonized with the titles of Superior, Medium, and Inferior Causes, as before, conferring upon them the regencies of Heaven, earth, and water respectively.
Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun, or the First Cause, the Highest in Heaven, generally placed at the head of the Taoist triad, is said never to have existed but in the fertile imagination of the Lao Tzuist sectarians. According to them Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun had neither origin nor master, but is himself the cause of all beings, which is why he is called the First Cause.
As first member of the triad, and sovereign ruler of the First Heaven, Yue Ch'ing, where reign the saints, he is raised in rank above all the other gods. The name assigned to him is Lo Ching Hsin. He was born before all beginnings; his substance is imperishable; it is formed essentially of uncreated air, air a se, invisible and without perceptible limits. No one has been able to penetrate to the beginnings of his existence. The source of all truth, he at each renovation of the worlds—that is, at each new kalpa—gives out the mysterious doctrine which confers immortality. All who reach this knowledge attain by degrees to life eternal, become refined like the spirits, or instantly become Immortals, even while upon earth.
Originally, Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun was not a member of the Taoist triad. He resided above the Three Heavens, above the Three Pure Ones, surviving the destructions and renovations of the universe, as an immovable rock in the midst of a stormy sea. He set the stars in motion, and caused the planets to revolve. The chief of his secret police was Tsao Chuen, the Kitchen-god, who rendered to him an account of the good and evil deeds of each family. His executive agent was Lei Tsu, the God of Thunder, and his subordinates. The seven stars of the North Pole were the palace of his ministers, whose offices were on the various sacred mountains. Nowadays, however, Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun is generally neglected for Yue Huang.
An Avatar of P'an Ku
According to the tradition of Chin Hung, the God of T'ai Shan of the fifth generation from P'an Ku, this being, then called Yuean-shih T'ien-wang, was an avatar of P'an Ku. It came about in this wise. In remote ages there lived on the mountains an old man, Yuean-shih T'ien-wang, who used to sit on a rock and preach to the multitude. He spoke of the highest antiquity as if from personal experience. When Chin Hung asked him where he lived, he just raised his hand toward Heaven, iridescent clouds enveloped his body, and he replied: "Whoso wishes to know where I dwell must rise to impenetrable heights." "But how," said Chin Hung, "was he to be found in this immense emptiness?" Two genii, Ch'ih Ching-tzu and Huang Lao, then descended on the summit of T'ai Shan and said: "Let us go and visit this Yuean-shih. To do so, we must cross the boundaries of the universe and pass beyond the farthest stars." Chin Hung begged them to give him their instructions, to which he listened attentively. They then ascended the highest of the sacred peaks, and thence mounted into the heavens, calling to him from the misty heights: "If you wish to know the origin of Yuean-shih, you must pass beyond the confines of Heaven and earth, because he lives beyond the limits of the worlds. You must ascend and ascend until you reach the sphere of nothingness and of being, in the plains of the luminous shadows."
Having reached these ethereal heights, the two genii saw a bright light, and Hsuean-hsuean Shang-jen appeared before them. The two genii bowed to do him homage and to express their gratitude. "You cannot better show your gratitude," he replied, "than by making my doctrine known among men. You desire," he added, "to know the history of Yuean-shih. I will tell it you. When P'an Ku had completed his work in the primitive Chaos, his spirit left its mortal envelope and found itself tossed about in empty space without any fixed support. 'I must,' it said, 'get reborn in visible form; until I can go through a new birth I shall remain empty and unsettled,' His soul, carried on the wings of the wind, reached Fu-yue T'ai. There it saw a saintly lady named T'ai Yuean, forty years of age, still a virgin, and living alone on Mount Ts'u-o. Air and variegated clouds were the sole nourishment of her vital spirits. An hermaphrodite, at once both the active and the passive principle, she daily scaled the highest peak of the mountain to gather there the flowery quintessence of the sun and the moon. P'an Ku, captivated by her virgin purity, took advantage of a moment when she was breathing to enter her mouth in the form of a ray of light. She was enceinte for twelve years, at the end of which period the fruit of her womb came out through her spinal column. From its first moment the child could walk and speak, and its body was surrounded by a five-coloured cloud. The newly-born took the name of Yuean-shih T'ien-wang, and his mother was generally known as T'ai-yuean Sheng-mu, 'the Holy Mother of the First Cause.'"
Yue Huang means 'the Jade Emperor,' or 'the Pure August One,' jade symbolizing purity. He is also known by the name Yue-huang Shang-ti, 'the Pure August Emperor on High.'
The history of this deity, who later received many honorific titles and became the most popular god, a very Chinese Jupiter, seems to be somewhat as follows: The Emperor Ch'eng Tsung of the Sung dynasty having been obliged in A.D. 1005 to sign a disgraceful peace with the Tunguses or Kitans, the dynasty was in danger of losing the support of the nation. In order to hoodwink the people the Emperor constituted himself a seer, and announced with great pomp that he was in direct communication with the gods of Heaven. In doing this he was following the advice of his crafty and unreliable minister Wang Ch'in-jo, who had often tried to persuade him that the pretended revelations attributed to Fu Hsi, Yue Wang, and others were only pure inventions to induce obedience. The Emperor, having studied his part well, assembled his ministers in the tenth moon of the year 1012, and made to them the following declaration: "In a dream I had a visit from an Immortal, who brought me a letter from Yue Huang, the purport of which was as follows: 'I have already sent you by your ancestor Chao [T'ai Tsu] two celestial missives. Now I am going to send him in person to visit you.'" A little while after his ancestor T'ai Tsu, the founder of the dynasty, came according to Yue Huang's promise, and Ch'eng Tsung hastened to inform his ministers of it. This is the origin of Yue Huang. He was born of a fraud, and came ready-made from the brain of an emperor.
The Cask of Pearls
Fearing to be admonished for the fraud by another of his ministers, the scholar Wang Tan, the Emperor resolved to put a golden gag in his mouth. So one day, having invited him to a banquet, he overwhelmed him with flattery and made him drunk with good wine. "I would like the members of your family also to taste this wine," he added, "so I am making you a present of a cask of it." When Wang Tan returned home, he found the cask filled with precious pearls. Out of gratitude to the Emperor he kept silent as to the fraud, and made no further opposition to his plans, but when on his death-bed he asked that his head be shaved like a priest's and that he be clothed in priestly robes so that he might expiate his crime of feebleness before the Emperor.
K'ang Hsi, the great Emperor of the Ch'ing dynasty, who had already declared that if it is wrong to impute deceit to a man it is still more reprehensible to impute a fraud to Heaven, stigmatized him as follows: "Wang Tan committed two faults: the first was in showing himself a vile flatterer of his Prince during his life; the second was in becoming a worshipper of Buddha at his death."
The Legend of Yue Huang
So much for historical record. The legend of Yue Huang relates that in ancient times there existed a kingdom named Kuang Yen Miao Lo Kuo, whose king was Ching Te, his queen being called Pao Yueeh. Though getting on in years, the latter had no son. The Taoist priests were summoned by edict to the palace to perform their rites. They recited prayers with the object of obtaining an heir to the throne. During the ensuing night the Queen had a vision. Lao Chuen appeared to her, riding a dragon, and carrying a male child in his arms. He floated down through the air in her direction. The Queen begged him to give her the child as an heir to the throne. "I am quite willing," he said. "Here it is." She fell on her knees and thanked him. On waking she found herself enceinte. At the end of a year the Prince was born. From an early age he showed himself compassionate and generous to the poor. On the death of his father he ascended the throne, but after reigning only a few days abdicated in favour of his chief minister, and became a hermit at P'u-ming, in Shensi, and also on Mount Hsiu Yen, in Yuennan. Having attained to perfection, he passed the rest of his days in curing sickness and saving life; and it was in the exercise of these charitable deeds that he died. The emperors Ch'eng Tsung and Hui Tsung, of the Sung dynasty, loaded him with all the various titles associated with his name at the present day.
Both Buddhists and Taoists claim him as their own, the former identifying him with Indra, in which case Yue Huang is a Buddhist deity incorporated into the Taoist pantheon. He has also been taken to be the subject of a 'nature myth.' The Emperor Ching Te, his father, is the sun, the Queen Pao Yueeh the moon, and the marriage symbolizes the rebirth of the vivifying power which clothes nature with green plants and beautiful flowers.
In modern Taoism T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu is regarded as the first of the Patriarchs and one of the most powerful genii of the sect. His master was Hung-chuen Lao-tsu. He wore a red robe embroidered with white cranes, and rode a k'uei niu, a monster resembling a buffalo, with one long horn like a unicorn. His palace, the Pi Yu Kung, was situated on Mount Tzu Chih Yai.
This genie took the part of Chou Wang and helped him to resist Wu Wang's armies. First, he sent his disciple To-pao Tao-jen to Chieh-p'ai Kuan. He gave him four precious swords and the plan of a fort which he was to construct and to name Chu-hsien Chen, 'the Citadel of all the Immortals.'
To-pao Tao-jen carried out his orders, but he had to fight a battle with Kuang Ch'eng-tzu, and the latter, armed with a celestial seal, struck his adversary so hard that he fell to the ground and had to take refuge in flight.
T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu came to the defence of his disciple and to restore the morale of his forces. Unfortunately, a posse of gods arrived to aid Wu Wang's powerful general, Chiang Tzu-ya. The first who attacked T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu was Lao Tzu, who struck him several times with his stick. Then came Chun T'i, armed with his cane. The buffalo of T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu stamped him under foot, and Chun T'i was thrown to the earth, and only just had time to rise quickly and mount into the air amid a great cloud of dust.
There could be no doubt that the fight was going against T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu; to complete his discomfiture Jan-teng Tao-jen cleft the air and fell upon him unexpectedly. With a violent blow of his 'Fix-sea' staff he cast him down and compelled him to give up the struggle.
T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu then prepared plans for a new fortified camp beyond T'ung Kuan, and tried to take the offensive again, but again Lao Tzu stopped him with a blow of his stick. Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun wounded his shoulder with his precious stone Ju-i, and Chun-t'i Tao-jen waved his 'Branch of the Seven Virtues.' Immediately the magic sword of T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu was reduced to splinters, and he saved himself only by flight.
Hung-chuen Lao-tsu, the master of these three genii, seeing his three beloved disciples in the melee, resolved to make peace between them. He assembled all three in a tent in Chiang Tzu-ya's camp, made them kneel before him, then reproached T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu at length for having taken the part of the tyrant Chou, and recommended them in future to live in harmony. After finishing his speech, he produced three pills, and ordered each of the genii to swallow one. When they had done so, Hung-chuen Lao-tsu said to them: "I have given you these pills to ensure an inviolable truce among you. Know that the first who entertains a thought of discord in his heart will find that the pill will explode in his stomach and cause his instant death."
Hung-chuen Lao-tsu then took T'ung-t'ien Chiao-chu away with him on his cloud to Heaven.
Immortals, Heroes, Saints
An Immortal, according to Taoist lore, is a solitary man of the mountains. He appears to die, but does not. After 'death' his body retains all the qualities of the living. The body or corpse is for him only a means of transition, a phase of metamorphosis—a cocoon or chrysalis, the temporary abode of the butterfly.
To reach this state a hygienic regimen both of the body and mind must be observed. All luxury, greed, and ambition must be avoided. But negation is not enough. In the system of nourishment all the elements which strengthen the essence of the constituent yin and yang principles must be found by means of medicine, chemistry, gymnastic exercises, etc. When the maximum vital force has been acquired the means of preserving it and keeping it from the attacks of death and disease must be discovered; in a word, he must spiritualize himself—render himself completely independent of matter. All the experiments have for their object the storing in the pills of immortality the elements necessary for the development of the vital force and for the constitution of a new spiritual and super-humanized being. In this ascending perfection there are several grades:
(1) The Immortal (Hsien). The first stage consists in bringing about the birth of the superhuman in the ascetic's person, which reaching perfection leaves the earthly body, like the grasshopper its sheath. This first stage attained, the Immortal travels at will throughout the universe, enjoys all the advantages of perfect health without dreading disease or death, eats and drinks copiously—nothing is wanting to complete his happiness.
(2) The Perfect Man, or Hero (Chen-jen). The second stage is a higher one. The whole body is spiritualized. It has become so subtile, so spiritual, that it can fly in the air. Borne on the wings of the wind, seated on the clouds of Heaven, it travels from one world to another and fixes its habitation in the stars. It is freed from all laws of matter, but is, however, not completely changed into pure spirit.
(3) The Saint (Sheng-jen). The third stage is that of the superhuman beings or saints. They are those who have attained to extraordinary intelligence and virtue.
The God of the Immortals
Mu Kung or Tung Wang Kung, the God of the Immortals, was also called I Chuen Ming and Yue Huang Chuen, the Prince Yue Huang.
The primitive vapour congealed, remained inactive for a time, and then produced living beings, beginning with the formation of Mu Kung, the purest substance of the Eastern Air, and sovereign of the active male principle yang and of all the countries of the East. His palace is in the misty heavens, violet clouds form its dome, blue clouds its walls. Hsien T'ung, 'the Immortal Youth,' and Yue Nue, 'the Jade Maiden,' are his servants. He keeps the register of all the Immortals, male and female.
Hsi Wang Mu
Hsi Wang Mu was formed of the pure quintessence of the Western Air, in the legendary continent of Shen Chou. She is often called the Golden Mother of the Tortoise.
Her family name is variously given as Hou, Yang, and Ho. Her own name was Hui, and first name Wan-chin. She had nine sons and twenty-four daughters.
As Mu Kung, formed of the Eastern Air, is the active principle of the male air and sovereign of the Eastern Air, so Hsi Wang Mu, born of the Western Air, is the passive or female principle (yin) and sovereign of the Western Air. These two principles, co-operating, engender Heaven and earth and all the beings of the universe, and thus become the two principles of life and of the subsistence of all that exists. She is the head of the troop of genii dwelling on the K'un-lun Mountains (the Taoist equivalent of the Buddhist Sumeru), and from time to time holds intercourse with favoured imperial votaries.
The Feast of Peaches
Hsi Wang Mu's palace is situated in the high mountains of the snowy K'un-lun. It is 1000 li (about 333 miles) in circuit; a rampart of massive gold surrounds its battlements of precious stones. Its right wing rises on the edge of the Kingfishers' River. It is the usual abode of the Immortals, who are divided into seven special categories according to the colour of their garments—red, blue, black, violet, yellow, green, and 'nature-colour.' There is a marvellous fountain built of precious stones, where the periodical banquet of the Immortals is held. This feast is called P'an-t'ao Hui, 'the Feast of Peaches.' It takes place on the borders of the Yao Ch'ih, Lake of Gems, and is attended by both male and female Immortals. Besides several superfine meats, they are served with bears' paws, monkeys' lips, dragons' liver, phoenix marrow, and peaches gathered in the orchard, endowed with the mystic virtue of conferring longevity on all who have the good luck to taste them. It was by these peaches that the date of the banquet was fixed. The tree put forth leaves once every three thousand years, and it required three thousand years after that for the fruit to ripen. These were Hsi Wang Mu's birthdays, when all the Immortals assembled for the great feast, "the occasion being more festive than solemn, for there was music on invisible instruments, and songs not from mortal tongues."
The First Taoist Pope
Chang Tao-ling, the first Taoist pope, was born in A.D. 35, in the reign of the Emperor Kuang Wu Ti of the Han dynasty. His birthplace is variously given as the T'ien-mu Shan, 'Eye of Heaven Mountain,' in Lin-an Hsien, in Chekiang, and Feng-yang Fu, in Anhui. He devoted himself wholly to study and meditation, declining all offers to enter the service of the State. He preferred to take up his abode in the mountains of Western China, where he persevered in the study of alchemy and in cultivating the virtues of purity and mental abstraction. From the hands of Lao Tzu he received supernaturally a mystic treatise, by following the instructions in which he was successful in his search for the elixir of life.
One day when he was engaged in experimenting with the 'Dragon-tiger elixir' a spiritual being appeared to him and said: "On Po-sung Mountain is a stone house in which are concealed the writings of the Three Emperors of antiquity and a canonical work. By obtaining these you may ascend to Heaven, if you undergo the course of discipline they prescribe."
Chang Tao-ling found these works, and by means of them obtained the power of flying, of hearing distant sounds, and of leaving his body. After going through a thousand days of discipline, and receiving instruction from a goddess, who taught him to walk about among the stars, he proceeded to fight with the king of the demons, to divide mountains and seas, and to command the wind and thunder. All the demons fled before him. On account of the prodigious slaughter of demons by this hero the wind and thunder were reduced to subjection, and various divinities came with eager haste to acknowledge their faults. In nine years he gained the power to ascend to Heaven.
The Founder of Modern Taoism
Chang Tao-ling may rightly be considered as the true founder of modern Taoism. The recipes for the pills of immortality contained in the mysterious books, and the invention of talismans for the cure of all sorts of maladies, not only exalted him to the high position he has since occupied in the minds of his numerous disciples, but enabled them in turn to exploit successfully this new source of power and wealth. From that time the Taoist sect began to specialize in the art of healing. Protecting or curing talismans bearing the Master's seal were purchased for enormous sums. It is thus seen that he was after all a deceiver of the people, and unbelievers or rival partisans of other sects have dubbed him a 'rice-thief'—which perhaps he was.
He is generally represented as clothed in richly decorated garments, brandishing with his right hand his magic sword, holding in his left a cup containing the draught of immortality, and riding a tiger which in one paw grasps his magic seal and with the others tramples down the five venomous creatures: lizard, snake, spider, toad, and centipede. Pictures of him with these accessories are pasted up in houses on the fifth day of the fifth moon to forfend calamity and sickness.
It is related of him that, not wishing to ascend to Heaven too soon, he partook of only half of the pill of immortality, dividing the other half among several of his admirers, and that he had at least two selves or personalities, one of which used to disport itself in a boat on a small lake in front of his house. The other self would receive his visitors, entertaining them with food and drink and instructive conversation. On one occasion this self said to them: "You are unable to quit the world altogether as I can, but by imitating my example in the matter of family relations you could procure a medicine which would prolong your lives by several centuries. I have given the crucible in which Huang Ti prepared the draught of immortality to my disciple Wang Ch'ang. Later on, a man will come from the East, who also will make use of it. He will arrive on the seventh day of the first moon."
Exactly on that day there arrived from the East a man named Chao Sheng, who was the person indicated by Chang Tao-ling. He was recognized by a manifestation of himself he had caused to appear in advance of his coming. Chang then led all his disciples, to the number of three hundred, to the highest peak of the Yuen-t'ai. Below them they saw a peach-tree growing near a pointed rock, stretching out its branches like arms above a fathomless abyss. It was a large tree, covered with ripe fruit. Chang said to his disciples: "I will communicate a spiritual formula to the one among you who will dare to gather the fruit of that tree." They all leaned over to look, but each declared the feat to be impossible. Chao Sheng alone had the courage to rush out to the point of the rock and up the tree stretching out into space. With firm foot he stood and gathered the peaches, placing them in the folds of his cloak, as many as it would hold, but when he wished to climb back up the precipitous slope, his hands slipped on the smooth rock, and all his attempts were in vain. Accordingly, he threw the peaches, three hundred and two in all, one by one up to Chang Tao-ling, who distributed them. Each disciple ate one, as also did Chang, who reserved the remaining one for Chao Sheng, whom he helped to climb up again. To do this Chang extended his arm to a length of thirty feet, all present marvelling at the miracle. After Chao had eaten his peach Chang stood on the edge of the precipice, and said with a laugh: "Chao Sheng was brave enough to climb out to that tree and his foot never tripped. I too will make the attempt. If I succeed I will have a big peach as a reward." Having spoken thus, he leapt into space, and alighted in the branches of the peach-tree. Wang Ch'ang and Chao Sheng also jumped into the tree and stood one on each side of him. There Chang communicated to them the mysterious formula. Three days later they returned to their homes; then, having made final arrangements, they repaired once more to the mountain peak, whence, in the presence of the other disciples, who followed them with their eyes until they had completely disappeared from view, all three ascended to Heaven in broad daylight.
Chang Tao-ling's Great Power
The name of Chang Tao-ling, the Heavenly Teacher, is a household word in China. He is on earth the Vicegerent of the Pearly Emperor in Heaven, and the Commander-in-Chief of the hosts of Taoism. He, the chief of the wizards, the 'true [i.e. ideal] man,' as he is called, wields an immense spiritual power throughout the land. The present pope boasts of an unbroken line for three-score generations. His family obtained possession of the Dragon-tiger Mountain in Kiangsi about A.D. 1000. "This personage," says a pre-Republican writer, "assumes a state which mimics the imperial. He confers buttons like an emperor. Priests come to him from various cities and temples to receive promotion, whom he invests with titles and presents with seals of office."
Kings of Heaven
The Four Kings of Heaven, Ssu Ta T'ien-wang, reside on Mount Sumeru (Hsue-mi Shan), the centre of the universe. It is 3,360,000 li—that is, about a million miles—high.  Its eastern slope is of gold, its western of silver, its south-eastern of crystal, and its north-eastern of agate. The Four Kings appear to be the Taoist reflection of the four Chin-kang of Buddhism already noticed. Their names are Li, Ma, Chao, and Wen. They are represented as holding a pagoda, sword, two swords, and spiked club respectively. Their worship appears to be due to their auspicious appearance and aid on various critical occasions in the dynastic history of the T'ang and Sung Periods.
Temples are found in various parts dedicated to T'ai I, the Great One, or Great Unity. When Emperor Wu Ti (140-86 B.C.) of the Han dynasty was in search of the secret of immortality, and various suggestions had proved unsatisfactory, a Taoist priest, Miao Chi, told the Emperor that his want of success was due to his omission to sacrifice to T'ai I, the first of the celestial spirits, quoting the classical precedent of antiquity found in the Book of History. The Emperor, believing his word, ordered the Grand Master of Sacrifices to re-establish this worship at the capital. He followed carefully the prescriptions of Miao Chi. This enraged the literati, who resolved to ruin him. One day, when the Emperor was about to drink one of his potions, one of the chief courtiers seized the cup and drank the contents himself. The Emperor was about to have him slain, when he said: "Your Majesty's order is unnecessary; if the potion confers immortality, I cannot be killed; if, on the other hand, it does not, your Majesty should recompense me for disproving the pretensions of the Taoist priest." The Emperor, however, was not convinced.
One account represents T'ai I as having lived in the time of Shen Nung, the Divine Husbandman, who visited him to consult with him on the subjects of diseases and fortune. He was Hsien Yuean's medical preceptor. His medical knowledge was handed down to future generations. He was one of those who, with the Immortals, was invited to the great Peach Assembly of the Western Royal Mother.
As the spirit of the star T'ai I he resides in the Eastern Palace, listening for the cries of sufferers in order to save them. For this purpose he assumes numberless forms in various regions. With a boat of lotus-flowers of nine colours he ferries men over to the shore of salvation. Holding in his hand a willow-branch, he scatters from it the dew of the doctrine.
T'ai I is variously represented as the Ruler of the Five Celestial Sovereigns, Cosmic Matter before it congealed into concrete shapes, the Triune Spirit of Heaven, earth, and T'ai I as three separate entities, an unknown Spirit, the Spirit of the Pole Star, etc., but practically the Taoists confine their T'ai I to T'ai-i Chen-jen, in which Perfect Man they personify the abstract philosophical notions. 
Goddess of the North Star
Tou Mu, the Bushel Mother, or Goddess of the North Star, worshipped by both Buddhists and Taoists, is the Indian Maritchi, and was made a stellar divinity by the Taoists. She is said to have been the mother of the nine Jen Huang or Human Sovereigns of fabulous antiquity, who succeeded the lines of Celestial and Terrestrial Sovereigns. She occupies in the Taoist religion the same relative position as Kuan Yin, who may be said to be the heart of Buddhism. Having attained to a profound knowledge of celestial mysteries, she shone with heavenly light, could cross the seas, and pass from the sun to the moon. She also had a kind heart for the sufferings of humanity. The King of Chou Yue, in the north, married her on hearing of her many virtues. They had nine sons. Yuean-shih T'ien-tsun came to earth to invite her, her husband, and nine sons to enjoy the delights of Heaven. He placed her in the palace Tou Shu, the Pivot of the Pole, because all the other stars revolve round it, and gave her the title of Queen of the Doctrine of Primitive Heaven. Her nine sons have their palaces in the neighbouring stars.
Tou Mu wears the Buddhist crown, is seated on a lotus throne, has three eyes, eighteen arms, and holds various precious objects in her numerous hands, such as a bow, spear, sword, flag, dragon's head, pagoda, five chariots, sun's disk, moon's disk, etc. She has control of the books of life and death, and all who wish to prolong their days worship at her shrine. Her devotees abstain from animal food on the third and twenty-seventh day of every month.
Of her sons, two are the Northern and Southern Bushels; the latter, dressed in red, rules birth; the former, in white, rules death. "A young Esau once found them on the South Mountain, under a tree, playing chess, and by an offer of venison his lease of life was extended from nineteen to ninety-nine years."
Snorter and Blower
At the time of the overthrow of the Shang and establishment of the Chou dynasty in 1122 B.C. there lived two marshals, Cheng Lung and Ch'en Ch'i. These were Heng and Ha, the Snorter and Blower respectively.
The former was the chief superintendent of supplies for the armies of the tyrant emperor Chou, the Nero of China. The latter was in charge of the victualling department of the same army.
From his master, Tu O, the celebrated Taoist magician of the K'un-lun Mountains, Heng acquired a marvellous power. When he snorted, his nostrils, with a sound like that of a bell, emitted two white columns of light, which destroyed his enemies, body and soul. Thus through him the Chou gained numerous victories. But one day he was captured, bound, and taken to the general of Chou. His life was spared, and he was made general superintendent of army stores as well as generalissimo of five army corps. Later on he found himself face to face with the Blower. The latter had learnt from the magician how to store in his chest a supply of yellow gas which, when he blew it out, annihilated anyone whom it struck. By this means he caused large gaps to be made in the ranks of the enemy.
Being opposed to each other, the one snorting out great streaks of white light, the other blowing streams of yellow gas, the combat continued until the Blower was wounded in the shoulder by No-cha, of the army of Chou, and pierced in the stomach with a spear by Huang Fei-hu, Yellow Flying Tiger.
The Snorter in turn was slain in this fight by Marshal Chin Ta-sheng, 'Golden Big Pint,' who was an ox-spirit and endowed with the mysterious power of producing in his entrails the celebrated niu huang, ox-yellow, or bezoar. Facing the Snorter, he spat in his face, with a noise like thunder, a piece of bezoar as large as a rice-bowl. It struck him on the nose and split his nostrils. He fell to the earth, and was immediately cut in two by a blow from his victor's sword.
After the Chou dynasty had been definitely established Chiang Tzu-ya canonized the two marshals Heng and Ha, and conferred on them the offices of guardians of the Buddhist temple gates, where their gigantic images may be seen.
Blue Dragon and White Tiger
The functions discharged by Heng and Ha at the gates of Buddhist temples are in Taoist temples discharged by Blue Dragon and White Tiger.
The former, the Spirit of the Blue Dragon Star, was Teng Chiu-kung, one of the chief generals of the last emperor of the Yin dynasty. He had a son named Teng Hsiu, and a daughter named Ch'an-yue.
The army of Teng Chiu-kung was camped at San-shan Kuan, when he received orders to proceed to the battle then taking place at Hsi Ch'i. There, in standing up to No-cha and Huang Fei-hu, he had his left arm broken by the former's magic bracelet, but, fortunately for him, his subordinate, T'u Hsing-sun, a renowned magician, gave him a remedy which quickly healed the fracture.
His daughter then came on the scene to avenge her father. She had a magic weapon, the Five-fire Stone, which she hurled full in the face of Yang Chien. But the Immortal was not wounded; on the other hand, his celestial dog jumped at Ch'an-yue and bit her neck, so that she was obliged to flee. T'u Hsing-sun, however, healed the wound.
After a banquet, Teng Chiu-kung promised his daughter in marriage to T'u Hsing-sun if he would gain him the victory at Hsi Ch'i. Chiang Tzu-ya then persuaded T'u's magic master, Chue Liu-sun, to call his disciple over to his camp, where he asked him why he was fighting against the new dynasty. "Because," he replied, "Chiu-kung has promised me his daughter in marriage as a reward of success." Chiang Tzu-ya thereupon promised to obtain the bride, and sent a force to seize her. As a result of the fighting that ensued, Chiu-kung was beaten, and retreated in confusion, leaving Ch'an-yue in the hands of the victors. During the next few days the marriage was celebrated with great ceremony in the victor's camp. According to custom, the bride returned for some days to her father's house, and while there she earnestly exhorted Chiu-kung to submit. Following her advice, he went over to Chiang Tzu-ya's party.
In the ensuing battles he fought valiantly on the side of his former enemy, and killed many famous warriors, but he was eventually attacked by the Blower, from whose mouth a column of yellow gas struck him, throwing him from his steed. He was made prisoner, and executed by order of General Ch'iu Yin. Chiang Tzu-ya conferred on him the kingdom of the Blue Dragon Star.
The Spirit of the White Tiger Star is Yin Ch'eng-hsiu. His father, Yin P'o-pai, a high courtier of the tyrant Chou Wang, was sent to negotiate peace with Chiang Tzu-ya, but was seized and put to death by Marquis Chiang Wen-huan. His son, attempting to avenge his father's murder, was pierced by a spear, and his head was cut off and carried in triumph to Chiang Tzu-ya.
As compensation he was, though somewhat tardily, canonized as the Spirit of the White Tiger Star.
The philosophers Lieh Tzu, Huai-nan Tzu, Chuang Tzu, Mo Tzu, etc., have also been apotheosized. Nothing very remarkable is related of them. Most of them had several reincarnations and possessed supernatural powers. The second, who was a king, when taken by the Eight Immortals to the genii's Heaven forgot now and then to address them as superiors, and but for their intercession with Yue Ti, the Pearly Emperor, would have been reincarnated. In order to humiliate himself, he thereafter called himself Huai-nan Tzu, 'the Sage of the South of the Huai.' The third, Chuang Tzu, Chuang Sheng, or Chuang Chou, was a disciple of Lao Tzu. Chuang Tzu was in the habit of sleeping during the day, and at night would transform himself into a butterfly, which fluttered gaily over the flowers in the garden. On waking, he would still feel the sensation of flying in his shoulders. On asking Lao Tzu the reason for this, he was told: "Formerly you were a white butterfly which, having partaken of the quintessence of flowers and of the yin and the yang, should have been immortalized; but one day you stole some peaches and flowers in Wang Mu Niang-niang's garden. The guardian of the garden slew you, and that is how you came to be reincarnated." At this time he was fifty years of age.
Fanning the Grave
One of the tales associated with him describes how he saw a young woman in mourning vigorously fanning a newly made grave. On his asking her the reason of this strange conduct, she replied: "I am doing this because my husband begged me to wait until the earth on his tomb was dry before I remarried!" Chuang Tzu offered to help her, and as soon as he waved the fan once the earth was dry. The young widow thanked him and departed.
On his return home, Chuang Sheng related this incident to his wife. She expressed astonishment at such conduct on the part of a wife. "There's nothing to be surprised at," rejoined the husband; "that's how things go in this world." Seeing that he was poking fun at her, she protested angrily. Some little time after this Chuang Sheng died. His wife, much grieved, buried him.
Husband and Wife
A few days later a young man named Ch'u Wang-sun arrived with the intention, as he said, of placing himself under the instruction of Chuang Sheng. When he heard that he was dead he went and performed prostrations before his tomb, and afterward took up his abode in an empty room, saying that he wished to study. After half a month had elapsed, the widow asked an old servant who had accompanied Wang-sun if the young man was married. On his replying in the negative, she requested the old servant to propose a match between them. Wang-sun made some objections, saying that people would criticize their conduct. "Since my husband is dead, what can they say?" replied the widow. She then put off her mourning-garments and prepared for the wedding.
Wang-sun took her to the grave of her husband, and said to her: "The gentleman has returned to life!" She looked at Wang-sun and recognized the features of her husband. She was so overwhelmed with shame that she hanged herself. Chuang Sheng buried her in an empty tomb, and then began to sing.
He burnt his house, went away to P'u-shui, in Hupei, and occupied himself in fishing. From there he went on to Chung-t'iao Shan, where he met Feng Hou and her teacher Hsuean Nue, the Mother of Heaven. In their company he visited the palaces of the stars. One day, when he was attending a banquet at the palace of Wang-mu, Shang Ti gave him as his kingdom the planet Jupiter, and assigned to him as his palace the ancient abode of Mao Meng, the stellar god reincarnated during the Chou dynasty. He had not yet returned, and had left his palace empty. Shang Ti had cautioned him never to absent himself without his permission.
A large number of military men also have been canonized as celestial generalissimos. A few will serve as examples of the rest.
The Three Musical Brothers
There were three brothers: T'ien Yuean-shuai, the eldest; T'ien Hung-i, the second; and T'ien Chih-piao, the youngest. They were all musicians of unsurpassed talent.
In the K'ai-yuean Period (A.D. 713-42) the Emperor Hsuean Tsung, of the T'ang dynasty, appointed them his music masters. At the sound of their wonderful flute the clouds in the sky stopped in their courses; the harmony of their songs caused the odoriferous la mei flower to open in winter. They excelled also in songs and dances.
The Emperor fell sick. He saw in a dream the three brothers accompanying their singing on a mandolin and violin. The harmony of their songs charmed his ear, and on waking he found himself well again. Out of gratitude for this benefit he conferred on each the title of marquis.
The Grand Master of the Taoists was trying to stay the ravages of a pestilence, but he could not conquer the devils which caused it. Under these circumstances he appealed to the three brothers and asked their advice as to what course to adopt. T'ien Yuean-shuai had a large boat built, called 'Spirit-boat.' He assembled in it a million spirits, and ordered them to beat drums. On hearing this tumult all the demons of the town came out to listen. T'ien Yuean-shuai, seizing the opportunity, captured them all and, with the help of the Grand Master, expelled them from the town.
Besides the canonization of the three T'ien brothers, all the members of their families received posthumous titles.
The Dragon-boat Festival
This is said to be the origin of the dragon-boats which are to be seen on all the waterways of China on the fifth day of the fifth moon.  The Festival of the Dragon-boats, held on that day, was instituted in memory of the statesman-poet Ch'ue Yuean (332-296 B.C.), who drowned himself in the Mi-lo River, an affluent of the Tung-t'ing Lake, after having been falsely accused by one of the petty princes of the State. The people, out of pity for the unfortunate courtier, sent out these boats in search of his body.
In the wars which resulted in the overthrow of the tyrant Chou Wang and his dynasty and the establishment of the great Chou dynasty, the most influential generalissimo was Chiang Tzu-ya. His family name was Chiang, and his own name Shang, but owing to his descent from one of the ministers of the ancient King Yao, whose heirs owned the fief of Lue, the family came to be called by that name, and he himself was known as Lue Shang. His honorific title was T'ai Kung Wang, 'Hope of T'ai Kung,' given him by Wen Wang, who recognized in the person of Chiang Tzu-ya the wise minister whom his father T'ai Kung had caused him to expect before his death.
The Battle of Mu Yeh
Chiang Tzu-ya was originally in the service of the tyrant Chou Wang, but transferred his services to the Chou cause, and by his wonderful skill enabled that house finally to gain the victory. The decisive battle took place at Mu Yeh, situated to the south of Wei-hui Fu, in 1122 B.C. The soldiers of Yin, 700,000 in number, were defeated, and Chou, the tyrant, shut himself up in his magnificent palace, set it alight, and was burned alive with all his possessions. For this achievement Chiang Tzu-ya was granted by Wu Wang the title of Father and Counsellor, and was appointed Prince of Ch'i, with perpetual succession to his descendants.
A Legend of Chiang Tzu-ya
The Feng shen yen i contains many chapters describing in detail the various battles which resulted in the overthrow of the last tyrant of the Shang dynasty and the establishment of the illustrious Chou dynasty on the throne of China. This legend and the following one are epitomized from that work.
No-cha defeats Chang Kuei-fang
The redoubtable No-cha having, by means of his Heaven-and-earth Bracelet, vanquished Feng Lin, a star-god and subordinate officer of Chang Kuei-fang, in spite of the black smoke-clouds which he blew out of his nostrils, the defeated warrior fled and sought the aid of his chief, who fought No-cha in some thirty to forty encounters without succeeding in dislodging him from his Wind-fire Wheel, which enabled him to move about rapidly and to perform prodigious feats, such as causing hosts of silver flying dragons like clouds of snow to descend upon his enemy. During one of these fights No-cha heard his name called three times, but paid no heed. Finally, with his Heaven-and-earth Bracelet he broke Chang Kuei-fang's left arm, following this up by shooting out some dazzling rays of light which knocked him off his horse.
When he returned to the city to report his victory to Tzu-ya, the latter asked him if during the battle Kuei-fang had called his name. "Yes," replied No-cha, "he called, but I took no heed of him." "When Kuei-fang calls," said Tzu-ya, "the hun and the p'o [anima and umbra] become separated, and so the body falls apart." "But," replied No-cha, "I had changed myself into a lotus-flower, which has neither hun nor p'o, so he could not succeed in getting me off my magic wheel."
Tzu-ya goes to K'un-lun
Tzu-ya, however, still uncertain in mind about the finality of No-cha's victories, went to consult Wu Wang (whose death had not yet taken place at this time). After the interview Tzu-ya informed Wu Wang of his wish to visit K'un-lun Mountain. Wu Wang warned him of the danger of leaving the kingdom with the enemy so near the capital; but Tzu-ya obtained his consent by saying he would be absent only three days at most. So he gave instructions regarding the defence to No-cha, and went off in his spirit chariot to K'un-lun. On his arrival at the Unicorn Precipice he was much enraptured with the beautiful scenery, the colours, flowers, trees, bridges, birds, deer, apes, blue lions, white elephants, etc., all of which seemed to make earth surpass Heaven in loveliness.
He receives the List of Immortals
From the Unicorn Precipice he went on to the Jade Palace of Abstraction. Here he was presented to Yuean-shih. From him he received the List of Promotions to Immortals, which Nan-chi Hsien-weng, 'Ancient Immortal of the South Pole,' had brought, and was told to go and erect a Feng Shen T'ai (Spirits' Promotion Terrace) on which to exhibit it. Yuean-shih also warned him that if anyone called him while he was on the way he was to be most careful not to answer. On reaching the Unicorn Precipice on his way back, he heard some one call: "Chiang Tzu-ya!" This happened three times without his paying any heed. Then the voice was heard to say: "Now that you are Prime Minister, how devoid of feeling and forgetful of bygone benefits you must be not to remember one who studied with you in the Jade Palace of Abstraction!" Tzu-ya could not but turn his head and look. He then saw that it was Shen Kung-pao. He said: "Brother, I did not know it was you who were calling me, and I did not heed you as Shih-tsun told me on no account to reply." Shen Kung-pao said: "What is that you hold in your hand?" He told him it was the List of Promotions to Immortals. Shen Kung-pao then tried to entice Tzu-ya from his allegiance to Chou. Among Shen's tactics was that of convincing Tzu-ya of the superiority of the magical arts at the disposal of the supporters of Chou Wang. "You," he said, "can drain the sea, change the hills, and suchlike things, but what are those compared with my powers, who can take off my head, make it mount into space, travel 10,000,000 li, and return to my neck just as complete as before and able to speak? Burn your List of Promotions to Immortals and come with me." Tzu-ya, thinking that a head which could travel 10,000,000 li and be the same as before was exceedingly rare, said: "Brother, you take your head off, and if in reality it can do as you say, rise into space and return and be as before, I shall be willing to burn the List of Promotions to Immortals and return with you to Chao Ko." Shen Kung-pao said: "You will not go back on your word?" Tzu-ya said: "When your elder brother has spoken his word is as unchangeable as Mount T'ai, How can there be any going back on my word?"
The Soaring Head
Shen Kung-pao then doffed his Taoist cap, seized his sword, with his left hand firmly grasped the blue thread binding his hair, and with his right cut off his head. His body did not fall down. He then took his head and threw it up into space. Tzu-ya gazed with upturned face as it continued to rise, and was sorely puzzled. But the Ancient Immortal of the South Pole had kept a watch on the proceedings. He said: "Tzu-ya is a loyal and honest man; it looks as if he has been deceived by this charlatan." He ordered White Crane Youth to assume quickly the form of a crane and fetch Shen Kung-pao's head.
The Ancient Immortal saves the Situation
Tzu-ya was still gazing upward when he felt a slap on his back and, turning round, saw that it was the Ancient Immortal of the South Pole. Tzu-ya quickly asked: "My elder brother, why have you returned?" Hsien-weng said: "You are a fool. Shen Kung-pao is a man of unholy practices. These few small tricks of his you take as realities. But if the head does not return to the neck within an hour and three-quarters the blood will coagulate and he will die. Shih-tsun ordered you not to reply to anyone; why did you not hearken to his words? From the Jade Palace of Abstraction I saw you speaking together, and knew you had promised to burn the List of Promotions to Immortals. So I ordered White Crane Youth to bring me the head. After an hour and three-quarters Shen Kung-pao will be recompensed."
Tzu-ya said: "My elder brother, since you know all you can pardon him. In the Taoist heart there is no place where mercy cannot be exercised. Remember the many years during which he has faithfully followed the Path."
Eventually the Ancient Immortal was persuaded, but in the meantime Shen Kung-pao, finding that his head did not return, became very much troubled in mind. In an hour and three-quarters the blood would stop flowing and he would die. However, Tzu-ya having succeeded in his intercession with the Ancient Immortal, the latter signed to White Crane Youth, who was flying in space with the head in his beak, to let it drop. He did so, but when it reached the neck it was facing backward. Shen Kung-pao quickly put up his hand, took hold of an ear, and turned his head the right way round. He was then able to open his eyes, when he saw the Ancient Immortal of the South Pole. The latter arraigned him in a loud voice saying: "You as-good-as-dead charlatan, who by means of corrupt tricks try to deceive Tzu-ya and make him burn the List of Immortals and help Chou Wang against Chou, what do you mean by all this? You should be taken to the Jade Palace of Abstraction to be punished!"
Shen Kung-pao, ashamed, could not reply; mounting his tiger, he made off; but as he left he hurled back a threat that the Chou would yet have their white bones piled mountains high at Hsi Ch'i. Subsequently Tzu-ya, carefully preserving the precious List, after many adventures succeeded in building the Feng Shen T'ai, and posted the List up on it. Having accomplished his mission, he returned in time to resist the capture of Hsi Ch'i by Chang Kuei-fang, whose troops were defeated with great slaughter.
Ch'iung Hsiao's Magic Scissors
In another of the many conflicts between the two rival states Lao Tzu entered the battle, whereupon Ch'iung Hsiao, a goddess who fought for the house of Shang (Chou), hurled into the air her gold scaly-dragon scissors. As these slowly descended, opening and closing in a most ominous manner, Lao Tzu waved the sleeve of his jacket and they fell into the sea and became absolutely motionless. Many similar tricks were used by the various contestants. The Gold Bushel of Chaotic Origin succumbed to the Wind-fire Sphere, and so on. Ch'iung Hsiao resumed the attack with some magic two-edged swords, but was killed by a blow from White Crane Youth's Three-precious Jade Sceptre, hurled at her by Lao Tzu's orders. Pi Hsiao, her sister, attempted to avenge her death, but Yuean-shih, producing from his sleeve a magical box, threw it into the air and caught Pi Hsiao in it. When it was opened it was found that she had melted into blood and water.
Chiang Tzu-ya defeats Wen Chung
After this Lao Tzu rallied many of the skilful spirits to help Chiang Tzu-ya in his battle with Wen Chung, providing them with the Ancient Immortal of the South Pole's Sand-blaster and an earth-conquering light which enabled them to travel a thousand li in a day. From the hot sand used the contest became known as the Red Sand Battle. Jan Teng, on P'eng-lai Mountain, in consultation with Tzu-ya, also arranged the plan of battle.
The Red Sand Battle
The fight began with a challenge from the Ancient Immortal of the South Pole to Chang Shao. The latter, riding his deer, dashed into the fray, and aimed a terrific blow with his sword at Hsien-weng's head, but White Crane Youth warded it off with his Three-precious Jade Sceptre. Chang then produced a two-edged sword and renewed the attack, but, being disarmed, dismounted from his deer and threw several handfuls of hot sand at Hsien-weng. The latter, however, easily fanned them away with his Five-fire Seven-feathers Fan, rendering them harmless. Chang then fetched a whole bushel of the hot sand and scattered it over the enemy, but Hsien-weng counteracted the menace by merely waving his fan. White Crane Youth struck Chang Shao with his jade sceptre, knocking him off his horse, and then dispatched him with his two-edged sword.
After this battle Wu Wang was found to be already dead. Jan Teng on learning this ordered Lei Chen-tzu to take the corpse to Mount P'eng and wash it. He then dissolved a pill in water and poured the solution into Wu Wang's mouth, whereupon he revived and was escorted back to his palace.
Preparations were then made for resuming the attack on Wen Chung. While the latter was consulting with Ts'ai-yuen Hsien-tzu and Han Chih-hsien, he heard the sound of the Chou guns and the thunder of their troops. Wen Chung, mounting his black unicorn, galloped like a whiff of smoke to meet Tzu-ya, but was stopped by blows from two silver hammers wielded by Huang T'ien-hua. Han Chih-hsien came to Wen's aid, but was opposed by Pi Hsiang-yang. Ts'ai-yuen Hsien-tzu dashed into the fray, but No-cha stepped on to his Wind-fire Wheel and opposed him. From all sides other Immortals joined in the terrific battle, which was a turmoil of longbows and crossbows, iron armour and brass mail, striking whips and falling hammers, weapons cleaving mail and mail resisting weapons. In this fierce contest, while Tzu-ya was fighting Wen Chung, Han Chih-hsien released a black wind from his magic wind-bag, but he did not know that the Taoist Barge of Mercy (which transports departed souls to the land of bliss), sent by Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, had on board the Stop-wind Pearl, by which the black storm was immediately quelled. Thereupon Tzu-ya quickly seized his Vanquish-spirits Whip and struck Han Chih-hsien in the middle of the skull, so that the brain-fluid gushed forth and he died. No-cha then slew Ts'ai-yuen Hsien-tzu with a spear-thrust.
Thus the stern fight went on, until finally Tzu-ya, under cover of night, attacked Wen Chung's troops simultaneously on all four sides. The noise of slaughter filled the air. Generals and rank and file, lanterns, torches, swords, spears, guns, and daggers were one confused melee; Heaven could scarcely be distinguished from earth, and corpses were piled mountains high.
Tzu-ya, having broken through seven lines of the enemy's ranks, forced his way into Wen Chung's camp. The latter mounted his unicorn, and brandishing his magic whip dashed to meet him. Tzu-ya drew his sword and stopped his onrush, being aided by Lung Hsue-hu, who repeatedly cast a rain of hot stones on to the troops. In the midst of the fight Tzu-ya brought out his great magic whip, and in spite of Wen Chung's efforts to avoid it succeeded in wounding him in the left arm. The Chou troops were fighting like dragons lashing their tails and pythons curling their bodies. To add to their disasters, the Chou now saw flames rising behind the camp, and knew that their provisions were being burned by Yang Chien.
The Chou armies, with gongs beating and drums rolling, advanced for a final effort, the slaughter being so great that even the devils wept and the spirits wailed. Wen Chung was eventually driven back seventy li to Ch'i Hill. His troops could do nothing but sigh and stumble along. He made for Peach-blossom Range, but as he approached it he saw a yellow banner hoisted, and under it was Kuang Ch'eng-tzu. Being prevented from escaping in that direction he joined battle, but by use of red-hot sand, his two-edged sword, and his Turn-heaven Seal Kuang Ch'eng-tzu put him to flight. He then made off toward the west, followed by Teng Chung. His design was to make for Swallow Hill, which he reached after several days of weary marching. Here he saw another yellow banner flying, and Ch'ih Ching-tzu informed him that Jan Teng had forbidden him to stop at Swallow Hill or to go through the Five Passes. This led to another pitched battle, Wen Chung using his magic whip and Ch'ih his spiritual two-edged sword. After several bouts Ch'ih brought out his yin-yang mirror, by use of which irresistible weapon Wen was driven to Yellow Flower Hill and Blue Dragon Pass, and so on from battle to battle, until he was drawn up to Heaven from the top of Dead-dragon Mountain.
Thousand-li Eye and Favourable-wind Ear
Ch'ien-li Yen, 'Thousand-li Eye,' and Shun-feng Erh, 'Favourable-wind Ear,' were two brothers named Kao Ming and Kao Chio. On account of their martial bearing they found favour with the tyrant emperor Chou Wang, who appointed them generals, and sent them to serve with Generalissimo Yuean Hung (who was a monkey which had taken human form) at Meng-ching.
Kao Ming was very tall, with a blue face, flaming eyes, a large mouth, and prominent teeth like those of a rhinoceros.
Kao Chio had a greenish face and skin, two horns on his head, a red beard, and a large mouth with teeth shaped like swords.
One of their first encounters was with No-cha, who hurled at them his mystic bracelet, which struck Kao Chio on the head, but did not leave even a scratch. When, however, he seized his fire-globe the brothers thought it wiser to retreat.
Finding no means of conquering them, Yang Chien, Chiang Tzu-ya, and Li Ching took counsel together and decided to have recourse to Fu Hsi's trigrams, and by smearing them with the blood of a fowl and a dog to destroy their spiritual power.
But the two brothers were fully informed of what was designed. Thousand-li Eye had seen and Favourable-wind Ear had heard everything, so that all their preparations proved unavailing.
Yang Chien then went to Chiang Tzu-ya and said to him: "These two brothers are powerful devils; I must take more effectual measures." "Where will you go for aid?" asked Chiang Tzu-ya. "I cannot tell you, for they would hear," replied Yang. He then left. Favourable-wind Ear heard this dialogue, and Thousand-li Eye saw him leave. "He did not say where he was going," they said to each other, "but we fear him not." Yang Chien went to Yue-ch'uean Shan, where lived Yue-ting Chen-jen, 'Hero Jade-tripod.' He told him about their two adversaries, and asked him how they were to conquer them. "These two genii," replied the Chen-jen, "are from Ch'i-p'an Shan, Chessboard Mountain. One is a spiritual peach-tree, the other a spiritual pomegranate-tree. Their roots cover an area of thirty square li of ground. On that mountain there is a temple dedicated to Huang-ti, in which are clay images of two devils called Ch'ien-li Yen and Shun-feng Erh. The peach-tree and pomegranate-tree, having become spiritual beings, have taken up their abode in these images. One has eyes which can see objects distinctly at a distance of a thousand li, the other ears that can hear sounds at a like distance. But beyond that distance they can neither see nor hear. Return and tell Chiang Tzu-ya to have the roots of those trees torn up and burned, and the images destroyed; then the two genii will be easily vanquished. In order that they may neither see nor hear you during your conversation with Chiang Tzu-ya, wave flags about the camp and order the soldiers to beat tom-toms and drums."
How the Brothers were Defeated
Yang Chien returned to Chiang Tzu-ya. "What have you been doing?" asked the latter. Before replying Yang Chien went to the camp and ordered soldiers to wave large red flags and a thousand others to beat the tom-toms and drums. The air was so filled with the flags and the noise that nothing else could be either seen or heard. Under cover of this device Yang Chien then communicated to Chiang Tzu-ya the course advised by the Chen-jen.
Accordingly Li Ching at the head of three thousand soldiers proceeded to Ch'i-p'an Shan, pulled up and burned the roots of the two trees, and broke the images to pieces. At the same time Lei Chen-tzu was ordered to attack the two genii.
Thousand-li Eye and Favourable-wind Ear could neither see nor hear: the flags effectually screened the horizon and the infernal noise of the drums and gongs deadened all other sound. They did not know how to stop them.
The following night Yuean Hung decided to take the camp of Chiang Tzu-ya by assault, and sent the brothers in advance. They were, however, themselves surprised by Wu Wang's officers, who surrounded them. Chiang Tzu-ya then threw into the air his 'devil-chaser' whip, which fell on the two scouts and cleft their skulls in twain.
The dualistic idea, already referred to, of the Otherworld being a replica of this one is nowhere more clearly illustrated than in the celestial Ministries or official Bureaux or Boards, with their chiefs and staffs functioning over the spiritual hierarchies. The Nine Ministries up aloft doubtless had their origin in imitation of the Six, Eight, or Nine Ministries or Boards which at various periods of history have formed the executive part of the official hierarchy in China. But their names are different and their functions do not coincide.
Generally, the functions of the officers of the celestial Boards are to protect mankind from the evils represented in the title of the Board, as, for example, thunder, smallpox, fire, etc. In all cases the duties seem to be remedial. As the God of War was, as we saw, the god who protects people from the evils of war, so the vast hierarchy of these various divinities is conceived as functioning for the good of mankind. Being too numerous for inclusion here, an account of them is given under various headings in some of the following chapters.
Protectors of the People
Besides the gods who hold definite official posts in these various Ministries, there are a very large number who are also protecting patrons of the people; and, though ex officio, in many cases quite as popular and powerful, if not more so. Among the most important are the following: She-chi, Gods of the Soil and Crops; Shen Nung, God of Agriculture; Hou-t'u, Earth-mother; Ch'eng-huang, City-god; T'u-ti, Local Gods; Tsao Chuen, Kitchen-god; T'ien-hou and An-kung, Goddess and God of Sailors; Ts'an Nue, Goddess of Silkworms; Pa-ch'a, God of Grasshoppers; Fu Shen, Ts'ai Shen, and Shou Hsing, Gods of Happiness, Wealth, and Longevity; Men Shen, Door-gods; and She-mo Wang, etc., the Gods of Serpents.
Ch'eng-huang is the Celestial Mandarin or City-god. Every fortified city or town in China is surrounded by a wall, ch'eng, composed usually of two battlemented walls, the space between which is filled with earth. This earth is dug from the ground outside, making a ditch, or huang, running parallel with the ch'eng. The Ch'eng-huang is the spiritual official of the city or town. All the numerous Ch'eng-huang constitute a celestial Ministry of Justice, presided over by a Ch'eng-huang-in-chief.
The origin of the worship of the Ch'eng-huang dates back to the time of the great Emperor Yao (2357 B.C.), who instituted a sacrifice called Pa Cha in honour of eight spirits, of whom the seventh, Shui Yung, had the meaning of, or corresponded to, the dyke and rampart known later as Ch'eng-huang. Since the Sung dynasty sacrifices have been offered to the Ch'eng-huang all over the country, though now and then some towns have adopted another or special god as their Ch'eng-huang, such as Chou Hsin, adopted as the Ch'eng-huang of Hangchou, the capital of Chekiang Province. Concerning Chou Hsin, who had a "face of ice and iron," and was so much dreaded for his severity that old and young fled at his approach, it is related that once when he was trying a case a storm blew some leaves on to his table. In spite of diligent search the tree to which this kind of leaf belonged could not be found anywhere in the neighbourhood, but was eventually discovered in a Buddhist temple a long way off. The judge declared that the priests of this temple must be guilty of murder. By his order the tree was felled, and in its trunk was found the body of a woman who had been assassinated, and the priests were convicted of the murder.