Chinese Religion Seen through the Proverb, cap. XI-XII


pp. 291-315 Chapter XI

pp. 295-296 marriage & progeny praedestinate

p. 295

"Marriages are predestined. ... This thread of affinity, running from one incarnation into another, is or course unconscious, both parties having drunk of the Cup of Oblivion. ... Thus matches are made by Heaven, and the knot is tied by Yu:eh Hsia

p. 296

Lao ... . This small red thread will surely bring the right parties together, and the old man seen in the moonlight will record the consummation of their marriage.

p. 296, fn. a

"Yu:eh Hsia Lao, or the man seen in the moonlight, records all marriages and decides the parties that are destined for each other, by tying together their feet with a red cord."

p. 295, fn. c

Yu:eh Hsia Lao is "an old man reading a book by moonlight." That book "was a record of the marriages for all".

p. 298

"The coming of children is a question of destiny."

pp. 305-309 periodic fate

p. 305

"Every man, at least once, in his lifetime has a period of ten years prosperity."

p. 307

"Every man has his ten years of misfortune."

p. 309

"Naturally one’s periods of fate also affect those associated with him."


pp. 316-363 Chapter XII

pp. 319, 324 messengers

p. 319

"When the years of a man’s life are accomplished, the King of Hell, or Yen Wang ..., sends his messengers".

p. 324, fn. b

"The fact that one at death oft[t]times believes {sees} the spirit of some departed relative has come, has led to the belief that such a spirit always comes with Yen Wang’s messenger."

p. 320 the 2 summoners of the souls of the dying



Yan Wu C^>an

Yin Wu C^>an


repraesented as a __



320, fn. a

also known as __

Pai Lao Yeh

Hei lao Yeh






taketh those __ 50 year of age



p. 320, fn. a -- "Yang Wu Ch>ang usually wears a long, pointed, high hat".

pp. 320-322 journey by the soul of the newly-dead toward the Land of the Dead




"The local Earth God escorts them [divine summoners of the dying] to the house, where the spirit is given over into their hands by the Kitchen God and the Earth Gods of the House. They then take it bound before the City


God, and from his court to that of the God of the Eastern Peak, Huang Fei Hu ... . Here his good and evil deeds are passed upon, and he is then carried off into Hades."

321, fn. a

"The original God of the Eastern Peak was Ching Hung Shi ..., the grandson of Heaven and Earth. During the time of Shen Lung {S^en Nun ?} ... he was also given the court records of Hell to keep and made the judge of life and death. Later when Chiang Kung brought order out of the spiritual chaos he appointed Huang Fei Hu to this position."

321, n. 2

"The Eastern Peak rules life, the Southern Peak rules death." {Indra, god of the East, ruleth the living; Yama, god of the South, ruleth the dead.}

321, fn. b

"Those who go to the Southern Hell cannot escape. The Eastern Hell is within the Wheel of Transmigration, and therefore life is again possible."


"When one dies the services of Wu Tao Yeh ...., or the Opening of the Road Demon ... {cf. [Kemian jackal-god] WP-W3-wt ‘Opener of Ways’ for the dead}, are required."

322, fn. b

"This god ... is supposed to be ten Chinese feet high, with a head three feet long, and a beard more than three feet in length. He is bluish red in color. He wears a golden crown, a long red garment, and black leather shoes. In his right hand he holds a jade seal, and in his left a spear."


Wu Tao Yeh is besought, in prayer by the living, to lead the soul of the newly dead "slowly and on a good road, not through brushwood or the mud." Wu Tao Yeh "leads the way into the Realm of the Yellow Fountain." [p. 323, n. 2 "when the body dies you sleep in the land of the yellow fountain."]

p. 322, fn. e "Hell is supposed to be about 280,000 miles beneath the earth’s surface." {is this a Bauddha reckoning?}

pp. 323-326 the Yellow Fountain

p. 323, n. 3

"a drop ... can ... reach the Nine Fountains." [p. 323, fn. a : "The Nine Fountains is another name for Hades. In worshipping the spirit of one dead, wine is poured on the ground, drop by drop".]

p. 323, fn. b

"The North Gate Feng Tu is sealed because outside it, in a mountain is the gate to Hell. During the night the natives ... hear the cries of the demons, and the shrieks of the souls being led through this entrance. ... There is also claimed to be an underground passage connecting Ch>en Huang’s temple in that city with the Unseen World."

p. 323

The gate "by which one enters into this Land of the Yellow Fountain, is supposed to be located at Feng Tu ..., in Szechuan. These regions surround a large rock called Wu Chiao".

p. 326

"The entrance to the Land of the Yellow Fountain is through Feng Tu of the Shades. This spirit city is the home of the Emperor Feng Tu ..., through whom all the Kings of Hell report the doings of the Underworld to Heaven. ... Each month the Ten Kings make a record of what has happened within their districts, and forward it to Ch>ing Kuang Wang, who submits it to Emperor Feng Tu. These monthly statements he forwards to the God of the Eastern Peak and to the Pearly Emperor." [fn. f : "Hell was planned and constructed by the Pearly Emperor".]

p. 324 the directions (from Wu C^iao rock) of the Sections of the Netherworld




far west


















far east

City of Suicides

betwixt 8th & 9th sections

Fen Tu city

beyond the City of Suicides

p. 347, fn. c – "There is considerable disagreement among authorities as to the relative location of the City of Suicides. Some works put it in the Fourth Section, some in the Sixth Section, some in the Ninth Section, and still others at the right of Feng Tu City."

p. 326, fn. c -- "Some works put the city of Feng Tu by the side of the Ninth Section, and some over the Tenth Section."

pp. 342-344 groups of Sections of the Land of the Dead

p. 342

"There is supposed to be allowed a week’s time in each section, for the first seven sections, which are thought to be the had ones to get through. So the priests once each week, for seven weeks, come to the home where death has been, and pray the soul through the section of that week."

p. 344, fn.

8th Section : "at their death the Kitchen God places upon their foreheads the word submissive ..., obedient ..., or reformed ... . He then gives them into the hands of the Hou Shi Kuei ..., who leads them ... from section to section".

p. 346, fn. b

9th Section : with the assistance of "the Kitchen God ... he will be completely released."

p. 343, fn. a

"Some copies of the Yu: Li, also the calendars on the back of them, give Tu Shih Wang as the ruler of the Eighth Section, and P>ing Teng Wang as ruler of the Ninth Section." {reversal from usual sequence}

pp. 327-353 those rewarded in the 1st 9 of the 10 Sections of the Land of the Dead



benevolent actions (having been performed while living) which are divinely rewarded therein



"picked up and cared for written paper, and

reverenced and distributed good books."



"gave medicine to the sick".



"repaired bridges and built roads".



"gave money to purchase coffins for the needy; or who

willingly spent what they could on funerals ... for the poor."



"gave alms and food to the poor and needy."



"helped to build or repair temples".



"have been filial".



"repented of the sins committed".



"provided ferries over impassable streams"

p. 347 City of Suicides

"the City of Suicides, or Wang Ssu Ch>en. On earth many a man has taken his own life because he felt the demon of a dead man to be powerful, and that he would in this way be able to gain his revenge upon an enemy. It is a feeble man’s weapon." {Suicide (by poison) is also promoted in Taoism as a means of transforming one’s self into an immortal.}

pp. 328, 336-337 observations by souls of the dead

p. 328

1st Section : "sent on to the Nieh Ching T>ai ..., or Evil Mirror Platform, and there forced to see themselves as they really are. This raised stand is eleven feet in height. ... By the side of it facing the east, is the mirror. It is about six feet in circumference. ... In it the souls review their wicked past".

p. 336

5th Section : "When the ... souls arrive in this section, they have all thought of the reasons why they should for a short time return to the earth. So they plead to be allowed to go back. Yen Lo Wang, then sends them in charge of two faithful demons, to the Looking Home Terrace. [fn. e : "The platform is 490 Chinese feet high, and 81 li around it. Its sides are covered with sharp knives. From here they are able to see their home at though it were very close, and they can even hear what is being said there."] From here they are able to look back and see everything happening in their homes and villages. ...

p. 337

This is the last view they ever have of the old surroundings. They then descend from the terrace".

p. 350 10th Section : lightning-spirits

This they achieve by means of "peachwood.

[fn. d : "The peach is the tree of immortality."]

They thus become Chi ..., and are sent into the Chuang Chieh So ..., ... and are send to wander for centuries in the Narrow Path ... .

[fn. e : "The Narrow Road is really composed of 18,000 roads which stretch in all directions, to the four continents."]

Within this pitch black way they must continue their existence.

{Siberian shamans often travel through darkness in dreams.}

If for several eras there thy continue ..., they are struck by lightning".

{In Siberian, being struck by lightning is deemed an immortalizing divine visitation.}

p. 351 drink of forgetfulness for the dead prior to redincarnation {also Pythagorean}

"In the Hall of Oblivion ... sits Mother Meng ... . ... Before her all the souls returning to earth-life ... must drink the Tea of Forgetfulness ... . ... When this drug has been taken, and forgetfulness has come, ... he is started forward on the road to his new existence."

pp. 353-354, 344 floating (pontoon) bridge from world of the dead to that of the living

p. 353

"When a soul has received its instructions, it goes out on the Bridge of Sorrows ..., and there sees on the farther bank, engraved upon a large red rock the advice ... . While they are reading this the two demons Uncertain Life ... and Death has its

p. 354

Part ... suddenly jump upon the floating bridge, rocking it so the spirits slip off into the red stream, and go out into the world, to their new bodies."

p. 344

8th Section : "the famous Pool of Blood. It is spanned by a bridge over which all must pass. Those doomed to enter it are pushed over the side, by the Ox-head and Horse-face Demons." {If only those in the 10th Section are overcome by forgetfulness, then are those who are pushed off the bridge in the 8th Sections persons who redincarnate without loss of memory?}

pp. 359-360 Paradises

p. 359

Among the Eastern Isles of paradise, P>en Lai S^an "is still the home of the Eight Immortals ... . [p. 354, fn. a – The Eight Immortals are : C^un Li C^>u:an, C^an Kuo, Lu: Tun Pin, Tsao Kuo C^iu, Li T>ieh Kuai, Han HsiaTzu, Lan Ho, and Ho Hsien Ku] The houses are made of gold and silver. "The birds and animals are all white. The pearl and coral tree grow there in great profusion. The flowers and seeds all have a sweet flavor. Those who eat them do not grow old nor die." There they drink of the fountain of life ... . The Isles are surrounded with water which has no buoyancy, so it is impossible to approach them."

"Another famous Taoist Paradise in on the K>un Lun ... mountains, in the extreme west. It is said that the Tortoise

p. 360

mountain ..., on which is situated Hsi Na ..., the capital, is ten thousand li in circumference and eleven thousand li in height. ... At the foot of this mountain is the famous Lake of Gems. on whose shores grows the tree of the Old Age Peach, the Tree of Pearls, and the Jade Stone Tree. To eat from their fruit grants eternal life. In this land their is constant leisure and happiness. It is ruled by the famous Hsi Wang Mu ..., or Royal Mother of the West."

p. 360, fn. a

"She is also called "the Gold Mother of the Nine Spirit Wonderful Tortoise Mountain" ..., or simply the Gold Mother ... ."

p. 360, fn. b

"There is a Paradise to the east, which is ruled by her husband, Tung Wang Kung ... . ... is also at times called the King of Wood, or Mu Kung ... . This land is famous for its mulberries, whose fruit gives immortality."

p. 360

"Once in every six thousand years the peaches ripen, and to celebrate the event she has a festival".

p. 360, fn. d

"This peach blossoms once in three thousand years, and uses another three thousand years before the fruit is ripe."

p. 360, n. 2

"In worshipping the Western Mother, offer flat peaches; in worshipping the Weaving Maid, offer ... melons."


Clifford H. Plopper : Chinese Religion Seen through the Proverb. Shanghai, 1935.