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___ Door Gods

The door gods (Chinese: 門神 - pinyin: mén shén) are worshipped by the Chinese as spiritual guardians of the entrance.

Door gods are supposed to keep evil spirits from entering. The door gods usually face each other in pairs; it is considered bad luck to place the figures back-to-back.
The custom originated during the Tang Dynasty (618- 907 AD) when the Emperor honoured two loyal generals by having their portrait painted on the door, due to their bravery in fighting intruders and evil spirits.

There are two types of door gods: martial door gods and literary door gods.
Martial door gods are usually generals depicted in life-size proportions, wearing full battle armor and wielding weapons, loyal men, great fighters. Commonly seen door gods of this type include "Shen Tu and Yu Lu," "Qin Qiong and Weichi Gong,""Zhong Kui", “Guan U” and “Guan Sheng”, the latter a grandfather-grandson team who appear respectively in the novels "Romance of the Three Kingdoms” and “Outlaws of the Marsh”.
The painted door god’s picture will face the visitor when entering.
Whoever the door gods may be, the common denominator of all front gate door gods is their trustworthiness, strength and loyalty, bolstered by a fierce martial countenance and impressive weaponry.

The literary door gods, inner door gods or civil door gods as they were named as well, are of a civil nature, based on scholar-official figures or historical scholars.
The door god’s picture will be painted on the doors inside the courtyard, hence going with the visitor when entering. Literary door gods can also be found on inside room doors.
Civil door god simply provided balance to the cultural configuration of the house, and encouraged the visitor to feel at peace in ones surroundings.
Popular characters of this genre are the "Fu, Lu, and Shou” or the historical scholar “Dou Yujun”, whose five sons passed the civil service examinations to become great officials.

See also: Red Banner


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