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HOMETEMPLESBUDDHISMHONOR ROLLPILGRIMAGE


 
 
Name: Men Shen, "Door Gods" 
Commemoration: 1st lunar month, 15th day 
Attributes: The Men Shen are, like Janus, gods of the threshold.  They protect households from the evil forces outside, as well as marking "safe space."  They are found pasted to the front doors  of the humblest homes and apartments; their grander relatives can be seen outside of temple gates all over the east, and they even show up as the lions in front of banks and hotels.
"History": In popular belief, they were Qin Shubao and Hu Jingde, two generals from the Tang Dynasty.  Although the practice of painting door guardians is much older, the identification of the guardians with Qin Shubao and Hu Jingde is more recent--perhaps 600-700 years old.  The association results from a story in the Comprehensive Collection of Investigations into the Divinities of the Three Doctrines since their Origin.  This says that the Tang emperor Taizong was beset by demons howling outside of his bedroom at night. Two of his soldiers, Qin Shubao (also called Qin Qiong) and Hu Jingde (or Weichi Jingde), rewuested permission to guard the door to the emperor's chamber.  It worked!  Thereafter the emperor ordered pictures of the two to be drawn and posted on the palace gates, and there was no more trouble.  Thus these two came to be associated with the ancient threshold guardians.  (A more complete version of this story is at the taoism.org link below.)
Description: Two men in military armor, bearing fearsome weapons.  Often, Qin Shubao has a white face, and Hu Jingde either a red or black one.  (Compare the story of the Three Brothers, one of whom is Guan Gong who is also called Chien Lan.) 
Links: pantheon.org
godchecker.com
taoism.org
About the photos: All photos on this page are copyright 2004 by James Baquet

 The Men Shen on the front door of General Lai Enjue's house, Dapeng Fortress

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Men Shen in the form of statues in the Tian Hou Temple at Dapeng Fortress

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