Scenes of Hell
As I read Chang’s Wild Swans I became interested in what City God Temples were and the background of the depictions of Hell, which were referenced on page sixty-one. City God Temples housed Chinese deities that were responsible for protecting the people and well-being of a certain city. The deities were also responsible for the afterlife of the people and was sometimes used to help people who committed crimes.
One scenes of Hell that was referenced by Chang was a woman getting sawed in half by two men because she remarried after he husband died. I researched the City God Temple of Pingyao more and found it to be quite disturbing.
The scenes depicted were based on the “Retribution” teachings of Taoism and the “Cause and Effect” teachings of Buddhism. In the afterlife people who did wicked things would meet these fates. One scene that reoccurs in Chang’s book and further research is devil’s cutting out the tongues of women and men who are assumed to be liars. Yama for the Chinese or Naraka for the Buddhist is the God of Death and he is frequently scene in the temples as the person who is instructing the devils to punish the sinners in the afterlife.
Temple for the city gods shows just how committed people were to religion and even thought he ideas were fairly disturbing they celebrated them during festivals. The scenes of Hell were powerful tools in keeping people honest, loyal and obedient to their city and Gods.
“Six Cao Hell 六曹府.” Worldwanderingsnet. 6 Dec. 2012. Web. 28 Mar. 2015. <http://www.worldwanderings.net/2012/12/06/six-cao-hell-六曹府/>.
“Tangxi City God Temple.” Tangxi City God Temple. Harvard. Web. 28 Mar. 2015. <http://sites.fas.harvard.edu/~chnlocal/Local_History_Sites_in_Jinhua/site_summary.cgi?site_id=1&location_id=1>.