The Door Spirits

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Immortals and Immortalism
The Heavenly Lords
The Primeval Lord of Heaven
The Heavenly Lord of the Numinous Treasure
The Heavenly Lord of Dao and its Virtue
The Great Jade Emperor
The Heavenly Lord of Supreme Oneness and Salvation from Misery
The Three Great Emperor-Officials
The Four Heavenly Ministers
The Emperors of the Soil
The Queen Mother of the West
The Thunder Patriarch
The Stellar Sovereigns
The Great Perfect Warrior Emperor
Imperial Sovereign Wenchang
The Stellar Sovereign of the Five Planets and Seven Stars
The Four Numinous Animals and Twenty-Eight Constellations
The Big Dipper
The Sixty Daily Spirits of the Celestial Trunks and Earthly Branches
Spirits of Mountains, Rivers, Seas and Thunder
The Great Emperor of the Sacred Mountain of the East
The Primordial Lady of the Emerald Cloud
The Five Supreme Commanders of the Thunder Agency
The Father of Thunder and the Mother of Lightning
The Dragon King
The Master of Rain
The Earl of Wind
Spirits of the Soil and Local Protector Spirits
The City God
The Door Spirits
The Earth Spirit
The Kitchen Spirit
Spirits of Wealth and Longevity
The Spirit of Wealth
The Stars of Luck, Wealth and Longevity
Guardians of Hell
The Great Emperor of Fengdu
The Yamas of the Ten Halls
Perfect Men and Immortals
Guanyin (Avalokitesvara)
The Eight Immortals
The Motherly Matriarch
Emperor Guan
Patriarch Lü Numinous Official Wang
The Water-Margin Lady
The Three Mao Perfect Sovereign Brothers
The Great Life-Protecting Emperor
The Saintly Founder-King of Zhang
The King of the Three Mountains

Origins and Functions of the Door Spirits

The Door Spirits are the spirits who guard the doors of houses. The worship of the Door Spirits was recorded in the pre-Qin documents in China. The section "Extensive Records of Funerals" in the Book of Rites annotated, "the sovereign worships the Door Spirits with trifling gifts". In the Han dynasty, the Door Spirits referred to Shentu and Yulei. Judgements on Opinions quoted the Book of Mountains and Seas, saying, "in the deep blue sea stands the Dushao Mountain, on which grows a big peach tree lying coiled for 3,000 li. The east and south of the branches are called the Ghosts' Gates, through which the ghosts enter and exit. On the gates there are two persons, namely Shentu and Yulei, who are in charge of inspecting and governing the ghosts. The evil and harmful ghosts are bound with reed ropes to be fed to tigers. So the Yellow Emperor holds rituals and exorcises ghosts on time. He sets up a big person made of peach wood, draws Shentu, Yulei and tiger on the door, and hangs reed ropes in order to ward off ferocious demons". In the Southern and Northern dynasties, there was the custom of drawing the picture of the Door Spirits Shentu and Yulei who wore suits of amour and held battle axes on their doors. Shentu was portrayed with a white face and happy appearance while Yulei was portrayed with a red face and angry appearance by later generations. Such portraits were passed on through generations. According to the Comprehensive Collection of Investigations into the Divinities of the Three Doctrines since their Origin, in the Tang dynasty, emperor Taizong felt unwell and heard the howling of demons outside his bedroom at night. When Emperor Taizong told this to his subjects, Qin Shubao (i.e. Qin Qiong) petitioned to the emperor that together with Hu Jingde (or Weichi Jingde), he would like to stand outside the bedroom door in martial attire to guard the emperor. Emperor Taizong ratified his petition, and as desired, nothing happened that night. Hence emperor Taizong ordered artisan-painters to draw pictures of Qin Shubao and Hu Jingde in martial attire and hang them on the gates of palaces, and then the evil spirits disappeared. The latter generations followed the custom, so Qin Qiong and Hu Jingde (or Weichi Jingde) were said to be the Door Spirits. Qin Qiong was portrayed with a white face and Hu Jingde with a black face. When the spirits were ranked in the Daoist books of the Song dynasty, the Door Spirit was always ranked as the lowest among all the divinities, because its functions were merely to guard the doors of rooms and ward off demons, harassment and invasion.


The divine birthday of the Door Spirits is on the 15th day of the 1st lunar month. Among the people there exist the customs of worshiping the Door Spirits and pasting their pictures on the gates in the season of the new spring. Some renowned places producing traditional pictures printed from engraved wooden plates, such as Yangliuqing, Weifang and Taohuawu, are also famous for the printing of the Door Spirit's pictures. The pictures of the Door Spirits are rich and varied. Some Door Spirits wear tiger helmets and some wear robes and ornaments. Some jubilant designs, such as those of deer, bats, precious horses and bottles and saddles, also decorate the New Year pictures to pray for good luck.