March 16, 2008

290407 Thian Hock Kheng temple - 05 City God & Tua Li Ah Peh

Surrounding the main altar dedicated to Mazu are five smaller altars dedicated to other deities, the first of which is 城隍爷 Cheng Huang Ye or 'City God' (the guy in the middle):


The Taoist 'City God' protects the city & its people, & also handles the underworld affairs of the area that he protects. He is thus accompanied by the black & white pair called Tua Li Ah Peh (大二爷伯 Da4 er4 ye2 bo2 lit. great two 'ah pek') or 范谢将军 (Generals Fan & Xie). They capture & escort criminals to face judgement before the deities in Hell.

黑无常 (Hei1 wu2 chang2, Black Impermanence) aka. 七爷 Qi Ye has no mercy for those who offend him, hence he is also called 范无救 (Fan4 wu2 jiu4, short for 犯法的人无救 no mercy for those who break the law):


He holds chains & a 令牌 ling pai (tablet issued for one to carry out a royal decree) with the words 见恶便拿 (seize evil on sight):


In contrast, 白无常 (Bai2 wu2 chang2, White Impermanence) aka. 八爷 Ba Ye or 谢必安 (Xie4 bi4 an1) is more forgiving:


He holds a fan-like tablet with the words 见笑 (smile/laugh on sight), & has the words 一见大吉 (yi1 jian4 da4 ji2) on his tall hat:


It is believed that one who sees or dreams of Ba Ye will have good luck if he kneels down & gives thanks, hence 一见大吉, 谢必安 (once you see good luck, thank General Xie?). He is depicted with a long tongue hanging out as he died by hanging after blaming himself for causing the death of Qi Ye. They were sworn brothers who were officials in Fuzhou, & Ba Ye had asked Qi Ye to wait for him at a bridge while he went back to get umbrellas as it was threatening to rain. However, Ba Ye's return was delayed. Qi Ye remained waiting at the bridge until he drowned in the rising waters of the flooding river.

Interesting thing was the offerings placed in front of them at this temple - a can of Guinness Stout for each, & cigarettes for Ba Ye, who even had one placed in his mouth above his long tongue.

No comments: