The top 10 gods in 20th century Sichuan

he top 10 deities in 20th century Sichuan

And we assume that there will be no major differences with the most popular ones in other parts of China, except on the coast, where the Empress of Heaven (Tianhuo), patron goddess of sailors, would be in the leading positions.

According to Graham (1961)

Many Chinese gods are deified men or women — important persons who were efficient and attracted attention and admiration. They were believed to have unusual powers and have been deified and are worshiped by people who wish to obtain their help. Others are nature gods who have been personified and deified. The sun, the moon, constellations of stars, even rocks and trees are worshiped as deities, but the fire god, the lord of thunder, the thunder god, and the goddess of lightning are anthropomorphic gods who control these phenomena. Many gods in China were first worshiped in India and have been brought to China by the Buddhists.

In our research, we endeavored to list all the gods whose images were in the temples of Chengdu. The frequency with which a deity occurs in the temples of any locality is a clue to the main interests of the people of that region

  1. God of Pestilences 瘟神

Who controls and causes pestilences

  1. Dizang 地藏

 The god of hell, who can save from or condemn to the punishments of hell.

9. Goddess who heals measles and smallpox 痘疹娘娘
8. Goddess who helps mothers have a quick and easy delivery 催生娘娘
7. Goddess who gives sons. 送子娘娘
Fire god 火神

Who protects homes and cities from fire.

  1. Wei-tuo 韦陀

Protector of Buddhist law and Buddhist temples. Clad in ancient armor and holding a sword, he is found near the main entrance facing the interior of the temple.

  1. Guanyu 关羽

The God of War. A great hero and warrior and a man of virtue. He is worshiped by officials, warriors, and members of secret societies.

  1. Sakyamuni 释迦牟尼

He is the founder of the Buddhist religion and is highly honored among Buddhists. He is said to have rejected all gods, but his followers have deified him and believe in and worship many gods.

  1. Literary god of wealth 文财神

The desire for wealth  is very strong in West China

  1. Guanyin 观音

By far the most popular deity in West China.  Guanyin was therefore transformed into a female, the goddess of mercy and compassion. She is believed to be so tender-hearted that she will never turn a deaf ear to one who is in trouble and appeals to her for help. Sometimes she carries a baby and is the  Guanyin That Gives Sons. Sometimes she has one thousand hands and arms and several heads so that she can hear and succor anybody who is in trouble and appeals to her for help.

Following these ten main gods are:

Wen-chang 文昌and Wen-shu 文殊, both of whom are worshiped by students and scholars, who believe that these gods will help them attain learning and become good scholars. Leigong 雷公, the god of thunder, is feared and worshiped because he causes the terrible thunder and lightning that are so fearful and so harmful.

Yao-wang 药王, the god of medicine, is the patron deity of doctors and those who sell medicine, and he also helps heal those who are sick. The Big Dipper goddess 斗姆, who controls birth and death. It is said that each person has a star in the sky — great persons have large stars and little people have small stars. When a «falling star» is seen, the people believe that some person has died.

In Suifu, also in Sichuan province, the classification is a little different, with Wen-chang, in fifth position and Wang-ye, in sixth.

David Crocket Graham.- Folk Religion of southwest China. Smithsonian Institute, 1961. P. 200 and ff.

Leer este post en español

To cite this post: Ceinos-Arcones, Pedro, "The top 10 gods in 20th century Sichuan," in Ethnic China, 17 junio 2021,

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