The City-God Cults of T'Ang and Sung China

September 7, 2017 | Author: Zhao Ye | Category: Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, Harvard University, Taiwan, God
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The City-God Cults of T'ang and Sung China Author(s): David Johnson Reviewed work(s): Source: Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Dec., 1985), pp. 363-457 Published by: Harvard-Yenching Institute Stable URL: . Accessed: 31/03/2012 10:15 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

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The City-God Cults of T'ang and Sung China DAVID JOHNSON University of California,Berkeley


; occupied a place of ITY gods, or ch'eng-huang in shen the official religion of Ming and ..4considerable importance Ch'ing China.' Every county and prefectural capital had its ch'eng huangmiao J, city-god temple, which was maintained in part at I

Much of the research and writing of this paper was carried out while I was supported by a grant from the Committee on Studies of Chinese Civilization of the American Council of Learned Societies, and while I was a senior fellow of the Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Columbia University. Without their generous assistance the work could not have been completed. Earlier versions of the paper were presented at the Harvard University Mellon Seminar on High Culture and Popular Culture in East Asia, and at colloquia at Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and Berkeley. I am grateful to my audiences for their stimulating comments, and to my hosts for their hospitality. 1 The term "ch'eng-huang shen"presents the translator with insoluble problems. "Ch'enghuang"-"wall and moat"-was a synecdoche for "city" in T'ang and Sung times. (See Naba Toshisada gtvfljo, "Shina ni okeru toshi no shugoshin ni tsukite" _-W7.4 (1934): 544-54.) Although the Shinagaku jV5 te -cett;>ttr, term never lost its primary meaning, I think it is clear that in this expression it ought to be translated as "city." "Shen" is where the real problem lies. Here we see once again that the more important a term is to a culture, the more difficult it is to translate. Rendering it as "god(s)" can certainly be criticized, but so can all the other possibilities, and at least "city god" sounds natural in English. Leaving important religious terms untranslated is common practice-one need think only for a moment or two to come up with tao, karma, satori, and many others-and I would have used "ch'eng-huangshen" throughout if it had not resulted in so many unworkably awkward sentences. As it is, I use the Chinese term and "city god" interchangeably. 363




state expense. There the newly-appointed magistrate or prefect paid his respects upon arrival, and there he carried out a regular program of sacrifices during his term in office. But unlike some other members of the official pantheon, the city gods were also frequently the objects of passionate popular devotion. In many cities, the annual festival of the city god was one of the most important religious occasions of the year. After the fall of the Ch'ing, worship of city gods continued to play a significant role in Chinese popular religion, despite the opposition of reform-minded intellectuals and local officials, and it flourishes to this day in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and elsewhere outside mainland China. We know much more about the minute particulars of city god worship during the Ch'ing dynasty and the Republic than in earlier periods, and study of the rituals of the cults, such as the annual processions, as well as their internal organization, their relations with the community at large, and all the rest of their living social reality and human significance, naturally must rely heavily on materials from late imperial times. But in this paper I am concerned with the early history of the cults: when and where the idea of a city god originated, and why it spread; what the leading characteristics of the city gods were; and what they meant to people in the period when they were still a relatively new feature on the religious landscape. Origins always have a certain fascination, but the origins of the city-god cults are especially interesting, because they are closely connected with important developments in the social and economic history of T'ang-Sung China. In the following section I discuss briefly the four earliest named city gods I have discovered. I then move on to three other early examples, selected because they represent important types of ch'eng-huangshen. The last of these is particularly interesting and well-documented, and I discuss it at some length. After thus introducing some specific city gods, I will examine the general problem of the origins and significance of city god worship.2 2 The foundation on which this paper rests is a master list of all known T'ang and Sung ch'eng-huang miaosites. After extensive research, I discovered 150 such sites. They are shown on Map 2. The master list is printed as an appendix to this article; it also serves as a key to the maps. The main sources used in the research were:

1) Ch'iuanT'ang wen ; (Hiraoka Takeo 5, et al., Todai no sambunsakuhin ,fl;c9tff& [Kyoto: Jimbun Kagaku Kenkyuijo, 1960], a complete table of contents of Ch'iian T'ang wen, was searched item by item, with the help of Miss





The oldest text in which a ch'eng-huangshen is identified by name is a fragment from Nan Yung chou chi iJ,I14YTh(first half of the sixth Margaret Chu.) 2) Inscriptions. (The tsa-k'o 49IJ section of Yang Tien-hsiun ffi, Shih-k'ot'i-pa so-yin rev. ed. [Shanghai: Shang-wu yin-shu kuan, 1957], was searched item by item from early T'ang to mid-Yuan, again with the assistance of Margaret Chu.) 3) Forty-two local histories written during the Sung and Yuan dynasties, listed in Yves Hervouet, ed., A Sung Bibliographv (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1978) and in Chang Kuo-kan NiF, Chung-kuoku fang-chih k'ao i!gJi:z (Shanghai: Chung-hua shu-chui, 1962). (I was unable to see four potentially important ones: Hsien-ch'un P'i-ling chih JiRG [30 chiuan; 1268]; Ch'ung-hsiu [15 chiuan;1365]; and two reconstructed Yuan local Ch'in-ch'uanchih t{gS)IIk and Nan-hai chih histories, Wu-hsichih f . 4) Sung and Yuan sui-pi indexed in Saeki Tomi b Chiigokuzuihitsusakuinrp zuihitsuzatcho X sakuin(Kyoto: Toyoshi Kenkyukai, 1954 and 1960). i I and Chuigoku 5) Sung wen-chiindexed in Saeki Tomi, Sodai bunshusakuin ; (Kyoto: Kyoto Daigaku Toyoshi Kenkyuikai, 1970). 6) Sung hui-yao chi-kao , (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chui, 1957; rpt. of 1936 facsimile reproduction by National Library of Peking of the 1809 ed.), ch. 1204. 7) The important essays on city-god cults in Chao Yu-shih LA , Pin-t'ui lu 1_Q (1224), (Ts'ung-shuchi-ch'enged.), 8.93-95, 9.100. 8) Collections of anecdotes generally considered fictional, but containing some reliable historical material, principally T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi JTZ (978), (Peking: I chien chih A =' Jen-min wen-hsiueh ch'u-pan she, 1959), and Hung Mai j, (second half of 12th c.), (TSCC and Pi-chi hsiao-shuota-kuan eds.). (Only six sites come from the last class of sources, and each was carefully evaluated before inclusion.) Teng Ssu-yii's pioneering study, "Ch'eng-huang k'ao" ;t, Shih-hsiuehnien-pao 2.2 (1935): 249-76, provided invaluable bibliographic information in the P**Q early stages of the research. In compiling the master list I intentionally confined myself to sources from the Yuan or earlier (except for inscription collections). Many Ming and Ch'ing local histories contain information about city-god temples that are alleged to have been founded in T'ang [53 chiian;1876], or Sung times, or even earlier. (See, for example, Chi-anfu chih + 8. 1Oa.) Much of it is unreliable, but some is authentic. (See n. 90, below, for further discussion of this problem.) Unfortunately, to survey all extant Ming and Ch'ing local histories for information about city-god cults, and then to evaluate the reliability of all undocumented statements alleging early dates, was a task far beyond my capacity. (Verifying or refuting a single problematic claim can entail many days of detailed research.) But to do anything less than a full survey would have introduced unacceptable biasses into the results. So I compiled the master list strictly on the basis of pre-Ming materials, even though this meant eliminating some sites that were genuinely early. Of the 150 city-god cults identified, 103 were in existence by 1201; thirty-nine more are mentioned in Pin-t'ui lu (1224) with no indication of date; and eight more were in existence before the fall of Sung in 1279.




century) preserved in T'ung tien -A (completed 801): "In the city [of Ku-ch'eng !RA] there is a temple to Prime Minister Hsiao n [Ho {i ]. It is traditionally said that he acts as the ch'eng-huangshen."3 Hsiao Ho rendered great service to Han Kao-tsu in the establishment of the Han dynasty, and was extremely powerful during Kao-tsu's reign. In 202 B.C. he was given a very large fief (ten thousand households) in Tsuan X hsien.4 The site of the capital of Tsuan hsien in Han times was just northeast of Ku-ch'eng hsien in T'ang and Sung times (modern Ku-ch'eng hsien, northern Hupei) .5 Hsiao Ho's descendants continued to hold fiefs there for at least eight generations.6 T'ai-p'ing huan-yuchi t'I' d quotes Nan Yung chou chizas saying that Hsiao Ho was enfeoffed in a temple in the old Han city of Yin-ch'eng ; north of Ku-ch'eng (148.8a.10). So it is clear that Hsiao Ho and his descendants were very influential in the second and first centuries B.C. in the area known as Ku-ch'eng county in T'ang and Sung. But when Ho began to be regarded as ch'eng-huangshen there is not known.7 In 751 an inscription commemorating the reconstruction of the city-god temple of Wu chiin 185 (Soochow) was composed by the prefect, Chao Chii-chen jL,Wft.8 The text contains the earliest surviving description of a city-god temple, and important evidence 3


ed.), 177.943C,s.v. "Ku-ch'eng."

Shih chi _ (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, 1959), 53.2015; Han shu & (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, 1962), 39.2008, 2009; 16.541-42. 5 T'ung-tien 177.943C; T'ai-p'ing huan-yitchi J;?(ca. 980) (Taipei: Wen-hai ch'u-pan she, 1969, rpt. of 1803 ed.), 145.8a.5. 6 Han shu 39.2012-13, esp. 2013.4. See also Han shu 16.541-44. 7 Although the connection of Hsiao Ho with Tsuan hsien is very clear from his Shih chi and Han shu biographies, some commentators have suggested that he was in fact enfeoffed in Ts'o 1,7 hsien of P'ei chiun ft5. (E.g., Ch'ien Ta-hsin A)"Ff and Wu Cho-hsin a f, quoted in Wang Hsien-ch'ien 3Et', Han shu pu-chu 4Ma [Peking: Shang-wu yin-shu kuan, 1959], pp. 2608, 2660.) Chung-kuoti-ming ta tz'u-tien i4Ji43jiG follows this view (see p. 1389C, s.v. "Tsuan hsien"), but it is effectively refuted by R T'ung-tien, T'ai-p'ing huan-yiu chi, Shih chi, and Han shu, in my opinion. No cogent reason is ever advanced for placing Hsiao Ho's fief in P'ei chun, but it appears that the confusion arose because P'ei chiin had a county whose name was written J1i,, but pronounced "tsuan," and which therefore was confused with our Tsuan hsien. (See Shih chi 53.2016, note 1.) 8 "Hsin hsiu Ch'un-shen chiin miao chi" 1 Ch'iian T'ang wen (Taipei: Ching-wei shu-chii, 1965, rpt. of 1814 Palace ed.), 296.19b-21b. 4




of early official attitudes toward the idea of a city god. The Soochow ch'eng-huangshen is identified in the text as the lord of Ch'un-shen known originally as Huang Hsieh At. He served as prime 4F5, minister of Ch'u for twenty-five years under King K'ao-lieh ; and was assassinated in 237 B.C.9 He had been presented with fiefs "east of the River" the region south of the Yangtze, between (roughly) modern Wu-hu and the sea-in 247 B.C., and had subsequently walled the ancient site of Wu-hsti -Rd-modern Soochowand made it his capital.10 (Ch'u had come into possession of the territory of the former state of Wu when it defeated and absorbed Yueh in 334 B.C.) According to a tradition current as late as the end of the tenth century, when the lord of Ch'un-shen returned to Ch'u as prime minister, he left his son behind as "acting lord.""1 There is nothing in the sources to confirm this (Shihchi says his family was wiped out after he was assassinated),12 but the existence of the tradition is clear evidence of the importance of the lord of Ch'un-shen in local legend. The temple building is said by a mid-eleventh century source to have originally been the historical lord of Ch'un-shen's palace, and there is a hint in the 751 inscription that the notion was current at that time too. 13 The author of the inscription also calls the temple "the yamen of the god" (tPX), an interesting turn of phrase, whose significance will become clearer in the third section, below.14 In the main hall of the temple, a statue of the lord of Ch'un-shen occupies the place of honor, with Chu Ying A, one of his retainers, at his side, receiving offerings "in association" with his master. The "acting lord" [the lord of Ch'un-shen's son] oversees affairs in the western chamber; the senior retainers are assembled in ranks in the eastern hall. Li Yuan's assassins are killing in the west; the charioteer and horses are vividly depicted in the east. The spirit with the ancient grievance is greatly requited; once again rever9 Shih chi 78.2397, 2398. 10 Ibid., 78.2394 and note 3.

11 T'ai-p'ing huan-yiichi (cited note 5), 91.1b. 10. Also alluded to in the inscription of 751: Ch'iian T'ang wen 296.20b.7. 12 78.2398. 13 Ou-yang Fei f ] (Hsing-su ts'ao-t'ang chin-shih ts'ung-shu RR &, Chi-kulu-mu ed.), 3.17b, quoted in Teng Ssu-yii, "Ch'eng-huang k'ao" (cited note 2), p. 252B; Ch'iian T'ang wen 296.20b.9-2 1a. 1. 14 Ch'uan T'ang wen 296.21a.5-6.




ence is expressed as if he is present. His family, dignified and impressive, exhibits a melancholy glory; his armed attendants, solemn and severe, heighten their awesome reputation.15

The lord of Ch'un-shen's cult evidently had developed a rich iconography by the mid-eighth century. Most of the persons mentioned appear in his Shih chi biography (e.g., Chu Ying, the senior retainers, Li Yuan's assassins), but the "charioteer and horses" do not, and may come from legends about him. Even though the text is compressed and allusive, it is obvious that in eighth-century Soochow, the city-god cult was very vigorous, since it was patronized by the prefect himself. He, however, attacked the belief that the lord of Ch'un-shen was the city god. "The [god's] name ought properly to be 'Prime Minister Huang,' and the mistaken practice of referring to him as 'ch'eng-huang'ought to be eradicated.'"16 Such resistance to the idea of a city god, or at least to the transformation of established community gods into ch'eng-huangshen, seems to have been fairly common among officials in early T'ang times; I will return to it later. The main point to bear in mind at the moment, however, is that the lord of Ch'un-shen was said by Shih chi, a source with great authority among all educated people, to have walled the settlement that eventually became Soochow. This is probably the main reason why he eventually came to be thought of as the god of the walls and moat of Soochow. The third T'ang text that I have discovered which identifies a city god is one of the most important sources of information about the early cult. It was written in 862 to commemorate the construction of a new city-god temple in Yuan A chou (modern I-ch'un tS, in west-central Kiangsi). The man who wrote it, Liu Hsiang gwi is otherwise unknown. Since he claims no rank or title in the text, he was probably a local gentleman of leisure and some literary attainments. Liu Hsiang's text informs us that the ch'eng-huangshen of ninthcentury Yuan chou was Kuan Ying 40. He had been one of Han Ibid., 21a.1-5. Translation tentative. Ibid., 21a.6. 17 "Yuan chou ch'eng-huang miao chi" '4+ 15 16





Kao-tsu's most effective generals, and played a major role in the founding of the Han dynasty. He was active throughout Kao-tsu's reign, and was instrumental in overthrowing the Lii family and placing Wen-ti on the throne in 179 B.C.18 The inscription states that according to Han shu, Kuan Ying built the old walls of Yuan chou "in the spring of the sixth year of the reign of Kao-ti [201 B.C.]."19 In late T'ang times Kuan Ying was probably considered to be the ch'eng-huangshen of other Kiangsi cities as well. Chao Yii-shih M - (1175-1231), a great authority on city gods and a native of Lin-chiang chiin WlzW (modern Ch'ing-chiang 'jM hsien, Kiangsi), only about 125 km. east of Yuan chou, wrote that "nowadays Kuan Ying is said to be the city god of most of the prefectures and counties of Chiang-hsi."20 This doubtless is hyperbole, but in another essay, Chao names seven cities besides Yuan chou, all in modern Kiangsi, that worship Kuan Ying as their ch'eng-huangshen: Lung-hsing fu IRY1f (modern Nan-ch'ang shih iMT1), Kan 0 chou (modern Kan hsien), Chiang iTEchou (modern Chiu-chiang )LiZ hsien), Chi chou (modern Chi-an @ hsien), Chien-ch'ang chiun 4A (modern Nan-ch'eng i;i hsien), Lin-chiang chiin (Chao's native place), and Nan-k'ang chun !1AS (modern Hsing-tzu R-7T hsien).21 Other early sources reinforce the connection of Kuan Ying with three of these places: Lung-hsing (also known as Yii-chang M'), Chi chou, and Chien-ch'ang. The reconstructed Yui-chang ku-chin chi M*N;eE, by Lei Tz'u-tsung Vk' (386-448), states that "in the fifth year of the reign of Han Kao-tsu, the marquis of Ying-yin, Kuan Ying, pursued Hsiang Yu and destroyed him. Then he pacified Chiang-nan. In the fifth year, [Yii-chang was] first established as a prefecture. Kuan Ying built the prefectural capital."22 Clearly the tradition that 18 Biographies in Shih chi 95 and Han shu 41. 19Ch'iian T'ang wen 802. 1Ob.4-5. 20 Pin-t'ui lu (cited note 2), 1.13. Presumably Chiang-hsi Circuit is meant, largely the same as the modern province of Kiangsi. 21 Pin-t'ui lu 8.94. 22 Shuofu jI1 (Shang-wu shu-chui ed.), See also p. 2b. T'ai-p'ingyii-lan J;-%, (983) (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, 1960, rpt. of Southern Sung ed.), 183.5b, quotes " Yi-changchi": "Kuan Ying built the [capital of Yii-chang] prefecture." T'ai-p'ing huan-yiu chi (cited note 5), 106.4a, quotes "Yiu-changchi": "In the sixth year of the reign of Han Kao-ti, the generalissimo KCuanYing built [the capital of Nan-ch'ang hsien]." Nan-ch'ang was the metropolitan hsien of Yu-chang chiin/Lung-hsing fu.




Kuan Ying built the capital of Yii-chang chiin/Lung-hsing fu early in the reign of Han Kao-tsu was in existence well before T'ang times. Even in the Ch'ing, the ancient Han walls east of modern Nan-

ch'ang hsien were known as "Kuan Ying's walls."23 Sung hui-yao W, records the bestowal in the fifth month of 1134 of an imperial name board on "the temple of the ch'eng-huangshen of Chi chou, the Han dynasty marquis of Ying-yin, Kuan Ying."24 If the cult was so well established that it received imperial recognition, it had probably been in existence there for some time. Finally, a fifteenthcentury inscription commemorating the reconstruction of the Chien-ch'ang fu city-god temple, quoting from a twelfth-century , says that the shen of the Chien-ch'ang work, Hsui-chiangchih ch'eng-huangis Kuan Ying, marquis of Ying-yin of the Han dynasty.25 Thus in T'ang and Sung times Kuan Ying was believed to be the city god not only of Yuan chou but of numerous other cities in Kiangsi as well. Early sources say he built the wall of Yuan chou and of at least one other of the cities in which he was worshipped (Lung-hsing/Yii-chang). (In addition, a late source says that Kuan one of the subordinate counties of Lung Ying established Yui-tu l!, hsing.) Yet there is almost no evidence at all in the standard sources to connect Kuan Ying with Kiangsi. Contrary to the remark in Liu Hsiang's commemorative inscription, Han shu says nothing about Kuan Ying building the wall of Yuan chou. It says only that in the tenth month of the sixth year of Kao-tsu's reign, it was ordered that the county capitals and the seats of imperial family fiefs be walled.27 Kuang Ying had no fief in Kiangsi, nor did he ever administer any of the prefectures or counties in that region. In fact, the only bit of evidence in Shih chi or Han shu that places Kuan Ying in the Kiangsi region at all is the remark in his biography that after he defeated Hsiang Yii's forces at Tung-ch'eng AiA 26

23 Aoyama Sadao, Shina rekidai chimeiyoran.ZfCtt41 , (Tokyo: Daian Shoten, 1967; rpt. of 1932 ed.), p. 172B, s.v. "Kuan Ying ch'eng," citing Tu-shihfang-yiichi-yao (ca. 1670). WQ)7 ;I 24 Sung hui-yaochi-kao (cited note 2), 1204.18b.9-11 (ts'e 19, p. 773Bb, lines 9-11). 25 (10 chiian; 1909 rpt. of 1872 ed.), 9C.56b.8-9. The author of Chien-ch'angfuchih Jf Hsii-chiangchih, Hu Shun-chiu , was prefect of Chien-ch'ang in 1156, according to Chung-kuokufang-chih k'ao (cited note 2), p. 560. 26 Yu-tuhsien chihB5,9 (16 chuan; 1874), 1.2b.2-4, 3a.8-9. 27

Hanshu 1B.59.




(near modern Ting-yuan t' hsien, in northeastern Anhui),28 he "crossed the Yangtze. . . and secured the prefectures of Wu t ' [Shaohsing]. Then he [Soochow], Yii-chang, and Kuei-chi returned and secured fifty-two counties in Huai-pei."29 That would have been an epic campaign: to go from northeastern Anhui to Soochow and Shaohsing via Yii-chang is a journey of about a thousand kilometers. To move an army over those distances would have been a notable feat. Yet it is not mentioned in Kao-tsu's annals in Shih chi or Han shu, nor does it appear in Tzu-chih t'ung-chien. All of this has led scholars to conclude that Kuan Ying has been confused with another Han general, Ch'en Ying MR, said by Shih chi and Han shu to have "secured Yii-chang and Che-chiang f4iM" after Hsiang Yu was defeated.3o But there is no other evidence for Ch'en Ying's involvement in Kiangsi. So this skepticism seems misplaced. It is impossible to reconstruct the actual movements of Kuan Ying during the early years of Han, but we cannot ignore the fact that so many cities in Kiangsi claimed him as their tutelary deity in T'ang and Sung times. For some reason, Kuan Ying came to play an important part in the legendary history of the region. This may have been an essentially literary development going back to the brief passage in Kuan Ying's Shih chi and Han shu biographies, but this is very unlikely. Why not some other Han general? Why not Ch'en Ying? No, the evidence of widespread local tradition suggests that Kuan Ying had an important role in the imposition of Han administration in at least some parts of the Kan River basin, 28 (Peking: Ku-chi ch'u-pan she, 1956), 11.352, comTzu-chih t'ung-chienjpMK mentary, quoting K'uo ti chih jijhj (639). 29 Shih chi 95.2671; Han shu 41.2083. 30 Shih chi 18.887-88; Han shu 16.537. See Pin t'ui lu (cited note 2), 1.13. Note too that in the S/suic/hingc/hus/si/sti 7j(f ? (1797), 39.12a, and in other editions of Shui ching chunow lost, the sixth-century commentary states that "in the sixth year of Han Kao-tsu's reign [the emperor] first commanded Kuan Ying to make [Nan-ch'ang hsien] the capital of Yii-chang prefecture. This city was built by Kuan Ying." But many other editions of Shui ching chu, including those of Wang Hsien-ch'ien and Ssu-pu ts'ung-k'an,give "Ch'en Ying" for "Kuan Ying." This "improvement" of the text seems to go back to an "official edition" V*, whose note is quoted in Wang Hsien-ch'ien's and other editions: "The original edition [),j*] and recent editions all mistakenly say 'Kuan Ying.' This has now been corrected. The table of Kao-tsu's meritorious marquises in Shih chi states that 'Ch'en Ying, the marquis of T'ang-i, secured Yui-chang.' Han shu agrees." But this emendation itself may well be misguided, as Wang Hsien-ch'ien himself recognized in his Han shu pu-chu 4ga (Peking: Shang-wu shu-chui, 1959), 5:3543.




creating a collective memory that served as the basis of later legends. By the time the idea of a city god began to spread, and city-god cults were being established in Yuan chou and other Kiangsi cities, Kuan Ying must have already achieved something like the status of a tutelary deity of the region, and hence seemed a natural choice to the inhabitants of many cities there. In T'ang times the city god of Shaohsing was P'ang Yu WOIE. The sources show very clearly why he was so regarded. His biographical notice in T'ang shu states that he was physically imposing and very strong, and a good tactician and strategist. He was a native of the Ch'ang-an region. In the civil wars at the end of the Sui, he first led "crack troops from Kuan-chung" and joined but later went over to the forces with Wang Shih-ch'ung EE-tHJ~, T'ang side with "ten thousand cavalry." This understandably endeared him to T'ang Kao-tsu, who placed him in a series of important military posts. One of the last of these was the governorgeneralship of Yueh chou.3' The administrative seat of this large territory was the city now known as Shaohsing. It appears from inscriptions of 908 and 1098 that during the time he was in charge there, just after Yueh chou had come under T'ang control, he opened wasteland for cultivation, relocated the walls of the inner (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chiu, 1975), 193.5546-47. Hsin 7'ang shu VO(Taipei: Kuo-feng ch'u-pan she, Wang Ch'ang IE7i, ed., Chin-shihts'ui-pien, , 1964; rpt. of 1805 Ching-hsiin t'ang ed.), 119.7b.3, 7b.6 (date: 9a.6); Juan Yuan ed., Liang Che chin-shihchih WfF *g (1890; preface, 1824), 7.4b.11 (date: 7.5b.2-3). There are many questions concerning P'ang Yii's administration of Shaohsing. To start (governor-general), while with, Hsin T'ang shu states that he held the post of tu-tu O (1201; 1926 rpt. of 1808 ed.), 6.5a.4, says that he held Chia-t'ai Kuei-chichih f (commander-in-chief). This is a significant difference, because the post of tsung-kuanJ the Yueh chou commander-in-chiefship was created in Wu-te: 4, and was changed to a [Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, governor-generalship in Wu-te: 7 (Chiu T'ang shu W was in control of northern Chekiang, including 1975], 40.1589). Li Tzu-t'ung 4y Shaohsing, from at least Wu-te: 3 to the eleventh month of Wu-te: 4, when he surrendered to the T'ang (Tzu-chih t'ung-chien[cited note 28], 188.5899, 189.5938. See also Chiu T'ang shu 56.2274). Thus a commander-in-chiefship was established in Yueh chou, with its headquarters in Shaohsing, as soon as T'ang control was established in Wu-te: 4 (see also Chiu T'ang shu 40.1589). If P'ang Yu held the position of commander-in-chief of Yueh chou, he must have been the first T'ang administrator of the area, but if he was governor-general, he would have had a predecessor. I think it likely that he was the first T'ang representative in Yueh chou, because of the tradition that he constructed new 31





city, and constructed new prefectural offices.32 He stayed in the Yueh chou post for an unknown length of time.33 Not too long after leaving it, he died.34 Shortly after his death, a shrine or temple was erected in his honor in Shaohsing.35 The 908 inscription states that the shen "stands guard over the hills and mountains of the city, and controls the good and bad fortune of both soldiers and civilians [i.e., the entire population]." It praises the magnificence of the temple, and tells us that it had a lifelike statue of P'ang Yu and statues (or paintings) of armed attendants.36 The first of many imperial titles was bestowed on the shen in 907.37 After a major reconstruction in 1097-98, the temple had arcades and gates encircling it, and inside, on either side of the statue of the god, punishments and rewards (for good and bad administrative offices and moved the wall of the inner city. But this cannot be proven, since evidence on his career is very scarce, and the sources have little to say about early seventh-century administrators of Yueh chou. It should be noted that Chia-t'ai Kuei-chi chih states that "according to the register of T'ang prefects, the General of the Guard of the Right [P'ang Yu] was appointed [prefect of Kuei-chi chiin R] in Wu-te: 1, and was transferred to the post of governor-general (tu-tu) of Yang chou in the seventh month of Wu-te: 2." (Quoted in Shao-hsingfu-chih g [80 chIuan;1792], 41.45b.4-5). But Shaohsing was probably not in T'ang hands in Wu-te: 1, and there was no governorgeneralship of Yang chou until Wu-te: 9 (T'ai-p'ing huan-yiuchi [cited note 5], 123.1b2a). So this evidence cannot be accepted. 33 His tenure in office there could not have been long. Both K'an Leng and Li held the position of governor-general of Yiieh chou under T'ang KaoTa-liang 7 tsu, and thus not later than 627 (Chiu T'ang shu 56.2270, 62.2387). Shao-hsingfu-chih 25.15b says that Li Ta-liang received his appointment in Wu-te: 7 (624), but I have been unable to confirm this date. (I have also been unable to confirm the statement in Shaohsingfu chih that a fourth man, Li Chia R,ebalso held a governor-general-type post in Yiueh chou under Kao-tsu). (Ibid.) It may well be that P'ang Yiu held office only during the period 621-624, after Li Tzu-t'ung's surrender, and before the governor-generalship was created. 34 Only one other post is mentioned in the Hsin T'ang shu biographical notice after the Yueh chou governor-generalship. (The same passage states that he died during T'aitsung's reign, so after 627). The 908 inscription says that during his tenure in office he was "loved and honored by those who lived in the city, and the common people sang songs" about him, and that "before long, the markets were suspended and laments arose [because of his death]" (Chin-shihts'ui-pien119.7b.7). 35 Ibid., 119.7b.8; also 8b.5-6: "It has been nearly 300 years [in 908]" since the temple was erected. 36 Ibid., 119.7b. 8-9. 3 Wu-tai hui-yao -* (Shanghai: Shang-hai ku-chi ch'u-pan she, 1978), 11.192. The 908 inscription was written in celebration of this honor by the ruler of the state of Wu-Yiieh, who had requested the title.




behavior) were depicted in so vivid a manner that they frightened those who looked at them.38 The same text states that the temple is located one hundred paces from the prefectural yamen.39 A local history completed in 1201 tells us that "the people of the prefecture worship [P'ang Yu] very devotedly. They believe that the shen's birthday is the twelfth day of the ninth month; the offerings are especially profuse at that time."40 The very highest authorities also were capable of feeling gratitude to the city god of Shaohsing. In 1131 the emperor bestowed on him a new noble title along with an official name-board for the temple, "because demonic forces were inactive and the palace was untroubled during the year that the temporary imperial capital was at Kuei-chi [Shaohsing]." Then in 1160 another title was bestowed, "because the imperial carriage [transporting the coffin] of the Empress Hsien-jen ffM=has crossed the river without mishap.''41 It is notable that in both of these cases, the Shaohsing ch'eng-huangshen was believed to control supernatural or demonic forces. To sum up, P'ang Yu was a military man, and a northerner, who administered Shaohsing and the surrounding region for two or three years immediately after it was brought under T'ang control. When he died, probably within five or so years after leaving Shaohsing, a shrine or temple was set up in which to offer sacrifices to his spirit. His cult flourished, and at some unknown time in the next three centuries, P'ang Yu came to be thought of as city god of Shaohsing. The four cases just discussed comprise the earliest evidence known to me concerning the identity of specific city gods. Material becomes more plentiful when we reach the Sung dynasty, and it sometimes concerns cults that are as old or older than the ones just reviewed. To examine it all would be redundant, but three cults are suffiLiang Chechin-shihchih (cited note 32), 7.4b.9. Ibid., 7.4a.10O. 40 Chia-t'ai Kuei-chichih 6.5b.5-6. 41 Ibid., 6.5b.1-2. Hsien-jen t'ai-hou was Kao-tsung's mother. She died in 1159 (Sung shih *_ [Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1977], 243.8640, 8643). See also Sung hui-yaochikao 1204.18b, which records these bestowals in slightly different language. It is not clear what river is meant. 38





ciently interesting to deserve separate notice; they represent kinds of city gods that we have not yet seen. The first of these is Ying Chih-hsu SME, city god of Yun JVichou (modern Kao-an -%2 hsien, Kiangsi). Unlike the four city gods discussed above, Ying has no biography in the official histories. The only early sources with information about his life that I have found are two inscriptions. The first was written in 11 16 by a monk, Hui-hung MA, to fulfill a pledge he had made to the city god of Kao-an chun Th (i.e., Yun chou). In it he says that he had wanted to write an account of the ch'eng-huangshen for a long time, because the other accounts were inadequate. He also describes how the god appeared to him in a dream and inspired him to write the rhymed ming A at the end of the text.42 In the inscription we read that Ying Chih-hsu was a commoner who lived near the city of Kao-an. He recruited a small army during the disorders at the end of the Sui, then attacked and drove away the local warlord, Lin Shih-hung 19t?. He defended the city of Kao-an during the interregnum, and was appointed prefect by the T'ang in recognition of his "merit." 43 When he died, he was given a very high posthumous title by the emperor. Hui-hung says that Chih-hsu has been worshipped in his temple for nearly 500 years.44 This suggests that it was founded in the third or fourth decade of the seventh century, which fits well with the other dates in Ying Chih-hsui's biography. The second text is much more detailed. It was written by a local literary man named Wu Yun-tao fAitf, in the late thirteenth century, for the explicit purpose of preserving the details of Ying Chih-hsii's deeds as man and as god.45 Neither of the two Kao-an 42 "Kao-an ch'eng-huang miao chi," Kao-an hsienchih (28 chiuan;preface dated 1871), 22.1 la-l2a. Other accounts inadequate: 11b.1-2. Encounter with the city god: I 1b.4-7. This and the following text both concern the prefectural ch'eng-huangmiao, even though they are included in the county history (The county ch'eng-huangmiao was founded only in 1659. See Jui choufu chih )J[fe [24 chuian;1873], 3.16a.). 43 Kao-anhsienchih 22.11 a.7-1 1. It is worth noting that there was a prefecture centered on the city of Kao-an for only a short time during the T'ang. T'ai-p'ing huan-yiichi states that Ching a chou was established there in 622, its name changed to Yin chou in 624, and Yun chou abolished in 625 (106.12b-13a.). This is consistent with other evidence that suggests that Ying was a local strongman who had received his appointment in return for accepting T'ang sovereignty. 44 Kao-an hsienchih22.1l b. 1. 45 Ibid., 22.13a-14b. For the author's purpose, see 14a.1 1-14b.2. Biographical information about Wu Yun-tao is very scarce. The only material I have found is in Kao-anhsien




texts commemorates the building or repair of the ch'eng-huangmiao, which is quite unusual. Instead, they both are straightforward accounts of the city god and his cult, written by private individuals seemingly to inform the general public. This is probably one of the main reasons why Wu Yun-tao's text contains so much popular lore about Ying Chih-hsii. Wu states that Ying Chih-hsiu was seven feet tall, and had a fine beard.46 "His nature was heroic and martial. People feared and obeyed him."'4 He goes on to describe the methods Chih-hsii employed to defend the city against the forces of Lin Shih-hung. First, he sent a man posing as a shoe peddler to the camp of the invaders. All the shoes were exceptionally large, and when the agent was asked why, he replied that that was the size shoe the people of Kao-an wore. Later, the invaders were sold tangerines from which, when peeled and sectioned for eating, bees flew out, stinging many of them to death and frightening the others. Finally, when the enemy force was about to set out on the Shu Q River,48 "the shen drew his sword and gave a shout. The water, responding to the sound, ceased to flow." This succeeded in frightening the invaders away. 49 After Ying Chih-hsu was made prefect, he continued to protect the people. West of Mi X Mountain there was a deep pool in which lived an enormous water buffalo with a golden hide and a vermillion tail. At night this monster would burst out of its lair, injuring people and ruining the crops. But when its tail was cut off, at Chih-hsii's order, it sank into the ground and did no more harm.5o Shortly chih 16.4b, and in Wei Ch'ing-chih ; Shih-jenyiu-hsieh -J 3 (quoted ibid.), and these give no dates. But Wu seems to have been a contemporary of Wei, and Wei was active ca. 1240, according to Wen-hsiieh-chiata tz'u-tien. The text itself mentions the granting of an imperial name-board in 1124, and also mentions fighting near Kao-an between government troops and the "Hsin-feng g bandits" in which the shen intervened (14a.2-3). Jui choufu chih 3.16a states that when government troops attacked "Hsing-feng bandits" in 1288, the city god made an appearance. Of course there may have been Hsin-feng bandits in other years, too, but I believe it is likely that the same incident is being referred to in each case. This would date the text after 1288. 46 Literally, "seven ch'ih." The T'ang ch'ih was around 30 cm.; the U.S. foot is 30.5 cm. 47 Kao-anhsienchih 22.13a.7-8. 48 Another name for the Chin Q River, which flows through Kao-an; see ibid., 4.1 lb. 49 Ibid., 4.13a.10-13b.5. Additional details on the bee-infested tangerines from 28.1a.10-1 1. 50 Ibid., 4.13b.7-9.




after this, a phoenix was seen hovering at the rear of the prefectural offices. Ying Chih-hsui died seated on a stone in the lotus position, wearing a formal headdress and robe. After his death, "the people of the prefecture decided to erect a shrine.'"51 As a spirit, he protected the city as devotedly as he had while he was alive. When the Hsin-feng bandits attacked, he caused supernatural soldiers, wearing tiger skins on their heads, to appear on the city wall. This was enough to make the invaders flee. Even today, writes Wu, "if there is flood or drought, locust plague or epidemic, he never fails to respond to earnest entreaties.'52 We learn from the inscription that Ying Chih-hsii's wife, brothers, and sons had all been ennobled and were worshipped in the temple along with him, and that his home, his study, and his tomb were all located in the vicinity of Kao-an.53 Clearly, the cult was extremely vigorous, and a rich body of legend concerning Ying Chih-hsii had developed in Kao-an. Several other features of this cult should be pointed out. Ying Chih-hsu was a local man,54 not a general or powerful official from' another region. He was a natural leader, and he controlled Kao-an for a number of years. Most imporant, he died in office, and his temple was erected not far from the yamen where he had held sway.55 Pin t'ui lu g (1224) states that the city god of Nan-feng MR 51 Ibid.,I 4.13b.I1-1I4a. 1. 52 Ibid., 4.14a.4-5. 53 Ibid., 4.14a.6-10. It is interesting to note that in Ch'ing times his tomb was believed to be in (or near) Feng-hsin *, about 25 km. north of Kao-an. See Nan-ch'ang MR fu chih (66 chiian; 1873), "Tien ssu" td, p. 87a. I have not been able to identify Yiuchang shu $ which Nan-ch'angfu chih is quoting in this passage, and have simply assumed that it is a Ch'ing work. 54 Hui-hung says Ying was a native of Hui chen ;1 (reading :i as ,), in Kao-an, while Wu Yun-tao says he was a native of T'iao-lu hsiang fi,,R. I have been unable to locate Hui chen precisely, but T'iao-lu hsiang was sixty 1i west of Kao-an in Ch'ing times (Kao-anhsien chih 27.8a). The Shih-tsu ta-ch'iuanF.R.-k (Yuan), quoted in Kao-an hsien chih 8.1 a, states that Ying was a native of Chiu-chiang )LuI (in northern Kiangsi) who later moved to Ching Y chou (Kao-an). Even if this is correct, it is still clear that Ying spent much of his life in Kao-an. 55 Wu Yun-tao's text says that the phoenix was sighted "behind the county offices," and that place came to be called Phoenix Hill. Even in Ch'ing times the ch'eng-huangmiao was on the western part of Phoenix Hill, and Phoenix Hill was "behind the prefectural [fu] yamen" (Kao-anhsien chih 4. la.7-8).




hsien (modern Nan-feng hsien, Kiangsi) was a T'ang man named Yu Mao-hung j+W.56 He must have been worshipped as ch'enghuang shen already in T'ang times. Pin t'ui lu says that he had been magistrate of Nan-feng, and an inscription dating from very early in the fourteenth century adds that he "laid out the city and its suburbs, dug [irrigation] channels and ponds, built the yamen, and gathered people together."57 His biography in the Chien-ch'ang says that Yu was a native of Ch'ung-jen in Fu chou fu chih t _t1I-'V (about seventy-five kilometers northwest of Nan-feng) who was made acting magistrate of Nan-feng in the K'ai-yuan period of the T'ang dynasty thanks to merit earned in battle. (T'ai-p'ing huan-yii chi [ca. 980] states that Lu Yuan-min D5A memorialized in K'ai-yuan: 7 [719] that the land was fertile and water plentiful, but frequently subject to depredations, and that subsequently it was made into a county again. Perhaps Yu Mao-hung's administration began about that time.)58 He built five reservoirs on the Hsi a River, which irrigated over four thousand mou of land. He also constructed a stone irrigation canal to lead water from Chun W Mountain down onto the plains below, which then became extremely fertile. "Even today, his generosity feeds the people." After he died, the people erected a shrine and made sacrifices to him there.59 Elsewhere in the Chien-ch'angfu chih we read that Yu set up the post station, that in yamen of Nan-feng hsien in the Chia-ho t 837 the yamen was moved, and that (either then or later) the Chia-ho post station was made into the ch'eng-huangmiao.6o To summarize: Yu Mao-hung was a man of obscure background from a place about seventy-five kilometers northwest of Nan-feng, who was made acting prefect there in the T'ang K'ai-yuan period because of his military successes (entirely unspecified). He laid out the city (perhaps even constructing the wall?), built a yamen, and constructed elaborate irrigation works. After he died, he became 56

(Ts'ung-shuchi-ch'enged.), 8.95.2. "[Nan-feng] chou ch'eng-huang miao chi" [f-A] +I1*ra E, by Liu Hsiin .JJ# (1240-1319), Chien-ch'angfuchih (cited note 25), 9C.34a.3. This text was written in part to commemorate the completion of a new ch'eng-huangmiao in early 1301, and so was probably composed around that time. 58 T'ai-p'ing huanyuichi (cited in note 5), 110.7b.2-3. 59 Chien-ch'angfuchih 6F.3a-b. 60 Ibid., 2C.4a.6, 2B.9a.6-7. 57




the object of a cult, and at some point came to be worshipped as the city god. The city-god temple was located in the post station he had used as his yamen. Here the man who (so it seems) founded the city and ran it, and who made it prosperous, was worshipped as ch'eng-huangshen in the very building he had once used as his office. The dynamics of cult development here are very clear. The final case I wish to discuss concerns T'ai > chou (modern Lin-hai 0 hsien, in eastern Chekiang). The earliest text that names the ch'eng-huangshen there is an inscription, dated 1010, commemorating the bestowal by the emperor of a new name Yu-hsi 3iE on the Chiu-shui Monastery iAk4Zn. The monastery was located on Dragon Mother nFl: Mountain, which is about thirty kilometers south of Ning-hai hsien and about forty kilometers east-northeast of T'ai chou.61 The text is extremely interesting, though not reliable in detail. The monk who wrote it was less well-informed about things such as administrative history than a local scholar would have been, but on the other hand knew, or was willing to write down, legendary material that a member of the local elite might well have suppressed. The stele has a large decorative title in seal script, saying "Record of the Dragon King." The title proper reads "Account of the Imperial Decree Concerning Yu-hsi Monastery and the Dragon King of Dragon Mother Mountain, Ning-hai County, T'ai Prefecture." The text begins as follows: The GeographicMonograph J11 says: Lin-hai prefecture was established in the [San Kuo] Wu dynasty. [Its offices were] on Ta-ku ;k Mountain, in the northern part of the [city of T' ai] chou. The county [offices] and garrison [headquarters] were nearby. Ch'iu Huang 1WR [vice-president of] the Department of State Affairs under the [San Kuo] Wu, dwelt on this mountain. Huang died young. The [dragon-] mother [that is, Huang's wife, the mother of the dragon king] encountered an old man. He slept with her, and she became pregnant. In due course she gave birth to a son, whose name was T'an iR. When he had grown to manhood he underwent a divine transformation into a dragon of the chiao-li R.A kind. One day he thought of streams and marshes, and thunder and rain arose. With his mother he went to Tung-pei Mountain in Kuang-tu P where they concealed L[Jj, themselves.62 No one could find them. That is why the mountain is called "Ch'ii 61 See the map of T'ai chou, which appears to be fairly accurate, in the map section of T'ai choufu chih (140 chian; 1936). 62 Kuang-tu is listed in Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'eng chih , (1223; 1818 ed.), 2.12b,




Mother Mountain )ffl1j'." It is 1,500 changhigh, and 130 1i in circumference. There are three pools on it. These are their grotto dwellings, where they stir about freely, hidden beneath the suirface. Clouds and mists constantly arise there.63

This is followed by a story about a monk named Chih-che ta-shih In 589 he met an old woman on Ch'ti Mother Mountain VAg. who seems to have been the Dragon Mother herself. She asked for instruction in the precepts of Buddhism; the monk, realizing what she was, exhorted her and her relatives to provide rain for the people whenever drought threatened the prefectural city. The next day, the mansion in which he had spent the night turned into a pool. Ever since then, writes the monkish author, whenever there is extremely hot weather, the prefect of T'ai chou solemnly goes out to " 'welcome at a distance' the water of the pools, [inviting it] into the city to give sustenance to the people." Rain comes promptly in response to this ritual, and the harvests in T'ai chou are always bountiful. 64 The inscription's emphasis on the never-failing care of the dragon king of Ch'ui Mother Mountain is not surprising, because the prosperity of the monastery with which its author was affiliated was probably closely bound up with the dragon pools. In fact, the monastery was originally founded (in 810) because Chiu-shui Pool doubt the dragon that dwelt there was the true object of ff-no gratitude-had responded to prayers, presumably for rain.65 At about that time, a Dragon King Hall was built there, complete with a statue of the god. And the granting of an imperial name-board to the monastery in 1008-the grand event this text celebrates is explicitly attributed by the author to the assistance of the dragon king.66 as a village under Chu-k'ai hsiang *;A?%, which wa3 seven 1i northeast of Ning-hai *j hsien. But since this is nowhere near the actual site of Dragon Mother Mountain, according to the map cited in note 61 and the literary evidence in Ch'ih-ch'engchih, a different Kuang-tu must be meant. Or the sentence may read: ". . . went toward Kuang, crossed Tung-pei Mountain, and concealed themselves." But I can find no "Kuang" in Ning-hai hsien. 63 "Ch'ih T'ai chou Ning-hai hsien Lung-mu shan Yu-hsi yuan Lung-wang chi"


chouchin-shihlu kH

Chia-yeh t'ng ts'ung-shu

ed.), 2.14b.4-9. I have been unable to identify the work being quoted here. The use of 2L instead of in the title of geographical works is uncommon. 64 Tbid., 2.14b.10-15a.7. 65 Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'eng chih 29.1 la. 66 T'ai chouchin-shihlu 2.15a.8-10, 15b.6-7. Date from Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'engchih29.1 Ia.




But it was not just the monks of Yii-hsi Monastery to whom the dragon king of Dragon Mother Mountain/Chiu-shui Pool was important. We have already seen that in the early eleventh century prefects of T'ai chou performed ceremonies directed at the dragon pools during periods of drought, and that in 810 the dragon of Chiushui Pool had answered prayers for rain. And the cult probably was already old'in the ninth century, as we shall see. Finally, and this is the crucial point, the inscription states that "in the second year of Wu-te in the T'ang dynasty [619], the grand astrologer, observing the stars, changed the name of Hai i4 chou [the successor of Lin-hai chiin] to T'ai chou. The old residence of Mr. Ch'ui [i.e., Ch'ii Huang] was made into the yamen. Everyone says that the ch'eng-huangshen is his son."67 Thus in early Sung, and no doubt earlier, the city god of T'ai chou was believed to be a dragon king who resided in a mountain pool about forty kilometers from the city. Moreover, the T'ai chou prefectural offices were located in a building or group of buildings that had been the residence of the city god/ dragon king's father. Clearly Ch'ii T'an was a very different kind of city god than those we have examined up to now. A number of them had probably been the objects of cults before their metamorphosis into ch'eng-huang shen-this is almost certainly the case with Kuan Ying, for example, since he was worshipped as city god in so many places but they all were apotheosized human exemplars of one sort or another, not something as alien as a dragon king. Of course, this dragon king was not wholly alien. He had been human, or half-human, during his childhood and youth. He had a human name, and had been a member of a prominent local family (as we shall see). In fact, the myth about the T'ai chou city god that is reflected in the 1010 inscription seems to be an amalgam of two themes or groups of elements. One concerns the dragons, mother and son, of Dragon Mother Mountain, with in this case the mother receiving the most attention. The other, subordinate in this text but not in others we will look at, connects the Ch'ii family and T'ai chou, and in particular places the T'ai chou yamen in the old home of Ch'ii Huang. The two themes are joined together by making the dragon mother the wife of Ch'u Huang. But they do not fit 67

T'ai chouchin-shihlu 2.15a.7-8.




together particularly smoothly. We wonder whether Ch'ii T'an's mother was human or divine, and how Ch'ii T'an can be both the city god of T'ai chou and the dragon king of Chiu-shui Pool, twentyfive miles or so away.68 To come to a proper appreciation of the ch'eng-huangshenof T'ai chou, it is necessary to reconstruct the earlier history of each of the two groups of elements, and the reasons for their amalgamation. The evidence is scanty, but the outlines of the story are fairly clear. Belief that there was a potent dragon dwelling in Chiu-shui Pool on what later came to be known as Dragon Mother Mountain was probably very ancient. The dragon may originally have been thought of as female. This is suggested by the large role played by Ch'ui T'an's mother in Sung versions of the myth, by the strong tradition that she was buried on Dragon Mother Mountain,69 and by the name of the mountain itself. E. H. Schafer has argued that dragon women and water goddesses, even in the south, were frequently supplied with "fathers, husbands, or brothers as their lords and protectors" in the post-Han period, "as Chinese society became increasingly male-oriented and even male-dominated."70 Providing the dragon of Chiu-shui Pool with a son may have been part of such a masculinizing process. The establishment in 810 of Chiu-shui Monastery, which as we have seen was closely associated with the dragon king cult, may well reflect the conscious promotion of the cult of a male dragon at the expense of the older, and less respectable, worship of a female dragon there. Schafer also speaks of the progressive secularization and humanization of the medieval water goddesses this is one of the main themes of his The Divine Womanand the transformation of the Chiu-shui dragon goddess into the 68 This double role scandalized the early-thirteenth century editor of Chia-tingCh'ihch'engchih: see 25.8a.3-5. A strong reluctance to legitimize the idea that a city god could be a dragon king is apparent in the imperial proclamation accompanying the grant of a new noble title to the T'ai chou ch'eng-huangshenin 1168: "Even today the people of T'ailing , believe they can see his traces at Yu-hsi. He went into reclusion with his mother." This is compatible with the beliefs of the inhabitants of T'ai chou, but avoids saying anything that suggests that Ch'u T'an and his mother were not fully human. ("T'ai chou ch'eng-huang feng kao" {, Ch'ih-ch'engchi jt [Ssu-k'u ch'iuan-shuchen-pen,tenth series, ed.], 11.6a.4. This collection was compiled in the Sung by a man whose hao was Yiu-hsi, the name of the dragon pool and monastery on Dragon Mother Mountain!) 69 Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'eng chih 22.12b.2-3, 25.7b.8-9, 38.5b.2. 70 The Divine Woman(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), pp. 120-21.




mother, more human than divine, of Ch'ii T'an the dragon king, may exemplify this process. If this hypothesis about the early history of the Chiu-shui dragon cult is approximately correct, it would appear that the secularizing and masculinizing of the dragon of Chiu-shui Pool began quite early, because it is already well advanced in the earliest evidence I have discovered about the cult. This is a quotation from a work of the second half of the fourth century, Yuan Shan-sung's ASipl Ch/in kuo chih , preserved in Yii-chih-t'ang t'an-hui . a Ming compilation. It reads: "In Ning-hai there is a Dragon Mother Mountain. Ch'ii Huang, [vice-president of] the Department of State Affairs in the [San Kuo] Wu, had a son named T'an. T'an and his mother moved from Ta-ku Mountain and concealed themselves there. Then T'an changed into a dragon. His mother also became an immortal.' 7 In addition, this fragment shows clearly that the connection between the Chiu-shui dragon and the Ch'ii family had already been made. Before asking why this happened, let us look at the background of what I have suggested is the second group of elements in the myth of the T'ai chou city god: the Ch'ui family, T'ai chou, and the tradition that a Ch'iu mansion was made into the T'ai chou yamen. The first point to be noted is that the main choronym for the surname Ch'ii given in the medieval clan lists is Lin-hai chuin/T'ai chou.72 This means that the Ch'ii family was a dominant force in T'ai chou during the era of the official clan lists late fourth to early eighth century, roughly. But when and for how long they enjoyed such eminence it is impossible to say, for the Ch'iis have left almost 7' Hsu_Ying-ch'iu fA, Yii-chih-t'angt'an-hui (Pi-chi hsiao-shuota-kuaned.), 24.13a.6. According to Ssu-k'u ch'iian-shutsung-mu,this work is made up of quotations from other books. It is explicitly compared by the editors to T'ai-p'ing kuang-chiand Shuo-fu,which of course are compilations. The passage in question is not headed with the title of a source, but presumably is one of a number of quotations from Chuin-kuo chih, which is the last source cited. A virtually identical passage, lacking only a few of the characters in the Chuin-kuo chih version, quoted from an "Old Account" (Vf$), appears in Chia-tingCh'ihch'engchih, 25.7b.7-8a.3. I have been unable to identify the "Old Account," and it is possible that the phrase means simply "old [oral] tradition." But Ch'ih-ch'engchih frequently cites this source, so I am inclined to believe it was a book. 72 David Johnson, The Medieval Chinese Oligarchy (Boulder: Westview Press, 1977), Appendix IV: Clan List A, line 31; Clan List E, line 69. For the definition of "choronym," see p. 165, note 46.




no traces in the historical record between Han and Sung. The entry for "Ch'ii" in Ku-chin hsing-shih-shu pien-cheng , for example, is brief and uninformative, and the standard biographical indexes list only one or two Ch'uis from this period.73 This makes it seem all the more significant that a man named Ch'iu Huang did in fact hold the position of vice-president of the Department of State Affairs in Wu times, ca. 250, according to the late third century San kuo chih.74 The brief notice does not tell us where Huang came from, or whether he had a son named T'an. But the Ta-wen 4rpl, by Hu Chung AIP, which dates from the early fifth century or earlier, states that Ch'ii was a native of Ju-nan *M (near modern Ju-nan hsien, in southern Honan).75 Hu seems to have been an authority on Wu history, having also written a Chronicleof Wu and a Classificationof the Commonersand Patricians of the Wu Court.76 Thus it is unlikely that Ch'ii Huang was a native of T'ai chou. He or a descendant could have moved to T'ai chou, or the Ch'iis living there may simply have claimed Huang as an ancestor to enhance the family's reputation.77 Whatever the explanation, there is no doubt that the connection between the Ch'iu family and T'ai chou in medieval times was very real, since Lin-hai/T'ai chou was the main choronym for that surname. We have already seen that the two themes in the dragon king myth had begun to come together as early as the fourth century (if I have dated correctly the passage from Yu-chih-t'angt'an-hui). Why did this happen? We have very little evidence, but we do know that in the third and fourth centuries eastern Chekiang was still compara73 A number of men surnamed Ch'iu who lived in the medieval period were actually of northern "barbarian" stock and hence are irrelevant for our purposes. See Yao Wei-yuan kfir,, Pei-ch'aohu hsingk'ao 4L#AWi!Ti (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1962), pp. 137-42. 74 San kuo chihb (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chiu, 1959), 59.1369-70. See also Tzuchih t'ung-chien(cited note 28), 75.2386. 75 Quoted in P'ei Sung-chih's commentary to San kuo chih, completed in the second quarter of the fifth century (San kuo chih 59.1370, note 2). 76 Chiu T'ang shu (cited note 32), 46.1995B. 77 One puzzling problem has resisted solution: the entry for Ch'u Huang in Chung-kuo which after T'ang times was a jen-ming ta tz'u-tien calls him a native of T'ien-t'ai X county under T'ai chou. This information appears to have been copied into Wong Fookluen tk I (Hong Kong: Research Institute for Far Eastern , San kuo chih so-yin Studies, Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1973), p. 64, s.v. "Ch'us Huang." I have been unable to discover the source of this information, and suspect that ta tz'u-tien. it is due to an editorial error in Chung-kuojen-ming




tively untouched by northern orthodoxies. (T'ang writers on the origins of the idea of a city god regularly mention the belief of the people of Wu and Yiieh in demons and other unorthodox supernatural creatures.)78 It could well have happened that from time to time, locally powerful families, seeking to legitimize or reinforce their positions, claimed kinship with potent local deities. The Ch'iis may have done something similar in T'ai chou by claiming that the powerful water goddess of Chiu-shui Pool had in fact been the wife (or widow) of a member of the Ch'ii family. And there is evidence that the original name of Dragon Mother Mountain was Ch'iu

Mother Mountain


The son with which the legendizers

provided this goddess was thus both a dragon and a Ch'ii, neatly embodying the alliance of the human and supernatural grandees of T'ai chou that they had wished to contrive. This is one way, at least, of reconstructing the sources of the two main themes in the myth of Ch'ii T'an, and their subsequent amalgamation. But our main concern is with the transformation of Ch'ii T'an the dragonking into the city god of T'ai chou. How did this come about? The account of the city-god temple in the oldest surviving history of T'ai chou, the Chia-ting Ch'ih-ch'eng chih (1223), begins in this way: The [prefectural] ch'eng-huang miaois northeast of Ta-ku Mountain. It was erected in the fourth year of Wu-te in the T'ang dynasty [662]. The wife of Ch'iuHuang, [vice-president of] the Department of State Affairs under the [San kuo] Wu, dreamed that she encountered a god. She bore a son, whose name was T'an. He underwent a divine transformation. He could summon up clouds and rain. Later he and his mother concealed themselves in the mountains. Today T'an is worshipped as the city god, and the old home of Mr. Ch'u is used as the prefectural yamen. Prayers to him at times of flood or drought are usually efficacious. He was given the title "Hsing-sheng yung-an wang" Rli07-EE by one of the rulers of the state of Wu-Yueh [907-978].80

There follows a list of later titles and honors bestowed by the 78

See, for example, T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi(cited note 2), 303.2400.1.

79 The 1010 "Record of the Dragon King" states that Ch'ii-mu shan was re-named

Lung-mu shan in 932 (T'ai chouchin-shihlu [cited note 63], 2.15a.9-10). But I have not been able to confirm the existence of a Ch'ui-mu shan in medieval times. There is no entry for the name in the commentaries to Shui ching A(y, Wen hsiuan ; or Tzu-chiht'ungchien,nor does the name appear in Hou Han shu *Afi or San kuo chih, or in the titles of items in T'ai-p'ing kuang-chior T'ai-p'ingyii-lan. 80 Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'engchih (cited note 62),




emperor, including one for sending rain in response to prayers and another for protecting the imperial party during their flight from the north after the Jurchen conquest, together with a resume of construction and renovation projects. According to this account, then, the city-god temple of T'ai chou was established in 622. Now, in 591 a Lin-hai chen V, (garrison) was established on Ta-ku Mountain, and shortly thereafter the yamen of Lin-hai hsien was shifted to the site of the garrison. At the end of the Sui a prefecture called Hai i4 chou was established, with its capital at Lin-hai. It came under T'ang control in 621, and was re-named T'ai chou in 622.81 All of this is recounted in detail some of it unreliable in a preface to a list of prefects copied from the wall of the main hall of the T'ai chou yamen. The preface, dated 978, states that when Sui defeated Ch'en in 589, Lin-hai prefecture was abolished. At some unspecified time thereafter, "Lin-hai chen was [established] at Ta-ku Mountain. There was a complement of a thousand soldiers to defend its walls. The [yamen of] Lin-hai county was moved to a site in front of the garrison." Later, Lin-hai county was changed to Hai chou and then to T'ai chou. "The old [yamen of] T'ai chou was on Ta-ku Mountain, in the residence of a local man, Ch'ui Kuang X. The site was superior, so it was located there. Mr. Ch'ii's second son, Hui-t'an NH., made the house into the prefectural [yamen] when he served as prefect."82 Here we have a distorted version of the basic legend about Ch'ii Huang, Ch'ii T'an, and T'ai chou. The author, believing that T'ai chou had been established in 619, and that the prefectural yamen had at one time been a residence of the Ch'ii family, assumed that Ch'ii Huang and Ch'ii T'an, the only two members of the family whose fame had survived locally into the late tenth century, had themselves been involved in the transformation of the house into a yamen. Either inadvertently or deliberately, he got their names slightly wrong, as well as placing them in the wrong era. On the Yu-ti chi-sheng .#4jj33Eff(ca. 1221, edition of 1849), 12.3a-4a; Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'eng chih 1.2b. There is little agreement among the sources on these changes. I have followed those cited, which seem relatively reliable. 82 Tseng Hui -t, "T'ai chou chiin-chih t'ing-pi chi" , Ch'ih-ch'engchi (cited note 68), 2.4a.6-4b.5. Date from 4b.6. 81




other hand, his account of the establishment of the new capital of Lin-hai/T'ai chou seems to be substantially correct.83 Thus it appears that some time during the Sui, a fortified place was established on Ta-ku Mountain, in or near the city that had existed there, usually called Lin-hai, for many centuries. Shortly thereafter, the seat of civilian administration was moved right next to the fortifications-a prudent step in view of the unsettled conditions prevailing at the time. The offices were installed in what was, or had been, a mansion belonging to the Ch'ii family. A few years later, when T'ang took control of the area from the last of a series of regional strongmen, a city-god temple was established nearby.84 It would seem that the Ch'ii family had long been associated with Ta-ku Mountain. It is notable that even the Chin version of the Ch'ii T'an myth states that T'an and his mother moved from Ta-ku Mountain to their pools on Dragon Mother Mountain.85 It may be that the 1010 account of the bestowal of titles on Chiu-shui Monastery and the dragon king is substantially correct when it states that already in Wu times prefectural offices had been established on Ta-ku Mountain.86 But correct or not, government offices were established there at one point. The question is, why? The site was high up, accessible only by a steep path.87 Defense may have been a consideration, but I believe that the association with the divine emanations that still clung to the place was more important. 83 It is tempting to speculate that Tseng Hui provides us with the best version of the legend, because that would suggest that the T'ai chou ch'eng-huang shencult originated in a manner similar to several of the others we have studied; that is, by crystallizing around a local figure who wielded great power in the Sui-T'ang transition. The only concrete evidence that stands in the way of this interpretation is the anecdote from the Chin dynasty Chun-kuochih (see above, p. 383), and that, as we have seen, is not unassailable. But Tseng Hui's preface is inaccurate in other ways, as is pointed out by the editor of Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'engchih, for example on p. 5. lb.5-6. Moreover, the name Ch'u Hui-t'an does not appear in the early T'ang portion of the actual list of prefects (ibid., 8.8a if.). What is finally most convincing is the unanimity of all other Sung sources-many of which I have not discussed-on the basic outline of the legend, plus the entire absence of any evidence about an early T'ang prefect of T'ai chou named Ch'udHui-t'an. 84 See p. 2b of the map section of Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'eng chih,which shows the chou ch'enghuangmiao and Yung-ch'ing yuan j3C.110 tion earlier than 729 in the "miscellaneous inscriptions" (tAI) JAJI,111 or in the indexes to section of Shih-k'o t'i-pa so-yin two Sung collections of inscriptions from the Han and Wei __

dynasties.112 103 Han shuchi chu-putsung-hoyin-te& fiQ. jj,-- 1i14 (Harvard-Yenching Sinological Index Series, no. 36), and Wong Fook-luen, Han shu so-yin (Hong Kong: Research Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1966.) 104 Shih chi chi chu-shihtsung-hoyin-teI i4 (Harvard-Yenching Sinological Index Series, no. 40), and Wong Fook-luen, Shih chi so-yin (Hong Kong: Research Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Chung Chi College, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1963). 105 Shih-huochih shih-wuchungtsung-hoyin-te9 ?jE,fi, ij4 (Harvard-Yenching Sinological Index Series, no. 32). 106 Kristofer Schipper, ed., Pao-p'u tzu nei- [wai-] p'ien t'ung-chien Xr (Paris: Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises de l'Universite de Paris, 1965, 1969.) 107 Morimoto Kakuzo A*-A , ed., Gokyosakuin IHff,gI, 4 vols. (Tokyo: Meguro Shoten, 1935-44). 108 Ch'un-ch'iuching-chuan i4 (Harvard-Yenching Sinological Index yin-te 8 Series, supplement no. 11). 109 Chou 1i yin-te fu chu-shuyin-shu yin-te N4 ig IF i (Harvard-Yenching Sinological Index Series, no. 37). H R H I 110 Ch'iianshang-ku. . . p'ien-mingmu-luchi tso-cheso-yin: .. . t (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chu, 1965). 111 Cited note 2. 112 Uchino Kumaichiro p8kjfftX $, ed., Kan Gi hibun kimbunkyomeisakuin (Reishaku hen) and ... (Reizokuhen) (-E) , ( (Tokyo: Kyokuto Shoten, 1966).




Many pre-T'ang short stories concerning the realm of gods and ghosts, or summaries of such stories, are preserved in the great . As city gods tenth-century collection, T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi became a familiar feature of the religious landscape, they naturally began to appear in such stories. A search of the two sections most likely to contain evidence of city gods the twenty-four chapters dealing with "gods" (chiuan291-315) and the eleven on "resurrections" (ch/uan375-86), containing altogether around three hundred stories turned up no mention of a city god in any story dating from before the third quarter of the eighth century."13 A separate search of the early fourth-century collection of tales of the supernatural, Sou shen chi 4t*4', also uncovered no uses of the terms ch'eng-huang shen or ch'eng-huangmiao."l Nor did I find any references to city gods or city-god temples in collections of translated pre-T'ang tales, such as The Man Who Sold a Ghost.115 The absence of city gods in pre-T'ang descriptions of the world of the dead is very significant, since they seem to have been thought of from the beginning as supernatural magistrates, with authority over the souls of people who died in their jurisdictions. All this evidence, negative though it is, suggests very strongly that the idea of a city god did not appear much earlier than the first The earliest was in a story taken from a lost work by Niu Su 4:R called Chi wen ssu-hu" '.J+Ij7pI, T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi[cited note 2], 303.2399-2400.) When was Chi wen written? Next to nothing is known about Niu Su, so dating must be based predominantly on internal evidence. Forty-two selections from Chi wen preserved in T'ai-p'ing kuang-chigive some kind of date as part of the narrative. The latest of these is a reference to T'ang Su-tsung (r. 756-762). (The reference in ch. 331, number 5, to "Chen-yuan 23" is clearly a mistake for "K'ai-yuan 23;" there was no Chen-yuan 23, and an event clearly subsequent to this one is said to have occurred in "mid-T'ien-pao".) Most of the dates are in late K'ai-yuan and early T'ien-pao, say 730 to 750. The editor (Shanghai: Shanghai ku-chi ch'u-pan she, 1978; p. 239) of T'ang-jenhsiao shuo }J\I states that the uncanny anecdotes recorded in the book are set mostly in the period from the K'ai-yuan era to the Ch'ien-yuan era (713-760). I think it is probably safe to date Chi wen to the third quarter of the eighth century. Of course, some of the material in it may have been taken by Niu Su from earlier collections now lost; some may even have originated in local storytelling. Even if Niu Su had been the first to adapt them for a reading audience, they could still have been in existence for generations before he learned of them. This is a general problem with T'ai-p'ing kuang-chias a historical source, and needs to be always kept in mind by anyone using it. Still, in this case I see no reason to doubt the cumulative impression left by the three hundred or so stories I have used. "14Kan Pao :, Sou shenchi (Ts'ung-shuchi-ch'enged.). 115 Gladys and Hsien-yi Yang, tr. (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1958). 113

#B 3rg("Hsiuan chou




half of the sixth century. Moreover, it probably did not become particularly important until the eighth century. The earliest text in the Ch'uan T'ang wen . that mentions a city god in its title is dated 717; 116 as we have seen, the earliest inscription dealing with a city-god temple listed in Shih-k'o t'i-pa so-yin is dated 729, and the earliest story in the "gods" and "resurrections" sections of T'ai-p'ing kuang-chiin which a ch'eng-huangshen is mentioned is not earlier than the third quarter of the eighth century. According to my data, two temples were in existence by the mid-sixth century, and a third was founded in 622. An additional twelve are known to have been in existence during the eighth century, fifteen more in the ninth, twenty-three more in the tenth, two more in the eleventh, forty more in the twelfth, and sixteen more in the thirteenth." 7 China, as everyone knows, was a civilization of city builders. Walled cities were common during the Eastern Chou, and almost certainly were characteristic features of the Chinese landscape in Western Chou and even Shang times as well. 18 Moreover the 116 Chang Yiieh , "Chi ch'eng-huang wen" J t, Ch'iuanT'ang wen (cited note 8), 233.9a-b. 117 It would be extremely useful to list all ch'eng-huang miaoin chronological order by date of founding, but unfortunately that is impossible. A few texts say when a temple was founded, but most simply supply evidence that a temple was in existence at the time the text was written. For example, of the twenty-three temples listed above for the tenth century, I have evidence of the founding of only five; for the rest, thirteen were granted titles or received offerings during that period, and the remaining five are mentioned in tenth-century texts of various sorts: a memorial, an edict, an inscription, and so on. Therefore we cannot readily map the spread of the ch'eng-huangshenidea. I have done the next best thing: given for each century the number of temples or cults founded during that period, plus the number of temples or cults of whose existence we learn for the first time in texts datable to that century. This means that a cult assigned to the tenth century may actually have been founded in the eighth century, but despite this defect, the chronological data are still very suggestive, as we shall see. Thirty-nine cults known only through Pin t'ui lu, and undated there, were excluded from the figures presented above. If I had used them, I would have had to assign them all to 1224, the nominal date of Pin t'ui lu, even though most were probably founded long before then. This obviously would have created a very misleading impression. These cults are shown on the map, however. 118 The archeological evidence is rather sparse for the earlier periods. For an authoritative overview, see K. C. Chang, "Towns and Cities in Ancient China," in his Early ChineseCivilization: AnthropologicalPerspectives(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1976), pp. 61-71; and his Shang Civilization (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), pp. 158-62, 272-83. See also David Keightley's remarks on Chang's view of Shang cities: JAS 41.3 (1982): 553-54.




Chinese had worshipped the spirits of the hills, rivers, springs, and valleys among which they lived, and had made offerings to the gates, wells, and stoves of their houses, from ancient times. How was it then that the idea of a city god did not appear until late medieval times? Is it possible that there already was, in Han times and earlier, a deity with all the functions and attributes of the ch'eng-huangshen, but with a different name? I believe that new names appear because they are needed, and that the late appearance of the term "ch'enghuang shen" signals the advent of a new religious idea in China. But there is one earlier conception that seems at first glance similar enough to a city god to warrant a closer investigation before we proceed with the discussion. This is the she *?, the ancient god of the soil. This cult had full classical sanction, and has been discussed in detail by Chavannes and Maspero, among others.119 The she'was a territorial spirit. In ancient times, when a kingdom was conquered and its ruling house wiped out, the altar of the earth-spirit of the kingdom was roofed over, and the tree that grew upon it was cut down.120 But territories of far smaller extent than kingdoms also had she. It would seem, in fact, that any territory, no matter how small, could have a she, provided that it was under the control of a member of the feudal nobility.121 (The common people were not supposed to establish she of their own.) 122 Li chi and Tso chuan both identify the shg with the legendary hero, Kou-lung ' fiR,"son of the monster Kung-kung, who . . . helped to put the nine provinces in order after [Kung-kung's] death.'1123 But many ritual experts in Han times and later rejected this identification of the earth god with a specific 119 Edouard Chavannes, "Le Dieu du Sol dans la Chine Antique," in his Le T'ai Chan (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1910 [Annales du Musee Guimet, vol. 21]), pp. 437-525; Henri Maspero, China in Antiquity,Frank Kierman, Jr., trans. (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1978), pp. 98-101, 120-22. The locusclassicusis Li chi , "Chi fa" , 46.llb-12b [p. 801] of the Yi-wen reprint of the 1815 Nan-ch'ang fu-hsuieh 7 rqMr edition of Li chi chu-shu Rjt~jj,. 120 Maspero, pp. 101, 120. 121 See K'ung Ying-ta's commentary in Li chi 46.12b.2-3. 122 This was the rule in Han times, at any rate (though it seems not to have been effective), and the language of Li chi appears to reflect the same practice. See Han shu 27B.1413. 123 Maspero, p. 99. Li chi, "Chi fa," 46.14b.9-10; Tso chuan kf, Chao 29, (James Legge, trans., The Ch'un Ts'ew with the Tso Chuen,vol. 5 of The ChineseClassics [Hong Kong: Lane, Crawford and Co., 1872], p. 731b).




individual (even a legendary one), and insisted that Kou-lung merely partook of the sacrifices at the earth-altar in association with other deified men (p'ei shihfyi she MAbfi?) .124 When the Chou feudal order was replaced by the Ch'in-Han bureaucratic system, cities, towns, and villages continued to have shel. In places that were administrative seats, the local officials had charge of the sacrifices to the she.125 These sacrifices were mandated by statute as part of the official religion. In county and prefectural capitals, the expenses of the cult were evidently borne by the government; in villages and hamlets, the inhabitants had to meet the costs themselves.126 In Han times formal worship of the god of the soil in the county and prefectural cities thus was in the hands of the officials. The cult was throughly rationalized: the earth-god had long since been depersonalized and universalized, and was as featureless and abstract as the deities of the hills, rivers, thunder, rain, and other features of the natural world that received official sacrifice. The open altar was made of earth and was extremely plain, with only a stone pillar, representing the god, and a tree to mark it. 127 Sacrifices there were offered only twice a year, on days in the second and eighth months fixed by statute.128 Finally, virtually all settlements could have a she".(The requirement that a member of the feudal nobility control the territory of the she'had become obsolete with the beginning of the bureaucratic era, and even though the officials seem to have tried to retain the monopoly of establishing shge,the evidence suggests that this proved to be impossible.) In all these ways, the shge'was unlike the ch'eng-huangshen. Almost all ch'eng-huangshen were the spirits of specific individuals. They were housed in temples, which frequently were large and elaborately decorated. Prayers were offered there constantly, and worship was not controlled by the officials. Furthermore, even in early times the ch'eng-huangshen was believed to have a "birthday," which was the 124 This phrase is Cheng Hsuan's 053, quoted in Hou Han shu f (Peking: Chunghua shu-chui, 1965), Monographs, chuan9, p. 3200. See the long debate on this subject given at ibid., p. 3202, n. 8. 125 Ibid., p. 3200. 126 See the passage from Shih chi 28.1380, quoted by Chavannes, "Le Dieu du Sol," p. 441, n. 4. 127 See the quotation from T'ung tien XA in Chavannes, p. 477, n. 1. 128 Chavannes, p. 479 and n. 1.




occasion of the most important ceremonies in his honor, and the date of these birthdays naturally varied from place to place. Above all, villages and other small settlements did not have a god of the walls and moat in the early period, for the obvious reason. There was therefore a very great difference between the city-god cults and she worship as it was officially prescribed. The common people had undoubtedly worshipped local earth gods for thousands of years. The sacred tree and phallic stone pillar of the classical she"altar show clearly its ancient origins. But by Han times this part of indigenous Chinese religious practice had been systematized and rationalized, and in its new form was then reimposed on the towns and villages of the empire. The orthodox version of the cult discouraged people from thinking of the earth god as a specific individual, limited formal sacrifices to two a year, and forbade the employment of shamans. This could hardly have satisfied the religious needs of the people, and not surprisingly they continued to worship in ways more to their liking. They thought of their local earth god as a spiritual being capable of intervening directly and personally in the human world, who dwelt probably underground near the altar where sacrifices were offered to him.'29 The shegwas a dangerous and demanding being who had to be placated lest he send calamities upon the people. His authority stemmed from his power, not his goodness. The people worshipped him with blood sacrifices, music and dancing, and heavy expenditures both of money and emotion.130 This sounds a little more like the city gods we have discussed above, and the conflict between the popular and official versions of the she'is quite similar to that between the two versions of the ch'enghuangshen that we will examine in detail later. But the use of an open altar for worship; the anonymity of the various local she; and, above all, the presence of she'-worship in even small villages and hamlets demonstrate decisively that the she'were not city gods with a dif129 See the important article by R. A. Stein, "Religious Taoism and Popular Religion from the Second to the Seventh Centuries," in Facets of Taoism, ed. Holmes Welch and Anna Seidel (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979), pp. 53-81. See stories from (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, the third and fifth centuries in T'ai-p'ingyu-lan tT-,# 1960, rpt. of the Sung ed.), 532.7b-8b. 130 See, for example, the early fifth-century story "Chen Chung" , T'ai-p'ing kuangchi [cited note 2], 318.2522-23.




ferent name. It is more accurate to see the she'as forerunners of the ch'eng-huangshen. For many centuries the shegwere meaningful to both country folk and city dwellers, but they were supplanted by more functionally specific deities when the distinction between village and city became sufficiently sharp. In Sung times, when this process was well advanced, observers recognized that the ch'eng-huangshen had replaced the she' as the main territorial god among city dwellers. An inscription commemorating the construction of a city-god temple in the capital of Lung-ch'uian qftji county (modern Sui-ch'uan [email protected],Kiangsi) in A.D. 1030 states plainly that "although the sacrifices [to the city god] are not found in the ritual scriptures, they are weightier than [the sacrifices at] the altars of the soil (she') and grain (chi )."131 The commemorative inscription composed by the Sung poet Lu Yu on the occasion of the rebuilding of the city-god temple at the capital of Ning-te *a county (Fukien) in 1158 expresses much the same perception: "Since T'ang times the prefectures and counties have all sacrificed to the ch'eng-huang.In recent times people have become especially reverent toward the ch'eng-huang.... The cult is honored above all others. While the altars of the soil and grain are respected, and their service is specially mandated by the statutes and ordinances, there is nothing remotely like the ch'eng-huang when it comes to rituals of exorcism or ceremonies of thanksgiving.55132 And a record of the reconstruction of the K'ai-feng ch'eng-huangmiao, written in 1300, states that the city god "has come to be worshipped everywhere under Heaven. Although the she"and are regularly reverenced, nothing the Five Sacrifices (wu ssu equals the way the ch'eng-huangis served now.'"133 These contemporary observations make it clear that the she'was not a city god with a different name. The she'had some functions that were similar to those of a city god, but the idea belonged to an earlier area. By Sung times it could no longer compete with the ch'eng-huangshen. Worship of the she"was maintained by the officials, fu chih (53 chuian;1876), 10.13a. Chi-an t (SPTK ed.), 17.3a.3-4. Wei-nanwen-chiMMZ (SPTK ed.), 40.14a.9-1 1. 133 Ch'iu-chien hsien-shengta-ch'iianwen-chi kjf The Five Sacrifices are explained in various ways. Po hu t'ung O Mffi(according to Morohashi, Dai kan-wajiten p. 482C) states they honor the gate, door, well, stove, and courtyard. 131





a revered fossil, but the people had turned away, city dwellers to the city gods, country folk to the t'u-tis ?t1I.134 We come back then to the question I asked at the beginning of this brief digression: Why did the idea that there were gods who were specifically concerned with cities and their inhabitants appear so late? Why did the city god idea take root in the religious imagination of the Chinese when it did? The beginning of an answer to this question can be found in the geography of the early cults. To begin with, almost all of the 150 T'ang and Sung city-god cults I have identified were in either prefectural (chou, chiin, fu) or county (hsien) capitals.13- Of those in existence before 800, seven were in county capitals and eight in higher-level capitals (chou and chiin); of those I have listed for the ninth and tenth centuries, fourteen were in county capitals, and twenty-four were in higher-level capitals (chou, chiin, fu); of those I have listed for the eleventh and twelfth centuries, twenty-six were in county capitals, fifteen in higher-level capitals, and one in the headquarters of a military district (chuin W) .136 The totals are: county capitals, forty-seven; higher-level capitals, forty-eight (including the military district). The two essays in Pin t'ui lu that deal with city gods mention a total of eighty-nine cults.137 Twentyfive of these were in county capitals, sixty in higher-level capitals (including eight in military districts). (Of the remaining four, two were in towns [E], and two in walled inner cities.) Since there were between four and five times as many counties as higher-level units in T'ang and Northern Sung times, these figures suggest that city-god temples were much more likely to be located in prefectural or other higher-level administrative centers than in county seats.138 This in 134 The emergence of the idea of the t'u-ti is much too large a topic to treat here. My preliminary research suggests that it, too, appeared surprisingly late. 135 See above, note 2, for a discussion of the sources used in the compilation of the master list of T'ang and Sung ch'eng-huangshen cults. 136 For the problem of assigning dates to city-god cults, see above, note 117. 137 The figure of thirty-nine given in note 117 includes only those cults that are not also mentioned in any of the other sources used, and are given no specific date in Pin t'ui-lu. 138 Chiu T'ang shu 38.1384; Sung shih 85.2095. Ou-yang Hsiu R;p has an interesting comment in his Chi-ku lu tr; (third quarter of the eleventh century): "Nowadays [ch'eng-huangmiao] are not confined to Wu and Yiieh, but are found everywhere, though seldom in county [capitals]" (quoted in Chin-shihts'ui-pien[cited note 32], 91 .22a). In other words, city-god worship had spread greatly since mid-T'ang times (Ou-yang was commenting on a mid-T'ang text), but the temples were still found mostly in larger cities.




turn seems to imply that larger cities were more hospitable than small ones to city-god cults in the T'ang-Sung era.'39 Does this association of city-god temples with local administrative centers mean that the cults were sponsored by the government? I do not believe so, for the following reasons. An inscription of 759 states that city gods are not listed in the Register of Sacrifices (VIA), the roster of spirits and gods to whom the offering of sacrifices was authorized by the Board of Rites.l40 In addition, there is evidence from the eighth century of official scorn or condemnation of city-god cults.141 The first grant of a noble title to a only in 898.142 city god-a sure sign of official acceptance-occurred As late as 951, an official could vehemently condemn the granting of noble titles to city gods as a practice contrary to both law and ritual, and likely to encourage heterodoxy.143 Ch'eng-huangshen are not even mentioned in the T'ang Statutes, as reconstructed by Niida, although they contain a good deal of material on local sacrifices and even about ceremonies to accompany rain prayers, where one would certainly expect city gods to be mentioned if they were officially recognized. There seems to have been no city-god temple in either Ch'ang-an or Lo-yang, the T'ang capitals.145 Moreover, the regional distribution of cults was very uneven, with especially small numbers in the 144

139 Of course, there must have been some county capitals that were larger than the smallest prefectural capitals, but prefectural capitals were usually larger than county seats. 140 Li Yang-ping j "Chin-yiin hsien ch'eng-huang shen chi" IV3 Ch'iian T'ang wen 437.15a.4. 141 Chao Chiu-chen ,X, "Hsin hsiu Ch'un-shen chun miao chi" j ibid., 296.19b-21b (751) and Li Yang-ping, "Chin-yiin hsien ch'eng-huang shen chi" 437.15a. 142 Chang Chien "Hua chou ch'eng-huang shen Chi-an hou hsin miao chi" , Chin-shih , ts'ui-pien 156.10a.2-4. This document raises many rZ3 tI~l questions, and it is conceivable that the statement concerning the imperial grant of the title Marqtuis of Chi-an is false. If so, the earliest grant took place in 907, when P'ang Yu, the ch'eng-huangshenof Shaohsing, was so honored (see above, note 37). 143 Ch'en Chih-yung "I fei yin-ssu chuang" AMr f , Ch'uan T'ang wen 873.6a-b. = 144 Niida Noboru (Tokyo: Tokyo Daigaku Shuppaned., T5ryoshkii,:, 6 kai, 1964, rpt. of 1933 ed.), pp. 159. 198-99, 208-10. 145 Hiraoka Takeo (Kyoto: Kyoto Daigaku Zf-JjA), ed., Choanto RakuyoA L 4 Jimbun Kagaku Kenkyujo, 1956), which indexes the most important early descriptions of those cities, has no entry for either "ch'eng-huangshen" or "ch'eng-huangmiao."




regions surrounding the two capitals.146 Furthermore, if promotion of the cults had been government policy, why was the proportion of county capitals with city-god temples so much smaller than that of prefectural capitals? Then too, if the government had been behind the spread of this idea, why the term "city god"? Why not "county god," or "prefecturalgod" ? Why should the government single out cities in this way? Also, there was little uniformity from cult to cult. Chao Yui-shih points out that not all city-god cults had official recognition, and among those that did, some had only temple plaques while others had only titles of nobility; some had been ennobled by earlier dynasties but not by the Sung; some titles were not even authentic, but simply appropriated by a city for its god; and so on.'47 Such inconsistency is a sign of independent local development, not central government sponsorship and control. Finally, as we have seen, the counties and prefectures already had tutelary deities, of a sort: the spirits of the soil and grain, she'-chi hm. In T'ang times the worship of the she and chi was an important part of the state cult. T'ang officials must have known that if they promoted worship of the ch'eng-huangshen, they would help weaken part of the state religion, as in fact happened. Thus I conclude that the early city-god cults were not statesponsored, that there was no official policy mandating the establishment of ch'eng-huangmiao in prefectural or county capitals, and that in T'ang times at any rate, worship of the ch'eng-huangshen was not part of the state cult. What then accounts for the fact that almost all known T'ang and Sung temples to "the god of the walls and moat" were located in seats of local administration? I believe it was because at that time, prefectural and county capitals were virtually the only substantial settlements with walls. Since there is no comprehensive census of T'ang and Sung walled cities, I cannot prove this. And it is true that some scholars have suggested that the Sung witnessed a rapid increase in the number of smaller towns, called chen Ly after the garrisons from which they are believed to have 146 See below. Our data are incomplete, of course, but there is contemporary testimony on this point: as late as the thirteenth century, Chao Yii-shih commented on the relative scarcity of city-god temples in the cities of "the northwest" (Pin t'ui lu [cited note 2], 9. 100). 147 Ibid., 8.94.




evolved.148 I will simply say that I believe that very few of these

urban chen (as opposed to actual garrisons, such as the one on Ta-ku Mountain that we looked at earlier) had walls, and await contrary evidence. 149 Officials do not usually seem to have opposed the establishment of city-god temples, and in Sung times it was common for them to contribute in various ways to the maintenance of cults already in existence. But we must look for some reason other than formal government policy to explain why the city god idea began to spread vigorously in T'ang times. Mapping the distribution of city-god temples in T'ang and Sung is indispensable to an understanding of the early history of the idea. Since the data usually tell us only that a given temple was in existence at a certain time, not when it was founded, mapping temple sites century by century will not give an accurate impression of the spread of the idea.150 I have therefore prepared only two maps, one showing known temple sites as of 800, the other showing all 150 sites in the master list.151 (The master list, which also serves as a key to 148 See Shiba Yoshinobu, Commerce and Societyin Sung China, trans. and abridged by Mark Elvin (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 1970), pp. 128-31; Denis Twitchett, "The T'ang Market System," AM 12.2 (1966): 203. 149 Denis Twitchett offers a good rationale for my position: "a walled city without an official presence was a threat to [state] security or at least a potential threat" (letter of 9 December 1981). The case of Ming-Ch'ing Hankow is most suggestive in this regard. Even though it was the largest city in Hupei, with a population of about a million in 1800, it was neither a county nor prefectural capital (it was classified as a chen). Large as it was, it had no wall (before the mid-nineteenth century), and no city-god temple (William T. Rowe, Hankow: Commerceand Societyin a ChineseCity [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984], pp. 30, 40-42). 150

See above, note 117.

The following sources were used in drawing the maps: General: the map accompanying Hiraoka Takeo Nj'j-t51 and Ichihara K6kichi (Kyoto: Kyoto Daigaku Jimbun Kagaku Todai no gyosei chiri 4ftOjgjft r , and Yoneda Kenkyfijo, 1954); the map accompanying Araki Toshikazu g Kenjir6 I (Kyoto: fl% 5, Shii tsuiganKochu chimei sakuin i#p Kyoto Daigaku Jimbun Kagaku Kenkyfijo, 1967); and the new Chinese historical atlas, Chung-kuoli-shih ti-t'u chi rP jtX,F preliminary edition, 8 vols. (Shanghai: Chung-hua ti-t'u hsueh-she, 1975). Roads: maps I and II in Aoyama Sadao *aiItrj4, To Sojidai no kotsuto chishi chizu no OD , (Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 1963), suppleffi L-I=j[ kenkyiuW*4cD mented by the map of T'ang China facing p. 62 of the T'ang chapter of volume 2 of Shih (Taipei: Chung-kuo wen-hua Chang-ju -153f, et al., Chung-kuoli-shih ti-li rpgffJ3tE ch'u-pan shih-ye she, 1954). 151




the numbers on the maps, is printed as an appendix to this article.) The first map reveals two important facts: first, more than half the sites are within 175 kilometers of a point roughly midway between Hangchow and Shaohsing; second, the remaining sites are distributed quite broadly, from Fu chou on the southeastern coast to Ching chou and Ku-ch'eng in the west, and Mu-yang chiin/Sung chou in the north. The concentration in northern Chekiang and southern Kiangsu is extremely significant, as I will try to make clear shortly. The relatively broad distribution suggests that the idea moved rather easily from city to city. The second map represents, in relative terms, the regional distribution of ch'eng-huangshen cults in the first quarter of the thirteenth century.'52 It shows heavy concentrations of temple sites in the lower Canals: Denis Twitchett, Financial AdminstrationUnderthe T'ang Dynasty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), pp. 182-89 and map 5; Denis Twitchett, ed., CambridgeHistory of China, vol. 3, part 1, Sui and T'ang China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), map 2; and Chung-kuoli-shih ti-t'u chi. Despite the excellence of the foregoing sources, river and canal courses in Hopei and Shantung, and routes of roads generally, are only approximate. 152 Although I have included in the master list all sites from pre-Ming sources that can be dated to before the end of the Sung, there are only eight, excluding the large group derived from Pin t'ui lu (1224), that are later than 1201. Thus the great bulk of the sites in the master list had been founded before the first quarter of the thirteenth century. I am of course assuming that no cult of which I have knowledge in this period became defunct. This seems unlikely, but I doubt that more than a handful ceased to exist. All 150 sites from the master list are mapped, but only 114 are given boldface numbers. If all 150 had been printed in the same manner, a misleading impression of the actual distribution of city-god temple sites would have been created. Twenty-six of the thirty-six sites not printed in boldface are county ch'eng-huangmiaoknown only because they receive brief mentions in six Sung local histories. (Two other county sites known only from Sung local histories-nos. 55 and 80-are given boldface numbers because they are mentioned in quotations from earlier, datable works.) A map of these sites obviously would tell us more about the distribution of surviving Sung local histories than the distribution of Sung city god sites. (The prefecturaltemples mentioned in these sources have, however, been mapped with boldface numbers and solid dots.) Five sites around Kuei-lin II# (nos. 35, 36, 37, 39, and 53) are known only from a group of brief prayers for good weather written by Li Shang-yin in 847. At that time Li wrote a great number of prayers to local deities for the prefect of Kuei-lin, Cheng Ya f The situation that gave rise to this barrage of prayers is not at all clear to me. It seems unlikely that all the gods addressed were the objects of equally active cults. Moreover, we have no comparable body of material for other T'ang prefectures. So it would be misleading to enter all five sites on the map in the same way. Similarly, four sites in modern Kweichow JI' province (nos. 56, 58, 85, and 98) are known only because Sung hui-yaohappens to record the granting of imperial name-boards to them in 1110 and 1112. This was frontier territory at that time,




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Yangtze valley, Chekiang, Fukien, and Kiangsi. Using G. William Skinner's "physiographic macroregions," as defined for Northern Sung by Robert Hartwell in an important recent article, we find that the Lower Yangtze region contains 27.7% of the boldface ch'eng-huangmiao sites, the Southeast Coast 19.6%, and the eastern region of the Middle Yangtze, 17.9%0153 Thus these three regions and at least two of the prefectures were abolished in 1121. In each of these two areas, therefore, only one site is printed in boldface. Finally, three sites in Shansi (nos. 23, 40, and 48) are mentioned only in a single passage in Sung shih, which states that Sung T'aitsu sacrificed to various local deities, including the ch'eng-huangshen, in those places when his forces took control there in 960 (102.2497). None of these sites is in boldface. (If we had a set of prayers like Li Shang-yin's for every T'ang prefecture, or if we had a complete record of Sung T'ai-tsu's prayers to local gods during his campaigns, I would of course include all the city-god cults mentioned in them without hesitation.) 153 T== 112, since two of the 114 boldface sites are in the Yun-Kwei macroregion, which Hartwell does not treat. Robert M. Hartwell, "Demographic, Political, and Social Transformations of China, 750-1550," HJAS 42.2 (1982): 365-442. The population statistics in Hartwell's article are extrapolations from the populations of seventy-nine sample prefectures, using constant boundaries based on the boundaries of 1080. In my opinion, these statistics are the most reliable indexes of demographic change in T'ang and Sung China that have yet been developed. (Hartwell stresses that the figures must not be taken as absolute totals for any given year or region. See Appendix I, "Note on Population," p. 427.) I am grateful to Professor Hartwell for making a draft of his article available to me. As explained in note 2, Ming and Ch'ing local histories sometimes contain important information about early city-god cults. But this information is often difficult to authenticate (see note 90 for a brief discussion of the problems involved in evaluating statements about early city-god temples made in later sources), and in any case to make proper use of such evidence requires a search of at least the prefectural histories for all of Chinatoo large a task for this paper. But I did make a survey of the histories of the prefectures of Hopei and Kiangsi, supplemented by some county histories, to see whether the information in them confirmed the geographic distribution suggested by the T'ang and Sung sources. (Almost all the local histories I used dated from late Ch'ing.) I consulted twelve local histories offu and chih-li chouin Hopei, and the history of the metropolitan county and two other counties of Shun-te J[fgg fu, one of the two Hopei prefectures whose histories I did not have access to. (The other was Hstian-hua, an extremely remote jurisdiction.) Two additional county histories were consulted to follow up leads suggested by the prefectural histories. The works used were: Shun-t'iensfuchih J1rf q (130 chiian; 1884); Cho hsien jp chih (18 chiian; 1875); Fang-shan ;SI hsien chih (8 chiian; 1927); Kuang-p'ing) '-'fu chih (63 chiian; 1894); Cheng-tingiEt fu chih (50 chuian;1762); T'ienchin RRWfu chih (54 chiian; 1899); Pao-ting {) fu chih (79 chiian; 1882); Tsun-huat'ung ~4L)f -chih (80 chiian; 1888); Ho-chien ESfplfu chih (20 chiian; 1760); Yung-p'ing7-}zifu chih (72 chuian;1876); Chih-li Ting chou ft~,J, chih (22 chiian; 1850); Luan chou jIJ chih (18 chuian;1898); Ta-ming k fu chih (22 chuian;1854); Chih-li Chao ), chou chih (16 chiian;1897); Hsing-t'ai )f5 hsienchih (8 chiian; 1905); Nan-hoMtn hsienchih (12 chuian; h /sien chih (16 chiian; 1934). For Kiangsi I consulted twelve 1749); Kuang-tsung




account for 65.2o% of the boldface ch'eng-huangmiao sites. But they comprised only a little over 22% of the land area of Sung China (as defined by Hartwell) in the late eleventh century. The Northern and Northwestern regions together-the entire northern tier of the country-have only 14.3 % of the boldface ch'eng-huangmiao sites, but account for nearly 33%0 of the land area. Even more striking, when we recall that ch'eng-huangshen cults were located in walled cities, and that (as far as we can tell) almost all walled cities in T'ang and Sung times were seats of administration, is the fact that there were only twenty-seven prefectures in the Lower Yangtze region, fourteen in the Southeast Coast region, and fifteen in the eastern part of the Middle Yangtze region, out of a national total of over three hundred. While it is true that a prefecture or other higherlevel administrative unit in these three regions had on average more subordinate counties than prefectures in the north and west (a little over five, compared with around 3.5 for the rest of China), this is not enough to even begin to account for the concentration of city-god cults there.154 prefectural (fu) histories, plus twelve county histories (again to follow up leads). The works used were: Kuang-hsin gp fu chih (12 chiian; 1873); [email protected] chih (78 chiian; 1873); Yii-tuVl hsien chih (16 chuian;1874); Jui 34 -choufu chih (24 chiian; 1873); Chien-ch'ang gA fu chih (10 chiian; 1872); Nan-fengM hsien chih (36 chiian; 1924); Chiuchiang JLtE4fuchih (54 chiian; 1874); Nan-k'angMJ)fu chih (24 chiian; 1872); Nan-an M% fu chih (32 chiian; 1868); Nan-ch'ang E fu chih (66 chiian; 1873); Yuan-chouJIIfu chih (10 chutan;1874); Chi-an fu chih (53 chiian; 1876); Lu-uing&Pf hsien chih (28 chiian; 191 1); Lin-chiang41,j4fu chih (32 chuian;1871); Hsin-kan hisien chih (10 chiian; 1870); Hsia-chiangOajTihsienchih (10 chuian;1871); Ch'ing-chiang hT hsien-chih(10 chiian; 1870); Hsin-yii *j hsien chih (16 chuian;1873); Fu a choufu chih (86 chiian; 1876); Lin-ch'uan h lsien chih (36 chuian;1870); I-huang tt J)II hsien chih (54 chiian; 1870); Chin-hsi hsien chih (11 chuian;1871); Tung-hsiangAJ hsien hsien chih (32 chuian;1825); Le-an V chih (16 chutan;1869). In the Hopei histories I found evidence of only six pre-Ming city-god temples, none earlier than 1227. In the Kiangsi histories, on the other hand, I found evidence of thirtyone prefectural and county city-god temples dating from Yuan times or earlier-most of them much earlier. (Six were from the T'ang dynasty.) This disparity cannot be due to the fact that I looked at more county histories for Kiangsi than for Hopei, because I found in the Kiangsi county histories only three pre-Ming city-god temples that were not also mentioned in the prefectural histories. Nor does it seem probable that the Hopei histories were consistently less thorough or scholarly than the Kiangsi histories. Therefore, this sample of Ch'ing local histories provides interesting confirmation of the geographical distribution of early city-god temples suggested by the pre-Ming sources used in this paper. 154 It was not possible to determine exactly how many counties were included in the three regions as defined by Hartwell, but the Sung circuits of Liang Che, Chiang-nan




How can we explain the distribution of T'ang and Sung ch'enghuang miao sites? Hartwell's population statistics indicate an answer. The regions with the highest population densities in 1200 were Lower Yangtze (nineteen households per square kilometer), Southeast Coast (13.7), and Middle Yangtze East (13.6).155 The next most densely populated region was Upper Yangtze, with 9.5 households per square kilometer.156 Thus the three regions that were the most densely populated at the outset of the thirteenth century were the very regions that had the largest numbers of ch'eng-huangmiao sites. It will be recalled that the city god idea probably appeared some time in the first half of the sixth century, and seems not to have had much impact before the eighth century. Hartwell shows that in 609, North China and Northwest China had by far the highest population densities, at 10.74 and 6.33 households per square kilometer respectively. No other region had as many as 2.5.157 In the subsequent six centuries-approximately the period covered by this article-the population density of the Middle Yangtze East region grew by a staggering 2,760%, that of the Lower Yangtze by 700%, and that of the Southeast Coast (starting from 742) by 685%. The next highest rate was 475o/, for the Upper Yangtze, and no other region increased by more than 3000o in those six hundred years. (The figure for North China was - 18%.) In absolute terms, the population of Middle Yangtze East grew by over 3,100%, Lower Yangtze by 817%, and Southeast Coast (from 742) by 6950%.157A Thus the three regions in which the greatest growth of city god worship took place were the regions that had experienced the most rapid growth rates in both population and population density between 609 and 1200, East, Chiang-nan West, and Fu-chien comprise a roughly comparable area. According to a survey of Sung shih, ch. 85-90, the ratio of counties to higher-level units in the four circuits was 5.6, 4.3, 4.9, and 5.9 to 1, respectively, while the ratios of the remaining twenty circuits averaged 3.52 to 1. 155 19 hu/km2 iS equivalent to 271 persons per square mile, assuming 5.5 persons in a household. France had a population density of about 100 persons per square mile in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This evidently was the densest of any European country, but obviously far from the densest in the world, pace Pierre Goubert, The Ancien Rigime: FrenchSociety,1600-1750 (New York: Harper and Row, 1974), p. 35. 156 "Patterns of Settlement," Table 7. I have combined Hartwell's "core" and "periphery" figures to get a single figure for each region. 157 Ibid., Table 7. 157A

Ibid., Table 1. I have again combined core and periphery figures for each region.




in addition to being the most densely populated in 1200. In Sui and early T'ang times the south and southeast were virtually frontier areas, while the economic, political, and social heartland was in the north China plain and the Wei River valley.158 But by the twelfth century, the demographic center of gravity had shifted from north China to the eastern coastal region, south from the Yangtze to Ch'iian chou, and to the valleys of the lower Yangtze, the Kan, and the Che. The great growth of population in these areas was accompanied, necessarily, by growth in food production. Food production was ablp to expand because, in the first place, the south was intrinsically more productive than the north. "The climate was kinder, with a much longer growing season, and was far more dependable than in the north.... By [the early eighth century] the south was already producing a considerable grain surplus."''59 Agricultural productivity was also increased by the introduction of new strains of earlyripening rice, which began in late T'ang times.160 In addition, new arable land was created by the clearing of wasteland, construction of irrigation works and polders, terracing, and so on, which made use of the man-power created by the growing population. The increasing agricultural wealth of the region stimulated non-agricultural economic growth. The volume of trade increased, commercial life became far more complex and specialized, new kinds of credit instruments appeared (including paper money), the economy was substantially monetized, and water transportation was greatly improved.16' Cities grew, and the proportion of the 158 For a graphic representation of the distribution of population in 609, see the dot map in Hans Bielenstein, "The Census of China During the Period 2-742 A.D.," BMFEA 19 (1947), plate 5. The regional distribution of prestige and political influence in Six Dynasties and early T'ang times can be seen in the map of great clan choronyms in my The MedievalChineseOligarchy(cited note 72), p. 65. 159 Denis Twitchett, ed., The Cambridge History of China3.1: 23-24. 160 K. C. Chang, ed., Food In ChineseCulture(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977), pp. 89, 146-47. The classic study in English is Ping-ti Ho, "Early-Ripening Rice In Chinese History," EconomicHistoryReview, second series, 9 (1956): 200-18. 161 Mark Elvin, in The Patternof the ChinesePast (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1973), devotes five chapters to these and other aspects of what he calls "the medieval economic revolution." See also Denis Twitchett, "Merchant, Trade and Government In Late T'ang," AM 14.1 (1968): 63, 76-77. Fascinating details of Sung economic life are provided in Shiba Yoshinobu, Commerceand Society in Sung China (cited note 148). A




population living in cities and towns probably grew too.162 If so, the urban population grew at an even faster rate than the general population in the Lower Yangtze, Southeast Coast, and Middle Yangtze East regions. There was a proliferation of "small and intermediate-sized towns" (presumably unwalled), and the larger walled towns and cities in the south and southeast grew prodigiously.163 This "urban revolution," as Elvin has called it, is directly relevant to the emergence of the idea of a city god. In early T'ang and Six Dynasties (and probably in Han and pre-Han times as well) the tenor of life in China had been profoundly rural. With the exception of the national capitals, most cities were quite small. Moreover, the great families that comprised the medieval social and political elite were basically rural in orientation. Their estates in the countryside were of central importance to them, both economically and symbolically. Many great families lived in the same area for centuries, and all were formally identified by reference to the county and prefecture where their lands, and their ancestral tombs, were located.164 If a member of a great clan established a residence away from his family's ancient home, his ties to the family were felt to be seriously compromised. Even residence in the capital was regarded as untraditional and improper. 165 Consequently, great efforts were made to prevent this from happening, mainly by burying family members among the ancestral tombs, even if this meant transporting their coffins over many hundreds of miles. The distinction between city and country was not strong in satisfactory explanation of the "rise of the south" in Chinese history has not yet appeared. I do not discount the possibility that the early stages of the changes just summarized may themselves have led to further economic growth. But I am inclined very strongly to believe that the original stimulus was basically agricultural. (Cf. James Lee, "Food Supply and Population Growth in Southwest China, 1250-1850," JAS 41.4 [1982]: 71146.) 162 "Patterns of Settlement," p. 12, states that as the population of regions became denser, "the proportionof households engaged in non-agricultural occupations also became greater." 163 Twitchett, "The T'ang Market System" (cited note 148), p. 203, and "Merchant, Trade and Government," p. 77; Elvin, pp. 175-78. 164 David Johnson, "The Last Years of a Great Clan: The Li Family of Chao Chiun in Late T'ang and Early Sung," HJAS 37.1 (1977): 8-31; The Medieval ChineseOligarchy (cited note 72), chapter 6. 165 "Last Years," pp. 13-26, 33-34.




medieval times. A familiar symbol of this is the large tracts of farm land that existed within the walls of T'ang Ch'ang-an. More significantly, T'ang law made no distinction between villagers and citydwellers. All seem to have been taxed in the same way, and the internal administration of urban wards (ft) prescribed in the Statutes was virtually identical to that of the villages.166 There were great cities, of course, but almost all of them were dynastic capitals, and so unique by definition. They had their own sub-cultures, but this was not the same as a genuine urban culture. Cities in general had not achieved any meaningful autonomy. Life in them was tightly controlled by the authorities. They were divided by walls into wards, whose gates were locked at night. Their markets were strictly regulated both as to location and hours of operation. The existence of such cities did not really alter the fundamental rural orientation of Chinese life. The tremendous growth of cities in the middle and lower Yangtze, the Kan and Che valleys, and along the southeastern coast that began in mid-T'ang times led to changes in all aspects of urban life, changes that eventually spread throughout China. The new cities were structured differently. "The old 'cellular' plan of the [typical north Chinese] city, with its honeycomb of walled wards, and walled enclosed markets, [was replaced] by a much freer street plan, in which trade and commerce could be " 167 conducted anywhere within the city or its outlying suburbs.' "From the second half of the eighth century the rigid rules governing the layout of towns broke down, and the custom of shutting off In many towns the inhabitants... wards was abandoned.... overflowed the cramped confines of the walled checkerboard, and ... established themselves extra muros in suburbs known as 'wings' (hsiang). A concomitant phenomenon was the disappearance of permanent enclosed markets; instead, shops, warehouses, and booths had been set up, first in the districts near the market, and later dis166 Denis Twitchett, Financial AdministrationUnder the T'ang Dynasty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1963), the best study in a Western language, does not mention the existence of specifically urban taxes. For the administration of urban wards and villages, see Toryoshiui(cited note 144), pp. 214-15. 167 Twitchett, "The T'ang Market System" (cited note 148), p. 231, citing the work of Kat6 Shigeshi.




persed throughout the town.''168 The significance of the new urban structure is aptly summarized by Gernet: "People no longer found their way about the town by the names of the districts [i.e., the wards], but by the names of the streets. The former were of official origin, the latter of popular origin. The street became one of the typical characteristics of the new Chinese towns.''169 The replacement of the walled ward by the street symbolizes perfectly the changes that were taking place in Chinese cities. Communication and movement were replacing control and stability as the dominant qualities of urban life. The tremendous economic expansion that accompanied the great population growth of the south and southeast increased the volume and velocity of commerce, which of course was concentrated in cities. One result was a striking proliferation of trades and crafts. Thus we see in the prefectural and county capitals of the lower Yangtze dealers not only in rice, fish, fruit, lumber, and silver, as we might expect, but also in iron pots; embroidery and brocade; hemp sacks and silk thread; needles and nails; matting, lime, carpenter's squares, and other building materials; grinders, wooden spoons, and boiled water; flowers, rice cakes, and lacquerware; and so on.170 In the Southern Sung capital, Hangchow, we read of jewelers, cutlers, gilders, glue makers, and antique dealers; olive, honey, ginger, and crab merchants; doctors and soothsayers; shoemakers and scavengers; and many, many more.171 The incomparable early twelfth-century cityscape, "Ch'ing-ming shang-ho t'u" Mnp , depicts an extraordinary M5by Chang Tse-tuan variety of commercial activities, from roadside knife vendors and tea shops to dignified apothecaries and large-scale grain merchants. The complexity of economic life created the need for financial and 168 Etienne Balazs, ChineseCivilizationand Bureaucracy,H. M. Wright, tr. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964), p. 71. 169 A History of ChineseCivilization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), p. 317. 170 Shiba Yoshinobu, "Urbanization and the Development of Markets in the Lower Yangtze Valley," in Crisis and Prosperityin Sung China, ed. John Haeger (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1975), pp. 31-32. 171 Jacques Gernet, Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol Invasion, 1250-1276, H. M. Wright, tr. (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1962), p. 87 (based on Mengliang lu *g).




commercial specialists of all kinds: brokers, wholesalers, bankers, and the rest. 17(2 Ultimately, new institutions designed to regulate all this economic activity emerged: the guilds (hang 'f). Significantly, the guilds were not created by the state, but by members of the commercial community themselves.173 New wealth, increased freedom of movement, and growth of urban population led directly to developments in the cultural sphere. Commercial printing appeared for the first time in Sung cities. A study of 189 books printed in the Sung dynasty shows that forty-seven (25%) were produced in Lin-an (Hangchow), the capital; thirty (16%) elsewhere in Chekiang; forty (21 %) in Fukien; twenty-one (11%) in Kiangsi; twenty (10.5%) in Kiangsu-Anhwei; and the same in Szechwan.174 Although nearly half of these books were printed under government auspices, these numbers probably give a fair idea of the distribution of commercial printing in Sung times (except perhaps for the extremely high concentration in Hangchow). The resemblance to the distribution of city-god temples is striking, and not fortuitous. Thanks in part to the rise of commercial printing and the increase in literacy associated with it, fiction written for moderately educated readers, most of whom probably lived in cities, became more common.'75 The emergence of a wide variety of professional entertainers who catered to the tastes of affluent city dwellers led to the development of new literary forms. In the entertainment quarters of eleventh-century K'ai-feng, "story-telling went on the whole year round in booths and wooden sheds, flourishing side by side with comedians' acts; semi-dramatic performances known as 'Melodies in Mixed Modes' (chu-kung-tiao), part sung and part narrated; recitals by individual singers; puppet and marionette shows; shadow plays; and a rudimentary drama which included acrobatics. The largest of these sheds were theatres holding several thousand and Societyin Sung China (cited note 148), ch. 5. Shiba, Commerce Gernet, Daily Life, pp. 87-88; Kato Shigeshi, "On the Hang or the Associations of Merchants in China, with Especial Reference to the T'ang and Sung Periods," Memoirs of the ResearchDepartmentof The ToyoBunko8 (1936), pp. 45-83. 174 Ming-sun Poon, "The Printer's Colophon in Sung China, 960-1279," Library Quarterly43.1 (1973), p. 42 and Table 1. 175 David Johnson, "The Wu Tzu-hsu Pien-wen and Its Sources, Part I," HJAS 40.1 (June 1980): 93-103, and Part II, HJAS 40.2 (Dec. 1980): 501-05. 172





spectators.''176 As the social and economic life of the cities became

more and more complex, a genuine urban culture emerged, a new element in Chinese life that was to play a far greater role than the "capital cultures" of earlier eras. As a result, people began to grow accustomed to the distinction between city and country; the idea of the city (as opposed to the long-familiar notion of 'the imperial [or royal] capital') was added to the common conceptual vocabulary. This can already be seen in the early eighth century, when Liu Chih-chi 'i)sJ?, the great historiographical critic, suggested that future dynastic histories should include a treatise (^) on cities.177 Eventually the distinction found institutional expression. As early as the Five Dynasties, special taxes began to be levied on the residents of cities and their suburbs, separate from the labor services and twice-yearly taxes for which peasants were liable; this was made official policy in the Sung.178 Also in Sung, specifically urban administrative units such as the hsiang 1g appeared, and the private legal rights of townsmen are said to have been strength-

ened.179 The growing differentiation of urban and rural life was naturally reflected more sharply in the mentalities of city-dwellers than of villagers. It was in the cities themselves that the idea of the city as a place set apart from the old familiar world of villages and hamlets first took shape, along with the closely associated and equally important notion that city-dwellers were different from peasants. I believe that the emergence of these attitudes was the necessary precondition for the appearance of the idea of a city god. As long as they were absent, the idea was virtually unimaginable. Once they appeared, the idea that there was a class of gods whose function it was to regulate the divine affairs of cities and protect their inhabitants from harm followed quite naturally. The name of the class of 176 H. C. Chang, ChineseLiterature:PopularFiction and Drama (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1973), p. 1, drawing on the early twelfth-century description of K'aifeng, Tung-chingmeng-hualu , See Gernet, Daily Life, pp. 222-26, for a description of the entertainment quarters of the Southern Sung capital, Hangchow. 177 E. G. Pulleyblank, "Chinese Historical Criticism: Liu Chih-chi and Ssu-ma Kuang," in Historiansof ChinaandJapan, ed. W. G. Beasley and E. G. Pulleyblank (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 145. I am grateful to Robert Hymes for bringing this point to my attention. 178 and Societyin Sung China (cited note 148), pp. 133-34. Shiba, Commerce 179 Shiba, "Urbanization and the Development of Markets" (cited note 170), pp. 14, 24.




gods said it all: ch'eng-huangshen-"gods of the walls and moats," "city gods." There are two good illustrations of the point I am trying to make. Sung hzuiyaolists honors bestowed on dozens of t'u-tis ?i1t-tutelary deities of various kinds of places and buildings-between 1076 and the mid-twelfth century. There are t'u-tis of mountains and hills, t'u-tis of woods, rapids, walls, and embankments; t'u-tis of forts, post stations, Taoist temples, villages, and garrisons (chen). Their noble titles are similar to those bestowed on city gods; two of them are identified as the spirits of human beings; the wife of one has a noble title. In short, they are very similar to city gods-except that there is no t'u-ti of a walled city. The city was a special category of place, and a special category of god protected it.180 Then there is the brief passage in the Pao-chz'ingSsu-ming chih (1227): "The she' and chi are the most respected gods of the territory within the boundaries of a prefecture; the ch'eng-huangis the most respected god of the land within the boundaries of a city."'181 This demonstrates perfectly the way in which the idea of a city god and the conceptual separation of the city from the broad reaches of the countryside went hand in hand. In short, even though walled settlements had existed in China from time immemorial, it was not until the great social and economic changes of the eighth century and after began to make themselves felt in the Yangtze valley and elsewhere that urban culture took on a character distinct enough for the idea of a city god to make sense. But "social and economic changes" do not give birth to "ideas" and the institutions that embody them without the participation of specific individuals and groups. The cumulative effects of the developments in urban life that I have outlined above could only make themselves felt through the actions of individuals who had been affected by them. Someone, somewhere, had to think of a city god; others, many others, had to find the notion reasonable, attractive, persuasive. Who raised the money to build the new temples and supervised their construction? Who approved the layout of the grounds, the names of the various buildings, the design of the murals? 180 181

Sung hui-yaochi-kao(cited note 2), 1204.19a-20b (ts'e 19, pp. 774Aa-774Bb). Pao-ch'ingSsu-mingchih If (Sung YuanSsu-mingliu chih ed.), 2.3a.8-9.




Who in T'ai chou decided that Ch'ii T'an would be the city god, and in Yuan chou, Kuan Ying? Those who promoted the worship of the ch'eng-huangshen must have been (on the argument developed above) strongly conscious of being residents of a city, and have identified closely with it. They must also have been without a deep committment to classical orthodoxy, at least in the matter of local gods, since they were in effect repudiating the classically-sanctioned cults of the she. They must also have been wealthy enough to underwrite, at least in part, the costs of constructing elaborate temples, and influential enough to ensure that the local authorities would give their approval to such projects. I have already established that the idea is not likely to have originated among the officials. And although the common people frequently became enthusiastic supporters of city god cults, they would not ordinarily have commanded the resources or authority to found them. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that the idea was propagated on waves of popular enthusiasm. The very wide distribution of a relatively small number of city-god temples in the early period, already noted, suggests that the idea did not spread slowly from a central point, but moved rapidly from city to city over considerable distances. This appears to exclude ordinary residents of a city-who were unlikely to do much travelling-as the agents of transmission. The great changes in cities and city life described above were accompanied by changes in urban social structure. Among the multitude of artisans, wholesalers, manufacturers, merchants, entrepreneurs, brokers, and so on whom the new conditions had brought into existence and who were the agents of those changes, a few emerged who were especially successful, into whose hands flowed a disproportionate amount of the new wealth that had been created. These men-no doubt many of them were the heads of guilds, or influential in guild affairs-formed the elite of a new or greatly augmented social class, a labor-employing class whose wealth was based not on learning, or official position, but on trade or manufacturing or financial expertise. The members of this mercantile elite, unburdened with a classical education, would have been more receptive to certain kinds of




unorthodox religious ideas than their more learned, and indoctrinated, contemporaries. Wealthy and influential as they were, they would have appreciated the need for divine protection of the city in which their workshops, warehouses, offices, and stores were located (and of its immediate hinterland, on whose prosperity the fortunes of the city were largely dependent). They may have identified particularly strongly with the city in which they had made, or maintained, their fortunes, and have wanted it to have temples and bridges that were at least as impressive as those of rival cities. Many of these men had access to commercial networks that extended along major trade routes into distant parts of the country. Some travelled considerable distances on business. The agents of others brought news from far-off cities. The members of this new commercial or mercantile elite thus had both the motive and the means to establish city-god cults, and were in a better position to spread the idea that there were city gods than any other group except the officials. I believe they were the human agents that linked the great demographic, economic, and social changes of the time with the emergence and spread of city-god worship. We catch an occasional glimpse in T'ang and Sung texts of the involvement of these men in temple-building projects and the like. The evidence is neither detailed nor explicit, but considering the fact that most of the texts were written by officials, there is enough to confirm in a preliminary way the hypothesis advanced above. In 759 Li Yang-ping i magistrate of Chin-yutn fX hsien (modern Chin-yun hsien, in central Chekiang), wrote a short account of his recent dealings with the city god there. It begins: "The Register of Sacrifices (VA) does not list ch'eng-huangshen, but they exist in the region of Wu Yiieh [an area roughly comparable to the Lower Yangtze, Southeast Coast, and Middle Yangtze East macroregions]. The custom there is to pray [to the ch'eng-huangshen] whenever there is flood, drought, or epidemic." Li goes on to say that in the midst of a severe drought he vowed to the shen that if it did not rain in five days, he would burn down his temple. It rained heavily before the deadline, and so "all the officials, together with the elders [I-] and the clerical staff, moved the temple from West Valley to the top of the mountain, in response to the blessings




of the god.''l82 Who were the "elders"? Logic suggests that they were not village graybeards, but eminent commoners resident in the city. They were called "elders" because that was the most respectful way of referring to men who had neither rank nor title. Since the magistrate had been prepared to destroy the old temple, his attitude toward the ch'eng-huangshen clearly was not especially devout. Some at least of the clerks and other yamen functionaries may have been devoted to the cult, but seem unlikely to have commanded substantial resources of their own, or to have been able to mobilize the resources of the community. Therefore it seems likely that the "elders" were the moving force behind the construction of the new temple. They were commoners, but must have enjoyed considerable prestige; and they were wealthy, or could raise money from the community thanks to their standing. I submit, therefore, that they were representatives of the mercantile or commercial elite of Chin-yun. An inscription commemorating the construction in 861 of a new city-god temple in Yuan chou contains explicit information about the project's sponsors that is consistent with my hypothesis.183 As is common in such texts, the ranking local official-in this case, the prefect-is given full credit for conceiving the project and getting it started.184 But we are told that it was actually supervised by a person who evidently was a member of the clerical sub-bureaucracy, and therefore also in all likelihood a native of the town.185 Towards the end we read that "because the profits of the merchants were great, they wished to contribute gold and silk to renew [the templel, and because the prefecture was peaceful, the military officers all Then a little later requested to work together to complete it.'"186 the author states, again in praise of the prefect: "The people were not burdened, nor were public funds squandered.'"187 "Chin-yiin hsien ch'eng-huang shen chi" (cited note 140), lines 4-7. "Yuan-chou ch'eng-huang miao chi" (cited note 17). 184 Ibid., 802.llb.1-4. 185 The man's name was Li Fen j and he held the position of tu-ya-ya6Xj%j. This was not a ranked local administrative post in T'ang times as far as I have been able to discover. Chang Fu-jui, Les Fonctionnairesdes Song: Indexdes Titres (Paris: Mouton, 1962) lists tu-ya-ya,defining it as "employ6 de Iere classe," but it may be a different post with the same name. If the post was in fact a rather lowly one, its occupants are likely to have been local men. 182





This text provides a rare explicit statement that the merchant community contributed funds for the project. (The army seems to have contributed labor.) We are also told that the people at large were not burdened by the project, and that government funds were not squandered. This last may simply be more flattery of the prefect, with which the text is filled, but even so the passage as a whole suggests that a relatively small number of wealthy men bore most of the expense. (The text describes the temple compound in enough detail to make it clear that it was a very substantial, and expensive, project.) These two texts are particularly important, because they are so early. They show us cults that had probably been established in the previous hundred years or so. This is hardly the same as testimony about the actual founding of a cult, but still it is closer to the origins than the other evidence I have collected, and hence correspondingly valuable. The next inscription is considerably later, dating from 1174. It commemorates the rebuilding and expansion of the ch'eng-huang miao of Li-shui i41z hsien (about fifty kilometers south-southwest of Nanking, in southwestern Kiangsu). The inscription tells us that the city god was Po Chi-k'ang b **, who had been the magistrate of Li-shui in the early ninth century. 88 (The great poet Po Chii-i was the son of one of Chi-k'ang's cousins, and Chi-k'ang's own son rose to the position of chief minister.) 189 He died in office in 826, and in 844 the yamen-where he had lived and worked-was made into the city-god temple: his temple.190 The temple was rebuilt in the Yuan-fu period of the Sung dynasty (1098-1 100), and the shen was granted a noble title in 1147.191 It is clear from the inscription that the people were deeply devoted to "Po fu-chuin V," as they Ch'uanT'ang wen 802.1 1b.8-9. Ibid., 802.12a.3. 188 Wang Tuan-ch'ao E "Ch'ung-hsiu Cheng-hsien-miao chi" ,, j Li-shuihsienchilh i 1905 rpt. of 1883 ed.), 17.18b-20a. The author was (22 chiuan; intendant of customs for the Liang Che circuit, and was a native of Li-yang iqa, just 50 km. southeast of Li-shui. It is possible that he had some personal knowledge of the cult. 189 Hsin T'ang shu (cited note 31), 75B.3413-14. 190"Cheng-hsien-miao chi," 17.19a.1-2; additional details from Li-shui hsien chih 8.7a.5-7. 191Ibid., 8.7a.7-9. 186





called him.192 "In times of flood, drought, or epidemic, the people always go [to his temple] to pray.''193 The building project that this text commemorates appears to have been carried out entirely on the initiative of the citizens. The usual praise for the enlightened administration of the local magistrate is absent here, probably because the author had no connection with the administration of Li-shui. This may account also for the detailed description of popular piety it contains, which will be recounted later in this paper. In any case, we are told that "the townsmen Chu Pien jJ, and others, feeling that [EA] Ch'ien P'ang A the temple was badly decayed, went around collecting donations from everyone. Small amounts slowly accumulated into larger sums. Gradually new parts were added to the temple, and existing sections were enlarged.''194 The resulting structure had outer and middle gates, main hall, rear apartments, arcade, offertory, open terrace, and other buildings, totalling fifty bays (rUf). Inside the temple, the god's carriage and outriders were kept in readiness-probably for his annual procession and his deeds were depicted in paintings.


In 1174 the Li-shui city-god cult was already over three centuries old. The text makes clear that it had come to enjoy broad popular support. But that support had to be mobilized and directed for a project of such magnitude to succeed. The "townsmen" who were in charge of the reconstruction were not officials, or even titled, though by the late twelfth century there was no longer any question of state disapproval of city-god worship. They are unlikely to have been poor laborers or humble clerks, either. They must have been commoners of considerable standing in the city, that is, men from the same segment of society as the "elders" and merchants of the earlier texts. The chief local official was heavily involved in the building of a new city-god temple in Hua V chou (modern Hua hsien, south of the Wei River about fifty kilometers west of its confluence with 192 Fu-chiinis a virtually untranslatable term of great respect, used to refer to one's deceased father or grandfather. 193 "Cheng-hsien-miao chi," 17.19a7-8, 19a.2. 194 Ibid., 17.19a.8-9. 195 Ibid., 17.1l9a.10-19b.2.




the Yellow River) in 1175. But once again wealthy commoners seem to have played the largest role.196 From the commemorative inscription we learn that when a new prefect arrived in 1174, he was disturbed by the cramped and decrepit condition of the existing temple. "On several occasions his honor stated that if there were who could build a larger temple gentlemen of means [tIi9?] on a new site, he would permit it to be done. Chang To W [and four others], men of the prefecture [llIA], assembled the elders [5R;t] and made the following proposal to them: 'Our hsiang V has been devastated by warfare several times, but thanks to the strength of this shenwe have avoided the stigma of regicide. We ought to move his temple outside [the yamen complex?] to make worship more convenient.' Those assembled agreed to their request," and soon a new temple was constructed in the southeastern corner of the inner city.197 Here again we see that the main role in the building of a city-god temple was taken by commoners, and although in this case they are simply called "men of the prefecture," it seems probable that they were wealthy residents of the prefectural capital. Since only two of the texts cited above date from the T'ang dynasty, and none involves the actual founding of a city-god cult, they can hardly be considered proof of my hypothesis about the early sponsors and supporters of city-god worship but they do correspond rather well with it. This, then, is my explanation of the origin and early spread of city-god worship in China. Profound social, economic, and demographic changes led to the appearance of a new kind of city in the middle and lower Yangtze valley, the southeastern coast, and the valleys of the Kan and Che, beginning in the eighth century and even earlier. In those cities a new employer class emerged, sharply distinct from the ruling elite of officials and scholars. It was led by an elite of wealthy men who exercised considerable informal influence on local affairs, an influence that the rapidly-developing guild 196 "Hua chou ch'eng-huang ... miao chi" (1184), (cited note 142). The author, Chang Chien, was a poet, local education official, and palace tutor. He was a native of P'u-ch'eng MI hsien, a county under the jurisdiction of Hua chou, and was probably living there when he wrote this text. See Chin shih _ (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, 1975) 126.2734, and Yuan Hao-wen Ttyr, Chungchouchi qJ'I'I (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chiu, 1959), p. 334. 197 "Hua chou ch'eng-huang ... miao chi," lOb.4-1 la.l.




system helped to reinforce. It was these men, I believe, who were behind the establishment of city-god cults and the spread of the idea of a city god in T'ang times, and who played a major role, together with the officials and ordinary commoners, in the maintenance of the cults during the Sung.


But just what was "the idea of a city god"? Up to now I have hardly touched on the content of the notion, yet none of the earlier conclusions will matter much if the nature of the conception is allowed to remain indistinct and vague. We saw in the first part of the paper that city gods were very diverse. Analysis of all known T'ang-Sung city gods shows that there were clear patterns in this diversity. There were three main types of city god: the moral exemplar who lived in Han or pre-Han times, and whose connection with a particular city was usually rather tenuous; the man who opened up a region to settlement in Sui or early T'ang times, and became a local strongman in the process (or vice versa); and the beloved official who sometimes had died in office. There were also a few, like Ch'ii T'an, who seem to have evolved from much older cults that did not have human objects in their original forms. But identifying these types, while it raises interesting questions that deserve further study, does not immediately help us understand the nature of the city god idea. To do this, we must first try to see what characteristics were shared by all ch'eng-huangshen. In this section accordingly I will discuss what appear to me to be the two most important of those shared features. My aim is to give some sense the limited space available precludes trying to do more of the basic components of the city god idea. The first was this: diverse though the city gods were, each was identified as the spirit of a human being, a spirit moreover that was neither violent nor dangerous, though very powerful and requiring to be approached with respect. Ch'ii T'an, the city god of T'ai chou, was a composite god, created by the identification of an ancient dragon spirit with a human spirit. The people of T'ai chou may well have been very sensitive to their city god's draconic character, but the fact that he also had a human side allowed the officials to ignore




the rest of his background. Thus the earliest account of the T'ai chou city god (in the 1223 Ch'ih-ch'engchih) says that Ch'ui had divine parentage and "underwent a divine transformation," but avoids describing the transformation. The reader has no sense at all of what that vague phrase implies. The imperial proclamation of 1168 disguises the god's nature even more. It says merely that Ch'ii T'an "went into reclusion with his mother.'"198 And, after all, the story current in the eleventh century, and almost certainly much earlier as well, was that the city god had been a living man, whose father had been a divinity, and who later became a dragon. The dragon of Yii-hsi Pool could not have become a city god under its own name, nor could any other dragon, or a white tiger, or gigantic snake, or tree, or cliff, or spring. Spirits of this sort-unambiguously nonhuman do not seem to have been compatible with the minimum definition of a city god, at least in the minds of the people who first decided who the various city gods were going to be. What are we to make of this? A great deal, actually; but it is necessary to provide a certain amount of background first. My own research on popular religion in medieval China, together with the work of scholars like Miyakawa, Strickmann, and, above all, Rolf Stein, has convinced me that all through the period of the Six Dynasties a deadly serious struggle went on between the political, literary, and clerical elites on one side, and the traditional cults of the common people, and their shaman-priests, on the other. We know next to nothing about the old indigenous cults; we are much better informed about the elite point of view. Prefects and magistrates, educated priests and monks, attacked the superstitions of the populace whenever they could, and with a wide variety of methods. There is no doubt that they were convinced that the beliefs and practices they were attacking were harmful or immoral, but this does not change the fact that the official, the priest, and the monk each had a competing claim to spiritual authority. Their own legitimacy, whether political or doctrinal, was dependent in large measure on the acceptance by the people of their pretensions to spiritual authority. This added a certain urgency to the confrontation. The evidence that I have seen suggests that the gap between what 198

See above, note 68.




the peasants believed and what the political and clerical elites felt they ought to believe was much wider in Six Dynasties than in T'ang and Sung. By T'ang times the old popular beliefs seem to have been in retreat. Both Buddhism and Taoism were at or near the height of their institutional development, and the civil religion must have shone with the reflected glory of a reunited and expansive empire. The city gods, emerging when they did, with the anthropomorphic character they had, are obviously a part of this whole development. They represented the new style of popular religion, which met the requirements of those in positions of spiritual authority. By their success, they contributed to the triumph of approved beliefs over "superstitions." These developments in Chinese religion are reflected in the history and legend of the time. Some particularly interesting examples are given below. In a story of the early fifth century, an official named Chen Chung WP, a member of the great Chen clan of Chung-shan rP[, has paused briefly on his journey to take up a provincial appointment when "the son of the she" (the local earth god) pays a formal call on him. The handsome young man announces that his father wants Chung to marry his daughter. Protesting that he is happily married, Chung turns down the request, despite repeated urging by his visitor. The thwarted lordling, enraged, says "The Great Man [Kkk] will come in person, and then you won't be able to refuse," and leaves. Before long, "his lordship the she" arrives, "with a retinue like a feudal lord's." He is accompanied by his daughter, and escorted by many carriages and scores of servants and assistants. Everything is of the utmost magnificence. The earth god presses Chung to accept his daughter's hand, but he flatly refuses, accuses the she of being an evil spirit 91H, and places his sword across his knees, prepared to resist to the death. "His lordship the she was furious, and summoned three leopards and two tigers. With earthshattering roars and gaping crimson maws they leaped at Chung again and again, until dawn began to color the sky and they had to withdraw." But the she is not defeated. Twenty or thirty spirits in the shape of men are left behind to wait for Chung. Terrified, he returns home, never having reached the city to which he has been assigned. But he has not escaped: before long he falls ill and dies.199




This story is fiction, of course, but rare indeed is the author of a casual story such as this who can transcend the preconceptions and assumptions of his time. The local god is here imagined as a local magnate. Furthermore, he is malevolent and vicious, perfectly willing to use violence to crush principled objections to his tyrannical whims. And he can summon up demonic creatures to do his bidding. In short, beneath his splendid aristocratic exterior, "his lordship the she" is a terrifying demon. And this monster is able to destroy Chen Chung, who as a magistrate represents both legitimate political authority and orthodox morality. The matter of who was more powerful, the local official (or priest) or the local god, was at the heart of the conflict between traditional popular cults and the political and clerical elites. Those who believed that officials were weaker than the gods would obviously stand more in awe of the spirit-mediums and shamans who were the spokesmen and servants of those gods, than of the magistrates. On the other hand, if the local officials could establish their supremacy over all local gods, the authority of the shamans would devolve, to a certain extent, on them. In the final analysis there was no distinction between religious and political legitimacy. Therefore it is particularly interesting that in pre-T'ang texts one encounters the idea that gods are more powerful than officials rather often certainly more often than in T'ang and post-T'ang texts. In the early sixth-century commentary to the Shui ching, for example, we read of a drought being ended not by a magistrate's threat to burn down a temple frequently seen in later times but by the ritual burning of the official himself, as well as two subordinates.200 The official history of the Northern Wei tells how in 496 199 "Chen Chung," T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi(cited note 2), 318.2522-23, from Yu ming lu

. I have profited from the translation of this story in The Man Who Sold a Ghost M (cited note 115), pp. 100-01. According to the Yangs, the author of Yu ming lu lived from 403 to 444 (ibid., p. 163). The standard text has Chen's wife die, but this makes little sense-the earth god wanted a son-in-law, after all-and in the Chung-hua edition of TPKC, which I have followed, this has been emended, on the authority of a Ming manuscript. (See note, p. 2523, and the discussion of editing methods on p. 3 of the prefatory note to volume one.) 200 Quoted in Miyakawa Hisayuki 'pJIIjh=L, Rikuchishikenkyiu:Shakyohen 3oJf% (Kyoto: Heiraku Shoten, 1964), p. 377. A temple was later established on the spot, '-R which is why the story appears in Shui chingchu.The place was P'ing-yii hsien, which was located about thirty km. southeast of modern Ju-nan *M, in southern Honan.




T'o-pa Chen fTAM, one of the sons of Wei Kao-tsu (Hsiao-wen ti), was made prefect of Hsiang tf chou, whose capital was the famous city Yeh S. In Yeh there was a temple to Shih Hu f-2, the second ruler of the Later Chao, who had moved his capital there in the early fourth century. During a drought, Chen stood before Shih Hu's image in the temple and threatened to have it beaten if rain did not come in three days. Rain did not come, and the statue was subjected to one hundred strokes. Within a month, Chen was dead of a tumor that had erupted on his back.2o1 A remarkable saga of conflict between shen and kuan, in which we can trace the gradual shift of power away from the old cults, has been assembled by Miyakawa.202 It concerns the occupation of the prefectural yamen of Wu-hsing chiin %X85 (just south of Lake T'ai in northern Chekiang) for over a century and a half by the spirit of Hsiang Yu Z_M, Han Kao-tsu's great rival in the struggle for the empire after the fall of the Ch'in dynasty. At some point, the spirit of Hsiang Yu had merged in people's minds with the spirit of Pien jt Mountain, on the border of the prefecture, and a temple to him had been erected at its base.203 Then, in the late fourth or early fifth century, people began to believe that Hsiang YII's spirit had taken up residence in the prefectural yamen. The reason for this seems to have been that several (Incidentally, rain came.) Trying to bring rain by exposing shamans or others to the scorching heat of the sun is a very ancient practice. See E. H. Schafer, "Ritual Exposure in Ancient China," HJAS 14 (1951): 130-84. Schafer gives several examples of attempted self-immolation, taken from Sung and pre-Sung sources, some involving officials. In every case, rain came before the would-be martyr had to actually consign himself to the flames (pp. 138-43). This strikes me as another example of elite domestication of uncivilized practices. The readers of such stories are being told that in such cases, the intention alone is enough to move Heaven. This is yet another way of transferring the business of religion to an entirely symbolic realm, except for ritual actions, which are monopolized by the officials. 201 Wei shu ;@ (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chiu, 1974), 19C.494-95, cited by Miyakawa, p. 379. Wei shu was completed in 554, but incorporated earlier material (ibid., preface, pp. 1-2). Yeh was located about forty km. north of modern An-yang, in extreme southern Hopei. This story is especially significant because it is found in the biography of a royal prince, whose life and death we may assume to have been more carefully documented than most. 202 Rikuchoshikenkyui (cited note 200), pp. 391-414. 203 See "Hsiao Hui-ming," T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi(cited note 2), 295.2349, quotingfrom the mid-fifth century I-yuan A. Michel Strickmann, "The Mao Shan Revelations," TP 63.1 (1977): 7, n. 10, gives another early reference.




prefects of Wu-hsing died in office in that period. Subsequent prefects lived elsewhere. When K'ung Chi-kung R*M_ was made prefect (probably just before 412), he dared to move into the yamen, and survived.204 But his successors appear to have continued to avoid the yamen: when Hsiao Hui-ming RMP came to take up the post of prefect around 465, he found that it was not being used as the official residence, because "Hsiang Yu usually dwelt there." Huiming stated that K'ung Chi-kung had lived in the yamen and come to no harm, and that he would live there too. But not long after he moved in, a giant figure materialized suddenly, shot him with an arrow, and disappeared. A sore or tumor broke out on his back, and in ten days he was dead.205 When Li An-min -4J%; arrived to take up the duties of prefect in 486, Hsiang Yu still held sway in the offices. Every new prefect was required to sacrifice to him the ox that had drawn his carriage. But An-min was a Buddhist, and refused to sacrifice the ox. He also entered the main hall of the yamen wearing wooden clogs, and set up at the head of the hall the Eight (Buddhist) Commandments. But the ox died suddenly, and then An-min died, too.206 Needless to say, people remained convinced "'that the shen was an evil spirit But they also believed that the spirit-like all evil things[2]. "20 rewarded those who pleased it. Thus when Hsiao Hui-hsiu M,: a younger brother of Hui-ming who had been appointed prefect of Wu-hsing in 499, was promoted to a high post in the capital, people said it was because he had served Hsiang Yu diligently.208 (The idea that blessings could be obtained by fervent worship and rich sacrifices, rather than by virtuous behavior, was constantly attacked by reforming officials in later times.) The rule of Hsiang Yu suffered a severe setback in the early sixth century at the hands of a third member of the Hsiao family, Hsiao 204

Sung shu 5ft (488), (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, 1974), 54.1532. Nan shih (cited note 91), 18.499. (A virtually identical version is given in the T'aip'ing kuang-chistory cited in note 203.) 206 The text does not say when he died, but there is a strong implication that it happened while he was still prefect there. 207 Nan Ch'i shu M$i2 (early sixth century), (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chiu, 1972), 27.508. 208 Ibid., 46.812. See also Nan shih 18.501. These men were members of the Hsiao family of Lan-ling Up , a great Shantung clan. 205




Ch'en W. He was appointed prefect sometime after 510. According to Ch'en's biographies in the official histories of the Liang and the Southern Dynasties, Hsiang Yii was at that time still an extremely powerful god in Wu-hsing. The people called him "angry king" t3E, which gives a good sense of his reputation among them. They had set up a curtained throne for him in the yamen, and both public and private prayers were offered there. The prefects sacrificed to him there, and carried on their administrative business elsewhere. When Ch'en arrived, he walked into the yamen with his shoes on, which elicited an angry shout from somewhere within the building. He responded with an insult: "When you were alive, you could not defeat Han Kao-tsu in the struggle for the central plain; how can you occupy this office now that you are dead ?" He had Hsiang Yii's statue taken to his temple at the foot of Pien Mountain, and turned the yamen back into a government office. He forbade the sacrificing of oxen to Hsiang Yii, and ordered that dried meat be used in the offerings instead.209 (Sometime in the Ta-t'ung period [535-46] the attack was pressed further, when the future Chien-wen ti of Liang ordered that Hsiang Yu receive only vegetarian sacrifices.2-0 But I doubt that this regimen remained in effect for long-if it was ever adopted.) Hsiang Yii, presumably in a somewhat more temperate guise, continued to be important to the people of Wu-hsing. h (1201) contains copious The Chia-t'ai Wu-hsing chik the cult which to the devotion of the community of discussions testify to him.21' But Hsiang Yu did not become the ch'eng-huangshen. (Interestingly enough, the city-god cult gets only a brief mention in Wu-hsing chihi.)212 This suggests that when Wu-hsing's city-god sometime in the ninth centurycult was established-probably Hsiang Yii was not considered an appropriate candidate for the posi209 (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chiu, 1973), 26.397; Nan shih 18.506-507. Liang shu A Date: Nan shih 18.506.8. Note that while Li An-min certainly and Hsiao Ch'en probably were acting on Buddhist convictions, opposition to "bloody sacrifices" was also one of the hallmarks of orthodox Taoist attacks on popular cults. See Rolf Stein, "Religious Taoism and Popular Religion" (cited note 129), passim. 210 Miyakawa (cited note 200), p. 400. Text in Hu M choufu chih (96 chuan; 1874), 46.10a-b. (1201; edition of 1914), 8.1b-2a, 13.12a-b, plus 211 Chia-t'ai Wu-hsingchih g various inscriptions. 212 Chia-t'ai Wu-hsingchih 13.9b.




tion, despite his continuing popularity.213 Perhaps he was not yet domesticated enough to be acceptable to the men who set up the cult. The contrast with Ch'ii T'an is instructive. Ch'ii T'an, like Hsiang Yii, was an extremely popular local god who had a temple in or near the city and another outside the city near a natural feature with which he was closely linked by legend. But, as far as we can tell, Ch'ii T'an was not considered to be particularly dangerous or quick to anger. On the contrary, one senses in the text that the main emotion generated in the people by Ch'ui T'an was gratitude, not fear. He was certainly not called anything like "Angry King." This, I believe, is why Ch'ii T'an could become a city god, while Hsiang Yu could not. Violent, demanding, monstrous gods may have called forth more extreme behavior from their devotees than civilized spirits did. I am reminded of a story in a late eighth-century collection, Hsuian kuai lu 3'10, called "Kuo Yuan-chen" 1UEW, which tells us that every year in a certain village in Fen bMchou (modern Fen-yang hsien, in central Shansi), a maiden was offered to the tyrannical local god, whom the villagers knew as General Wu ("General Black"), but who in reality was a wild boar demon.214 It may be that the most basic ethical motive in the continuing campaign to reform popular cults was the desire to eliminate human sacrifice, and all other violence connected with popular religion. Rolf Stein cites a Taoist text of the early fifth century that makes a clear distinction between acceptable gods and evil ones. Among the latter are (in Stein's paraphrase): generals of defeated armies who hold sway in the temples "of the world" (i.e., nonTaoist temples) or who are worshipped in the forests and mountains or as soil The "generals of defeated armies" are persons who have died a violent gods.... death, whose head and body are buried in different places, whose spirits have been 213 The first mention of a city god in Wu-hsing is an edict of 934 conferring a noble title on the ch'eng-huangshen of Hu M chou (i.e., Wu-hsing). Wu-tai hui-yao at F, (Shanghai: Shanghai ku-chi ch'u-pan she, 1978), 11.193. 214 Wang P'i-chiang iag, ed., T'ang-jen hsiao-shuo }J'K3- (Shanghai: Shanghai ku-chi ch'u-pan she, 1978), pp. 212-14. The editor suggests that the story may actually have been written by Li Fu-yen [email protected](second quarter of the ninth century). A different version is partially translated by E. D. Edwards, ChineseProseLiteratureof the T'ang Period, 2 vols. (London: Probsthain, 1937-38), 2: 249-52.




dispersed so that they settle on mountains or trees, troubling men or causing illnesses, and look for bloody food (cult offerings), their demand for which is discovered through divination by "masters" (sorcerers) with a popular following.215

The spirits of defeated generals, full of anger and malice, made demands on their worshippers that both officials and priests found improper. (Hsiang Yu was, of course, the general of a defeated army.) The political and clerical elites tried to undermine the authority of such cults whenever possible. The story about Kuo Yuan-chen, just mentioned, can be read as an extended metaphor of the warfare between educated men and peasant superstitions. In it, a very straightforward tactic is used by Kuo, the spokesman for reform: he simply preaches (in effect) to the villagers. Many other methods were used to subvert popular cults and infuse them with what were deemed acceptable values. A particularly interesting one is described in a ninth-century story preserved in T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi.In the reign of T'ang Mu-tsung (820-24), the younger brother of a newlyappointed magistrate of Yung-ch'ing *Mmhsien (near modern Paok'ang {: hsien, in northwestern Hupei), depressed by the loneliness and desolation of the place, spent his leisure hours exploring every corner of the district. One day he came upon an abandoned temple, with neither signboard nor stele to identify it. The aide accompanying him could say only that it was for "the great king of Yungch'ing." As the young man wandered about the place, he suddenly felt drowsy, and lay down to take a nap. A god appeared to him and proceeded to tell him the story of the temple. He asserted that his grandfather "he has a biography in the History of Wu" -had killed "the tiger of South Mountain and the kraken [K] of Long Bridge." He himself had been ordered by the Lord on High [[email protected];] to capture all the dangerous birds and animals of the prefectures of Chin *, Shang -ii, Chun J, and Fang ,. (Yung-ch'ing was located in Fang chou.) For many years he slaughtered tigers in that region, including their chief, whose coat was like white silk and who had a gleaming object like a round mirror on his forehead. The people were deeply grateful, and set up more than thirty temples to him. But as time passed, they came to believe that it was the white tiger 215

"Religious Taoism and Popular Religion," (cited note 129), pp. 66-67.




god they were worshipping in those temples, not the hunter. Now, after many years of frustration at being forgotten, fearful that he he is at last able to make the truth may become a demon (;i), known. The young man set down the story on a wooden tablet, which he erected before the temple. But as time passed, weathering made it almost illegible. So in 852 one Wang Ch'eng 3E' replaced it with a stone stele.216 That stele may well have been the source of the story. It could have been set up by some later magistrate of Yung-ch'ing, whether there had been a wooden tablet or not. Or, he could have made known a "dream" that his brother had had, and inscribed it on wooden tablets, which were later replaced by stone. But however the stele came into existence, its purpose is clear: to turn the people from worship of the spirit of a savage white tiger to the spirit of the man who killed it. In the story, or parable, human authority over demonic powers is asserted twice: first, the supernatural white tiger is killed by a man; second, the white tiger's temple is transformed into a temple to the tiger's conqueror. But note that the tiger was killed on the orders of the Lord on High, and that the spirit of the tiger killer was afraid of turning into a demon if its long neglect by the people continued. We are not dealing here with a simplistic struggle between elite "rationalism" and peasant "superstition," but rather with a conflict between older popular religious beliefs and the religious ideas that the authorities, clerical and lay, attempted to replace them with.217 The significance of what might be called the benignly anthropomorphic character of the city gods should now be somewhat 216 "Yung-ch'ing hsien miao" , T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi307.2431-32. The printed editions of TPKC say that this story was taken from Chi-i chi A2, by Hsiueh Yung-jo AVf1f, who was a prefect during the reign of Mu-tsung (820-24), and subsequently held other posts. A Ming manuscript copy evidently attributes it to Lu-i chi , by Tu

Kuang-t'ing$?YeCi(850-933). 217 J hope to discuss this issue at greater length, with fuller illustrations, in a later publication. The best specific discussion of the conflict of orthodoxy and heterodoxy in medieval Chinese popular religion known to me is Rolf Stein's article, cited above, note 129. Several papers presented at the ACLS-NEH conference on "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy in Late Imperial China: Cultural Beliefs and Social Divisions," (Montecito, California, August, 1981) dealt with popular religion.




clearer. The ch'eng-huangshen came to be genuinely popular. In some cities they were the most important of all the gods. But when the idea first appeared, the struggle for control of popular religion that I have described was still under way. It is no wonder that when the idea began to spread, official opposition was so limited. The city gods stood in large measure for precisely the qualities that the political and religious elites espoused. But just because they played this role does not mean they came into existence to play it. After all, the men who took the lead in spreading the city-god idea were neither priests nor magistrates, but businessmen. Why was it that the gods such men adopted as their own were characterized by the very qualities that magistrates favored? An important reason was that the members of the new mercantile elite were profoundly urban in outlook, while the local cults that I have called "old," "indigenous," and so on were rural. This is a fundamental fact about deities like "General Black" (the boar demon), "his lordship the shek"(in the story about Chen Chung), "the white tiger" of Yung-ch'ing, and the entire collection of gods who called forth disapproval and persecution by the authorities. Most stories involving such deities are very clearly set in the country. (The theme of country vs. town is particularly clear in the story of Chen Chung, who desperately tried to reach the city to which he was travelling, and failed; his entire ordeal took place in the countryside.) It is true that Hsiang Yii was worshipped in a city, but it should be noted that his proper abode was a rural mountain temple, to which he was returned in the end. Moreover, the town that later became Wu-hsing chun probably had a population of between one thousand and fifteen hundred in the sixth century, when most of the events recounted above concerning the Hsiang Yui cult took place.218 218 We have no statistics on the population of Wu-hsing city in medieval times, but there can be little doubt that it was very small. The area later known as Wu-hsing chiun (or Hu chou) was called Wu-ch'eng A,, hsien in Sui times, a unit of Wu ; chun. The population of all of Wu chiin in 609-which included four other counties in addition to Wu-ch'eng-was 18,377 households. (Sui shu [cited above, note 94], 31.877.) Wu-ch'eng was not the metropolitan county, so probably had three thousand households at most. It would have been unusual if more than 10% of the county population lived in the county capital at that time, and so the population of the city later known as Wu-hsing must have been less than fifteen hundred in Ch'i and Liang times, possibly considerably less.




This may have been typical of prefectural capitals in the south and southeast before the great demographic expansion of T'ang times. In settlements this small, the influence of peasant traditions must have been very strong. They did not really constitute a cultural alternative to village life. By contrast, in a larger town of twenty thousand or even ten thousand inhabitants-there would have been a substantial number of educated persons, who together with the officials represented the values and beliefs of the literate and political elites. This small group of men wielded an influence far greater than their numbers would suggest. They made up the dominant class of the communitythey were the wealthiest and most powerful residents-and they were educated, which gave them special knowledge of rituals and other matters that the entire community agreed were of the highest importance. I believe, therefore, that the popular religious culture of the larger towns was likely to have been substantially different from that of the villages. Villagers had neither the leisure nor the intellectual resources to devise sophisticated religious responses to the threats to their well-being that were everywhere around them, seen and unseen. The towns, on the other hand, were outposts of literate culture, where the heritage of a thousand years of philosophic and religious speculatiorf, however attenuated, was being put into practice, or at least preached, every day. In short, urban culture the fact that our words "civilization" was more civilized-and and "city" go back to a common Latin root, and that we call someone "urbane" who is refined and sophisticated, suggests that urban culture was more civilized in Europe, too. This is another reason why the city gods the earliest religious expression of that culture-were essentially humane, however stern or exacting they might at times have been, rather than violent and dangerous, even monstrous, as so many rural deities were. The second of the two main components of the city-god idea is an extension of the notion that city gods were the essentially civilized spirits of human beings, though it is in no sense subordinate or less important. It is the belief that city gods were local officials in a centralized celestial bureaucracy closely resembling the earthly




bureaucracy of Sui and T'ang times, and that, in addition, they were colleagues and allies of human magistrates and prefects. The earliest unambiguous evidence of this conception is found in a story from a lost collection called Chi wen kEM, by Niu Su 4:T. (Niu's dates are not known, but he probably lived in the second half of the eighth century.) 219 Late in the K'ai-yuan period (713741), the story goes, Su Yen-chih , the finance official of Hsiian . chou, died. He was brought before the ch'eng-huangshen in his great hall, far underground. It was guarded by heavily-armed men. In Su's audience with the god, he insisted that he had done no evil during his life and that his summons to the other world was unjust. The ch'eng-huangshen decided to let him go, and then identified himself: "I am Huan I tfi , the prefect [f'Pi] of Hsuan-ch'eng [chiin 't; ] during the Chin dynasty. I am the shen in charge of this prefecture."220 Here we should note not only that the story explicitly identifies the city god as a local official, but also that it says he had been in charge of the same prefecture when he was alive. This reinforces the linkage between human and divine officialdom, of course. Perhaps the best version of the city-god cults, from the point of view of the government, would have been one in which 219 See the discussion of the date of Chi wen in note 113. There is earlier evidence than this of the idea that the city god was some kind of divine official, but it does not present what I will call the full bureaucratic analogy. It occurs in a commentary to a Taoist text called Chin so liu chuyin ; (602-670). jgt 1, attributed to Li Ch'un-feng In his commentary, Li states that the "god-officials of the cities" (literally, the "godofficials of the walls and moats" JA4tW) appeared in the Ch'i, Liang, Ch'en, and Sui dynasties. "Just as prefectures and counties cooperate to eliminate evildoers, the city [god-officials] and the earth temple 4?)* [god-officials] communicate with each other in order to apprehend demons." (Tao tsang vol. 636 [HY 1015], ch. 25, pp. 13a-13b. Since I know too little about Taoist literature or the Tao tsang to attempt an independent assessment of the claimed authorship of the commentary, I have relied on the conclusion of Mr. Stephen Bokenkamp, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Oriental Languages at Berkeley, who has studied this text, and to whom I owe this reference, that it was in fact the work of Li Ch'un-feng. I am grateful to Mr. Bokenkamp for his assistance.) In the text, one notes that the term ch'eng-huanshenis not used, and that although the godofficials of the cities are compared to prefects, there remain substantial differences between the supernatural world and the human one. There is a similarity between the functions of these divine officials and of human ones, but not the virtual identity that we see in later writings. The Taoist god-officials have their own documents and procedures, such as the "straight talismans" 0fi , and their own concerns: their job is to control demons, not punish errant humans. There is in the background of this text a complex conception of the other world and its governance that is not simply a mechanical imitation of human institutions. 220 "Hsiian chou ssu-hu," (cited note 113), p. 2400.




every ch'eng-huangshen was the spirit of a man who had previously served as the chief official in that county or prefecture. Note too the implication that the city god can bring about people's deaths if they are immoral: I shall return to this point later. Another early story, probably from the late ninth or early tenth century, concerns a merchant from Wu-hsia AVA (presumably the city of Wu-shan MS, in extreme eastern Szechuan, is meant) who regularly made offerings in the Shrine of the White Horse there. In 874, while making his usual sacrifices in the temple, he suddenly heard the shen say that he was about to leave the district, and bid him farewell. The merchant asked where he was going, and was told: " 'I am to be the city god of Hu-nan MMil[it is not clear what place is meant]. The Lord on High has given me this promotion because I have some slight virtue in the eyes of the people of San-hsia =0Ak' ''221 Here we see that gods are promoted just like earthly officials. It is also important to note that the god of a temple to a white horse spirit is presented as essentially anthropomorphic, not equine. Evidence that officials thought of city gods as divine administrators-or at least wanted the population at large to think so also appears in late T'ang. In the "Account of the Temple of the City God of Yuan Chou" (862), the author, who was prefect of Yuan chou at the time, recounts the tranquillity and good order of the place, and then asserts that "all this has been achieved by the prefectural officials and by the mysterious transformations of the [city] god."222 In other words, a prefecture is governed by officials both seen and unseen. This idea is made explicit in an inscription of 1098: "The ch'eng-huangshen protects and regulates the prefecture like a preThis does not mean that the city god has sole authority. fect."223 I am sure the author of this text would have subscribed to the state221 T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi 312.2469, taken from Yti-ch'ih Shu "Erh-chu shih" jR, Nan Ch'uhsin-wenMVf*rjT9.Nothing is known of the author of this lost work. The P,f specific dates given in the fourteen selections from it preserved in TPKC range from 861 to 874. Among the stories that do not include dates is one about Chang Chun , who was a high minister in the last quarter of the ninth century, and another about Li Pin > , who was active in government service in the third quarter of the ninth century. Given the clustering of dates in the third quarter of the ninth century, the story about Chang Chun may be a later interpolation. In any case, it seems likely that the stories were the product of either the late ninth or early tenth century. 222 "Yuan chou ch'eng-huang miao chi" (cited note 17), 1Ob.9-11a.2. 223 I ?Et "Yiieh chou hsin hsiu ch'eng-huang miao chi" j WU Liang Chechin-shihchih (cited note 32), 7.4a. 10.




ment in an inscription of ca. 1301: "The [city] god truly shares the administration of affairs with the officials. Together they order both men and things."224 Since city gods were believed to function in the world of spirits much as local officials functioned in the human world, and were even believed to participate in the administration of the human world, it is not surprising to find that at times men who had administered a prefecture or county with particular success, or who had died in office, were made the ch'eng-huangshen of the city in which they had been based. Three of the city gods discussed in the first part of this paper served as high officials in their respective cities during the human segment of their careers: P'ang Yu was the chief administrator of the Yueh chou tu-tu-fu, Ying Chih-hsii prefect of Yun chou, and Yu Mao-hung magistrate of Nan-feng hsien. The last two were in fact local strongmen whose appointments seem to have simply ratified the power they already had, but the point remains, especially since there are numerous other examples of more typical local officials who became ch'eng-huangshen.225 Information I have collected about the location of city-god temples and the iconography of the cults reinforces the textual evidence. For example, in an inscription dated 840 commemorating the construction of a new city-god temple in Mu D chou (modern Chien-te AN hsien in western Chekiang) we are told that armed attendants were depicted in wall paintings to the left and right of the god's throne, and that there were paintings of soldiers on either side of the main gate. This clearly mimics the security arrangements of human officials.226 The inscription for the ch'eng-huangmiao of Yueh chou (1098) states that "to the left and right [of the statue of the city god] were arranged [scenes of] profit and loss, awesome in appearance. People were frightened by them."227 It is almost certain "[Nan-feng] chou ch'eng-huang miao chi" (cited note 57), 9C.34a.5-6. For example, Po Chi-k'ang in Li-shui hsien, and Li I A in Lung-shu chiin ?g (Pin t'ui lu [cited note 2], 8.95.2, 10). 226 T'ang wen shih-i ft~C4p Lu Shu jc9R, "I ch'eng-huang miao chi" #A&Z, (Taipei: Wen-hai ch'u-pan she, 1962, rpt of unidentified edition), 29.4a.1-2. 227 "Yiieh chou hsin hsiu ch'eng-huang miao chi" (cited note 223), 7.4b.9. The two characters I have rendered "profit and loss" in this passage (4lj) are also the names of the forty-first and forty-second hexagrams of the I ching. They mean deficiency and abundance, decrease and increase, profit and loss. The author seems to have deliberately avoided conventional terms for blessings and woe. The mercantile tone of the metaphor is unmistakable. 224





that those terrifying tableaux depicted the blessings that good behavior would bring, and, more emphatically, the dreadful consequences of vice and crime. Their proximity to the statue of the ch'eng-huangshen shows that he was being presented as a judge, that is, as a prefect or magistrate. (We have already encountered this idea in the story about Su Yen-chih's appearance before the city god of Hsiian chou. See above, p. 436.) There is also some interesting indirect evidence that the city gods were regarded as celestial prefects and magistrates in T'ang and Sung times. For one thing, ch'eng-huangmiao were frequently located near government offices. Unusually detailed early evidence of this practice is provided by the inscription for the Mu chou city-god temple, just cited, It states that the temple was originally in the northwestern corner of the city, and that in 806 it was moved by the then prefect to a location atop the north gate. The prefectural prison and the yamen of the legal officials were nearby. In 839 the author (the present prefect) moved the prison to another site, and built a new city-god temple where the prison had been. The prefect explains that the old location was not satisfactory because the temple was not resting on the ground, "which perverted its function of guarding and pacifying," because it was so cramped that there was no place where songs and dances could be performed, and because the soldiers on guard there disturbed the solemnity of the place.228 It may well be that the gate site had been chosen because it was an integral part of the city wall, hence particularly appropriate for the "god of the wall and moat." But if so, it was not long before it seemed more appropriate for the temple to be located on the former site of the prefectural prison. This was partly due to the belief that a territorial deity ought to be in direct contact with the earth. (Here there is an echo of beliefs that are very ancient indeed.) But the specific site could not have been selected by accident. After all, it was in this very temple, as we have seen, that armed attendants of the kind that served as the personal guard of officials were depicted to the left and right of the god's throne. Note too that in both 806 and 839, the initiative for moving the temple seems to have come from the prefect. Surviving Sung local histories show that city-god temples fre228

"I ch'eng-huang miao chi" (cited note 226) 29.3a.6-9, 3b.7-10.




quently were located close to county and prefectural yamens. In the San shan chih (1182), for example, the city-god temples of the twelve subordinate counties of Fu 1; chou are all said to be "adjacent to the county yamens."229 And in the Chia-t'ai Kuei-chii ch/h (1201), the ch'eng-huangmiao of Kuei-chi hsien is said to be five paces and the ch'eng-huangmiao of Shan-yin hsien fifty paces east of their respective yamens. The city-god temples of the other counties subordinate to Shao-hsing fu are described as being between ten and 105 paces from their yamens.230 And so on. There were cases where city-god temples were housed in the very buildings that had once been yamens. For example, the inscription commemorating the rebuilding of the city-god temple of Li-shui in the late twelfth century states that the magistrate (Po Chi-k'ang) died in office and was deified by the people, and that the county yamen was made into his temple.231 And sometimes the dwelling used by the city-god before his apotheosis was converted into a yamen, as we have seen in the case of T'ai chou (above, pp. 386-88). The evidence just presented concerning the appearance, location, and other physical characteristics of city-god temples is consistent with the literary evidence. There can be little doubt that the ch'enghuang shen was widely thought of as a divine official in T'ang and Sung times. This was not a later development, but seems to have been present from the start. Almost every early text produced by the cults (except prayers) gives evidence of it. The earliest stories in which the city god appears also depict him as an official. What does this mean ? The equation of shen and kuan preoccupied me for a long time during my research. It seemed to suggest that the officials were behind the spread of the cults, especially when one considered that virtually every early city-god temple was located in a prefectural or county capital. On the other hand, I had proved to my own satisfaction that the officials and their closest allies could not have been responsible for the early spread of the city god idea. A way out of Ch'un-hsiSan-shanchih (cited note 90), 8.16a.5. Chia-t'ai kuei-chichih (cited note 32), 6. lOb-1 la, 14b, 16a-26b. 231 Li-shuihsienchih (cited note 188), 17.19a.2. We have already seen that the nineteenthcentury Chien-ch'angfuchihstates that the city-god temple of Nan-feng hsien had once been the yamen (above, p. 378). 229





this dilemma opened up when I realized that there were many T'ang stories in which divine local officials appeared who were not called "ch'eng-huangshen."232 Thus although most, if not all, city gods were divine local officials, not all divine local officials were city gods. The idea of a divine local official was independent of the idea of a city god. It also appeared earlier. Ideas about the nature of the divine beings presiding over specific places evolved gradually during the centuries before the Sui-T'ang reunification. After the seventh century, the idea that a particular locale was administered by a shen who had been appointed to that position by the Lord on High appears to have crystallized. I believe this was the direct result of a major change in local administration that had occurred in Sui and early T'ang. Natives of a given prefecture or county were forbidden to hold high positions in the local administration of that unit. In addition, members of great families lost much of their statutory advantages in the competition for office. These changes had profound consequences. On the one hand, it was no longer possible for the members of influential families in a particular region to hold formal political power there. They still wielded great influence, of course, but to make the most of it they had to work through centrally-appointed local officials who came from distant places. Denis Twitchett has summarized these changes: One major achievement of the early T'ang was the gradual growth of the concept of the bureaucracy as a single unified body with a powerful esprit de corps and a sense of corporate identity. The gradual integration of local government posts into the general career structure of the bureaucracy and the constant attempts to limit the tenure of provincial appointments, to prevent men from serving long terms in their home districts ... helped bring this about.... No longer, as had been the case under the Northern and Southern dynasties, were prefectural and county administrations dominated by members of prominent local clans.... and locally recruited men were no longer employed except in lowly positions.233 232 For example: "Li Hsi!" , from Po-i chih f probably first half of the ninth century (T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi [cited note 2], 308.2437-38); "Shen Ts'ui" FP$, from Jung-mu hsien-t'an AgrA,& mid-ninth century (TPKC 304.2408-2409); and "Mu Jen-ch'ien" ffi., from Ming pao chi ; mid-seventh century (TPKC 297.2364-67). (Ming pao lu a is actually listed as the source of the last story. No early work of this title is known to me. Although TPKC may have been citing a lost work, I have assumed instead that lu is an error for chi.) 233 Arthur Wright and Denis Twitchett, ed., Perspectives on the T'ang (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), pp. 27-28.




Not only did the central government's local representatives attain a new level of authority and prestige; the central government itself grew more and more powerful and awesome. The political, legal, literary, and religious achievements of the T'ang had profound influence on all of East Asia-what an impact they must have had on the Chinese themselves! Ennin's Diary contains a description of the ceremonies surrounding the receipt of an imperial rescript in Teng a chou (modern P'eng-lai 31 hsien, on the northern coast of Shantung) in 840 that illustrates this. A great concourse of civilian and military officials assembled, together with clerics and commoners, for the formal reception of the document and its reading. The prefect came out from within the yamen, preceded by twenty military officers, ten each leading the way on the left and the right. When the secretaries, the county officials, and the others saw the prefect come out, they bowed their heads almost to the ground. The prefect called out, "The common people," and they chanted a response all together.... [All the civil and military officials and the rest of the assembly were then called upon in turn, and responded].... Next, two military officers brought the stand with the imperial rescript and placed it in front of the prefect, who bowed once and then picked up the imperial rescript in his hands and lowered his head, touching it to his forehead. A military officer knelt and received the imperial rescript on his sleeve, and holding it up, went into the court and, standing facing north, chanted, "An imperial order has arrived." The prefect, administrative officers, secretaries, and the military, all together bowed again. A military officer called out, "Let the common people bow," and the people bowed again.... [The rescript was then read by two officials, alternately, and this was followed by ceremonial expressions of gratitude to the prefect by representatives of the civil and military officials, and more collective chanting by the officials, the common people, and the clergy].... Then the commissioner who had brought the imperial rescript walked up in front of the prefect and bowed again, whereupon the prefect stepped off his carpet and stopped him with his sleeve. Several tens of officials and guests went up in front of the prefect and stood with their bodies

bowed toward the ground. A military officer called out, "You may leave," and they all chanted their response in unison. The officials, the military, the monks and Taoist priests, and the common people thereupon dispersed.234

In 840, the T'ang central government was certainly weaker than it had been a century before. Moreover, Teng chou was a relatively remote and unimportant prefecture. Yet even at that time, in that place, the ceremonies surrounding the receipt of a communication 234 E. 0. Reischauer, tr., Ennin's Diary: The Recordof a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law (New York: The Ronald Press, 1955), pp. 181-82, with minor changes.




from the emperor were so impressive, so awesome, that Ennin's description of them is one of the high points of his diary. And the authority of the court clearly enhanced the authority of the court's representative, the prefect, who appears here as a figure of great ritual potency. (Note that he is the only person to actually touch the rescript.) The contrast with the prefects of Wu-hsing, who had been ousted from their own yamen in the fifth and sixth centuries by the spirit of Hsiang Yii, could not be more striking. Is it any wonder that as the T'ang dynasty went on, generation after generation, people of all classes began mYoreand more to think of their local gods as divine magistrates or prefects, appointed by a divine emperor? In fact, a major systematization of popular religion appears to have taken place during the T'ang, and the model that was used was the imperial civil service. The widespread belief that city gods were divine prefects was an expression of this. Thus a city god was conceived of not only as the relatively civilized spirit of a human being (rather than of a white tiger or a defeated general like Hsiang Yui), but also as a person with a particular political and social role: a local official. This had important ideological implications. It made the city gods subordinate to higher divine authority, and subject to the rules and regulations of the heavenly bureaucracy. It carried further the process of rationalizing popular gods and bringing them under elite control that had already been under way for many centuries. But it also had a profound effect on the conception of local officials. After all, a man who governs in partnership with a god must have some divine qualities himself. Thus prefects and magistrates began to take on some of the sacred authority that characterized monks, priests, and shamans. We can see here another reason why ch'eng-huang miao were frequently constructed close to yamens, and why the city gods seem to have been depicted as officials. If one sees the city god idea as an expression of ruling class ideology, then the rapid spread of the cults marks a major victory of the political, clerical, and literary elites in their long struggle with indigenous popular religious beliefs. But the idea was more than an expression of ruling class ideology. As I tried to show earlier, it was also an expression of the consciousness of a newly-emerged mercantile elite, men of wealth and influence who nevertheless




were not members of the established elites. And the city god undoubtedly embodied the hopes and anxieties of the common people as well after all, most ch'eng-huangshen had probably been the objects of popular cults earlier in their divine careers. People in all these groups probably shared certain ideas about city gods: that they were the tutelary deities of cities; that they were the spirits of human beings; and that they served as prefects or magistrates in the celestial civil service. These various features may in fact have originated among different segments of the population, but eventually came to be taken for granted by everyone. City gods had meanings beyond these shared ones, however. Every ch'enghuang shen was a complex religious symbol, and necessarily meant different things to people in different social groups.235 For obvious reasons, we are poorly informed about the meanings that city gods may have had for the great bulk of the population. And, paradoxically, we also know very little about what most highly-educated men actually believed about them. What we do have is a considerable body of information about what the officials and other members of the local elites wanted the rest of the population to believe the city gods stood for. To conclude this section of the paper, I will briefly outline the leading features of that interpretation, and attempt to suggest some of the ways in which popular ideas diverged from it. I will not try to give a complete account of the official ideology of the city-god cults in T'ang and Sung, but will merely provide a succinct summary of those elements that I believe were central to it. An inscription of 902 provides a definition of the kind of spirits that officials considered worthy of receiving sacrifices: "Those who have brought benefits to their time or have died for their country, and whose merit has promoted civilizing transformations, may be sacrificed to; the rest are not in the Register of Sacrifices."236 The idea that gods are little more than embodied virtues (like the 235 For a full exposition of this approach, see my "Communication, Class, and Consciousness," in David Johnson, Andrew Nathan, and Evelyn Rawski, ed., PopularCulture in Late ImperialChina (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). 236 Wang T'ai-fu i194,, "She chou ch'ung-chien Wang wang miao chi" M1jjmff 3E,1ES Ch'uanT'ang wen (cited note 8), 869-15b.8. The reign title given in the date of the text (p. 16b. 1) is incorrect. But we know that the author lived in the early tenth century (see Ch'un-hsiHsin-an chih = [1175; 1887 rpt. of 1708 ed.], 6.6b-7a). So the cyclical pair given with the date allows us to place the text in 902.




heroes and heroines of most Chinese drama), that they should be seen metaphorically, not literally, is one of the hallmarks of the public attitude of officials and educated men toward the other world. It allowed them both to recruit the gods in the cause of official ideology, and to deny that they had the power to act autonomously, in response to prayers and sacrifices. Of course, in times of crisis, officials quickly abandoned the latter position (at least in public) as the many prayers to city gods preserved in Ch'iuan T'ang wen attest.237 (Disasters bring people together in more ways than one.) But they never ceased to assume and to preach that the ch'eng-huangshen stood for the same values as those they themselves promoted. These points are neatly illustrated by the "Account of the Temple of the City God of Yuan Chou" (862), to which I have referred several times already. The shen is given sole credit for saving Yuan chou from the horrors of civil war, but both the prefectural officials and the god are said to be responsible for the good order and prosperity that have existed since then. (In both cases, the god is said to have worked in a "hidden" or "mysterious" manner.) There is no ambiguity, though, as to the values that the ch'eng-huangshen is said to stand for. In 858 (the inscription informs us) troops in four prefectures neighboring Yuan chou mutinied. The rebels "slaughtered people without restraint. Hearts and livers were chopped to bits, the positions of rich and poor were reversed, fathers and sons could not protect each other-the people barely survived."238 At that time there was a plot among the common soldiers of Yuan chou to join the uprising, but loyal persons informed the authorities, and the plotters were punished. "Whether the people of Yuan chou were caught in the tiger's maw [of insurrection] or escaped was entirely due to the hidden compassion of the god."239 Less than two years have passed since then, and the prefecture is prosperous and peaceful: 237

One example among many: Chang Chiu-ling 3KSL, "Chi Hung chou ch'enghuang shen wen" , aJt l4'[email protected] (827), Ch'uianT'ang wen 293.12a-b. 238 Ch'iuan T'ang wen, 802.11a.3-4. For a collection of references from standard sources on this uprising, see Chang Tse-hsien WM,, ed., T'ang Wu-tai nungmin chan-chengshih-liao hui-pien f (Peking: Chung-hua shu-chii, 1979), 1: 235-39. 239 Ch'iianT'ang wen 802.1 la.4-6.




The war-horses are at rest, and the troops are quiet; the government offices are tranquil, and the officials are calm. Everywhere within a thousand li firewood lads and herdboys, the men who till and their wives who weave, understand the proper behavior of subject to sovereign, of younger to elder. Famous scholars and talented writers have appeared here regularly, and there have been no natural disasters to bring harm to the people. All this has been achieved by the prefectural officials and by the mysterious transformations wrought by the god.240

The values that are being promoted here, in whose defense the city god has been enlisted, are easy to define: loyalty to existing political authority, deference to social superiors, maintenance of the traditional hierarchies, admiration of learning. (Note that the turning upside down of the social order comes directly after the chopping of people to bits in the list of atrocities perpetrated by the rebels.) The material well-being of the people is believed to be a good thing, of course, but we get the impression that it is not nearly as important as their loyalty.241 In this version of the city god idea, a ch'eng-huangshen is like an official not only because he is part of a divine bureaucracy, and enjoys perquisites resembling those of human officials, but also because he represents the same values that human officials do. He acts as a judge, just as a prefect or magistrate does, and his definition of criminal behavior coincides with theirs. Drought and flood may come, and when they do, have to be borne if the god has so The gap between the willed it; but treason or rebellion-never. supernatural and human realms here virtually disappears; it seems less than that separating the ruling class from the people at large. The officials were not the only ones to enlist the city gods on behalf of a particular system of values. For example, a story from a ninth-century collection of Buddhist tales, Pao-ying lu QJ,9 tells of a local official who comes back to life after dying and having been taken before the ch'eng-huangshen, and informs his appalled wife that "in this world there are noble and mean classes of people, but in the Bureau of Darkness everyone is equal," and that there, they believe that the gravest crime is killing another human being.242 Ibid., 802.1Ob.9-lla.2. This intense concern with loyalty is also visible in the 1175 "Hua chou ch'enghuang . . . miao chi" (cited note 142), where the city god is credited with saving the city from the stigma of regicide. 240





Here the city god is made to stand for Buddhist values. Perhaps there were Taoist stories in which the city god played a similar function. However, it seems likely that of all the ideologies the ch'eng-huangshen was made to represent, that of the ruling class, which is well illustrated in the Yuan chou inscription, was overwhelmingly dominant. The location of the temples near yamens, the iconography of the cults, the close association of city god and magistrate both symbolically and practically all helped assure this. Anyone with some knowledge of European history may find it surprising that a group of deities specifically associated with a newly-emerged urban mercantile elite should have been turned so completely to the service of an ideology that was in many ways anti-mercantile. But the group I have called the mercantile elite never did become a bourgeoisie in the European sense: the political, economic, legal, and intellectual contexts in Europe and China were too different for the commercial elites of their cities to have resembled each other in any significant way. If this is granted, we can see that the law-and-order ideology of the city-god cults propagated by the officials probably suited the mercantile elite very well. There probably were considerable tensions and strains among the people of the rapidly-growing cities. Large numbers of people had moved into the cities from outside, leaving their old, familiar communities behind and plunging into a new and very different social environment. The potential for disorder must certainly have existed. The employer class in the cities would have been acutely aware of this, not only because they were in constant contact with ordinary people but also because they had the most to lose if good order was not maintained. Thus they had every reason to favor the identification of the tutelary deity of their and their employees' city with the traditional ideology of the officials and the literati, which placed great stress on stability and submissiveness to authority. The literate and powerful tried to impose various interpretations of the city gods on the people at large. There is no reason to doubt that these efforts were successful. The city god idea did not have deep roots in oral culture; worship of city gods had not been a part of Chinese folk religion since time out of mind. So the authorities 242

"Wang Chien-i" TE'fJ, from Pao-yinglu


(T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi124.873-74).




did not have to persuade people to change their conception of the ch'eng-huangshen; the idea carried with it certain elements of ruling class ideology from the start. But the common people largely illiterate, and occupying the most subordinate positions in the structure of dominance-had their own views of the world, and their own hopes and fears. No interpretation of the city gods concocted by the ruling elites could ever entirely meet their needs. We can be certain, therefore, that the beliefs about city gods of the common people differed in important respects from the "authorized version." We know very little about their beliefs, unfortunately, because they were not the ones who were writing the inscriptions and keeping the records. But we can get an occasional glimpse of the content and style of their beliefs in documents prepared by others. In what follows I will look briefly at a particularly revealing one. An inscription of 1174 commemorating the rebuilding of the city-god temple of Li-shui jA< hsien (about thirty kilometers southeast of Nanking) tells us that the gratitude of the people to the shenis very deep, because the harvests have been rich and the wicked have been suppressed. "Everyone refers to him as 'lord [VI5R].' The people celebrate the birthday of the city god every year on the eighteenth day of the fourth month, when there is a great procession, with cymbals and drums and singers: "A forest of banners and ceremonial axes leads the way; Taoist priests and Buddhist monks, august and grand, actors and singing-girls, skillful and dextrous, come crowding after them. His lordship gazes down upon the townspeople as if he were alive, and they all venerate him." In the concluding poem, the devotion of the people is mentioned again, and we are told that "they make effigies of the god and pray to them; his image is in their homes."244 The birthday of the city god was a quintessentially popular festival.245 It took place on a different day in every city or nearly than on one of the canonical sacrificial days. every city-rather "243

On the term "fu-chiun," see above, note "Ch'ung-hsiu Cheng-hsien-miao chi," 20a. 1-3. 245 See the stimulating article by Stephan God," in The City in Late ImperialChina, ed. University Press, 1977), p. 602. 243


192. (cited note 188), 17.19a.7-8,


Feuchtwang, "School-Temple and City G. William Skinner (Stanford: Stanford




(For example, the birthday of the Shaohsing city god was celebrated on the twelfth day of the ninth month.)246 The image of the god was carried through the city, coming in close contact with the residents; and the procession itself must have involved many people, both in planning and performance. Obviously the secularization and "metaphorization" of the city gods had its limits. The people did not regard their city god as just a celestial bureaucrat, or as the symbol of loyalty or justice or some other abstraction. They had established a personal relationship with him. They knew his name, and what he looked like. They could visit his temple when anxious or perplexed, communicate directly with him through prayers both spoken and written, and receive his responses as they cast the divining blocks. The people knew both from murals in the temple and from stories that were familiar to everyone the feats performed by the god when he was still a man, and the miracles he had wrought after he became a god. Just as their city was unique, so their city god was (in most cases) unique, theirs alone. He was not just a stern judge, the scourge of evil-doers; he was also (they never ceased to hope) a savior, who could rescue them from famine, epidemic, warfare, and demons of all kinds. He would help them in their distress because it was his nature to do so, not because they had paid their taxes and rents promptly, and "understood the proper behavior of subject to sovereign." There was much more than this to popular conceptions of the city gods, but it would take another article to do them justice. My aim here is simply to suggest to the reader that "the idea of a city god" was a very complicated thing. There was a minimum definition of what a city god was that was probably shared by everyone who knew anything about them. But to this core idea other elements were added, varying from group to group. Thus there was a sharp difference between the city gods of the officials and the city gods of the common people. If we were better informed, we could probably identify a merchants' city god, a women's city god, and still others. There is a further point. Compare a city god such as Ying Chihhsui of Yun chou with the spirit of Hsiang Yu. The attitude of the political and clercial elites toward dangerous and uncivilized gods 246

Chia-t'ai Kuei-chichih (cited note 32), 6.5b.5-6.




like Hsiang Yu was unrelentingly hostile. But, despite a certain amount of grumbling, they accepted the city gods. For built into the conception from the very beginning was the assumption that they were part of a celestial bureaucracy, and hence subject to restraints and regulations like all bureaucrats. They were not local strongmen, but functionaries, representatives of Higher Authority. The people at large accepted this idea (though we do not know how long the process took), and this was a significant change in popular religious conceptions. In effect, it brought the ideas of the common people about the other world somewhat closer to the ideas of the political and literary elites. At the same time, these divine bureaucrats must have been more congenial to the officials and other highlyeducated men than the older-style gods. Thus the various versions of the city god idea illustrate enduring tensions in Chinese religion, while the emergence of the idea itself shows how genuine change could occur.




APPENDIX Master List of Early City-God Temples, With Sources Note: Temples 1-15 were in existence before A.D. 800; 16-53 before 1000; 54-103 before A.D. 1201; and 143-50 before A.D. 1279. Temples 104-42 are named in Pin t'ui lu (1224) and in no other preMing source. Italicized numbers indicate non-boldface sites.


Number on maps, pp. 404-07

T'ang or Sung place-name

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Chin-yun hsien gM5W Ching chou P14J1i Fu & chou Hsiang-shan *[II hsien Hsuan ' chou

6. 7.

Hung A chou (also known as Lung-hsing fu WJ1ff,) Ku-ch'eng V;l hsien

8. 9.

Li-yang iTW hsien Ning-hai *j hsien


0 9 chou (known earlier as Ying - chou)

1 41j

Source Ch'iianT'ang wen"437.15a-b. Ibid., 233.9a-b. Ch'un-hsiSan-shanchih28.16a. Pao-ch'ingSsu-mingchih321.8a. T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi4303.2400, quoting Chi wen.5 Ch'iianT'ang wen 293.12a-b. T'ung-tien6177.943C, quoting Nan Yung-chou chi.7 Pao-k'ots'ung-pien815.13b. Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'engchih9 31.2 la; Pin t'ui lul' 8.94. Pei Ch'i shulL20.280-81; Nan shihL253.1324; T'ang wenshih-i'3 24.21a-b.

(1814 Palace ed.). (1182; Ssu-k'uch'uan-shuchen-pen,sixth series, rpt. of the 1780 ed.). 3 *&RA'^ (1227; Sung YuanSsu-mingliu chih ed.). 4 k",M (978; Jen-min wen-hsueh ch'u-pan she [Peking], 1959). 5 #j*J (third quarter of the 8th c.). 6 34A (801; Shih-t'unged.). 7 -%-+J9ig (first half of the 6th c.). 18 lou ts'ung-shued.). (Shih-wan-chuan 9 (1223; 1818 ed.). 10 A (1224; Ts'ung-shuchi-ch'enged.). I1'll (636; Chung-hua shu-chii [Peking], 1972). 12 % (ca. 659; Chung-hua shu-chiu [Peking], 1975). 13 (Ch'ien-yuantsung-chied.). J 2 'ffIII




Sui-yang chiin OMM Ch'uianT'ang wen345.3a. (later known as Sung * chou) T'ai > chou Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'eng Tz'u-chi 169 hsien Ch'ien-taoSsu-mingt'u-ching141.6a. Pin t'ui lu 8.93; Ch'iuanT'ang Wang-chiang 1cU hsien


12. 13. 14.

shih,,15han 7, ts'e 1, chiuan2, p. 5a ("Po Chui-i," chiuan2, p. 5a). 15.

Wu J chun

Wu chiun chih1612.114-15.


An-fu %Mhsien


Ch'ao A chou


T'ai-p'ingkuang-chi281.2241, vquoting Chi shenlU17). Har Ch'ang-lichi,ILts'e 5, chiuan22, p. 55. Pin t'ui lu 8.93 (dated mention). Chih-yuanChia-hochih'9 12.1Ob.

Ch'eng-tu hA5 fu Chia-hsing A hsien (metropolitan county of no. 261 Chiang-ning iJ3E fu (also Ching-tingChien-k'ang chih20 known as Chien-k'ang B fu) 44. 14a-b. Feng-hua Wf4 hsien Pao-ch'ingSsu-mingchih 14.5b. Hang 1t chou Wu-taihui-yao2l11.193. Ho-tung jI-fAchun Sungshih22102.2497. Hsiao-shan 1ffi hsien Pin t'ui lu 8.94 (datable mention); Chia-t'aiKuei-chichih236.20a. Hsien-chu 4bdi hsien Chia-tingCh'ih-ch'eng chih31.18a; Pin t'ui lu 8.94. Hsiu R chou (later known as Chih-huanChia-hochih 12.4b. Chia-hsing 09 fu) Hsun N chou Fan Wen-cheng kungchi2412.9b. Hu iU chou (also known as Wu-taihui-yao11.193. Wu-hsing M chiin) Hua t chou Chin-shih wen-tzu pa-wei25 5.9b-10b;

19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29.

Chin-shih ts'ui-pien26 156.8b-1 lb. 14

(1169; SungYuanSsu-ming liu chihed.).




(1192, 1229; Ts'ung-shuchi-ch'enged.) . 17 (second half of the 10th c.). 18 (Shang-wu shu-chii [Peking], 1958; rpt. of the 1933 ed.). *MVA 19 (1288; 1917[?] ed.). 20 ;R (1261; Ssu-k'uch'iian-shuchenpen, ninth series, ed.). mF, 21 (961; Shanghai ku-chi ch'u-pan she, 1978). jf-fi; 22 T (1345; Chung-hua shu-chiu [Peking], 1977). 23 g *, (1201; 1926 rpt. of the 1808 ed.). 24 CT/h? (SP TK ed.). 251 (Ts'ui-lang-kan-kuants'ung-shued.). 26 : (Kuo-feng ch'u-pan she [Taipei], 1964, rpt. of the 1805 Ching-hsun t'ang g ed.). 16

CITY-GOD 30. 31. 32.

Huai 1 chou Huang j chou Huang-yen R hsien

33. 34.

K'ai-feng kN1 fu Kuang P chou

35. 36. 37. 38.

Kuei i chou Li-p'u Ai hsien Li-ting INt hsien Lin-hai W hsien (metropolitan county of no. 12) Ling-ch'uan EJI hsien Lu i chou Lung-ch'uan ftI7%hsien Meng 9 chou Ming P chou Shao-hsing RR fu (known earlier as Yueh LAchou) Shou 9 chou T'ien-t'ai XAhsien

39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46.

Ting-hai , hsien Tse i chou Yang 1Achou Yen A chou Yen Th chou (known earlier as Mu A chou) Yuan A chou

47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52.



Ch'iuan T'ang wen 781.2a-b.

Ibid., 756.25b-26a. Chia-ting Ch'ih-ch'eng chih 31.13a; Pin t'ui lu 8.94. Sung shih 102.2497. T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi 34.219, quoting Ch'uan-ch'i.27 Ch'iuan T'ang wen 781.3b-4a.

Ibid., 781.5b. Ibid., 781.4a-b. Chia-ting Ch'ih-ch'eng chih 31.8a; Pin t'ui lu 8.94. Ch'iian T'ang wen 781.5a-b. Sung shih 102.2497.

Pin t'ui lu (datable entry) 8.94. Ts'e-fuyuan-kuei28 314.15b. Pao-ch'ing Ssu-ming chih 2.3a-b. Chin-shih ts'ui-pien 1 19.7a-9a. Ch'iian T'ang wen 873.6a-b. Chia-ting Ch'ih-ch'eng chih 31.16a; Pin t'ui lu 8.94. Pao-ch'ing Ssu-ming chih 18.9a. Sung shih 102.2497.

Ibid., 102.2497. Ch'iian T'ang wen 781.2a. Yen-ling chi29 7.81-82. Han Ch'ang-li chi, ts'e 5, chiian

23, p. 56. 53.

Yung-fu 7*9 hsien

Ch'iian T'ang wen 781.5b-6a.


Ch'ang-kuo PR hsien

Pao-ch'ing Ssu-ming chih 20.5a; Sung hui-yao chi-kao,30ts'e 19, "Li"


Ch'ang-le J-M hsien


Chen Mfchou

Ch'un-hsi San-shan chih 8.16a, quoting Ch'ang-le t'u-ching.31 Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

20.18a (chiian1204.18a).

20.17b (chuian1204.17b). 27 28


(second half of the 9th c.). (1013; Ch'ing-hua shu-chii [Taipei], 1967, facsimile rpt. of the 1642 ed.). (1 132; Ts'ung-shuchi-ch'enged.). (Chung-hua shu-chiu [Peking], 1957; rpt. of the 1936 facsimile rpt. of the


29 ,R?



1809 ed.). 31-

[email protected]

,61 (I1088).





Chen-chiang li fu (known earlier as Jun Al chou) Ch'eng ;Z chou


Chi m chou

60. 61.

Chien-ning 51



Chien-ning t*




Chien-p'u JI chun (also known as Nan-chien IAN chou) Chien-p'u hsien (metropolitan county of no. 63) Chu-chi MI hsien Ch'un-an jSk% hsien Chung-li UN chuin (? or hsien; also known as Hao i chou) Ch'ung-ch'ing A fu


Fen-shui 3S4 hsien


65. 66. 67.

Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

20.1 7b-18a (chiian1204.17b-18a). Ibid., ts'e 19, "Li" 20.18b (chiuan 1204.18b).

Ch'i-men iWP9 hsien



Ch'un-hsi Hsin-an chih334.22a. Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

20.17b (chiuan1204.17b). Ibid., ts'e 19, "Li" 20.18b (chiian 1204.18b). Ibid., ts'e 20, "Li" 20.169b (chulan 1238, n.p.). Ibid., ts'e 19, "Li" 20.17b (chulan1204.17b). Chia-t'ai Kuei-chi chih 6.18a. Yen chou t'u-ching34 3.15a. Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

20.18b (chiuan1204.18b). Ibid., ts'e 19, "Li" 20.18a (chiuan 1204.18a). Yen chou t'u-ching, map of

Fen-shui hsien, verso. 70. 71.

Hai-yen jWN hsien Hsiang-yang 1fu

Chih-yuan Chia-ho chih 12.4a. Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

72. 73. 74. 75.

Hsin-ch'ang r hsien Hsiu-ning fB8 hsien hsien Hua-t'ing V Hui-an&,% hsien

Chia-['ai Kuei-chi chih 6.26b. Ch'un-hsi Hsin-an chih 4.12a. Shao-hsi Yun-chienchih35 1P, 14b. Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"



20.18b-19a (chuian1204.18b-19a). I chien chih,36p. 1268 ("Ch'enghuang miao t'an ch'iieh").


Kuei-chi *C hsien Chia-t'ai Kuei-chi chih 6.1Ob-1 la. (metropolitan county of no. 44) Li-shui iAz hsien Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 20, "Li"

20.19a (chiuan1204.19a).




20.163b (chiuan1238, n.p.). 32 i}1lggeb

33 34 35

(1333; Chung-huawen-shihts'ung-shurpt. of the 1893 ed.). (1175; 1887 rpt. of the 1708 ed.).

)[email protected], (1186; 1926 replicaof the Sung ed.). P,3

36 g=i=^

(1193; 1818 rpt. of the 1814 ed.). (1 197 [for the section cited here]; Chung-hua shu-chii [Peking], 1981).

CITY-GOD The new fortifications at Li-yang WA hsien Lin-an t hsien

79. 80.



Ibid., ts'e 19, "Li" 20.17b (chiuan 1204.17b). Hsien-ch'un Lin-an chih3788.8a-b, quoting Chia-yu tsa-chih.38

Pin t'ui lu 8.95 (dated entry).


Lung-shu f (hsien? Probably the same as Shuch'eng f4A, hsien of Sung) hsien Nan-feng i

83. 84.

Ning-te * Po * chou

Wei-nan wen-chi40 17.2b-4a. Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

85. 86.

Po-p'ing P'o-yang ropolitan Shan-yin ropolitan Shang-yti Shao-wu


87. 88. 89.


t-T hsien hsien (metlt county of no. 76) S1 hsien (metcounty of no. 44) ? hsien chun RWt

Ibid., 8.95 (datable entry), supplemented by inscription of ca. 1301 in Chien-ch'angfu-chih39 9C.33a-34b.

20.17b (chiuan1204.17b). Shan-tso chin-shih chih41 18.21a-b. I chien chih, pp. 1268-69 ("Shu

ch'i pu ch'ang chiu"). Chia-t'ai Kuei-chi chih 6.14b.

Ibid., 6.24a. Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

20.17b (chiian1204.17b).


She # chou (also known as Hsin-an 9 chuin) Sheng 1 hsien



WA hsien





Ch'un-hsi Hsin-an chih 1.25b. Chia-t'ai Kuei-chi chih 6.16a; Pin t'ui-lu 8.95. I chien chih, pp. 984-85 ("Shih-

ch'eng miao shen"). hsien

94. 95.

Sui-an A% hsien T'ai-ning ** hsien

96. 97.


Yen chou t'u-ching, map of Shou-

ch'ang hsien, recto. Ibid., map of Sui-an hsien, verso. Sung hui-yao chi-kao, ts'e 19, "Li"

20.19a (chiuan1204.19a). )1WAhsien

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