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The Taoist Divinities

( Originally Published 1911 )

The first of these divinities is Lao-tseu, the founder of Taoism. He is usually represented holding a book whilst seated on a buffalo. He lived to a great age in a hermitage situated on a mountain side, when one day a buffalo, ready harnessed, came where he was, and when he had mounted it he was carried away to the west. Chang-Ti, the god of heaven, is represented seated upon a horse and holding a tablet. Heou Tou, goddess of the earth, appears in the dress of an empress. The gods of the stars have various names, but they may be found as images, and we give some of them. Sou Sing, god of the Pole Star and of the North, is usually seated on a stool ; before him lies a tortoise enveloped in the coils of a serpent. Koei Sing, the god of the Great Bear, carries the writing pencil, or brush, and an ingot of silver, symbol of the fortune which is secured by knowledge. He also carries a bushel measure. Nan Kiun Lao, or Cho, is the incarnation of Lao-tseu and the god of the Southern Cross. He holds a sceptre and rides upon a mule.

Amongst the very old statuettes may be found some that are very ancient, dating from the Sung dynasty (960-1279). These are of violet and blue Celadon. Fou Hi, the first Emperor of China, is a specimen of these figures in the Musee Guimet at Paris. To him is ascribed the invention of agriculture and writing. Chen Noung, the inventor of medicine ; FO, Lo, and Cho, the three gods of happiness, and many others.

The illustration is an exceptionally fine and rare figure of Kouan-ti, the god of war, seated on a horse. The armour is in green with yellow edgings, belt, &c.; the under-garments in aubergine, and black boots. The head-dress is green. The horse aubergine and black. All the trappings, including saddle and saddle-cloth, in green and aubergine. Period, Ming.

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