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Door God Portraits

A door god portrait is a Chinese decoration placed on each side of the entrance to the house. It is believed to prevent the evil from entering. The custom first began in the Tang Dynasty. Tang Taizong (599-649) once had trouble fall asleep at night because of a ghost harassing him. Two of his most loyal generals—Qin Qiong and Yuchi Jingde are called to guard the emperor’s door, and the emperor had a blissful sleep. Later, the emperor ordered to hang the portraits on his front door instead. And the common people soon adopted this way to protect themselves from the evils. They put woodblock prints of the ever-vigilant generals on their front gates.

 The Door God soon spread throughout the whole China, such as Shentou and Yulei (two immortals who are ordered by the Jade Emperor to guard peaches trees which demons are gnawing at) and Zhong Kui, the ghost catcher. In addition, it is also common to hang up calligraphic writings of the Chinese characters for “spring”, “wealth” and “blessing”. Some people tend to invert these writings because, in Chinese, the character for “inverted” is a homonym for that for “arrive”, thus signifying that spring, wealth or blessing has arrived.

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