Other Asian locations
Hong Kong, Macao, Singapore, Bali, Jakarta...

(more about my travels in Asia)

Da Er Ge Ye (Older and Second Brother), Thian Hock Keng, Singapore

These two guys are attendants to the City God, as seen in Thian Hock Keng (Tian Hou Gong), a temple in Singapore's Chinatown that Lila and I visited in early April of this year:

I found something about their "legend" (and their appearance) on this site:

Generals Fan and Xie represent loyalty, according to the following tale: due to a tragic misunderstanding General Fan (by far the shorter of the two) drowned during a flood as he waited for his friend at an appointed place; and General Xie accepted responsibility for his loyal friend's death and hanged himself. Thus, each is now represented in a form connected with his tragic death: Fan is dark black [from drowning] and Xie is pale white, with a long neck and protruding tongue [from hanging].

Further, in Keith Stevens' excellent Chinese Gods (page 173), a description of their functions (and multifarious names). My comments are in [square brackets], as above:

In a number of temples there are also larger than life-size images of the Wu-ch'ang Kuei, the Unpredictable Demons, standing just inside the main entrance. [The ones in Thian Hock Keng are in a side altar, flanking the City God whom they attend.] They are a pair of tamed demons commonly seen throughout Chinese communities in South-East Asia and Taiwan, who are known by innumerable titles, nicknames, and euphemistic honorifics. The most popular are the Tall and Short Demons, the White and Black Demons, and To Erh-ko Yeh (the Elder and Second Brother). [Note that Stevens uses Wade-Giles transliteration throughout.]

The pair are despatched on orders from the City God when the due date of a person's death arrives, to seek out and identify the correct human through the local spiritual official, the Earth God. Then they appear before the human and the Tall Demon announces that the time has come. The Short Demon binds the soul and drags it before the City God. The Short Demon carries the tablet of authority and the chains to arrest the soul whose due date of death has arrived.

The Tall Demon, as can be imagined, receives considerable attention from devotees, often relatives of the very sick, and in a few temples he is provided with cigarettes which are to be seen continually burning having been forced between his lips. [Note the ashtrays in the bottom-right of my photo.] More popularly, his mouth is smeared with a black substance to win his favor and bribe him to keep away. This used to be opium and is still said to be opium, though the substance appears to be more of a sweet sticky mess. [There is black on this figure's tongue, but I suspect it's burn marks from cigarettes. Note the smoke stains, too.] In northern and central China, only the Tall Demon is found.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please leave me a message; I can't wait to hear from you!