Chinese spirits and Deities of the underworld 

Diyu – The Chinese Underworld

The Chinese underworld, called ‘Diyu’ is a complex system of underground chambers and tunnels with ten different levels – each punishing a different sin made by the soul when he/she was alive.

To reincarnate – every Taoist/Buddhist/Hindi soul would have to go through their respective levels of hell, repenting their sins before reincarnating once more.

Inside Diyu however, a whole host of deities and spirits govern and administer the region. Below, we take a look at some of the more iconic entities and uncover their purpose in Diyu.

(Our page about Taoist funeral practices contains a detailed explanation on the subject of life and death: Nituo – Funeral service Singapore)


Often seen as an individual by multiple sects of Buddhism and Hinduism, most Chinese sects would argue that there are ten different Kings of hell governing each level.

Collectively known as the “Ten Yama Kings”, they govern each level of hell – controlling entities and passing judgement to repenting souls.

Some of these Kings were also mortals – who through good deeds, earned their place to become Kings of the underworld.

Heibai Wuchang

Heibai Wuchang often called the Fan Xie Jiangjun as well –  are two guardians of hell charged at guiding spirits towards Diyu.

Initially, constables – the White guard drowned in a flooded river while waiting for the Blackguard. Upon seeing this, the Black Guard took his own life as repentance. The Jade Emperor was touched by their act of valour – and thus gave them the special role of Guardians in hell.

However, there are many varying stories as to how these guards became who they are today.

There are many interesting accounts on the different acts of heroism performed by these spirits, despite their purpose as Grim Reapers. One legend states that the Whtie Guard prevented a disgraced mother from committing suicide, instead of starting a fire to burn her properties while she escaped with her children – leaving little wealth for her ungrateful husband who was womanising and spending her inherited wealth aimlessly.

Ox Head & Horse Face Guardian

Another guardian and ‘Grim Reaper’ of Chinese hell, the Ox Head & Horse Face Guardian is of a lower rank to Heibai Wuchang. However, they have the added responsibility of keeping spirits within Diyu as well.

Originally farm animals, both a Buffalo and a Horse were overworked by their farmer – eventually dying from exhaustion.

Meng Po

Meng Po is an old lady that resides on the 10th level of hell. Her job is to brew and serve soup that would make spirits forget their past life entirely.

Though her origin is not known – spirits are to drink her battery concoctions before entering into their new lives.


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