There are many gods worshipped in China, especially during traditional festivals. Putting drawings of door gods on gates during the Chinese New Year is a traditional Chinese custom, which can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618- 907 AD). Since different gods are being invented for different reasons, the door gods are worshipped by the Chinese as spiritual guardians of the entrance to keep evil spirits from entering.
History of Door Gods
According to the Classic of Mountains and Rivers, there were two brothers, Shen Tu and Yu Lei, who lived in Moon Mountain. A huge peach tree was grown here and the two brothers judged all the ghosts every morning under the tree. They were both brave in their decision making and any ghost who had behaved badly would be fed to the tiger. People would then hang a peach board, with the brothers' names on it, on each side of their door, pinning with it their hope for peace from giants. People began finding it time-consuming to enscribe their names so a picture of them was put up instead. Over time, the image of the door painting changed. In the Southern Song Dynasty, Zhong Kui, another ghost catcher, was worshipped at the gates while in the Tang Dynasty, the door gods were said to be Qin Qiong and Yuchi Gong, the two major generals who had made a great contribution to the foundation of the state. Since the Ming and Qing dynasty, valiant generals like Zhaoyun, Machao and powerful figures from novels were made to be the door gods.
Types of Door Gods
An old Chinese custom was that a home generally had three doors: one door facing the street, one door of the house and another door inside the house. Each door was decorated with different type of door gods.
According to records, there are door gods for blessing and guarding. Also in some religions, there are door gods that are usually put up on special occasions. Generally speaking, shops and hotels often invented door gods for great fortune, while residents for protection.
The painted door gods' pictures always face the visitor when entering. Whoever the door gods may be, the common denominator of all gates of gods is their trustworthiness, strength and loyalty, bolstered by a fierce martial countenance and impressive weaponry.