Deities in Chinese Folk Religion

Chinese Folk Deities

One common type of Chinese deity is the "place god" or T'u-ti (Pinyin: Tudi). The primary characteristic of a place god is the limitation of his jurisdiction to a specific location, like a bridge, home, street, or field. A T'u-ti is always subject to the Ch'eng Huang, the spiritual magistrate of the city.

A T'u-ti is often a deified historical person who had assisted a specific community during his lifetime. It is believed that if the person is deified and sacrificed to, he will be moved to continue his assistance from the spirit world. If misfortunes occur in a location dedicated to a T'u-ti, the T'u-ti is believed to have lost interest and a new patron is chosen.

Chinese Buddhist Deities

Chinese Buddhism has many beliefs in common with other forms of Mahayana Buddhism, including many of the same bodhisattvas and other religious figures. However, the following Buddhist deities are especially (in some cases, exclusively) popular in China:

  • Kuan-Yin - Chinese and female form of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
  • Jade Maiden – Acolyte of Kuan Yin
  • Golden Youth – Acolyte of Kuan Yin
  • Kuan-Ti (Sangharama) - Protector of Buddhism
  • Wei-To (Skanda) - Protector of the Dharma
  • Four Guardian Kings (Si-Ta-Tien-Wang)
    • Mo-Li Ching: Guardian of East - holds a magical mandolin or p'i-pa
    • Mo-Li Hai: Guardian of West - shown with the magic dragon or mystical snake
    • Mo-Li Shou: Guardian of North - holds an umbrella as protection against thunderous storms).
    • Mo-Li Hung: Guardian of South - with ferocious expression, and holding a precious sword


"T'u-ti." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2005. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. <>.