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The Door Gods: Shên Tu and Yü Lü

In the Classic of Mountains and Seas, an old legend relates that in the earliest times there grew on Mount Tu Shuo, in the Eastern Sea, a peach-tree of fabulous size whose branches covered an area of three thousand square li. On the top of the tree, there was a Golden Rooster, who crows to herald the break of the day. The lowest arched branches, which inclined toward the north-east and the point of them touches the ground, formed the Door of the Devils, through which millions of them passed in and out.

Two spirits, named Shên Tu and Yü Lü, had been instructed to guard this passage. Shên Tu on the left, holding a Peach Wood Word; and Yü  Lü on the right, holding a rope. Every night millions of Devils passed through this door to the human world, and before the Golden Rooster crows they had to come back to their Ghost Town. Those Devils who had done wrong to mankind were immediately bound by Shên Tu and Yü Lü and given over to be devoured by tigers. So devils and ghosts were dread of these two spirits.

When the Yellow Emperor heard of this he had the portraits of the two spirits painted on peach-wood tablets and hung above the doors to keep off evil spirits. This led to the suspension of the small figures or plaques, or maybe a branch of peach-wood, a rope and an image of tiger on the doors of the people generally. Gradually they were supplanted by paintings on paper pasted on the doors, showing the two spirits armed with bows, arrows, spears, etc., Shên Tu on the left, Yü Lü on the right.
神荼 郁垒

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