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The Four Diamond Kings of Heaven

On the right and left sides of the entrance hall of Buddhist temples, two on each side, are the gigantic figures of the four great Diamond Kings of Heaven. They are four brothers named respectively Mo-li Ch’ing (Pure), Mo-li Hung (Vast), Mo-li Hai (Sea), and Mo-li Shou (Age).

Mo-li Ch’ing, the eldest, is twenty-four feet in height, with a beard the hairs of which are like copper wire. He carries a magnificent jade ring and a spear, and always fights on foot. He has also a magic sword, ‘Blue Cloud,’ on the blade of which are engraved the four characters: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind. When brandished, it causes a black wind, which produces tens of thousands of spears, which pierce the bodies of men and turn them to dust. The wind is followed by a fire, which fills the air with tens of thousands of golden fiery serpents. A thick smoke also rises out of the ground, which blinds and burns men, none being able to escape.

Mo-li Hung carries in his hand an umbrella, called the Umbrella of Chaos, formed of heavenly pearls. Opening this marvellous implement causes the heavens and earth to be covered with thick darkness, and turning it upside down produces violent storms of wind and thunder and universal earthquakes.

Mo-li Hai holds a four-stringed guitar, the twanging of which affects the earth, water, fire, or wind. When it is played all the world listens, and the camps of the enemy take fire.

Mo-li Shou has two whips and a panther-skin bag, the home of a creature resembling a white rat, known as Hua-hu Tiao. When at large this creature assumes the form of a white winged elephant, which devours men. He sometimes has also a snake or other man-eating creature, always ready to obey his behests.

The legend of the Four Diamond Kings given in The Investiture of the Gods is as follows: At the time of the consolidation of the Chou dynasty in the twelfth and eleventh centuries B.C., Chiang Tzŭ-ya, chief counsellor to Wên Wang, and General Huang Fei-hu were defending the town and mountain of Hsi-ch’i. The supporters of the house of Shang appealed to the four genii Mo-li, praying them to come to their aid. They agreed, raised an army of 100,000 celestial soldiers, and traversing towns, fields, and mountains arrived in less than a day at the north gate of Hsi-ch’i, where Mo-li Ch’ing pitched his camp and entrenched his soldiers.

Hearing of this, Huang Fei-hu hastened to warn Chiang Tzŭ-ya of the danger which threatened him. “The four great generals who have just arrived at the north gate,” he said, “are marvellously powerful genii, experts in all the mysteries of magic and use of wonderful charms. It is much to be feared that we shall not be able to resist them.”

Many fierce battles ensued. At first these went in favour of the the Diamond Kings, thanks to their magical weapons and especially to Mo-li Shou’s magical animal Hua-hu Tiao, who terrorized the enemy by devouring their bravest warriors.

Unfortunately for the Diamond Kings, the brute attacked and swallowed Yang Chien, the nephew of the Jade Emperor of Hevean. This genie, on entering the body of the monster, rent his heart asunder and cut him in two. As he could transform himself at will, he assumed the shape of Hua-hu Tiao, and went off to Mo-li Shou, who unsuspectingly put him back into his bag.

The Four Kings held a festival to celebrate their triumph, and having drunk copiously gave themselves over to sleep. During the night Yang Chien came out of the bag, with the intention of possessing himself of the three magical weapons of the Diamond Kings. But he succeeded only in carrying off the umbrella of Mo-li Hung. In a subsequent engagement No-cha, the son of the God of Thunder, broke the jade ring of Mo-li Ch’ing on his Wind and Fire Wheel. Misfortune followed misfortune. The Diamond Kings, deprived of their magical weapons, began to lose heart. To complete their discomfiture, general Huang Fei-hu's eldest son Huang T’ien Hua brought to the attack a matchless magical weapon. This was a spike seven and a half inches long, enclosed in a silk sheath, and called ‘Heart-piercer.’ It projected so strong a ray of light that eyes were blinded by it.

Huang T’ien Hua, hard pressed by Mo-li Ch’ing, drew the mysterious spike from its sheath, and hurled it at his adversary. It entered his neck, and with a deep groan the giant fell dead.

Mo-li Hung and Mo-li Hai hastened to avenge their brother, but ere they could come within striking distance of Huang Ti’en Hua his redoubtable spike reached their hearts, and they lay prone at his feet.

The one remaining hope for the sole survivor was in Hua-hu Tiao. Mo-li Shou, not knowing that the creature had been slain, put his hand into the bag to pull him out, whereupon Yang Chien, who had re-entered the bag, bit his hand off at the wrist, so that there remained nothing but a stump of bone.

In this moment of intense agony Mo-li Shou fell an easy prey to Huang T’ien Hua, the magical spike pierced his heart, and he fell bathed in his blood. Thus perished the last of the Diamond Kings.


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