Ox-Head and Horse-Face

Ox-Head (simplified Chinese: 牛头; traditional Chinese: 牛頭; pinyin: Niútóu; Wade–Giles: niu2-t'ou2) and Horse-Face (simplified Chinese: 马面; traditional Chinese: 馬面; pinyin: Mǎmiàn; Wade–Giles: ma3-mien4) are two guardians or types of guardians of the underworld in Chinese mythology. As indicated by their names, both have the bodies of men, but Ox-Head has the head of an ox while Horse-Face has the face of a horse. They are the first beings a dead soul encounters upon entering the underworld; in many stories they directly escort the newly dead to the underworld.[1]

Ox-Head and Horse-Face in the Hell Scroll at Seattle Asian Art Museum

RoleEdit

 
Entrance to the "Ten Courts of Hell" attraction in Haw Par Villa, Singapore. The Ox-Headed (right) and Horse-Faced (left) Hell Guards stand guard at the entrance.

In their duties as guardians of Diyu, the realm of the dead, their role is to capture human souls who have reached the end of their earthly existence and bring them before the courts of Hell. Souls are then rewarded or punished based on the actions performed in their lifetime.

Ox-Head and Horse-Face also play the role of messengers of the king of hell, Yanluo Wang (閻羅王). Ox head has also been "created" by the latter took pity by the arrival of a newly dead ox, who had worked hard all his life: he made one of his faithful servants.[2]

Chinese mythologyEdit

In the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West, Ox-Head and Horse-Face are among the underworld denizens overpowered by Sun Wukong after his soul is dragged to hell in his sleep. He then crosses out his name and those of all non-human primates on earth from the record of living souls, hence granting a second level of immortality to himself and general immortality to his monkey children.

Japanese mythologyEdit

In Japanese mythology, Ox-Head and Horse-Face are known as "Gozu" and "Mezu" respectively. They appear in classical Japanese literature such as the Konjaku Monogatarishū and Taiheiki. In The Tale of the Heike, they appear in an ominous dream of Taira no Tokiko.

GalleryEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Bane, Theresa (2014). Encyclopedia of Demons in World Religions and Cultures. McFarland. p. 416. ISBN 978-0786488940.
  2. ^ Leroi-Gourhan, André (2004). Pages oubliées sur le Japon (in French). Editions Jérôme Millon. p. 469. ISBN 978-2841371556.