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Also known as FENGDU, FENG-TU

The Realm of the Dead, containing all the Chinese Hells.

Like so many other concepts in Chinese mythology, the Underworld is a tangled mix of DAOist, Buddhist and traditional folk legend. It's not actually underground but housed in an enormous mountain on the other side of the astral plane. But all legends agree that it's a dark and sinister place something like a prison complex — with ample torture facilities.

We don't want to worry you, but Hell is open to everyone and the invitation is not negotiable. When you die, officers place your soul under arrest and march you to the office of YEN-LO-WANG, the King of Hell. There you are registered, given an identity card, and sucked into the mire of Underworld bureaucracy. No doubt it's all computerized by now.

Then it's off to the Court of QIN-GUANG-WANG for inspection in his Mirror of Retribution. Particularly virtuous souls may find themselves excused from further judgment and sent on vacation to paradise. But the vast majority will have to be punished for Earthly sins. It's the rules.

Some of the punishments are very nasty indeed, and to add insult to injury there are — like most government offices — pious slogans wherever you look. It's all very well being reminded that virtue is a good thing, but when you're about to be plunged into boiling oil for the hundredth time you really have other things to worry about.

FENG-DU is divided into several courts or levels, each with its own set of departments and ruling deity. The exact number of courts is variously given as four, five, eight and ten. We've chosen to include ten as it seems better value.

The Ten Courts of Chinese Hell
Court 1: Mirror of Retribution. Ruled by QIN-GUANG-WANG.
Court 2: The Pool of Filth and the Hell of Ice. Ruled by QU-JIANG-WANG.
Court 3: Black Rope Hell and the Upside-Down Prison. Ruled by SONG-DI-WANG.
Court 4: The Lake of Blood and the terrible Bee Torture. Ruled by WU-GUAN-WANG.
Court 5: Sixteen Departments of Heart Gouging. Ruled by YEN-LO-WANG.
Court 6: Screaming Torture and Administrative Errors. Ruled by BIAN-CHENG-WANG.
Court 7: Torture by Mincing Machine. Ruled by TAI-SHAN-WANG.
Court 8: Hot Suffocation Hell. Ruled by DU-SHI-WANG.
Court 9: Iron Web and Office of Fair Trading. Ruled by PING-DENG-WANG.
Court 10: The Wheel of Rebirth. Ruled by ZHUANG-LUN-WANG.

When your agony is complete and you've repented for all you're worth, it's time to be reborn. You're summoned to the Tenth Court, where ZHUANG-LUN-WANG decides the manner of your next existence. (Human being or slug?) Then Lady MENG-PO gives you the Tea of Forgetfulness, which erases your memory and ensures that you completely forget all the punishments you've just been suffering. There is a very good reason for this, but we don't know what it is.

Finally you are given a free ride on the Wheel of Life. Round and round you go, faster and faster, until you shoot off into the void and land in the body of a newborn baby. Or, if you haven't repented enough, the body of a slug.

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Article last updated on 16 April 2004
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Feng-du is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.

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Name : FENG-DU
Location : China
Gender : Sorry, we don't know
Type : Legendary Place
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Pronunciation : Fung Doo
Alternative names : FENGDU, FENG-TU
Popularity index : 879

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