|Literal meaning||Lord of the Soil and the Ground|
|Alternative Chinese name|
|Chinese||土地 or 土公|
Tudigong (土地公 "Lord of the Soil and the Ground") or Tudishen (土地神 "God of the Soil and the Ground"), also known as Tudi (土地 "Soil-Ground"), Tugong (土公 "Lord of the Soil"), Tu Shen (社神), Pek Gong (伯公), Tu Ti Hou Fu Shen (土地或福神), Sheshen (社神 "God of the Social Body"), Shegong (社公 "Lord of the Social Body"), Tudijun (土帝君 "Ruler God of the Soil"), or also known as Hou Tu (后土) and Dabogong (大伯公 "Great Elder Lord") or Bogong(伯公 "Elder Lord"), is a Chinese tutelary deity of a natural locality in Chinese folk religion and Taoism. Some people consider his formal title as Fudezhengshen (福德正神 "Right God of Blessing and Virtue"), or Fudegong (福德公 "Lord of Blessing and Virtue"). Commoners often call Tudigong "grandfather" (yeye), which reflects his close relationship with the common people.
- 1 Cult
- 2 Gods which are misunderstood as Tu Di Gong
- 3 Related gods
- 4 Gallery
- 5 See also
- 6 References
Tudigong is portrayed as an elderly man with a long white beard, a black or gold hat and a red or yellow robe, which signifies his position as a bureaucrat. He carries a wooden staff in his right hand and a golden ingot on the left.  In old days, if one of the citizens passed the state examination and became a governor, the Tu Di Gong statue of his home village would be given a hat and robe of governor. Nowadays, Tu Di Gong is worshiped as the god of wealth and fortune. Merchants and businessmen pray to him to bless their job. He also repel evil spirits so that people placed his altar inside their houses.
Some places displays his statue resembling Cheng Huang Lao Ye, with white face and black beard and hair. His statue also often displayed with his consort, i.e. Tu Di Po in his right side, and hold a lump of gold in his right hand. But in house altar, he often displayed alone. Sometimes he is accompanied with a tiger or Hu Jiang Jun (Hokkien=Houw Ciang Kun) which is believed help him to chased away evil spirits and help people from disasters. Another version says that his and his wife's loyal servant are Bai Hu Shen (Hanzi=白虎神; pinyin=bái hǔ shén; lit. White Tiger God) and Long Shen (Hanzi=龙神; pinyin=lóng shén; lit. Dragon God) who protect human from another human.
As another land gods, his tenure is limited. People who in their life time were good and meritorious for their people are believed can be elected as a Tu Di Gong after their death. That is why every single place have their own Tu Di Gong.
Ancient people prayed to Tu Di Gong on the 15th day of the eight month on Chinese calendar, i.e. on the end of the year. The festival was called "Qiu Bao" (秋報). On that day, people reported their harvest of that year to Tu Di Gong. Nowadays, the festival is known as Zhong Qiu Jie (中秋節) or Mid-Autumn Festival. He is also have holidays every month on the 2nd and 6th day, or on the 1st and 15th day along with another deities.
On the old days, many merchants prayed to him every month on the 1st and 16th day, which is called zuoya or ya-fu, to asked his protection and fortune. Prayer on the 2nd day of the first month of Chinese lunar calendar is called tou-ya (Fujian= Thou-ge), 2nd day of the 2nd month is ya-li to celebrate his birthday, and 16th day of the 12th month is wei-ya (or the closing). The festival is often enlivened with wayang and dancing.
The farmers usually choose the 15th day of the 8th month to celebrate his festival, which is called Zhong-qiu, to gratitude his blessing over their harvest on that year. This festival is not only celebrated on the rural area where the farmers lived but also on the urban area.
In Taiwan, festivals dedicated to Tudigong typically take place on the second day of the second month and the 15th day of the eighth month on the Chinese lunar calendar.
The historians presume that the cult of Tu Di Gong was a merger worships to the gods of pulse and nuts such as Xian Se, Tian Jun, Fang Shen, and Shui Yong Shen, and also boundaries gods such as Earth Mother in the time of ancient emperors. On the ancient China, the wealth of a person was measured by his owned land because he might only planted his grains on his land and owning grains means he could survive and became rich. This very reason made the cult of Tu Di Gong bloomed and so many "forms" of Tu Di Gong were thought out. Even thought they are so many Tu Di Gong, the very first Tu Di Gong which was recorded in Chinese history was from 2514 BC on a place named Jiu Zhou. It was said that Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋) from Ming Dynasty was born at a Tu Di Gong shrine. That was the reason on Ming Dynasty, the temples and shrines of Tu Di Gong were built all over the country. His altar must be owned by every single household.
On the ancient time, only the bureaucrats were permitted to built a worship places to the gods and the commoners were prohibited to worship over there. The commoners which mostly were poor farmers and farm workers made clay plates and placed it on the ground as an altar to pray. This is the reason why the altar of Tu Di Gong is placed just over the ground while Fu De Zheng Shen on a worship table.
All over the country in China, Tu Di Gong have the most widespread worship places, from the magnificent ones into very small buildings which are not feasible to be called as shrine because even a single person is inconvenient to pray over there. His worship places are often called as Tu Di Miao or Fu De Ci (Fujian: Hok Tek Su). This small shrines are located on the villages, dikes of rice fields, or even on the home pages. On the very poor backwoods, people made his altar from a broken water pot which is positioned upside down. This condition was giving rise to a proverb: you-wu zhu da-tang, mei wu zhu po–gang or "if there is a house (He may) live inside a large room, if there is no house a broken pot is ok". Usually, Tu Di Gong's altar is a complement for the most Chinese temples.
As a protector of an area, Tu Di Gong is in charge to control an event on his domain, often associated with farming and weather. But he is not fully in control because his office on the Heavenly Bureaucrats is the lowest. Nevertheless, he is a humble bureaucrat to where the commoners can give their petitions and hope in the time of drought and hunger.
Tudigong is still worshipped by many Chinese in modern times, with many housing small shrines with his image, commonly located under the main altar, or below the house door. Many worshippers supplicate with the intention of gaining wealth or maintaining their physical health. He is also traditionally worshipped before the burial of deceased persons to thank him for using his land to return their bodies to the earth.
Gods which are misunderstood as Tu Di Gong
Fu De Zhen Shen
Fu De Zheng Shen ia a fortune god who has authority over the fortune and wealth of human. He has a higher rank than the ground gods or Tu Di Gong.
One version said that Fu de Zheng Shen was a man named Zhang Fu De (Fujian=Thio Hok Tek) who lived on Zhou Dynasty under the reign of Zhou Wu Wang and was born on 1134 BC. Since his childhood, he already shown his intelligent and high-minded, and he served as royal tax affair minister. He was wise and thoughtful and never damning his people. He died on his 102nd and his position was replaced by a merciless man named Wei Chao who was greedy and vicious. People suffered under his reign, so many people left their hometown so that many farms and fields were neglected. People expected a wise leader as the late Zhang Fu De so they prayed to him to got his protection. From his name raised the title Fu De Zheng Shen which is though as an earth deity.
Most people think that Dabo Gong(Toa Pek Kong) and Tu Di Gong are the same god because of their similar appearance. Actually, Dabo Gong ia a water deity while Tu Di Gong is of ground.
During Qin Dynasty, many men were forced to built the Great Wall of China, some were from Mengjiang most of which eventually died because of the labor. The Mengjiang women cried on their long journey to the construction site and only found the scattering piles of white bones which could not be identified anymore. It is a taboo for the Chinese to left their relative bodies without properly burying so this raised a very hard problem for them. Suddenly an old man with long grey beard came and told them to drop their blood to the bones. If the color of the bones was changing, it must be their relatives, and they did as his advice. This incident gave birth to the legend of Houtu.
Na Du Gong (Hanzi =拿督公; pinyin=Ná Dū Gōng; POJ=Ná-tok-kong) are the local guardian spirits in Malaysia. One of their name variances are Datok or Datuk (Datok Gong), from Malaysian language which is mean 'grandpa'. The word Datuk is used as a call of honor as well Gong which is also an honorific title. One of the version say that the beginning of the worship of Na Du Gong was from the syncretism worship of Tu Di Gong from China and Datuk Keramat from Malaysia.
In the countryside, he is sometimes given a wife, Tǔdìpó (土地婆 "Grandmother of the Soil and the Ground"), placed next to him on the altar. She may be seen as a just and benevolent deity on the same rank as her husband, or as a grudging old woman holding back her husband's benedictions, which explains why one does not always receive fair retribution for good behaviour.
Another story says that Tudipo is supposed to be a young lady. After Tudigong received a heavenly rank, he gave everything that the people asked for. When one of the gods went down to Earth to do inspections, he saw that Tudigong was distributing blessings unnecessarily. Soon after that, the god went to the Celestial Palace and reported to the Jade Emperor.
After the Jade Emperor knew this, he found out that there was a lady that was going to be killed, but she was not guilty. Thus, the Jade Emperor told a god to go down to Earth and bring the lady to heaven. When the lady was brought to the Celestial Palace, the Jade Emperor bestowed her to Tudigong as his wife. She was ordered to look after how many blessings Tudigong distributes and that they not be unnecessarily distributed. This is why many people do not want to pay respect to Tudipo, because they are afraid that she will not let Tudigong give lots of wealth to them.
The Landlord God (Chinese: 地主神; pinyin: Dìzhǔ shén) is a deity worshipped in Chinese folk beliefs who is analogous but is not to be confused with Tudigong. The tablet for the Landlord God is typically inscribed with (middle two rows) "left: The Earth God of Overseas Tang People (overseas Chinese), right: The Dragon of Five Sides and Five Lands (fengshui). The side inscriptions mean "The wealth comes from ten thousand directions and the business comes from thousands of miles." It is believed that the Landlord God has powers to help gather wealth, and the position of the tablet must be placed properly according to the laws of fengshui.
The Village God has developed from land worship. Before Chenghuangshen ("City God") became more prominent in China, land worship had a hierarchy of deities conforming strictly to social structure, in which the emperor, kings, dukes, officials and common people were allowed to worship only the land gods within their command; the highest land deity was the Houtu ("Queen of the Earth").
Ranked lower than City Gods, the Village Gods have been very popular among villagers as the grassroot deities since the 14th century during the Ming dynasty. Some scholars speculate that this change came because of an imperial edict, because it is reported that the Hongwu Emperor of the Ming dynasty was born in a Village God shrine. The image of the Village God is that of a simply clothed, smiling, white-bearded man. His wife, the Grandmother of the Village, looks like a normal old lady.
- Agriculture in Chinese mythology
- Chinese folk religion
- Chinese mythology
- Religion in China
- Soil and grain
- The Encyclopedia of Malaysia, vol. Religions & Beliefs, edited by Prof. Dr M. Kamal Hassan & Dr. Ghazali bin Basri ISBN 981-3018-51-8
- Keith G. Stevens, Chinese Mythological Gods, Oxford University Press, USA, (November 8, 2001), pages 60, 68, 70, ISBN 0-19-591990-4 or ISBN 978-0-19-591990-5
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