Idols Of The Chinese, Their Names, And Temples

As I said in the above-written, the Chinese religion has three important parts, of which the most important, the philosophical one, is at the same time the oldest of all and the most respected and praised among the people. It has many followers and, instead of God, they worship their first philosopher and father of religion Confucius, whose teachings and commandments are sacred to them. The Chinese philosophers never kneel before the idols, but they recognize the existence of one and only God, that they call "the celestial emperor." No one else but the emperor is able to bring sacrifice to this god.That is why the emperor has two large beautiful temples, build in the two capitals. One stands in Nanking, the eastern capital, and the other in Peking, the northern capital. One temple belongs to the sky, the other to the earth. In the old times, the tradition was that the emperor himself should sacrifice in the temples, but in our days, those who do that are the nobles. They make sacrifices of oxen, many sheep, and other animals, as their tradition demands. The philosophers build temples for Confucius, their leader, and God, and near these constructions, they have founded schools. In the same places one can find the palaces in which their great masters of knowledge live, near the statue of Confucius, a statue covered in all kinds of inscriptions. Sometimes, the statue is missing, but the name of Confucius can still be found, written in golden letters. On both parts of the master's statue, there are his students, whom the Chinese deeply worship as saints. In the nights with a full moon, the leaders of the city gather in the temple and show their respect to their master by making many bows and by burning aromatic candles. They also carry small statues of Confucius, keeping them close everywhere they go. I also wrote about another religious group, the one of the idol-worshipers, which has its own temples, inside towns or in the mountains. Big and small, the constructions contain countless idols made of gold, silver, earth, marble, wood and stone. Some of these sectarian people live there as hermits: they shave their heads and beards, and practice many other pagan rituals. The third of the groups is that of the followers of Epicurus. Their priests exorcise the demons by writing the demon's name on a piece of paper, then sticking it on the walls. It is also possible for them to leash the big rains and to unleash them when necessary. These magicians are promising fortune and happiness, and they have many other pagan habits, but it is not the right place here for their description. These three kinds of beliefs praise so many demons and idols, and actually, it is impossible to make an accurate count of all. They can be found all over the place, not only in temples, but also in certain houses, in the markets, on the alleys, in the gardens and above the palaces. They are represented with many arms, women, and men, with hundreds of heads, painted in shiny colors and covered in gold. Some are painted on walls, on wooden boards, on paper, on everything. Though their temples are many and of all kinds, built with great talent and with extraordinary expenses, the greatest of them are dedicated to all gods, which are constantly praised in there with many sacrifices and candle-burning. In every town can also be found a special place where the local protector spirit lives. Once, there were no statues of idols there. Nowadays, when the local ruler is invested, he swears in front of the local spirit that he will be a right judge. If not, he will suffer the spirit's curse. The Chinese have built, besides, many altars for the local gods of earth, sea, rivers, and birds. When about to start a new construction, they always seek for the right place, a lucky one, where some dragon is supposed to have put his head, tail, or legs. They are very superstitious, in fact, and they show many odd behaviors, for example, depending on which side they open the door, left or right, they will be happy or unhappy. The scholars say the idols are of three kinds: celestial, earthly and underground. The celestials are, in their turn, separated into three categories, and the most powerful is called Fe. Therefore, it seems that, in a blurry manner, they achieved the knowledge of the Holy Trinity. And yet, the Chinese practice the same form of pagan beliefs that have been, and still are, practiced by the Japanese, Indians and many Siberian people, from the beginning of the world until our time. He who wants to see the real faces of their gods should search the Jesuit books about China, the Dutch messengers' book, because there may be found the truth, loud and clear. Excerpted from: The Description of China

by Nicolae Milescu (1636-1708)