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Chinese gods and immortals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chinese gods and immortals are beings in various Chinese religions seen in a variety of ways and mythological contexts.

Qing dynasty Water and Land Ritual painting (水陆画) of Buddhist, Daoist, and Folk Deities.
A complex of deities at an outdoor fountain-altar with incense burners at a pilgrimage area in Weihai, Shandong. At the centre stands Mazu, surrounded by the four Dragon Gods (龍神) and various lesser deities. Distant behind Mazu stands the Sun Goddess (太陽神).

Many are worshiped as deities because traditional Chinese religion is polytheistic, stemming from a pantheistic view that divinity is inherent in the world.[1]

The gods are energies or principles revealing, imitating, and propagating the way of heaven (, Tian),[2] which is the supreme godhead manifesting in the northern culmen of the starry vault of the skies and its order.[citation needed] Many gods are ancestors or men who became deities for their heavenly achievements. Most gods are also identified with stars and constellations.[3] Ancestors are regarded as the equivalent of Heaven within human society,[4] and therefore, as the means of connecting back to Heaven, which is the "utmost ancestral father" (曾祖父, zēngzǔfù).[5]

There are a variety of immortals in Chinese thought, and one major type is the xian, which is thought in some religious Taoism movements to be a human given long or infinite life. Gods are innumerable, as every phenomenon has or is one or more gods, and they are organised in a complex celestial hierarchy.[6] Besides the traditional worship of these entities, Chinese folk religion, Chinese Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and formal thinkers in general give theological interpretations affirming a monistic essence of divinity.[7]

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