The God of Land, commonly known as “Lord of Land”, “Land Master” or “Land Divinity”, may be the lowest-ranking and most unnoticed god of all divinities, but it’s one of the most-widely worshipped gods among the Chinese people. In the past, nearly all households enshrined the God of Land, with temples of various sizes dedicated to the god scattered in urban and rural areas, attracting a large number of pilgrims. If your China tour packages luckily fall onto important Chinese festival, mid-autumn day for example, you would see how people worship the God of Land sincerely.
The worship of Land God stems from the worship of land in remote antiquity. In ancient agricultural society, land was held in high esteem, because it produces agriculture, food and clothing. At that time, earth was piled up and respected as a god, to whom offerings were given and homage was paid. The Chinese character “tu” (earth, land) is shaped like a pile of earth on the ground. Every year, many travel-lovers flock to China to join different kinds of educational China tours to discover Chinese history despite of fatigue and long journey. When they see Chinese worshipping God of Land, they are shocked and are overwhelmed by the amazing Chinese culture.
The earliest land god in China was called “she” and sacrificial ceremonies in honor of the god were called “she ji”. These terms were recorded in the Classic of Poetry. The earliest land god was just a symbolic earth pile. Along with the development of social life, the color of nature worshipping gradually faded away and a lot of social functions were given to the God of Land, which became more and more personified. The earliest personified land god was Jiang Ziwen of the Han Dynasty, who was worshipped as the Land God of the Zhongshan Mountain in the Three Kingdoms Period.
There’s a roughly unified image of the God of Land enshrined by the people. It’s a benign-looking old man with gray hair and white beard, wearing a long robe and a black hat. In folk culture, a spouse called “Land Grandma” or “Land Granny” has been created to accompany the God of Land.
For many people, they visit China just for appreciating Chinese history, so they joined the Yangtze River cruises. While in my opinion, just appreciating Chinese landscape is far enough for discover a complete China. Start discovering China from Chinese culture and you would be rewarded much.
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