Thành hoàng

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"Thành hoàng" (城隍) means a deity that is enshrined in each village's communal temple in Vietnam. The deity is believed to guard the village against disasters and bring it fortune.

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Etymology

Thành hoàng is a Sino-Vietnamese word, literally means the city wall and the moat that surrounds it.

Origin

No later than Đinh dynasty, each locality started to worship the mountain and river gods that ruled over a domain which encompassed their village. Later on, the government decreed the deification of late national heroes, righteous officials and loyal subjects, and specific localities were chosen to exalt these gods. Gradually other common folks took up the practice and worshipped their own gods to be blessed with protection and fortune. [1]

Ranking

Generally each village worships only one Thành Hoàng; however, it is not rare to see two or more gods enshrined simultaneously at a village. They are known collectively as Gods of Fortune (Phúc Thần). [2]

Even these Gods were divided in three ranks

Apart from the ranked gods acknowledged by the government, there were villages that worshiped "demons" and "tainted gods" such as the Beggar God, the Serpent God, the God of Lecherousness, and others.

Notes

  1. Phan Kế Bính, Vietnamese Customs, Ho Chi Minh City Publishing house, 1990 edition, p.78-79.
  2. Phan Kế Bính, Vietnamese Customs, Ho Chi Minh City Publishing house, 1990 edition, p.78-79.

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