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Fengdu - City of Ghost and China's Ghost Culture
♦ Fengdu has been considered China's "City of Ghost".
There is a myriad of household legendary tales about ghosts and demons, as well as the City of Ghosts. Tales of ghosts seem to permanently live together with the mankind. These legendary tales are a reflection of social ideology existing throughout the human history, primarily because the traditional morals find it hard to be realized in the current world, and people place their hope on another world through imagination and fantasy.
At the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, a strong and unified China of feudalism established by the Qin and Han dynasties was now breaking down, under the backdrop of warlords setting up separatist regime by forces of arms. Thereinafter, China experienced a 400-year separatist turmoil and social unrest, as was seen in the tripartite balance of forces in the Three Kingdoms, short-lived unification in the Jin Dynasty, chaos caused by wars in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, the military confrontation of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, and the final unification in the Sui Dynasty.
During this period, lower-class people suffered from serious family separation, abject poverty and starvation. Looking at the cruel reality represented by dilapidated houses and dead bodies everywhere, people felt unable to save the situation and then placed their hope on the supernatural power of ghosts and demons in order to punish and execute arch-careerists and tyrants as a Psychological balance ad spiritual fulfillment. As a result, legendary tales about demons and the City of Ghosts arose at this critical moment, developing from unsophisticated to established into a household folk culture prevalent at all times.
Wang Fangping and Yin Changsheng, scholars of the Han Dynasty, were mistaken for the King of the Hell, which has been served as the foundation that Fengdu is believed to be the City of Ghosts. As time goes by, Mt. Mingshan of Fengdu was fabled as a celestial mountain inhabited by the King of the Hell and his entire institution of the Hell existing in the human world on the basis of abundant and colorful imagination.
And it is believed that after death people would have their spirits registered at the Hell of Fengdu, and the dead spirit would be sent by the two Impermanence to the City of Ghosts - passing the Naihe Bridge, obtaining his "Guide" (entrance permit) issued by the " Hell Government" before entering the Gate of the Hell, being reviewed and questioned by 10 Yama officials, and finally waiting for the decision of delivery from the King of the Hell. Sinful people are downgraded to suffer at the Hell with 18 stories, and they will be reborn to the next world as animals or cattle; sinless people will be reborn as human beings after having a wonderful time up in the paradise, and before they are allowed to return to the human world, they are given the last chance to look at his folks living in the human world at the Home-Looking Platform, and required to drink a memory-kill soup thus to forget all his past memories and experiences.