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Han Chinese Land god- Humanoid (土地公)

Humanoid designs can be divided into stone carvings and wooden carvings. The former tends to be less ornate with the original color on the stone retained. While any painting would be very localized, wooden carvings tend to show more variety. Generally speaking, the design of the Land God combines the motifs for official rank and wealth. The Land God is the deity in charge of local affairs (C.S. Chen, 2005:26) and wears the clothing of a country squire (W.S. Liu, 1981: 48).


Country Squire Hat
The Land God's crown was designed traditionally a country squire hat or a five fortunes hat. The chancellor hat was designed in the recent times .

The country squire hat was worn in ancient times by wealthy people , can be divided either in the Song or Ming style. The Song style has a flat top that can expanded into a hexagonal shape. The Ming style is also a flat top but has two extra bands hanging from the back. The Song style used to be common in Taiwan but the Ming style is now very prevalent as well.

Five Fortunes Crown
The five fortunes crown is in fact an official hat and is also referred to as the service hat. The hat has a distinctive five-part shape at the front that is supposed to represent the five fortunes: Luck, Wealth, Longevity, Happiness and Status. A land god wearing the five fortunes hat represents the deity in charge of local affairs.

Chancellor Hat
The chancellor hat is distinguished by the two wings extending on either side at the back. The front of the hat is rounded at the top and rectangular at the back. There are wings on either side that are sometimes decorated with gauze. The crown of the hat is often decorated with "twin dragons fighting over a pearl" but may also feature red flowers. In earlier times, the chancellor hat was conferred by imperial edict. Today, people often give the Land God a chancellor hat to show his anthority (Y.T. Shao, Z.Y. Lin, 2007: 98).

By tradition, "Four Gold Spots" are added to a Land God's clothing. This involves placing golden foil on the shoulders and the knees to bring wealth. The robe is decorated with birds, cranes , or the character "Longevity". There are two meaning s for the bird & crane pattern: longevity, as well as official rank. Regarding to the crown, wearing the five fortunes official hat also demostrates that the Land God is an official. If the Land God wears a country squire hat, the robe is generally not decorated with the crane pattern but with the longevity pattern instead.

Handheld Item
Land Gods generally hold a staff, ruyi, or sycee in their hands. The staff can be attributed to the Land God's image as an elder who needs a walking aid. The ruyi is a precious artifact that represents good fortune and success. The sycee is intended to represent wealth. While these are the three most common items, what the Land God holds in his hands reflects the changing times as well (G.S. Wang, 1984:118).

Early Land Gods usually hold a staff in one hand and a sycee in the other. Modern Land Gods still carry a sycee in one hand but the other hand now often holds a ruyi instead . The change reflects the transition from an agricultural society to an industrialized and commercialized society. In an agricultural society, people prayed for good harvests so they hoped that the Land God would use the staff to help patrol the fields. In an industrialized society, more people are engaged in commerce so they would prefer the Land God to watch over their business. The ruyi and sycee in either hand represents the "welcoming of wealth".

Today, Land Gods that still hold staffs are generally mountain gods or cemetery land gods that must still patrol their jurisdiction. Other Land God types that carry the staff are now becoming increasingly rare.

Generally speaking, the design of the Land God represents "Luck, Wealth , and Longevity". What people pray for has not changed much over time.


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