In this article we will be taking a look at the Heibai Wuchang – the Chinese Grim Reapers that seem to predate most of the oldest Chinese dynasties. The ‘Black Guard’ and the ‘White Guard’ are said to reside in the underworld, and appear to the recently deceased to guide them on to the next realm…
The Legend Behind The Heibai Wuchang
Many centuries ago in ancient China, two constables named Xie Bi An and Fan Wu Jiu were given the job of escorting a tricky prisoner between cities. Unfortunately, halfway through their journey their lack of concentration led to the prisoner escaping into the vast Chinese wilderness.
In ancient China, the wilderness was known to house all kinds of strange animals, and even a few supernatural beings, and the prisoner had managed to escape at night!
But Xie Bi An and Fan Wu Jiu knew they had screwed up their task, and decided to split up and search for the prisoner in the dangerous forest area.
The two constables spent hours looking, but neither of them could find any footprints left by the missing prisoner. Xie Bi An decided it was best to head back to the bridge where the two men had agreed to meet after their search was over.
As he waited under the bridge, the weather got worse and worse, and without warning mudslides and flooding followed.
Fan Wu Jiu was nearby, and managed to fight his way through the bad weather and on to the top of the bridge. As he peered over the edge he was horrified to see Xie Bi An’s lifeless body floating downriver – the poor man had been pinned against the underside of the bridge by the high water, and drowned.
Devastated and knowing he had failed the task and his friend, Fan Wu Jiu hung himself right at the edge of the bridge where he was standing.
One of China’s supreme gods, The Jade Emperor, saw the whole incident from the underworld, and was taken aback by the act of loyalty the men had shown toward each other. He then decided to reward them by reincarnating them as generals of the underworld.
These generals were known as Diyu.
Xie Bi An and Fan Wu Jiu became what is now known as The Heibai Wuchang.
What Are The Diyu?
The Diyu, or the Heibai Wuchang, loosely translates as ‘black and white impermanence’. They are regarded as Chinese Grim Reapers.
Depending on which way you look at them – they can be both good and (extremely) evil.
The good versions can grant riches and winning lottery numbers to lucky people, whilst the evil versions are known to carry out punishments for those who have led an unsavoury life.
If you remember – Xie Bi An, or White Guard, perished when he drowned in the river under the bridge. His tongue is now extremely long as a Diyu, as he gasped for air during his last moments alive. He also has a pale white face and wears a white robe and tall hat. He is often portrayed as holding a fan and a shackle.
Fan Wu Jiu died from the hanging, so his face is now black. He is also portrayed as holding a fan along with a sign that declares he is there to reward the good and punish the bad.
Both of the Diyu also carry chains and cuffs.
If you have any questions on the subject we have covered here, please leave them in the comment section below.