chapter  9
23 Pages


The lives of a saint—compiling stories about Huang Chuping in Jinhua, Zhejiang

Deities and saints have identities that are comprised of their personalities and their specializations. A river god might be temperamental, capricious, and only interested in the affairs of river-travellers and fisherpeople (and incompetent to deal with droughts and plagues). A “high god” might be authoritarian, stern, and jealous, demanding total loyalty, but guarding his people from enemies as long as they remain faithful, and laying down the law about what “faithful” means in daily life (but uninterested in minor family troubles and illnesses). A mother-goddess might be kind and nurturing, sympathetically listening to the troubles and ills of women, children, and devotees and willing to help if she can (but unlikely by personality, character, and abilities to help kings win battles against rivals). Most deities have such identities.