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Hei Bai Wu Chang (黑白无常)

Chinese. ‘Black [and] White Impermanence’. Name of a pair of Chinese Hell Guards, who are in charge of bringing the spirits of the dead to Diyu (fig.), i.e. the Underworld. Whereas the Black Guard is in charge of the evil spirits, the White Guard is in charge of the good souls (fig.). In some tales, they appear during the Ghost Festival and reward the good by granting them pieces of gold. Whereas White Guard, i.e. Bai Wu Chang (fig.), is usually depicted as a tall and thin figure, with a pale face and sometimes a black moustache or beard, and wearing a long white robe and a long, white, brimless, toque-like cap, Black Guard, is usually depicted with a black complexion, ferocious snarls on his face and with a long red tongue sticking out of his mouth to scare away evil spirits, and holding a chain to bind the souls of the wicked dead (fig.). However, when he appears alone, he is known as Black Guard is known as Hei Wu Chang and is usually depicted with a dark complexion, a short beard and moustache, and holding a metal chain to bind the souls of the wicked dead, while wearing a long black robe and a long, brimless, black, toque-like cap, on which are, from top to bottom, the Chinese characters zheng zai zhuo ni (正在捉你), which can loosely be translated as ‘is to catch you’. Though they are often depicted together, either one may also appear with other ghosts or demons (fig.).