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Thien Khuyen (Thiên Khuyển)

Vietnamese. Name of the Judge of the Heavens, a Vietnamese-Taoist deity, that also serves as a kind of dharmapala. His name derives from the Chinese term Thian Quan (天犬), which literally translates as ‘Heavenly Dog’, a term that refers to Canis Major, a constellation in the southern celestial hemisphere, which emphasizes the belief in the power of the stars and astral bodies, that are capable of incarnating in various forms. The latter is as a deity in Chinese fully known as Xiao Thian Quan (哮天犬 or 嘯天犬), i.e. ‘Roaring Heavenly Dog’, which is in Vietnamese transliterated as Khiếu Thiên Khuyển. In iconography, he is usually depicted seated on a lion and holding a pearl (fig.), which is sometimes partly concealed in a green pagoda-shaped rock. The latter is reminiscent of Duo Wen Tian, one of the Chinese Four Heavenly Kings, who is the guardian of the North and sometimes holds a pagoda (fig.). Thien Khuyen is the counterpart of Trung Ac, i.e. the Judge of the Hells (fig.). He is also referred to as Hao Thien Khuyen. See also Si Tian Wang and Wirupak (fig.).