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LEXICON

 

 

Ma Mian (马面)

Chinese.Horse-Face. Name of a guardian of the Underworld in Chinese mythology. In Diyu (fig.), the tasks are divided, with some guards working at night, while others serve during the day, and whereas Ma Mian is a watchman of the night, his counterpart for the day is Niu Tou, i.e. Ox-Head (fig.). They are said to be the first creatures a dead soul meets upon arriving in the Underworld, that is if not counting Hei Bai Wu Chang, the guardians that are in charge of bringing the souls of the dead to the Underworld. They are typically dispatched to capture any lost souls or the souls of those that try to escape from hell. To track the latter, they may roam the earth disguised as humans. In some stories Ox-Head and Horse-Face directly escort the newly deceased to the Underworld and in the narrative Journey to the West, they are sent to capture Sun Wukong, though the latter overpowers them and scares them away. Monkey King then breaks into the Underworld and crosses out his name from the record of living souls, hence granting himself immortality. His attribute and weapon is a trident (fig.). Also spelled Mamian. His features are comparable with those of Wannongkrahn.