18 Terrible Moments from a Taoist Hell

A few weeks ago, I posted about the Incredible Taoist Gods — cool court officers tasked with enforcing rules of life and the afterlife.

Well, to further display how far traditional Taoism strays from the mystical romance of the Tao Te Ching, here are some of the darker views of the Taoist “Way.”

I found these sick puppies in the back of Pingyao’s ancient Temple of the City God, or Chénghuáng Sì (城隍寺). They’re used to warn villagers what’ll happen if they don’t behave.

“People couldn’t read back in the old days,” explained a local. “These were used to teach them how to behave.”

To frighten them into how to behave. Just like all those early exploitation films, these would frighten the bejeezus out of little kids, I’m sure.

They weren’t mentioned by the travel brochures, or the books we used, and the temple was empty of visitors — yet clearly this was our favorite stop in the city. Existing somewhere between Dahmer’s fridge, a Tromatic climax, and The London Dungeon, these were so very endearing. More outrageous and horrible shots, below.

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