Chinese Gods


The Menshen (門神), or “door gods,” are a pair of Chinese deities who act as the guardians of thresholds. The two brothers protect the occupants of a building from demons and bad luck, feeding interlopers to their pet tigers.

By Mae Hamilton1 min read • Last updated on Nov. 22nd, 2021
  • While older tales speak of the Menshen as divine in origin, newer stories depict the Menshen as deified generals honored for their service as guardians.

  • In ancient China sacrifices to door gods were common, but in modern Taoism they don’t have such importance, more often included on homes as traditional decorations.

In Chinese mythology, the Menshen (門神) are a pair of guardian deities that protect the occupants of buildings from demons and bad omens. They’re most commonly depicted as brothers named Yù Lěi (鬱壘), and Shén Tú (神荼). 


Yu Lei’s name is comprised of the characters for “melancholy,” yù (鬱), and “fortress,” lěi (壘), while his brother’s name is composed of the word for “god,” shén (神), and a character unique to his name, tú (荼). They were a fearsome pair of guardians who will throw evil spirits and demons to their pet tigers.

The Menshen are mentioned in both The Journey to the West and The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Although Yu Lei and Shen Tu are the original Menshen, Zhong Kui (鍾馗) is also frequently used as a door guardian. Their likenesses are often painted on the thresholds of buildings like temples or houses.

More in Chinese Gods
Sun Wukong, the Monkey King (3:2)
Chinese God

Sun Wukong

The “Monkey King,” Chinese trickster god known for his impertinence

By Mae Hamilton  •  9 min read
Jade Emperor, Chinese Ruler of Heaven (3:2)
Chinese God

Jade Emperor

The Supreme Ruler of Heaven in Chinese mythology, first emperor of China

By Mae Hamilton  •  10 min read
Xiwangmu, Chinese Queen Mother of the West (3:2)
Chinese Goddess


“Queen Mother of the West,” powerful Chinese goddess of life and death

By Mae Hamilton  •  8 min read
Hou Yi, Legendary Chinese Archer (3:2)
Chinese Hero

Hou Yi

Legendary archer and Chinese hero, famous for shooting down nine suns

By Mae Hamilton  •  7 min read
Chang’e, Chinese Goddess of the Moon (3:2)
Chinese Goddess


Chinese goddess of the moon, best known for stealing the elixir of immortality

By Mae Hamilton  •  7 min read