Chinese legends are full of beautiful and fascinating stories about heroes and heroines. The legend of ‘ghost hunter’ Zhong Kui is one such story. Debate is on whether he really existed or not, but one thing is clear that he has a lasting influence on the mind of the Chinese people.
The legend has it that one day Zhong Kui and his friend Du Ping traveled a long way to take part in imperial examinations. Zhong won the examination but his title was forcefully taken by the emperor. Ashamed, humiliated, disgusted at this behavior Zhong committed suicide upon the palace gate. Later Du buried him.
Zhong returned as ghost hunter and king of ghosts in Hell. He married off his sister to Du. But this is not all with the ‘ghost rider’ Zhong. Stories from Tang dynasty states that one day the emperor Xuanzong dreamed that one small ghost stole away the purse of imperial consort. Another bigger ghost captured the smaller one and returned the purse. This ghost was the one and only ghost hunter Zhong Kui.
Zhong has a reputation with Chinese people as a protector from ghosts and evil spirits. That’s why people in China, especially those who believe in Feng Sui, have this ghost rider’s picture hung up on their walls and business farms.
Now it’s time for the real story. History affirms that a real Zhong Kui existed during the Wude era. He failed to pass through next levels of civil service examinations and committed suicide.
The portrait painted by Wu Daozi is the only authentic picture of the ghost hunter. This picture alone was believed to drive off thousands of ghosts and evil spirits.