Judge of Hell

Fengdu, China

Fengdu is an ancient Chinese necropolis, located 170km west of Chongqing along the Yangtze River. Currently (1996), it has been transformed into a Disneyland kind of tourist stop along the Three Gorges river tours. Its main attraction is a colorful series of modern statues and displays that depict the rulers and denizens of the Chinese Hells.

In China, the afterlife was conceived of as a gigantic bureaucracy, with a stupendous hierarchy of heavenly and hellish officials, rewards, and punishments: the ultimate ideal of the Chinese totalitarian state. You could run, but you could not hide.

Seen here is one of the judges of hell (a modern statue, like all those shown here in Fengdu), whose severe countenance is calculated to strike fear into the heart of even the most hardened sinner.