The Governor of This World stands above the Governor who controls the Waters. The text on the structure at the bottom right reads “The Treasury of Heaven” and “The Constant Peace Treasury Clerk”. It represents the Treasury for wealth, administered by the clerk seated at the desk.

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The Governors of This World and The Waters

Chinese Taoists believe that life in this world is controlled by Administrative Treasuries in the Other World. One’s body, the length of one’s life, one’s successes and promotions, salaries and benefits, in fact all the essentials of human existence are decided in the stars of one’s fundamental destiny, and credited in advance at birth to one of the Twelve Treasuries. From this belief comes the desire to build up a ‘credit balance’, by repaying the Treasury in appropriate paper ‘spirit money’, carefully accounted for and then burned in expensive rituals. The Mien share this belief, but have reduced the number of Treasuries from twelve to two; one for salaries, and the other for wealth.

The Mien like the Chinese also divide the supernatural agencies into four departments, depicted in these two paintings. The Governors of these agencies are shown as Emperors wearing imperial headdresses with pearl pendants.