A glimpse of Hehe culture in Taizhou

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: Nov 25, 2022

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A figurine of the two gods He and Ho, who lived in Tiantai Mountain in the Tang Dynasty. [Photo/taizhou.com.cn]

Taizhou's Tiantai county is believed to be the birthplace of Hehe culture, which is considered one of three major cultures in Zhejiang, along with Yangming culture in Ningbo and Southern Confucianism in Quzhou.

According to local folklore, two monks named Hanshan and Shide once lived a secluded life on Tiantai Mountain in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They were usually depicted in paintings holding a box and a lotus stem.

Hanshan was bestowed the title of He God during the rule of Emperor Yongzheng in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and Shide was conferred the title of Ho God.

Because He and Ho are auspicious figures in Chinese culture, the two gods became a symbol of unity and harmony for hundreds of years.

Buildings and facilities themed on Hehe culture, including museums, parks, bookstores, and plazas, can be seen across Taizhou, which was honored as the "hometown of Hehe culture in China" in 2017.

In addition, the city has inaugurated a research institute dedicated to the preservation, promotion, and research of Hehe culture. It has also compiled books, songs and operas related to the culture as well.

The Tiantai Mountain Hehe Culture Foundation was also established on the sidelines of the inaugural Hehe Culture Global Forum in late 2021. The foundation, with an initial fund of 30 million yuan ($4.28 million) from 14 local enterprises, will be dedicated to the promotion of Hehe culture.