Chenghuangyeh or Chenghuangshen (City God) is the most revered deity in Taiwan. This deity is in charge of protecting the people and affairs of a particular village or city. The first Chinese character within the deity’s name “Cheng (城)” means “city wall”; the second Chinese character “Huang (隍)” means “moat”; and the third Chinese character “Shen (神)” means “god”.
A great city wall and moat were needed to protect the peace of cities in earlier times. This is the origin of this deity’s name. According to Liji (Book of Rites), in the chapter “Liyun (The Conveyance of Rites)”, Chenghuangshen is noted as the seventh of the eight main deities to be worshipped by the Emperor. This is the earliest record of worship of Chenghuangshen. In subsequent dynasties, Chenghuangshen was known by names and rankings that differed from place to place.
In Taiwan, Chenghuangyeh is the judge of both the living and dead. This god deals with all the deeds of mortals, both good and bad, Chenghuangyeh also dispatches his generals to check on the deeds of the people. If a person is doing bad deeds, they are punished with sickness, poverty, and even death. Those doing good deeds may hope to be rewarded by Chenghuangyeh.