The Hell of All Hells

A Pit of End­less Tor­ment

Asian Geographic - - Feature | Burning With Desire -

Since an­tiq­uity, the con­cept of hell has ex­isted in many civil­i­sa­tions. For equally as long, hu­mans have also been kept in line by fear of ghastly, eter­nal tor­ment af­ter death.

Of these ver­sions of the af­ter­world, the Chi­nese have a dis­tinct vi­sion of hell, which is ar­guably the most tor­tur­ous. Even among the Chi­nese, what ex­actly “hell” con­sti­tutes is of­ten de­bated.

This is caused by the two most com­mon names for the Chi­nese ver­sion of hell be­ing con­tra­dic­tory. It can be re­ferred to as shi ba cen di yu, or the Eigh­teen Lay­ers of Hell, or shid­ian yan luo, or the Ten Courts of Hell.

There is no short­age of grue­some pun­ish­ment in the Chi­nese ver­sion of the af­ter­world. There are freez­ing cav­erns, dis­mem­ber­ment racks, dag­ger pits, and more. Like Dante’s In

ferno, wrong­do­ings in mor­tal life re­sult in very spe­cific pun­ish­ments here. The 10 Courts of Hell, in turn, are over­seen by ten es­teemed and feared judges and kings of the dead.

Which­ever ver­sion of hell cap­ti­vates you the most, one thing is for sure: You do not want to end up in Chi­nese hell.

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