are two fearsome guardians of the Underworld
in Chinese mythology, where the dead face judgement (and punishment) prior to reincarnation. As indicated by their names, one has the head of an ox, and the other has the face of a horse. They are the first people a dead soul meets upon arriving in the Underworld; in many stories they directly escort the newly dead to the Underworld. Usually, the two are mentioned together (牛头马面/牛頭馬面).
In the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, at one point Horse-Face and Ox-Head are sent to capture Sun Wukong, the Monkey King. Sun Wukong overpowers both of them and scares them away. He then breaks into the Underworld and crosses out the names of himself and his people from the record of living souls, hence granting immortality to himself and his monkey followers.
Notable representations in popular media
- In Lone Wolf and Cub, the protagonist, Ogami Itto, has visions about Ox-Head and Horse-face. He refers to them as "Gozu Mezu" and uses drawings of them to advertise his services as an assassin.
- In the animated version of Rumiko Takahashi's InuYasha, the cast fights with Ox-Head and Horse-Face in order to enter the underworld - but only Sesshomaru, with the sword Tenseiga, is allowed to pass without fighting Ox-Head and Horse-Face.
- Ox-Head appears as the titular character in Takashi Miike's movie Gozu.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG features a card named "Mezuki" based on Horse-Head