These include divinities of wealth, longevity, fertility. Mythologically, it is possible to attain many desires through ritual activity involved with mythological themes. For example, many stores and restaurants in China or of the Chinese diaspora have shrines to Guan Yu , also known as Guandi. Guandi began as a Three Kingdoms general, Guan Yu. Over the subsequent centuries, Guan Yu became promoted by official decree to be the god Guandi.
He is a god primarily of brotherhood and social organizations such as businesses, although this is sometimes seen in connection with martial power and war. According to mythology, Guan Yu made a famous covenant of brotherhood in a peach orchard. Much Chinese mythology concerns the afterlife, explaining what happens people after they die. This is related to ancestor veneration , the mythological geography of heaven and hell, the rituals at family tombs, and so on.
Such humans generally also are said to develop special powers. Symbolic associations with immortality include a spotted deer, cranes, the Lingzhi mushroom , and a gourd and bat. An example of a Daoist immortal is Wong Tai Sin , who began as a fourth century CE hermit and developed into a divine healer. Magu is a legendary Taoist xian transcendent" , still currently worshiped. Magu is associated with the elixir of life , and is a symbolic protector of females in Chinese mythology. Stories in Chinese literature describe Magu as a beautiful young woman with long birdlike fingernails, while early myths associate her with caves.
Magu's name literally compounds two common Chinese words: ma "cannabis; hemp" and gu "aunt; maid". Common beliefs and stories in Chinese mythology involve a soul or spirit that survives after the death of someone's body. There are many types. In the mythological folklore, Zhong Kui is regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings. He committed suicide upon being unfairly stripped of his title of " Zhuangyuan " top-scorer of the Imperial Examinations by the emperor, due to his disfigured and ugly appearance. His spirit was condemned to Hell because suicide was considered a grave sin, but Yama the Chinese Hell King judged him worthy of the title "King of Ghosts" in Diyu Hell.
Yama tasked him to hunt, capture, take charge of, and maintain discipline and order of all ghosts. The Qingming festival is a good example of a Chinese holiday that involves family activities associated with a seasonally-recurring annual event; and, also, ancestor veneration. The seasonally-recurring annual holiday of Qixi involves love and romance. A main mythological tale is " The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl ". Various deities or spirits are associated with weather phenomena, such as drought or thunder.
Dragons are often associated with rain. Ba is the daughter of the Yellow Emperor Huangdi whom she aided during his Battle at Zhuolu against Chiyou : after Chiyou had fielded a wind god Feng Bo and a rain god Yu Shi , Ba descended from heaven to use her drought power to defeat their wind and rain powers.
She is one of the first goddesses attested to in Chinese literature, appearing in the early collection of poetry, the Shijing , as well as in the later Shanhaijing. Yang et al , 79—80 At least up through the middle of the twentieth century, ceremonies to produce rain were held in many regions of China. The basic idea of these ceremonies, which could last several hours, was to drive Ba out of the region. Another example, is Lei Gong , god of thunder. Various mythology involves the sun. One solar deity is Xihe , goddess of the sun. There is a myth of Kua Fu , a giant who followed the sun, during the course of his chase he drained all of the waters dry including the Yellow River, and after he died of thirst was transformed into a mountain range or a forest.
Sometimes mythology portrays there being more than one sun. It was said that there were ten suns, each one taking a turn on its allotted day to cross the sky this has been thought evidence of a ten-day week used at one time. There is a mythological account of how at one on a certain morning ten suns all rose into the sky together. The oppressive heat lead to drought, the plants began to wither, and humans and animals were all on the verge of death.
A mighty archer Yi, or Houyi, shot down all but one of them, saving humanity. Chang'e or in older versions Chang'O is goddess of the moon. Another lunar deity is Changxi , probably an older version of Chang'e with the name changed due to a naming taboo. Chang'e is modern. In mythology it was said that Chang'e had been married to the heroic archer Houyi , but one day she swallowed a Pill of Immortality and floated up to the moon. Now it is said Chang'e lives in a cold crystal palace on the moon. Every year during a full moon toward harvest time, Chang'e is worshiped.
This is the Mid-Autumn Festival , families gather under the moonlight and celebrate in honour of the moon. Although somewhat lonely, Chang'e is not alone on the moon. A magical tree grows on the moon. It is possibly an osmanthus tree Osmanthus fragrans , some type of laurel Lauraceae , such as a cassia such as Cinnamomum cassia , but more likely a unique specimen of a magical tree. Every month the Immortal Wu Gang cuts away at the tree, chopping it smaller and smaller.
Then, just when he just has it chopped completely down, it magically grows back. Once it has grown back Wu Gang returns to his chopping, in an endless monthly cycle. An alchemical hare or rabbit lives on the moon. The lunar rabbit can be seen when the moon is full, busy with mortar and pestle, preparing the Elixir of Immortality.
Myths and Legends of China eBook by E.T.C. Werner | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster
A three-legged toad lives on the moon. During full moons the three-legged Golden Toad Jin Chan frequents near houses or businesses that will soon receive good news generally in the form of wealth. Also known as a Money Toad, statuettes of this toad are used as a charm in Fengshui. Various goddesses, gods, spirits, fairies, or monsters are associated with specific places, such as particular rivers, mountains, or the ocean. Some of these locations are associated with real geography, others are known only through mythological imagination.
Xi Wangmu is generally mythologically located in a western wonderland "to the west", now identified with the Kunlun of mythology. Thus, she is the ruler of a passageway between Earth and Heaven. Mazu is a major goddess. She is a goddess of the sea. Mazu worship is credited with leading to miraculous salvations at sea, protecting sailors and travelers from drowning. She is a tutelary deity of seafarers, including fishermen and sailors, especially along coastal China and areas of the Chinese diaspora. The two Xiang River goddesses are ancient in mythology. They are associated with the Xiang River in the former Chu area of China.
They are also mythologically credited with causing a certain type of bamboo to develop a mottled appearance said to resemble tear-drops lacrima deae. Various deities or spirits are associated with certain human activities. Various deities or spirits are associated with the households in general or with cities. Some provide tutelary help to persons pursuing certain occupations or seeking to have children.
The Chinese household was often the subject of mythology and related ritual. The welfare of the family was mythologically-related to the perceived help of helpful deities and spirits, and avoiding the baneful effects of malicious ones. Of these household deities the most important was the kitchen god Zao Jun. The Kitchen God was viewed as a sort of intermediary between the household and the supreme god, who would judge, then reward or punish a household based on the Kitchen God's report Christie , Zao Jun was propitiated at appropriate times by offerings of food and incense, and various mythological stories about him exist.
Lesser deities or spirits were also thought to help out the household through their intervention. For example, the guardians of the doors, the Menshen pair and others. Various deities and spirits have been mythologically associated with the welfare of areas of land and with cities. Some were good, tutelary guardians: others were malicious ghosts or evil hauntings. Houtu is a deity of the entire earth, acting as a guardian.
The Tudi or Tudigong were the spiritual dukes or gods in charge of protecting particular parcels of land, acting as the local gods of individual villages. In old China, the city was almost synonymous with the city wall. Most cities also had a moat, made to further protect the perimeter of the city and as an artifact of building the ramparts. A City god guarded an individual city.
There were many cities and many city gods. The life of a scholar has long been pursued in China, in part due to rewarding those who study hard and do well in standardized tests. The is a whole area myth around the Imperial examination in Chinese mythology. For example, in the area of literature, success in standardized tests, and other culture there are associated pair Kui Xing and Wenchang Wang. There are deities mythologically associated with various intimate aspects of human life, including motherhood, general sodality and formal syndicals, lifespan and fate, and war and death.
Many are currently worshiped in Buddhism, Daoism, or Chinese folk religion. Guandi is a prominent example, but there are many others. A good example of a medicine deity is Sun Simiao , who became Yaowang. Another is Baosheng Dadi. Bixia is mythologically connected with motherhood and fertility. She is currently a popular goddess. The Siming is a god of lifespan and fate. Tu'er Shen is a leveret or rabbit gay deity, patron of gay men who engage in same gender love and sexual activities.
Various deities, spirits, or other mythological beings are encountered in Chinese mythology, some of them related to the religious beliefs of China. Some of them are currently worshiped, some of them now only appear as characters in myths, and some both ways.
Xingtian is a headless giant decapitated by the Yellow Emperor as punishment for challenging him; his face is on his torso as he has no head. Non-divine mythological beings are sometimes divided into several parts each ruled over by a particular type of being-- humans ruled over by the Emperor, winged creatures ruled over by the phoenix, and scaly, finned, or crawly creatures ruled over by the dragon. However, whatever the approach, mythological taxonomy is not a rigorous discipline, not even as clear as folk taxonomy , much less the scientific efforts which result in modern biological taxonomy.
Often, mythological creatures inhabit the furthest reaches of the exotic imagination. The Four Intelligents were four species of animals of particular intelligence not considering humans. Each one represented and ruled over a class of animals. The Four Intelligents were the dragon, the phoenix, the unicorn, and the tortoise. For example, Xu Shen 's dictionary Shuowen Jiezi under the entry for long , dragon describes the dragon as: "Head of all animals that swim or crawl The Chinese dragon is one of the most important mythical creatures in Chinese mythology, considered to be the most powerful and divine creature and the controller of all waters who could create clouds with their breath.
The dragon symbolized great power and was very supportive of heroes and gods. The conventional dragon has a certain description, however there are other dragons or dragon-like beings that vary from this description. For example, the Chi of mythology lacks horns. Dragons often chase or play with a mystical or flaming pearl. A dragon- fenghuang pairing is a common motif in art, the fenghuang often being called a "phoenix".
One of the most famous dragons in Chinese mythology is Yinglong , the god of rain. Many people in different places pray to Yinglong to receive rain. Shenlong is a master of storms and bringer of rain. Zhulong the Torch Dragon is a giant red solar deity. Sometimes he appears in composite snake-like, human-dragon form.
There were various dragon kings. They mostly lived undersea and were of the Ao family , such as Ao Guang. Various mythology accounting human-dragon relationships exist, such as the story of Longmu , a woman who raise dragons. Specific dragons, or types of dragon, include: Dilong , the earth dragon; Fuzanglong , the treasure dragon; Jiaolong , dragon of floods and sea; Teng , a flying creature, sometimes considered a type of snake or dragon-snake; Tianlong , the celestial dragon, sometimes associated with centipede qualities; Yinglong , the water dragon, a powerful servant of the Yellow Emperor.
The fourteenth monarch of the Xia dynasty is said to be Kong Jia, who, according to mythology, raised dragons. Birrell , 60— Various mythology of China involves fish or fish-like beings. The Kun or Peng was a giant monstrous fish transformation of the Peng bird. Carp that lept the dragon gate falls of the Yellow River were said to transform into dragons. This was used as a symbol for a scholar's successful graduation in the Imperial examination system. Various snakes and reptilians appear in Chinese mythology, folklore, and religion.
These range from divine or semi-divine to merely fantastic types of the bestiary sort. Sometimes the dragon is considered part of this category, related to it, or the ruler of all the swimming and crawling folk. This may include the giant marine turtle or tortoise Ao , the Bashe snake reputed to swallow elephants, a nine-headed snake monster reminiscent of the hydra known as Xiangliu , and the White Serpent from the novel Legend of the White Snake. Various birds are found in Chinese mythology, some of them obviously based on real birds, other ones obviously not, and some in-between.
The Crane is an example of a real type of bird with mythological enhancements. Cranes are linked with immortality, and may be transformed xian immortals, or ferry an immortal upon their back. The Vermilion Bird is iconic of the south. Sometimes confused with the Fenghuang , the vermilion bird of the south is associated with fire.
The Peng was a gigantic bird phase of the gigantic Kun fish. The Jingwei is a mythical bird which tries to fill up the ocean with twigs and pebbles symbolizing indefatigable determination. The Qingniao was the messenger or servant of Xi Wangmu. Other birds include the Bi Fang bird , a one-legged bird. There was a Shang-Yang rainbird. The Jiufeng is a nine-headed bird used to scare children. The Zhen is a poisonous bird. Mythological humanoids include the former human, the part-human and the human-like, although these sometimes merge into other categories.
Various mythological mammals exist in Chinese mythology. Some of these form the totem animals of the Chinese zodiac.
The Chinese language of mythology tends not to mark words for gender or number, so English language translations can be problematic. Also, species or even genera are not always distinguished, with the named animal often being seen as the local version of that type, such is as the case with sheep and goats, or the versatile term sometimes translated as ox.
Fox spirits feature prominently in mythology throughout the mythology of East Asia. In China, these are generally known as Huli jing. There are various types, such as the nine-tailed fox. Various dogs appear in the mythology of China, featuring more prominently in some ethnic cultures more than others. The zodiacal dog is featured in the Chinese zodiac. The Bovidae appearing in the mythologies of China include the Ox including the common cow, buffalo , and the yak , sheep and goats, and perhaps antelopes some times "unicorns" are thought to be types of antelopes.
References to oxen may include those to the common cow, the buffalo , and the yak. The zodiacal ox is one of the twelve zodiacal signs in the twelve-year calendar cycle. Yak tails are mentioned as magical whisks used by Daoist sorcerors. The ox appears in various agricultural myths. The zodiacal sheep is one of the twelve zodiacal signs in the twelve-year calendar cycle. Horses frequently gallop through Chinese mythology. Sometimes the poets say that they are related to dragons.
The zodiacal horse is one of the twelve zodiacal signs in the twelve-year calendar cycle. Various types of "unicorns" can be found in the myths, designated by the term lin , which is often translated as "unicorn". They possess many similarities to the European unicorn, although not necessarily having only one horn. There are six types of lin Sheppard , One type of lin is the Qilin , a chimeric or composite animal with several variations.
Wu's translation as "an animal of benevolence, having the body of an antelope, the tail of an ox, and a single horn. Lin , or unicorns appear only during the reign of benevolent rulers. In BCE, Confucius recorded that a unicorn had appeared, but was slain in a ducal hunt. Confucius was so upset upon reporting this that he set aside his brush and wrote no more.
Wu , 6 and 45 note 13 The giraffe was not well known in China and poorly described: about CE the lin and the giraffe began to trade characteristics in their mythological conceptions Sheppard , note It is possible that the unicorns resulted from different descriptions of animals which later became extinct, or they no longer ranged in the area of China. Various cats appear in Chinese mythology, many of them large.
Sometimes they are found pulling the chariot of Xiwangmu. The cat is one of the twelve annual zodiacal animals in Vietnamese and related cultural calendars, having the place of the rabbit found in the Chinese system. Various ungulates are encountered. Depictions later changed to a more bovine appearance, with a short, curved horn on its head used to communicate with the sky. Various beings with simian characteristics appear in Chinese mythology and religion. The Monkey King was a warder of evil spirits, respected and loved, an ancient deity at least influenced by the Hindu deity Hanuman.
The Monkey god is still worshiped by some people in modern China.
Illustrated Myths & Legends of China
Some of the mythology associated with the Monkey King influenced the novel Journey to the West. The xiao of mythology appears as a long-armed ape or a four-winged bird, making it hard to categorize exactly; but this is true of various composite beings of mythology.
An implausible claim that traditional Chinese mythology possesses "hsigo", or "flying monkeys" has been made on the Internet, becoming a viral meme : however, these do not actually exist in authentic current Chinese mythology; indeed, "hsigo" is not even a plausible Chinese word. The Longma is a composite beast, like a winged horse similar to the Qilin, with scales of a dragon. Various mythological plants appear in Chinese mythology.
Some of these in Heaven or Earthly Paradises, some of them in particularly inaccessible or hard-to-find areas of the Earth; examples include the Fusang world tree habitation of sun s , the Lingzhi mushrooms of immortality, the Peaches of Immortality , and the magical Yao Grass. Also encountered are various plants of jasper and jade growing in the gardens of the Paradises.
Various mythological objects form a part of Chinese mythology, including gems, pearls, magical bronzes , and weapons. Examples include a wish-fulfilling jewel ; various luminous gemstones , the Marquis of Sui's pearl , auspicious pearls associated with dragon imagery; and, the Nine Tripod Cauldrons which conferred legitimacy to the dynastic ruler of the Nine Provinces of China.
The weaponry motif is common in Chinese mythology, for example, the heroic archer Yi is supposed to have shot down nine problematic suns with a magical bow and arrows given to him by Di Jun Birrell , and elsewhere. Jewels include a wish-fulfilling jewel ; various luminous gemstones , the Marquis of Sui's pearl , auspicious pearls associated with dragon imagery. Also: the shield and battleax of Xingtian , Yi 's bow and arrows, given him by Di Jun , and the many weapons and armor of Chiyou.
Some myths survive in theatrical or literary formats as plays or novels, others are still collected from the oral traditions of China and surrounding areas. Other material can be gleaned from examining various other artifacts such as Chinese ritual bronzes , ceramics, paintings, silk tapestries and elements of Chinese architecture. The oldest written sources of Chinese mythology are short inscriptions, rather than literature as such. The earliest written evidence is found in the Oracle bone script , written on scapulae or tortoise plastrons, in the process of the divination practices Shang dynasty ended approximately BCE.
He was poor and kind and helped a rich man to tend cattle. In the ancient time, people did not know the existence of fire; let alone how to make use of it. When the night came.
How I discovered London’s lost Chinatown
According to Chinese legend, the mighty Pangu, above, broke through the chaos with his strength and axe to create the world as we know it. National art show opens door to entries. Tourism lifts Guizhou town out of poverty. Carma Elliot: Cultural exchange a bedrock for mutual benefit. Spanish writer reveals the magic of bookshops. Presented by Chinadaily. Werner drew upon material readily available to him as a member of the Chinese government's' Historiographical Bureau in Peking. A former barrister and British consul in Foochow, Werner presents a wealth of information illuminating the ideas and beliefs that governed the daily lives of the Chinese people long before the revolutions of the 20th century.
Offering a provocative glimpse into a world dominated by traditional rules of etiquette and inhabited by demons, dragon-gods, and spirits, the volume opens with an introductory chapter on the origins of the Chinese people. In succeeding chapters, Mr. Werner's readable, well-illustrated text considers the gods of China and myths of stars, thunder, lightning, wind and rain; of water and fire; of epidemics, medicine, and exorcism; as well as tales about the goddess of mercy, the guardian of the gate of heaven, accounts of how the Monkey became a god, and much more.