Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yao (ruler)

Yao was a legendary ruler, one of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors. Also known as Taotang-shi , he was born Yi Fangxun or Yi Qi as the second son to Emperor Ku and Qingdu . He is also known as Tang Yao .

Often extolled as the morally perfect sage-king, Yao's benevolence and diligence served as a model to future Chinese monarchs and emperors. Early Chinese often speak of Yao, and as historical figures, and contemporary historians believe they may represent leader-chiefs of allied tribes who established a unified and hierarchical system of government in a transition period to the patriarchal feudal society.

According to legend, Yao became the ruler at 20 and died at 119 when he passed his throne to , to whom he gave his two daughters in marriage.

Of his many contributions, Yao is said to have invented the game of , reportedly as an amusement for his slow-witted son Dan Zhu .

Xuan Wu (god)

Xuan Wu , posthumously known as High Heavenly Xuan God , as well as True Warrior High God , and commonly known as Bei Di or Di Gong in Hokkien dialect; is one of the higher ranking Taoist deities, and one of the more revered deities in traditional China. He is revered as a powerful god, able to control the elements , and capable of great magic. He is particularly revered by martial artists, and is the patron saint of the Wudang Mountains in China's Hubei Province, where he allegedly attained immortality.

Xuan Wu was originally a butcher who had killed many animals unremorsefully. As days passed, he felt remorse for his sins and repented immediately by giving up butchery and retired to a remote mountain for cultivation of the Tao.

One day while he was assisting a woman in labor, while cleaning the woman’s blood stained clothes along a river, the words "Xuan Tian Shang Di" appeared before him. The woman in labor turned out to be a manifestation of the goddess Guan Yin. To redeem his sins, he dug out his own stomach and intestines and washed it in the river. The river turned into a dark, murky water. After a while, it turned into pure water.

Unfortunately, Xuan Wu does indeed loses his own stomach and intestines while he was washing it in the river. The Jade Emperor was moved by his sincerity and determination to clear his sins; hence he became an Immortal known with the title of ''Xuan Tian Shang Ti''.

After he became an immortal, his stomach and intestines after absorbing the essences of the earth, it was transformed into a demonic turtle and snake which harmed people and no one could subdue them. Eventually Xuan Wu returned back to earth to subdue them and later uses them as his means for transportation.

Xuan Wu is portrayed as a warrior in imperial robes, his left hand is in the "three mountain hand seal", somewhat similar to Guan Yu's hand seal, while the right hand holds a sword, which is said to have belonged to Lü Dongbin, one of the Eight Immortals.

Another legend says that he borrowed the sword from Lü Dongbin to subdue a powerful demon, and after being successful, he refused to bring it back after witnessing the sword's power. The sword itself would magically return to its owner if Xuan Wu released it, so it is said that he always holds his sword tightly, and is unable to release it.

He is usually seated on a throne with the right foot stepping on the snake and left leg extended stepping on the turtle. His face is usually red with bulging eyes. His appearance also causes most people to accidentally mistake him as Guan Yu.

His birthday is celebrated on the third day of the third lunar month.

Generals Wan Gong and Wan Ma

Xuan Wu is sometimes portrayed with two generals standing besides him, General Wan Gong and General Wan Ma (萬公, 萬媽). Most temples that are dedicated Xuan Wu also have Generals Wan Gong and Wan Ma, especially in Malaysia. The two generals are deities that handles many local issues from children's birth, medication, family matters as well as feng shui consultation. The Malaccans particularly in Batu Berendam County have deep faith in the generals due to their many good deeds and contribution to the local villagers.

In ''Journey to the West''

In the classic novel ''Journey to the West'', Xuánwǔ was a king of the north who had two generals serving under him, a "Tortoise General" and a "Snake General". This king had a temple at Wudang Mountains in Hubei, thus there is a Tortoise Mountain and a Snake Mountain on the opposite sides of a river in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei.


The Xilin is a mythical creature of ancient China which has been used for many centuries for good luck, etc.

Uses of the Xilin

The Xilin is a mythical creature used many buddhist and believers of "风水" aka "Feng shui". The 风水 is an ancient art of Chinese "placings" which will help somes wealth, health, etc or vice versa. According to believers and 风水 masters, the Xilin can help the user/owner increase their wealth, fortune and so on. One special use of the Xilin is that it can/will help the user/owner of it and grant them with a child within 2 years unless the female is over-aged or sick. One problem/difficulty is that the Xilin can't/shouldn't be used sparingly. This is because in ancient times, the Xilin was said to serve under the emperor there of was said to only help people of high ranks . If an ordinary person used it, it was said that the Xilin would "turn around" and feed off its masters wealth instead of helping the owner/master. The Xilin is often compared to the Lion and is said to be the 9th child of the dragon. The Xilin is compared to the lion because of its look-a-likes and they are related.


The Xilin is seen in many palaces through out China. One of the most common one mentioned/seen is the one in the "summer palace" which is in Beijing. The emperor of that time were said to taken the statues of the Xilin along with them for protection and good fortune. Statues of Xilins are commonly seen in palaces/imperial walkways along with Lions, Dragons, and other creatures as "guardians". Statues of Xilin are also one of the many small figures on top of imperial roofs . This design was commonly used.


Xeglun is the celestial elk in mythology. It was 's pursuit of this creature that was said to have created the Milky Way.

Wish Tree

A Wish Tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. By tradition, believers make votive offerings in order to gain from that nature spirit, saint or goddess fulfillment of a wish.


Involving coins alone

One form of votive offering is the token offering of a coin. One such tree still stands near Ardmaddy House in Argyll, Scotland. The tree is a , a species traditionally linked with fertility, as in "May Blossom". The trunk and branches are covered with hundreds of coins which have been driven through the bark and into the wood. The local tradition is that a wish will be granted for each of the coins so treated.

On Isle Maree in Loch Maree, Gairloch, in the is an oak Wish Tree made famous by a visit in 1877 by Queen Victoria and its inclusion in her published diaries. The tree, and others surrounding it, are festooned with hammered-in coins. It is near the healing well of St. Maree, to which votive offerings were made. Records show that bulls were sacrificed openly up until the 18th century.

Near Mountrath, County Laois, is a shapeless old Wish Tree in the form of a tree called St. Fintan's Well. The original well was filled in, but the water re-appeared in the centre of the tree. Hundreds of Irish pennies have been beaten into the bark as good luck offerings.

Many public houses, such as the Punch Bowl in , near in Cumbria, have old beams with splits in them into which coins are forced for luck.

Clootie wells

Coins are sometimes used, hammered deep into the tree trunk; however, the practice of tying pieces of cloth to the tree may also qualify, although this is more often directly associated with nearby clootie wells as they are known in Scotland and Ireland or Cloutie or Cloughtie in Cornwall. has an example of a clootie well in nearby woods.

Madron Well is a Cloutie well in Cornwall with the same practice of tying cloth, and as it rots, the ailment disappears. Sancreed and Alisia Wells are other Cornish Cloughtie wells where this ritual is carried out. It is likely that an offering is also being made to the tree spirit, as elsewhere, the ritual is to place objects into water, so here they are hedging their bets and effectively making an offering to both.

Offerings of alcohol

There are parallels here with wassailing where the Wassail Queen is lifted up into the boughs of the apple tree, where she places toast that has been soaked in Wassail from the Clayen Cup as a gift to the tree spirits to ensure good luck for the coming season's crop and to show them the fruits of what they created the previous year.

Involving other offerings

This was a rhyme one had to sing whilst sticking a pin first into one's warts and then into the tree.

The Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees are located in Hong Kong near the Tin Hau Temple in Lam Tsu. Two banyan trees are frequented by tourists and the locals during the Lunar New Year. Previously, they burnt joss sticks, wrote their wishes on joss paper tied to an orange, and then threw them up to hang in these trees, believing that if the paper successfully hung onto one of the tree branches, their wishes would come true.

In Glasgow's Hidden Garden at Pollockshields and at the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery, Scotland, a number of trees have been planted onto which people can tie white labels, onto which they have written their wishes.

Eglinton Castle estate, now Eglinton Country Park, has had a Wish Tree for many years. This tree is a yew on an island in the Lugton Water, now left high and dry due to the weir giving way.

The Christmas tree is often quoted as being a pagan symbol connected with tree worship, clearly linked with good luck achieved through offerings to and veneration of special trees.

Charles Darwin encountered a tree in modern-day Argentina called ''Walleechu'', which was regarded by the Native Americans as a god. The tree was festooned with offerings such as cigars, food, water, cloth, etc., hung from the branches by bright strips of coloured thread.

A number of Wish Trees have been set up to make a wish for the environment, such as at the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park? Centre at in Scotland. People make their wish for and pledge to help the environment and tie the wish label to the tree.

Thomas the Tank Engine

In one of the television episodes of ''Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends'', one of the locomotives goes to the Wish Tree and wishes that he will pull passenger trains. He later regrets this and then wishes at the Wish Tree only to haul freight trains in future. On the model, one can see many people standing around the wish tree, also making their wishes.

Wish or Kissing trees in British folklore and other cultural traditions

In Hindu mythology, the banyan tree is also called ''kalpavriksha'', meaning "wish- fulfilling tree", as it represents eternal life because of its seemingly ever-expanding branches.

The Wishing Tree or Kissing Tree was made at Christmas or Yuletide before pine trees were introduced by Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. An evergreen bough was hung with apples, sweetmeats, and candles and decked with ribbons representing wishes.

At the summit of the Fereneze Braes in Neilston, Renfrewshire, Scotland, there was an old hawthorn, well known locally as "The Kissing Tree". The story goes that if a young man could drive a nail fully into the thorn tree with a single blow, then he would be entitled to "ae fond kiss" on the spot from his sweetheart. Success in the task was considered proof of his suitability as a good suitor for the young lady. The original tree fell in around 1860, but in 1910, a replacement was said to exist. Driving a nail into the tree may link the custom with that of driving coins into trees as noted above.

In parts of Yorkshire, a tree with two spreading branches which also formed a bower over the point of branching, was known as a Wish Tree by children who would climb onto the junction and make a wish.

Tsao Fu

Tsao Fu , in ancient Chinese Mythology, was an exceptionally skilled charioteer, who is said to have lived around 950

The Chinese tell the story of the Emperor Mu Wang, who was determined to visit paradise. He wanted to taste the peaches of immortality there. He found a very brave charioteer named Tsao Fu, who drove eight amazing horses with great skill. Tsao Fu was afraid of nothing—he carried the emperor across the Earth and into the heavens. The emperor finally reached Mount K’uen Lun and tasted the peaches of immortality. His brave charioteer Tsao Fu was carried up to the stars, where both he and his eight horses can be seen among the stars of the constellation . The star Zeta Cephei is specifically named after him.

External Links and References



In Chinese mythology, Tianlong or Tien-long are the celestial who pull the chariots of the gods and guard their palaces. There is also a Chinese system of Martial Arts known as Tianlong Dao which has schools throughout North America and Asia.


The tiāngoǔ is a legendary creature from China. It resembles a dog, or a meteor, and is thought to eat the sun during an eclipse. It gave its name to the ''tengu'' of Japan.

South Pointing Chariot

The South Pointing Chariot is widely regarded as one of the most complex geared mechanism of the ancient , and was continually used throughout the medieval period as well. It was supposedly invented sometime around 2600 BC in China by the Yellow Emperor Huang Di, yet the first valid historical version was created by Ma Jun of Cao Wei during the Three Kingdoms. The chariot is a two-wheeled vehicle, upon which is a pointing figure connected to the wheels by means of gearing. Through careful selection of wheel size, track and gear ratios, the figure atop the chariot will always point in the same direction, hence acting as a non-magnetic compass vehicle. Throughout history, many Chinese historical texts have mentioned the South Pointing Chariot, while some described in full detail the inner components and workings of the device.

Legend and history


Legend has it that Huang Di, credited as being the founder of the Chinese nation, lived in a magnificent palace in the Kunlun Mountains.

There was also at this time another tribal leader, Chi You, who was skilled at making weapons and waging war. He attacked the tribe of Yan Di, driving them into the lands of Huang Di. Huang Di was angered by this and went to war with Yan Di, initially suffering several defeats. At some stage in the fighting, Chi You conjured up a thick fog to confound Huang Di's men, however the South Pointing Chariot was used to find their way, and they were ultimately victorious.


Despite legend, it was recorded in the ''Sanguo Zhi'' that the 3rd century mechanical engineer Ma Jun from the Kingdom of Wei was the inventor of the South Pointing Chariot . After being mocked by Permanent Counsellor Caotang Long and the Cavalry General Qin Lang that he could not reproduce what they deemed a non-historical and nonsensical pursuit, Ma Jun retorted "Empty arguments with words cannot compare with a test which will show practical results". After inventing the device and proving those who were doubtful wrong, he was praised by many, including his contemporary Fu Xuan, a noted poet of his age.

After Ma Jun, the South Pointing Chariot was re-invented by Zu Chongzhi , after the details of its instructions had been lost temporarily in China. During the Tang Dynasty and Song Dynasty the South Pointing Chariot was combined with another mechanical wheeled vehicle, the distance-measuring odometer.

Historical texts for the South Pointing Chariot

Earliest sources

The South Pointing Chariot, a differential mechanical-geared wheeled vehicle used to discern the southern cardinal direction , was given a brief description by Ma's contemporary Fu Xuan. The contemporary 3rd century source of the ''Weilüe'', written by Yuan Huan also described the South Pointing Chariot of Ma Jun.

cquote|These vehicles, constructed as they had been by barbarian workmen, did not function particularly well. Though called south-pointing carriages, they very often did not point true, and had to negotiate curves step by step, with the help of someone inside to adjust the machinery. The ingenious man from Fanyang, Zi Zu Chongzhi frequently said, therefore, that a new south-pointing carriage ought to be constructed. So towards the close of the Sheng-Ming reign period the emperor , during the premiership of the Prince of Qi, commissioned to make one, and when it was completed it was tested by Wang Seng-qian, military governor of Tanyang, and Liu Hsiu, president of the Board of Censors. The workmanship was excellent, and although the carriage was twisted and turned in a hundred directions, the hand never failed to point to the south. Under the Jin, moreover, there had also been a south pointing ship. In fact, the first known source to describe stories of its legendary use during the Zhou period was the ''Gu Jin Zhu'' book of Cui Bao , written soon after the Three Kingdoms era. Cui Bao also wrote that the intricate details of construction for the device were once written in the ''Shang Fang Gu Shi'' , but the book was lost by his time. This was followed up by several more chariot devices built in 666 AD as well.

After this initial description of Yan Su's device, the text continues to describe the work of Wu Deren, who crafted a wheeled device that would combine the odometer and South Pointing Chariot:

cquote|The body of the south-pointing carriage was 11.15 ft. , 9.5 ft. wide, and 10.9 ft. deep. The carriage wheels were 5.7 ft. in diameter, the carriage pole 10.5 ft. long, and the carriage body in two stories, upper and lower. In the middle was placed a partition. Above there stood a figure of a ''xian'' holding a rod, on the left and right were tortoises and s, one each on either side, and four figures of boys each holding a tassel. In the upper story there were at the four corners trip-mechanisms, and also 13 horizontal wheels, each 1.85 ft. in diameter, 5.55 ft. in circumference, with 32 teeth at intervals of 1.8 inches apart. A central shaft, mounted on the partition, pierced downwards. Joseph Williamson used a differential for correcting the equation of time for a clock that displayed both mean and solar time. Even then, the differential was not fully appreciated in Europe until James White emphasized its importance and provided details for it in his ''Century of Inventions'' .

How it works

The South Pointing Chariot is a mechanical compass that transports a direction, given by the pointer, along the path it travels. The differential in the gear system integrates the difference in wheel rotation between the two wheels and thus detects the rotation of the base of the chariot. The mechanism compensates this rotation by rotating the pointer in the opposite direction.

Mathematically the device approximates parallel transport along the path it travels. In the Euclidean plane, the device performs parallel transport. On a curved surface it only approximates parallel transport. In the limit where the distance between the wheels tends to zero, the approximation becomes exact.

The chariot can be used to detect straight lines or geodesics. A path on a surface the chariot travels along is a geodesic if and only if the pointer does not rotate with respect to the base of the chariot.


The South Pointing Chariot has been invented and reinvented at many times throughout Chinese history. Below is a partial timeline of the major events;

Where they can be seen

While none of the historic South Pointing Chariots remain, full sized replicas can be found.

The History Museum in Beijing, China holds a replica based on the mechanism of Yen Su .
The National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan holds a replica based on the Lanchester mechanism of 1932.


Shīsā is a traditional decoration, often found in pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog, from Okinawa mythology. Many people put a pair of shisa on their rooftops or flanking the gates to their houses. Shisa are wards, believed to protect from various evils. When found in pairs, the shisa on the left traditionally has a closed mouth, and the one on the right an open mouth. The open mouth to ward off evil spirits, and the closed mouth to keep good spirits in.

Originally pairs like these were called "shisa and guardian dogs": the right with its mouth opened is the guardian, the left with its mouth closed is the shisa . Some people believe that one is male and the other is female, and provide various justifications for which is which; for example, "the female has her mouth shut as she should" or "the male has his mouth shut to hold in all the family's good fortune".

The shisa, like the , is a variation of the guardian lions from China . The shisaa, or lion dog, is an Okinawan cultural artifact. In typology, they might be also be classified as gargoyle beasts. They are traditionally used to ward off evil spirits.

Shisa legend

When a certain emissary to China returned from one of his voyages to the court at Shuri Castle, he brought with him as a gift for the king a necklace decorated with a small figurine of a ''shisa''-dog. The king found it charming and wore it underneath his clothes. Now it happened that at the Port bay, the village of Madanbashi was often terrorized by a who ate the villagers and destroyed their property. One day, the King was visiting the village, and one of these attacks happened; all the people ran and hid. The local '''' had been told in a dream to instruct the king when he visited to stand on the beach and lift up his figurine towards the dragon; she sent the boy, Chiga, to tell him the message. He faced the monster with the figurine held high, and immediately a giant roar sounded all through the village, a roar so deep and powerful that it even shook the dragon. A massive boulder then fell from heaven and crushed the dragon's tail. He couldn't move, and eventually died. This boulder and the dragon's body became covered with plants and surrounded by trees, and can still be seen today. It is the "Gana-mui Woods" near Naha Ohashi bridge. The townspeople built a large stone ''shisa'' to protect it from the dragon's spirit and other threats.

Great Stone Shisa at Tomimori

At Tomimori Village near in the far southern part of Okinawa, there were often many fires. The people of the area sought out Saiouzui, a Feng Shui master, to ask him why there were so many fires. He believed they were because of the power of the nearby Mt. Yaese, and suggested that the townspeople build a stone shisa to face the mountain. They did so, and thus have protected their village from fire ever since.

Popular culture

The 1974 tokusatsu kaiju film ''Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla'' features a giant shisa monster called King Shisa , who was awakened from its ancient slumber in Okinawa to help Godzilla destroy his mechanical doppelg?nger, Mechagodzilla. This monster was later used in as one of the monsters that were controlled by the Xilians.

The Pokémon Growlithe and its evolution Arcanine are based on the shisa.

The Digimon Seasarmon is based on a shisa, along with Chatsuramon.

, a Japanese professional wrestler hailing from Okinawa, uses the and Super Shisa. He also has a young protegé named Shisa Boy and once formed a team with King Shisa .

Megaman ZX Advent have two Shisa based Pseudoroids, Argoyle and Urgoyle, They work as a pair when fighting and become a playable form after being defeated.

In the game The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, the talking boat, has a head on the front of the boat resembling a Shisa.

The from Jackie Chan Adventures has a Shisa-like face.

Two variations on the Shisa, in this case referred to as and or Foo Creatures, are featured in the first edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual II.

In the game Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 FES, there is a Shisa Persona, although its name is spelt as "Shiisaa."

In the PlayStation 2 game Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, the aeon Yojimbo had a shisaa, Daigoro, as his companion. Yuna gains a similar shisaa, Kogoro, as her animal partner with the Trainer dressphere.


*Chizue, Sesoko. Legends of Okinawa. First publication, Okinawa, 1969.

Shen (Chinese religion)

Shen is a keyword in Chinese philosophy, Chinese religion, and Traditional Chinese Medicine.


''Shén'' is the Modern Chinese standard Mandarin pronunciation of 神 "spirit; god, deity; spiritual, supernatural; etc". Reconstructions of ''shén'' in Middle Chinese include ''d?'jěn'' , ''?i?n'' , ''?in'' , and ''zyin'' . Reconstructions of ''shén'' in Old Chinese include *''djěn'' , *''zdjien'' , *''djin'' , *''Ljin'' , and *''m-lin'' .

Although the etymological origin of ''shen'' is uncertain, Schuessler notes a possible Sino-Tibetan etymology; compare Chepang ''gli?h'' "spirit of humans".

Chinese ''shen'' 神 "spirit; etc." is a loanword in East Asian languages. The ''Kanji'' 神 is pronounced ''shin'' or ''jin'' in ''On'yomi'' , and ''kami'' , ''kō'' , or ''tamashii'' in '''' . The ''Hanja'' 神 is pronounced ''sin'' .

The ''Zihui'' dictionary notes that 神 had a special pronunciation ''shēn'' in the name Shen Shu 神荼, one of two "gods of the Eastern Sea", along with Yu Lu 鬱壘.


''Shen'' 神's polysemous meanings developed diachronically over three millennia. The ''Hanyu dazidian'', an authoritative historical dictionary, distinguishes one meaning for ''shēn'' 神 "Name of a deity " and eleven meanings for ''shén'' 神, translated below.
# Celestial gods/spirits of stories/legends, namely, the creator of the myriad things in heaven and earth and the supreme being.
# Spirit; mind, mental faculties; consciousness. Like: concentrated attention; tire the mind; concentrate one's energy and attention.
# Expression, demeanor; consciousness, state of mind.
# Portrait, portraiture.
# Magical, supernatural, miraculous; mysterious, abstruse. Like: ability to divine the unknown, amazing foresight; highly skilled doctor; genius, masterpiece.
# Esteem, respect; valuable, precious.
# Rule, govern, administer.
# Cautious, careful, circumspect.
# Display, arrange, exhibit.
# Dialect. 1. Dignity, distinction. 2. Entrancement, ecstasy. 3. Clever, intelligent.
# Surname, family name.

This dictionary entry for ''shen'' lists early usage examples, and many of these 11 meanings were well attested prior to the Han Dynasty. Chinese classic texts use ''shen'' in meanings 1 "spirit; god", 2 "spirit, mind; attention", 3 "expression; state of mind", 5 "supernatural", and meaning 6 "esteem". The earliest examples of meaning 4 "portrait" are in Song Dynasty texts. Meanings 7-9 first occur in early Chinese dictionaries; the ''Erya'' defines ''shen'' in meanings 7 "govern" and 8 "cautious" , and the ''Guangya'' defines meaning 9 "display". Meaning 10 gives three usages in Chinese dialects . Meaning 11 "a surname" is exemplified in Shennong , the culture hero and inventor of agriculture in Chinese mythology.

The Chinese language has many of ''shen''. For instance, it is compounded with ''tian'' 天 "sky; heaven; nature; god" in ''tianshen'' 天神 "celestial spirits; heavenly gods; deities; ", with ''shan'' 山 "mountain" in ''shanshen'' 山神 "mountain spirit", and ''hua'' 話 "speech; talk; saying; story" in ''shenhua'' 神話 "mythology; myth; fairy tale". Several ''shen'' "spirit; god" compounds use names for other supernatural beings, for example, ''ling'' 靈 "spirit; soul" in ''shenling'' 神靈 "gods; spirits, various deities", ''qi'' 祇 "earth spirit" in ''shenqi'' 神祇 "celestial and terrestrial spirits", ''xian'' 仙 "Xian , transcendent" in ''shenxian'' 神仙 "spirits and immortals; divine immortal", ''guai'' 怪 "spirit; devil; monster" in ''shenguai'' 神怪 "spirits and demons; gods and spirits", and ''gui'' 鬼 "ghost, goblin; demon, devil" in ''guishen'' 鬼神 "ghosts and spirits; supernatural beings".

Wing-Tsit Chan distinguishes four philosophical meanings of this ''guishen'': "spiritual beings", "ancestors", "gods and demons", and "positive and negative spiritual forces".
In ancient times ''shen'' usually refers to heavenly beings while ''kuei'' refers to spirits of deceased human beings. In later-day sacrifices, ''kuei-shen'' together refers to ancestors. In popular religions ''shen'' means gods and demons . In Neo-Confucianism ''kuai-shen'' may refer to all these three categories but more often than not the term refers to the activity of the material force . Chang Tsai's dictum, "The negative spirit and positive spirit are the spontaneous activity of the two material forces ," has become the generally accepted definition.

The primary meaning of ''shen'' is translatable as English "spirit, spirits, Spirit, spiritual beings; celestial spirits; ancestral spirits" or "god, gods, God; deity, deities, supernatural beings", etc. ''Shen'' is sometimes loosely translated as "soul", but Chinese distinguishes ''hun'' 魂 "spiritual soul" and ''po'' 魄 "physical soul". Instead of struggling to translate ''shen'' 神, it can be transliterated as a loanword. The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' defines ''shen'', "In Chinese philosophy: a god, person of supernatural power, or the spirit of a dead person."

''Shen'' plays a central role in Christian translational disputes over Chinese terms for God. Among the early Chinese "god; God" names, ''shangdi'' 上帝 or ''di'' was the Shang term, ''tian'' 天 was the Zhou term, and ''shen'' was a later usage . Modern terms for "God" include ''shangdi'', ''zhu'' 主, ''tianzhu'' 天主 , and ''shen'' 神 .


The character 神 for ''shen'' exemplifies the most common class in Chinese character classification: ''xíngshēngzì'' 形聲字 "pictophonetic compounds, semantic-phonetic compounds", which combine a that roughly indicates meaning and a phonetic that roughly indicates pronunciation. In this case, 神 combines the "altar/worship radical" 礻or 示 and a phonetic of ''shēn'' 申 "9th Earthly Branch; extend, stretch; prolong, repeat". Compare this phonetic element differentiated with the "person radical" in ''shen'' 伸 "stretch", the "silk radical" in ''shen'' 紳 "official's sash", the "mouth radical" in ''shen'' 呻 "chant, drone", the "stone radical" in ''shen'' 砷 "arsenic", the "earth radical" in ''kun'' 坤 "soil", and the "big radical" in ''yan'' 奄 "cover".

Chinese ''shen'' 申 "extend" was anciently a phonetic loan character for ''shen'' 神 "spirit". The Mawangdui Silk Texts include two copies of the Dao De Jing and the "A Text" writes ''shen'' interchangeably as 申and 神: "If one oversees all under heaven in accord with the Way, demons have no spirit. It is not that the demons have no spirit, but that their spirits do not harm people." . The ''Shuowen Jiezi'' defines ''shen'' 申 as ''shen'' 神 and says that in the 7th lunar month when ''yin'' forces increase, bodies ''shenshu'' 申束 "bind up".

The earliest written forms of ''shen'' 神 "spirit; god" occur in Zhou Dynasty Bronzeware script and Qin Dynasty Seal script characters . Although 神 has not been identified in Shang Dynasty Oracle bone script records, the phonetic'' shen'' 申 has. Paleographers interpret the Oracle script of 申 as a pictograph of a "lightning bolt". This was graphically differentiated between ''dian'' 電 "lightening; electricity" with the "cloud radical" and ''shen'' 神 with the "worship radical", semantically suggesting both "lightning" and "spirits" coming down from the heavens.


Shaohao is credited by some as being one of the of ancient mythology.

The son of the Yellow Emperor Huang Di, Shaohao is the leader of the Yi people, where he shifted their capital to Shandong Qufu. Ruling for eighty-four years, he is succeeded by his nephew Zhuanxu.

Shaohao's tomb, which is in the form of a large pyramid, is in present-day Jiuxian village, east of Qufu, Shandong province.

Ranka (legend)

Ranka or ''Lankeshan ji'', or ''Rotten Battle Axe'' in English, is a Chinese legend similar to that of Rip Van Winkle, although it predates it by at least a 1000 years. The exact date of origin of the legend is unknown. Its earliest known literary reference is a poem written in 900 A.D. by the Japanese poet and court official Ki no Tomonori upon returning to Japan from China:

''furusato wa''

''mishi goto mo arazu''

''ono no e no''

''kuchishi tokoro zo''


''Here in my hometown''

''things are not as I knew them.''

''How I long to be''

''in the place where the axe shaft''

''moldered away into dust. ''

=The Legend=

The legend features a woodcutter, Wang Chih, and his encounter with the two in the mountains.

''Wang Chih was a hardy young fellow who used to venture deep into the mountains to find suitable wood for his axe. One day he went farther than usual and became lost. He wandered about for a while and eventually came upon two strange old men who were playing , their board resting on a rock between them. Wang Chih was fascinated. He put down his axe and began to watch. One of the players gave him something like a date to chew on, so that he felt neither hunger nor thirst. As he continued to watch he fell into a trance for what seemed like an hour or two. When he awoke, however, the two old men were no longer there. He found that his axe handle had rotted to dust and he had grown a long beard. When he returned to his native village he discovered that his family had disappeared and that no one even remembered his name.''

=Cultural References=

The legend was referenced by the Japanese playwright Chikamatsu in his play ''The Battles of Coxinga'' in 1715.

=See also=

*History of Go
*Chinese mythology


Ki no Tomonori, “991” In Kokin Wakashū: The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry, trans. Helen Craig McCullough , 216.


Qiulong or qiu was a Chinese dragon that is contradictorily defined as "horned dragon" and "hornless dragon".


This dragon name can be pronounced ''qiu'' or ''jiu'' and written 虯 or 虬.


The variant Chinese characters for the ''qiu'' or ''jiu'' dragon are and , which combine the "insect " with phonetics of ''jiu'' "connect" and ''yin'' ] "hidden". This 虫 radical is typically used in Chinese characters for insects, worms, reptiles, and dragons . Compare the word ''jiu'' or "twist; entangle; unite" that is written with the "silk radical" and the same alternate phonetics as ''qiu'' 虯 or 虬.

''Qiu'' 虬 or 虯 is also an uncommon Chinese surname. For example, Qiuranke Zhuan 虯髯客傳 "The Legend of the Curly-whiskered Guest" is a story by the Tang Dynasty writer Du Guangting 杜光庭 , and Qiu Zhong 虬仲 was the Chinese style name of the Qing Dynasty painter Li Fangying.

In , the kanji "Chinese characters" 虬 or 虯 are sometimes used for the ''mizuchi'' 蛟 "river dragon".


Sinological linguists have proposed several etymologies for the ''qiu'' or ''jiu'' 虯 dragon.

Bernhard Karlgren reconstructed Old Chinese pronunciations of ''qiu'' < *''g'y?g'' or ''jiu'' < *''ky?g'' for 虯 "horned dragon" and "horn-shaped; long and curved". This latter word combines the "horn radical" and 虯's ''jiu'' 丩 phonetic.

Carr follows Karlgren's reconstructions and suggests ''qiu'' < *''g'y?g'' or ''jiu'' < *''ky?g'' 虯 is "part of a 'twist; coil; wrap' word family" that includes:
*''qiu'' < *''g'y?g'' "long and curved; curled up horn"
*''jiu'' < *''kly?g'' "curving branch; twist"
*''miu'' < *''mly?g'' or ''jiu'' < *''kly?g'' "bind; wind around; wrap; twist"
*''liu'' < *''gly?g'' or ''lu'' < *''gly?k'' "join forces; unite"
*''jiao'' < *''kl?g'' "glue; unite"
*''liao'' < *''gly?g'' "tie around; strangle"

This "twisting; coiling" etymology can explain both the meanings "horned dragon; twisted horns" and "curling; wriggling" below.

Schuessler reconstructs Old Chinese ''qiu'' < *''giu'' or ''jiu'' < *''kiu'' for 觓 or 觩 "horn-shaped; long and curved" and 虯 "horned dragon", and cites Coblin's comparison of "horned dragon" with Written ''klu'' "Naga, serpent spirit". Schuessler compares ''jiu'' < *''kiu?'' 糾 "to twist, plait" and concludes the "most likely etymology is 'twisting, wriggling'".


Chinese dictionaries give three ''qiu'' 虯 or 虬 meanings: "dragon without horns ", "dragon with horns", and "curling; coiling".

Hornless dragon

Several Chinese classic texts and commentaries from the Han Dynasty identified ''qiu'' 虯 as a "hornless dragon; dragon without horns", which is interpreted as "young dragon; immature dragon".

The ''Chuci'' uses ''qiu'' 虬 seven times, which is more frequently than any other classical text. The standard Sibu Beiyao 四部備要 edition gives the character as 虬 instead of 虯. ''Qiu'' is a dragon name in four contexts. The first uses ''yuqiu'' 玉虬 "jade hornless-dragon"; "I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix-figured car, And waited for the wind to come, to soar up on my journey." The second uses ''qiulong'' 虬龍 "hornless dragon"; "Where are the hornless dragons which carry bears on their backs for sport?" In both contexts, commentary of Wang Yi 王逸 says ''qiu'' means "hornless dragon" and ''long'' means "horned dragon". The third uses ''qingqiu'' 青虬 "green dragon" referring to the legendary as Chong Hua 重華; "With a team of azure dragons, white serpents in the traces, I rode with Chong Hua in the Garden of Jasper." Wang notes ''qiu'' and ''chi'' are types of ''long'' "dragons". The fourth uses ''qiu'' 虬 alone; "With team of dragons I mount the heavens, In ivory chariot borne aloft."

The ''Shuowen Jiezi'' dictionary gives inconsistent definitions of ''qiu'' 虯. Some early editions define 龍無角者 "a dragon without horns", while later editions define 龍子有角者 "a young dragon with horns". Carr notes the discrepancy of three ''Shuowen'' definitions for "hornless dragon": ''qiu'' 虯, ''jiao'' 蛟, and ''chi'' . The ''Shuowen Jiezi'' scholar Zhu Junsheng 朱駿聲 explains that male ''long'' 龍 "dragons" have horns and female ones do not, and among young dragons, ''jiao'' 蛟 has one horn, ''qiu'' 虯 has two, and ''chi'' 螭 is hornless.

A few later sources, such as the ''Guangyun'' rime dictionary, concur with early ''Shuowen Jiezi'' editions and define ''qiu'' 虯 as "hornless dragon", but most dictionaries define a contrast set between ''qiu'' 虯 "horned dragon" and ''chi'' 螭 "hornless dragon".

Horned dragon

The ''Huainanzi'' "Peering into the Obscure" chapter mentions ''qingqiu'' 青虯 "green horned-dragon" twice. First, "The Fable of the Dragons and the Mud-Eels" uses it with ''chichi'' 赤螭 "red hornless-dragon"; "When the red hornless dragon and the green horned dragon roamed the land of Chi 冀, the sky was limpid and the earth undisturbed." The commentary of Gao Yu 高淯 notes ''qingqiu'' and ''chichi'' are types of ''long'' 龍 "dragons", but without mentioning horns. Second, a description of Fu Xi and Nüwa, who are represented as having dragon tails, uses ''qingqiu'' with ''yinglong'' 應龍 "winged dragon"; "They rode the thunder chariot, using winged dragons as the inner pair and green dragons as the outer pair."

The ''Shiji'' "Records of the Grand Historian" biography of Sima Xiangru quotes his '''' 賦 poem entitled ''Zixu'' 子虛 "Sir Fantasy". Like the ''Huaiananzi'', it contrasts ''qingqiu'' 青虯 "green horned-dragon" with ''chichi'' 赤螭 "red hornless-dragon", which Watson translates "horned dragon" and "hornless dragon".

Ge Hong's ''Baopuzi'' 抱朴子 has four references. It mentions: ''jiu'' 虬 "As to the flying to the sky of the ''k'iu'' of the pools, this is his union with the clouds", ''shenjiu'' 神虬 "divine horned-dragon" "If a pond inhabited by fishes and gavials is drained off, the divine ''k'iu'' go away", and ''qingjiu'' 青虬 "green horned-dragon" "The ts'ui k'iu has no wings and yet flies upwards to the sky", "Place the shape in a tray, and the kingfisher-''k'iu'' descend in a dark vapoury haze".

The ''Guangya'' dictionary defines ''qiu'' 虯 as "horned dragon" and ''chi'' 螭 as "hornless dragon". This semantic contrast is repeated in later dictionaries such as the ''Longkan Shoujian'' and the ''Piya'', which says differentiates: "If a dragon has scales, he is called ''kiao-lung'' ; if wings, ''ying-lung'' ; if a horn, ''k'iu-lung'' ; and if he has no horn, he is called ''ch'i-lung'' ."

In traditional Chinese art, dragons are commonly represented with two horns. According to the ''Qian fu lun'' , the dragon's "horns resemble those of a stag". The ''Bencao Gangmu'' materia medica prescribes ''longjue'' 龍角 "dragon horn" , "For convulsions, fevers, diarrhea with fever and hardened belly. Taken continuously it lightens the body, enlightens the soul and prolongs life."


''Qiu'' can mean "curling; twisting; coiling; wriggling; writhing" in Chinese . For instance:
*''qiupan'' 虬蟠 "curled up like a dragon; curling and twisting "
*''jiaoqiu'' 蛟虬 "coil like a dragon"
*''qiuxu'' 虬鬚 "curly beard; curly mustache"
*''qiuran'' 虯髯 "curly whiskers"

Besides the four "hornless dragon" examples above, three ''Chuci'' contexts use ''qiu'' in words describing dragons "coiling; wriggling; writhing". Two use ''youqiu'' 蚴虬 to describe the ''canglong'' 蒼龍 Azure Dragon constellation; "I rode in the ivory chariot of the Great Unity: The coiling Green Dragon ran in the left-hand traces; The White Tiger made the right hand of my team", "To hang at my girdle the coiling Green Dragon, To wear at my belt the sinuous rainbow serpent." One uses ''liuqiu'' 蟉虬 with ''chi'' 螭 "hornless dragon"; "They lined water monsters up to join them in the dance: How their bodies coiled and writhed in undulating motion!"

Mythic parallels

The ancient Chinese ''jiu'' 虯 "horned dragon" is analogous with the Mountain Horned Dragon lizard and several legendary creatures in Comparative mythology.

Assuming trans-cultural diffusion, MacKenzie suggests that the Chinese "horned-dragon, or horned-serpent" derives from the Egyptian Osiris "water-serpent". The Chinese Hui people have a myth about a silver-horned dragon that controls rainfall.

In Babylonian mythology, the deity Marduk supposedly rode a horned dragon when he defeated Tiamat, and it became his emblem. In Persian mythology, the hero Garshasp killed an ''A?i Sruvara'' "horned dragon". In Greek mythology, the two-headed Amphisbaena dragon was represented with horns.


Qibo , was a mythological Chinese doctor, employed by Huangdi as his minister. It is said that he was enlightened with the knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine by an ethereal being from the heavens.

He was a doctor in ''shanggu shidai'' in legend. He lived in .

It is said that he had learned medicine from some celestial being like Guangchengzi, Chisongzi , Zhongnanzi . He recognized medicinal herb in daylight, learned Tao of health maintenance and mastered medicine. Zhongnanzi recommended Qibo to Huangdi, while Huangdi asked Tao to Guangchengzi in Kongtong Mountains. Qibo became the chancellor of Huangdi. He sampled medicinal herbs by the order of Huangdi. ''Huangdi Neijing'' is the a book comprising the dialogues regarding medicinal problems between Huangdi and Qibo.

The renowned sinologist Paul Unschuld maintains based on phonetic resemblances that the elusive Qibo might actually have been Hippocrates.


In Chinese mythology, Nüwa is mythological character best known for creating and reproducing people after a great calamity. Other later traditions name this as a creation myth attributed to either Pangu or Yu Huang.

Nüwa primary sources

Nüwa was referred to in many books of songs. Below are some of the common sources that describe Nüwa, tabled in chronological order. The list below did not include those of local tribal stories or modern reinterpretations, often adapted for screenplay.

1) author: Lie Yukou, book: ''Liezi'', chapter 5: "Questions of Tang" , paragraph 1: account: "Nüwa repairs the heavens"
detail: Describes Nüwa repairing the imperfect heaven,.
detail: The haven was imperfect at the begining, Nüwa use five colored stones to repaire the haven, cut the legs of a tortoise and use them as the struts of sky. But later, Gonggong bump into the moutain "buzhou"---- which holds sky, so the world inclines again, all river run to the east and stars begin to move.
2) author: Qu Yuan, book: "Elegies of Chu" , chapter 3: "Asking Heaven" , account: "Nüwa Mends The Firmament"
detail: The name Nüwa first appeared here. This story states that Nüwa molded figures from the yellow earth, giving them life and the ability to bear children. Demons then fought and broke the pillars of the Heavens. Nüwa worked unceasingly to repair the damage, melting down the five-coloured stones to mend the Heavens.

3) author: Liu An, book: ''Huainanzi'', chapter 6: Lanmingxun , account: "Nüwa Mended the Sky"
detail: In remote antiquity, the four poles of the Universe collapsed, and the world descended into chaos: the firmament was no longer able to cover everything, and the earth was no longer able to support itself; fire burned wild, and waters flooded the land. Fierce beasts ate common people, and ferocious birds attacked the old and the weak. Hence, Nüwa tempered the five-colored stone to mend the Heavens, cut off the feet of the great turtle to support the four poles, killed the black dragon to help the earth, and gathered the ash of reed to stop the flood. Variation: The four corners of the sky collapsed and the world with its nine regions split open.

4) author: Sima Qian, book: ''Shiji'', section 1: BenJi , chapter 1: prologue
detail: Nüwa is described as a man with the last name of Feng. He is related to Fuxi; and possibly related to Fenghuang .

5) author: Xu Shen, book: ''Shuowen Jiezi'', entry: Nüwa
detail: The Shuowen is China's earliest dictionary. In it, Nüwa is said to have been both the sister and the wife of Fuxi. Nüwa and Fuxi were pictured as having snake like tails interlocked in an Eastern Han dynasty mural in the Wuliang Temple in Jiaxiang county, Shandong province.

6) author: Li Rong, book: ''Duyi Zhi'' ; vol 3, account: "opening of the universe"
detail: There was a brother and a sister living on the Kunlun Mountain, and there were no ordinary people at that time. The sister's name was Nüwa. The brother and sister wished to become husband and wife, but felt shy and guilty about this desire. So the brother took his younger sister to the top of the Kunlun Mounatain and prayed: "If Heaven allows us to be man and wife, please let the smoke before us gather; if not, please let the smoke scatter." The smoke before them gathered together. So Nüwa came to live with her elder brother. She made a fan with grass to hide her face.

7) author: Lu Tong, book: ''Yuchuan Ziji'' , chapter 3
detail: characters: "與馬異結交詩" 也稱 "女媧本是伏羲婦", pinyin: "Yu Mayi Jie Jiao Shi" YeCheng "Nüwa ben shi Fuxi fu", English: "NuWa originally is Fuxi wife"

8) author: Sima Zhen, book: ''Four Branches of Literature Complete Library'' , chapter: "Supplemental to the Historic Record – History of the Three August Ones"
detail: The three August Ones are: Fuxi, Nüwa, Shennong; Fuxi & Nüwa were brother & sister and have the same last name "Fong" or Feng. note: SimaZhens commentary in included with the later Siku Quanshu compiled by Ji Yun & Lu Xixiong .

9) author: Li Fang, collection: ''Songsi Dashu'', series: ''Taiping Anthologies for the Emperor'' , book: Vol 78, chapter "Customs by Yingshao of the Han Dynasty"
detail: States that there were no men when the sky and the earth were separated. Nüwa used yellow clay to make people. The clay was not strong enough, so she put ropes into the clay to make the bodies erect. It was also said that she prayed to gods to let her be the goddess of marital affairs.

Nüwa in various roles

Since Nüwa is presented differently in so many myths, it is not accurate to tie "her" down as a creator, mother, goddess, or even female. Depending on the myth, "she" is responsible for being a wife, sister, man, tribal leader , creator, maintainer, etc. It is not clear from the evidence which view came first. Regardless of the origins, most myths present Nüwa as female in a procreative role after a calamity.

Nüwa as a repairer

The earliest literary role seems to be the upkeep and maintenance of the Wall of Heaven, whose collapse would obliterate everything. Also note the association to Deluge traditions below.

There was a quarrel between two of the more powerful gods, and they decided to settle it with a fight. When the water god Gong Gong saw that he was losing, he smashed his head against Mount Buzhou , a pillar holding up the sky. The pillar collapsed and caused the sky to tilt towards the northwest and the earth to shift to the southeast. This caused great calamities, such as unending fires, vast floods, and the appearance of fierce man-eating beasts. Nüwa cut off the legs of a giant tortoise and used them to supplant the fallen pillar, alleviating the situation and sealing the broken sky using stones of seven different colours, but she was unable to fully correct the tilted sky. This explains the phenomenon that sun, moon, and stars move towards the northwest, and that rivers in China flow southeast into the Pacific Ocean.

Other versions of the story describe Nüwa going up to heaven and filling the gap with her body and thus stopping the flood. According to this legend some of the minorities in South-Western China hail Nüwa as their goddess and some festivals such as the 'Water-Splashing Festival' are in part a tribute to her sacrifices.

Nüwa as a creator

The next major role of Nüwa is of a creator deity. However, not many stories ascribe to her the creation of everything; they usually confine her to the creation of mankind.
It is said that Nüwa existed in the beginning of the world. She felt lonely as there were no animals so she began the creation of animals and humans.
On the first day she created chickens. On the second day she created dogs. On the third day she created sheep. On the fourth day she created pigs. On the fifth day she created cows. On the sixth day she created horses. On the seventh day she began creating men from yellow clay, sculpting each one individually, yet after she had created hundreds of figures in this way she still had more to make but had grown tired of the laborious process.

So instead of hand crafting each figure, she dipped a rope in clay and flicked it so blobs of clay landed everywhere; each of these blobs became a person.

Nüwa as wife or sister

By the Han Dynasty, she is described in literature with her husband Fuxi as the first of the , and often called the "parents of humankind". However, paintings depicting them joined as half people - half snake or dragon date to the Warring States period.

Nüwa as a goddess for Miao people

Nüwa is also the traditional divine goddess of the Miao people.

Nüwa and Deluge traditions

Details of the Nüwa flood stories clearly share commonalities with other global traditions, and are worthy of note:

* flood or calamity
* similarity of names
* colorful heavenly object

Many other comparisons are possible, but the scattered and indirect nature of the evidence makes any harmonious explanation difficult. Additionally, although the earliest Judeo-Christian influence in China is about 600 AD, there is also the undocumented possibility of earlier arrivals who could have influenced the development of the myth. For more detailed comparisons and treatment, please see and Pangu.

Is Nüwa related to Noah?

There could be some parallels from the elements of the story to some of the story told in the book of Genesis. These are:

*Nüwa's creation of humans from mud has similarities with the story of Adam's creation from soil
*The Fuxi-Nüwa brother & sister element is similar to Adam and Eve coming from the same body
*The Fuxi-Nüwa have a half snake element. In Genesis, Adam and Eve are tempted by a serpent.

Those who read the Bible literally usually consider it plausible that such shared resemblances are derived from ancient legends of a common ancestral tribe whose descendants dispersed widely from Mount Ararat . However, these elements could be coincidences or respond to shared mythic elements present in Creation and Deluge myths around the world. It is also possible that some of these elements have been exchanged between the two traditions and inserted into existing myths.

Nüwa in history

Paintings of Nüwa, and her consort Fuxi, date to the Warring States period.

Although Nüwa is typically represented as a woman in mythology, the noted Chinese historian Sima Qian clearly identifies Nuwa as a man with the last name of Feng. Some scholars consider Nüwa a tribal leader ; others consider the name Nüwa a title.

Cultural references

In ''Fengshen Yanyi''

Nüwa is featured within the famed ancient Chinese novel ''Fengshen Yanyi''. As featured within this novel, Nüwa is very highly respected since the time of the Xia Dynasty for being the daughter of the Jade Emperor; Nüwa is also regularly called the "Snake Goddess". After the Shang Dynasty had been created, Nu Wa created the Five-colored stones to protect the dynasty with occasional seasonal rains and other enhancing qualities. Thus in time, Shang Rong asked King Zhou of Shang to pay her a visit as a sign of deep respect. After King Zhou was completely overcome with lust at the very sight of the beautiful ancient goddess Nüwa , he would write a small poem on a neighboring wall and take his leave. When Nüwa later returned to her temple after visiting the Yellow Emperor, Nüwa would see the foulness of King Zhou's words. In her anger, she swore that the Shang Dynasty will end in payment for his foulness. In her rage, Nüwa would personally ascend to the palace in an attempt to kill the king, but was suddenly struck back by two large beams of red light.

After Nüwa realized that King Zhou was already destined to rule the kingdom for twenty-six more years, Nüwa would summon her three subordinates -- the Thousand-Year Vixen , the , and the Nine-Headed Pheasant. With these words, Nu Wa would bring destined chaos to the Shang Dynasty, "''The luck Cheng Tang won six hundred years ago is dimming. I speak to you of a new mandate of heaven which sets the destiny for all. You three are to enter King Zhou's palace, where you are to bewitch him. Whatever you do, do not harm anyone else. If you do my bidding, and do it well, you will be permitted to reincarnate as human beings.''" Thus, with these words, Nüwa would never be heard of again, but would still be a major indirect factor towards the Shang Dynasty's fall.

Mount Penglai

Mount Penglai , or Penglai Island , is a mystical land found in Chinese mythology. The legend also passed into Japan, where it took shape as the legend of .


According to ''Shan Hai Jing'', the mountain is said to be on an island in the eastern end of Bohai Sea, along with four other islands where the immortals lived, called Fāngzhàng , Yíngzhōu , Dàiyú , and Yuánjiāo .

Though a Penglai City exists in Shandong, China, whether or not the city was the actual spot as described in the legends is unknown. The city, however, prides itself for the legend, and claims that a certain scenic region in the city was the landing point of the Eight Immortals. Others claim that the mountain can be seen in form of the frequent mirages at sea that the city is famous for.

Another theory by Yichu of Later Zhou Dynasty puts the fabled island as Japan, while Penglai Mountain is Mount Fuji.

In Chinese mythology

In Chinese mythology, the mountain is often said to be the base for the Eight Immortals, or at least where they travel to have a banquet. Supposedly, everything on the mountain seems white, while its palaces are made from gold and platinum, and jewelries grow on trees.

There is no pain and no winter; there are rice bowls and wine glasses that never become empty no matter how much people eat or drink from them; and there are magical fruits growing in Penglai that can heal any disease, grant eternal youth, and even raise the dead.

Historically, Qin Shi Huang, in search of the elixir of life, made several attempts to find the island where the mountain is located, to no avail. Legends tell that Xu Fu, one servant sent to find the island, found Japan instead.

In Japanese mythology

The presentation of Mt. Horai in Lafacdio Hearn's , is somewhat different from the earlier idyllic Chinese myth. This version, which does not truly represent the Japanese views of Horai in the Meiji and preceding Tokugawa periods, rejects much of the fantastic and magical properties of Hōrai. In this version of the myth, Hōrai is not free from sorrow or death, and the winters are bitterly cold. Hearn's conception of Hōrai holds that there are no magical fruits that cure disease, grant eternal youth or raise the dead, and no rice bowls or wine glasses that never become empty.

Hearn's incarnation of the myth of Hōrai focuses more on the atmosphere of the place, which is said to be made up not of air but of "quintillions of quintillions" of souls. Breathing in these souls is said to grant one all of the perceptions and knowledge of these ancient souls. The Japanese version also holds that the people of Hōrai are small fairies, and they have no knowledge of great evil, and so their hearts never grow old.

In the Kwaidan, there is some indication that the Japanese hold such a place to be merely a fantasy. It is pointed out that "Hōrai is also called Shinkiro, which signifies Mirage — the Vision of the Intangible."

Yet uses of Mount Horai in Japanese literature and art of the Tokugawa period reveal a very different view than Hearn's Victorian-influenced interpretation.


The word mogwai is the transliteration of the word 魔怪 meaning "ghost", "evil spirit", "devil" or "demon".

Mogwai/Mogui in Chinese culture

According to Chinese tradition, mogwai are certain demons, which often inflict harm on humans. They are said to reproduce sexually during mating seasons triggered by the coming of rain. Supposedly, they take care to breed at these times because rain signifies rich and full times ahead.

The term "mo" derives from the Sanskrit "Mara", meaning 'evil beings', which shares a cognate with the Persian "Magi" from which the English word "" derives. In Hinduism and Buddhism, Mara determines fates of death and desire that tether people to an unending cycle of reincarnation and suffering. He is the source of evil and purposely leads people to sin, misdeeds and self-destruction. Meanwhile, "gui" does not necessarily mean 'evil' or demonic spirits. Classically, it simply means deceased spirits or souls of the dead. Nevertheless, in modern Chinese, it has evolved to refer usually to the dead spirits or ghosts of non-family members that may take vengeance on living humans who caused them pain when they were still living. It is common for the living to redress their sins by sacrificing money to gui by burning paper banknotes so that ''gui'' can have funds to use in their afterlife.

Notably, the modern popular use of mogui as 'demonic' and gui as 'devils' is somewhat a consequence of Western influences as Chinese-language biblical texts translate the Satan in the Book of Job and the Greek term 'diabolos' as mogui.

Mogwai in the ''Gremlins'' series

As depicted in the 1984 Joe Dante film ''Gremlins'' and its 1990 sequel ''Gremlins 2: The New Batch'', the word mogwai is used by some to describe a rare sentient being as it is a furry, cute, good-natured creature.

There were 'three rules' that are known to keep a mogwai--- if exposed to water, it immediately reproduces more of its kind by budding from its back; if it eats food after midnight, it will transform into a cocoon, going through changes and, given the circumstance, becomes a ferocious, reptilian monster called a ''gremlin''. Sunlight will kill a mogwai and bright light is known to hurt it. Most of the mogwai creatures are mean-spirited and mischievous, with Gizmo, the most famous mogwai, being a rare exception.

The level of maliciousness in the personality of mogwai and gremlins vary. Some like Stripe , Brain , and Mohawk are exceedingly violent and show great delight in hurting others. Others like the Christmas carolers, and the flasher, just delight in scaring people and causing hijinks. All mogwai are also energetic and extremely curious, the latter quality often getting them into trouble.

Mogwai are also pack minded, following a leader who is dominant but also has a quality that differentiates them from the others of their kind. Examples of this come from the primary mogwai/gremlin leaders: Stripe, Mohawk, and Brain. Stripe and Mohawk both had a strip of fur the others didn't, but were more violent and more dominant than their species. Brain was originally a normal gremlin but after his transformation became much more intelligent then the rest of his kind and replaced Mohawk as the leader .

Little else is revealed about the mogwai's biology. In ''Gremlins 2'' Gizmo is taken to a laboratory, where the scientists speculate that mogwai are rodents. However, when confronted with gremlins, they believe that the gremlins are reptiles or viruses. The scientists also note they are uncertain as to whether Gizmo's cuteness is genetic. They also explain Gizmo's fear of bright lights by calling it an allergy.

In the novel ''Gremlins'', by George Gipe, published by Avon Books in June 1984, it is stated mogwai were created as gentle contemplative creatures by a scientist on an world, and that the transformation into gremlins was an unintentional side-effect.

Also, in the novel, it is stated that for some reason, mogwai are now almost always born mischievous or just plain evil, with a very rare gentle one viewed as an anomaly and hated by other mogwai. The book also states that there are 3 other "minority" mogwai on this planet, hinting that they were once plentiful.

Other appearances

The Scottish post-rock band is named after the creatures who make an appearance in the film ''Gremlins'', although the guitarist of the band, Stuart Braithwaite, comments that "it has no significant meaning and we always intended on getting a better one, but like a lot of other things we never got round to it."

Longmen, Zhejiang

Longmen is a township in western Zhejiang, around 20 km distant from the city of . The town lies south of the Fuchun River, at the foothills of the Xianxia Range. It is home to a population of around 9000, over 90% of whom are surnamed .

Cultural history

According to tradition, the Suns of Longmen are descendants of the third century warlord Sun Quan, who became emperor of the Three Kingdoms state of . Sun Quan himself is said to have been born a short distance from Longmen, on an islet in the Fuchun River. A 1939 genealogy traces their lineage continuously back twenty six generations to a Song Dynasty official. In the past, the Suns of Longmen were divided into ten sub-lineages and held joint grand ceremonies honouring their ancestors every spring and autumn, but this practice stopped after 1949.

Fifty years ago there were some sixty heritage buildings in Longmen, and about half of those are still standing today. Among them are ancestral halls, homes, pagodas and es - most of which have a history of over three hundred years. These structures are good examples of classical southern architecture and feature intricate wood carvings from Zhejiang folklore. The favourite decorative motifs used are from Three Kingdoms stories popular since the Song Dynasty.

The local theatrical performances, called the "Bamboo Horse Dance" are unique for their portrayal of Sun Quan as a hero. In traditional Three Kingdoms folklore, Sun Quan is normally seen as an ambivalent and often frustrated leader who is time and again bested by Liu Bei and his cunning strategist Zhuge Liang. At Longmen, the favourite plays are "Burning Red Cliffs", showing Sun Quan's defeat of Cao Cao at the Battle of Red Cliffs and "Burning the Linked Encampments", showing Sun Quan's defeat of Liu Bei at the Battle of Yiling.

Curiously, the great revolutionary statesman Sun Yat-sen, born in southern Guangdong province, can trace his ancestry to Longmen. His ancestors moved from Zhejiang to Fujian and then finally to Guangdong. The Sun clan genealogy in his native Cuiheng bears the title "Genealogical Register of the Sun Clan of Fuchun".


Longma was a fabled winged horse with dragon scales in Chinese mythology. Seeing a ''longma'' was an omen of a legendary sage-ruler, particularly one of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors.


The word ''longma'' combines ''long'' "" and ''ma'' "horse". Compare ''hema'' 河馬 "hippopotamus" and ''haima'' 海馬 "seahorse". In addition to naming the mythic creature, ''longma'' 龍馬 "dragon horse" can mean "an eminent person" and occurs in the four-character idiom ''longma jingshen'' 龍馬精神 "vigorous spirit in old age".

''Longma'' interconnects traditional Chinese beliefs about dragons and horses. An early example comes from the ''Zhouli'' "Rites of Zhou" , which differentiates names for horses of different heights, measured in the ''chi'' "Chinese foot" . Horses up to 8 feet tall are called ''long'' 龍 "dragon", those up to 7 feet are called ''lai'' , and those up to 6 feet are called ''ma'' 馬 "horse". The Han Dynasty scholar Wang Fu says, "The people paint the dragon's shape with a horse's head and a snake's tail."

Edward H. Schafer describes the horse's "tremendous importance" to Tang Dynasty rulers for military tactics, diplomatic policy, and aristocratic privilege.
Still, this patrician animal owed his unique status to more than his usefulness to the lords of the land. He was invested with sanctity by ancient tradition, endowed with prodigious qualities, and visibly stamped with the marks of his divine origin. A revered myth proclaimed him a relative of the dragon, akin to the mysterious powers of water. Indeed, all wonderful horses, such as the steed of the pious Hsüan-tsang which, in later legend, carried the sacred scriptures from India, were avatars of dragons, and in antiquity the tallest horse owned by the Chinese were called simply "dragons".
This "steed" refers to 's famous ''bailongma'' 白龍馬 "white dragon horse".

The loanword ''ryūma'' or ''ryōma'' 龍馬 has several meanings. ''Ryūma'' refers to the legendary Chinese "dragon horse" and the name of a chess piece in Shogi . '''' is commonly used as a Japanese name, for instance Sakamoto Ryōma. See Visser for details about the dragon-horse in Japan.

Classical references

Many Chinese classic texts refer to the ''longma'' "dragon horse".

The most famous ''longma'' occurrences are connected with the mythical ''Hetu'' 河圖 "Yellow River chart", which along with the ''Luoshu'' 洛書 "Luo River writing; Lo Shu Square" are ancient magic square arrangements of the '''' "8 Trigrams" and '''' "5 Phases". They are traditionally linked with prehistoric Chinese rulers, a ''longma'' revealed the ''Hetu'' to Fu Xi or , and the shell of a ''gui'' "tortoise" revealed the ''Luoshu'' to . "The Great Treatise" commentary to the ''Yijing'' explains.
Heaven creates divine things; the holy sage takes them as models. Heaven and earth change and transform; the holy sage imitates them. In the heavens hang images that reveal good fortune and misfortune; the holy sage reproduces these. The Yellow River brought forth a map and the Lo River brought forth a writing; the holy men took these as models.
"The water of the Ho sent forth a dragon horse; on its back there was curly hair, like a map of starry dots", says the ''Yijing'' commentary , "The water of the Lo sent forth a divine tortoise; on its back there were riven veins, like writing of character pictures." ''Hetu'' 河圖 is alternately named ''longtu'' 龍圖 and ''matu'' 馬圖, with "dragon" and "horse". For instance, the ''Baihutong'' 白虎通 says 河出龍圖 "the Yellow River sent forth the dragon chart" while the ''Liji'' says 河出馬圖 "the Yellow River sent forth the horse chart".

The ''Shujing'' records the original ''Hetu'' "river plan" among the royal treasures of King Cheng of Zhou . Kong Anguo 孔安國's ''Shujing'' commentary explains the ''longma''.
A dragon horse is the vital spirit of Heaven and Earth. As a being its shape consists of a horse's body, yet it has dragon scales. Therefore it is called 'dragon horse'. Its height is eight ch'ih five ts'un. A true dragon horse has wings at its sides and walks upon the water without sinking. If a holy man is on the throne it comes out of the midst of the Ming river, carrying a map on its back.

The ''Jushu jinian'' 竹書紀年 "Bamboo Annals", which records ancient Chinese mythology and history, describes the ''longma'' in a context of conveying the throne to Shun. The spirits of the five planets appeared on the Yellow River and predicted, "The river scheme will come and tell the emperor of the time. He who knows us is the double-pupilled yellow Yaou." . The Yellow River gave off light, beautiful vapors, and clouds.
Then a dragon-horse appeared, bearing in his mouth a scaly cuirass, with red lines on a green ground, ascended the altar, laid down the scheme, and went away. The cuirass was like a tortoise shell, nine cubits broad. The scheme contained a tally of white gem, in a casket of red gem, covered with yellow gold, and bound with a green string. On the tally were the words, 'With pleased countenance given to the emperor Shun'.
A subsequent ''Bamboo Annals'' context describes the spirit of the Yellow River as a person rather than a dragon-horse, and says Yao rather than Yu received the ''Hetu'' in order to control the .
As he was looking at the Ho , a tall man, with a white face and fish's body, came out and said, 'I am the spirit of the Ho.' He then called Yu, and said, 'Wan-ming shall regulate the waters.' Having so spoken, he gave Yu a chart of the Ho, containing all about the regulating of the waters; and returned into the deep.

The ''Shiyiji'' 拾遺記 records that Emperor Mu of Jin, "drove around the world in a carriage, drawn by eight winged dragon horses." This context uses the modified expression ''long zhi jun'' 龍之駿 "dragon's excellent-horse".

The ''Taiping Yulan'' says a ''longma'' that appeared in 741 CE was considered as a good omen for Emperor Xuanzong of Tang.
It was spotted blue and red, and covered with scales. Its mane resembled that of a dragon, and its neighing was like the tone of a flute. It could cover three hundred miles. Its mother was a common horse which had become pregnant by drinking water from a river in which it was bathed.

Comparative mythology

''Longma'' "dragon horse" connects with other creatures in Chinese folklore. While ''longma'' sometimes applies to the Qilin , the closest relative is the legendary ''tianma'' 天馬 "heavenly horse" or the "Chinese Pegasus", which was metaphorically identified with the ''hanxiema'' 汗血馬 "blood-sweating horse" or Ferghana horse. A poem attributed to Emperor Wu of Han celebrates a 101 BCE victory over Western tribes.
The Heavenly Horses are coming, Coming from the Far West. They crossed the Flowing Sands, For the barbarians are conquered. … The Heavenly Horses are coming; Jupiter is in the Dragon. Should they choose to soar aloft, Who could keep pace with them? They will draw me up and carry me To the Holy Mountain of K'un-lun. The Heavenly Horses have come And the Dragon will follow in their wake. I shall reach the of Heaven, I shall see the Palace of God.
In Chinese astrology, the and are two of the twelve animals. A ''Zhuangzi'' story mentions finding a "pearl worth a thousand pieces of gold" under the chin of a ''lilong'' 驪龍 "black-horse dragon".

Some mythic elements of the ''longma'' "dragon horse" are culturally widespread. Schafer elucidates.
The legend of water-born horses was known in various parts of Turkestan. In Kucha, for instance, when that city was visited by Hsüan-tsang in the seventh century, there was a lake of dragons in front of one of its temples. "The dragons, changing their form, couple with mares. The offspring is a wild species of horse difficult to tame and of a fierce nature. The breed of these dragon-horses became docile." This story must have had its origin farther west in Iranian lands, where winged horses were familiar in art and myth. Even the long-legged small-bellied horses of the "Tajik," that is, of the Arabs, were said to have been born of the conjunction of dragons with mares on the shores of the "Western Sea."

The Chinese ''longma'' "dragon horse" is not culture specific. Mythological hybrid animals or are known worldwide, including combinations of dragons and horses. In Greek mythology, the Hippocamp or Hippocampus , which supposedly has the head and front legs of a horse and the hindquarters of a dragon or fish, parallels the ''longma'' . In Babylonian mythology, "dragon-horse" is a title of the goddess Tiamat . Among the prehistoric hill figures in Oxfordshire, is below the Uffington White Horse.