Chinese mythology

Chinese mythology

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Chinese mythology is a collection of cultural history
Cultural history
The term cultural history refers both to an academic discipline and to its subject matter.Cultural history, as a discipline, at least in its common definition since the 1970s, often combines the approaches of anthropology and history to look at popular cultural traditions and cultural...

, folktales, and religions that have been passed down in oral or written tradition. These include creation myths and legends and myths concerning the founding of Chinese culture and the Chinese state. Like many mythologies, it has in the past been believed to be, at least in part, a factual recording of history.

Historians have conjectured that the Chinese mythology began in the 12th century BCE. The myths and legends were passed down in oral form for over a thousand years, before being written in books such as Shan Hai Jing
Shan Hai Jing
Shan Hai Jing is a Chinese classic text, and a compilation of early geography and myth. Versions of the text have existed since the 4th century BC, and by the early Han Dynasty it had reached its final form. It is largely a fabled geographical and cultural account of pre-Qin China as well as a...

. Other myths continued to be passed down through oral traditions like theater and song, before being recorded as novels such as Hei'an Zhuan - Epic of Darkness
Epic of Darkness
The Epic of Darkness is a collection of tales and legends of primeval China in epic poetry, preserved by the inhabitants of the Shennongjia mountain area in Hubei. It contains accounts from the birth of Pangu till the historical era....

 (literally Epic of the Darkness). This collection of epic
Epic poetry
An epic is a lengthy narrative poem, ordinarily concerning a serious subject containing details of heroic deeds and events significant to a culture or nation. Oral poetry may qualify as an epic, and Albert Lord and Milman Parry have argued that classical epics were fundamentally an oral poetic form...

 legends is preserved by a community of Chinese Han nationality, inhabitants of the Shennongjia
Shennongjia
Shennongjia Forestry District is a county-level administrative unit in Hubei province, directly subordinated to the provincial government...

 mountain area in Hubei
Hubei
' Hupeh) is a province in Central China. The name of the province means "north of the lake", referring to its position north of Lake Dongting...

, and contains accounts from the birth of Pangu
Pangu
Pangu was the first living being and the creator of all in Chinese mythology.- The Pangu legend:...

 up to the historical era.

Imperial historical documents and philosophical canons such as Shangshu
Classic of History
The Classic of History is a compilation of documentary records related to events in ancient history of China. It is also commonly known as the Shàngshū , or simply Shū...

, Shiji, Liji
Classic of Rites
The Classic of Rites , also known as the Book of Rites, Book of Customs, the Record of Rites, was one of the Chinese Five Classics of the Confucian canon. It described the social forms, governmental system, and ancient/ceremonial rites of the Zhou Dynasty...

, Lüshi Chunqiu
Lüshi Chunqiu
The Lüshi Chunqiu is an encyclopedic Chinese classic text compiled around 239 BCE under the patronage of the Qin Dynasty Chancellor Lü Buwei...

, and others, all contain Chinese myths.

Major concepts


Some myths survive in theatrical or literary formats, as plays or novels. Important mythological fiction which is seen as definitive records of these myths include:
  • Verse poetry of ancient states such as Lisao
    Li Sao
    Li Sao is a Chinese poem dating from the Warring States Period, largely written by Qu Yuan of the Kingdom of Chu. One of the most famous poems of pre-Qin China, it is a representative work of the Chu Ci form of poetry.-Title:The title's meaning has been debated about even in historical times...

    , Jiu Ge
    Jiu Ge
    Jiu Ge , or Nine Songs, is a set of short poems sometimes attributed to Qu Yuan and published in the Chu Ci .The songs were compiled by Qu Yuan...

     and the Heavenly Questions
    Heavenly Questions
    Heavenly Questions or Questions to Heaven is an important section of the Classical Chinese poetry collection Chuci. The collection is important both for the poetic verse which it contains as well as being a source for information on the ancient culture of China, especially the area of the state of...

    , by Qu Yuan
    Qu Yuan
    Qu Yuan was a Chinese poet who lived during the Warring States Period in ancient China. He is famous for his contributions to the poetry collection known as the Chu-ci...

     of the Chu
    Chu (state)
    The State of Chu was a Zhou Dynasty vassal state in present-day central and southern China during the Spring and Autumn period and Warring States Period . Its ruling house had the surname Nai , and clan name Yan , later evolved to surname Mi , and clan name Xiong...

     state.
  • Fengshen Bang (封神榜), or Investiture of the Gods, a mythological fiction dealing with the founding of the Zhou dynasty
    Zhou Dynasty
    The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

    .
  • Journey to the West
    Journey to the West
    Journey to the West is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature. It was written by Wu Cheng'en in the 16th century. In English-speaking countries, the tale is also often known simply as Monkey. This was one title used for a popular, abridged translation by Arthur Waley...

    , by Wu Cheng'en
    Wu Cheng'en
    Wu Cheng'en , courtesy name Ruzhong , pen name "Sheyang Hermit," was a Chinese novelist and poet of the Ming Dynasty, best known for being the attributed author of one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature, Journey to the West.-Biography:Wu was born in Lianshui, in Jiangsu...

     and published in the 1590s, a fictionalised account of the pilgrimage of Xuanzang
    Xuanzang
    Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

     to India
    India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

     to obtain Buddhist religious texts, in which the pilgrims encounter ghosts, monsters, and demons as well as the Flaming Mountains
    Flaming Mountains
    The Flaming Mountains or Gaochang Mountains are barren, eroded, red sandstone hills in Tian Shan Mountain range, Xinjiang, China. They lie near the northern rim of the Taklamakan Desert and east of the city of Turpan...

    .
  • Baishe Zhuan, a romantic tale set in Hangzhou
    Hangzhou
    Hangzhou , formerly transliterated as Hangchow, is the capital and largest city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China. Governed as a sub-provincial city, and as of 2010, its entire administrative division or prefecture had a registered population of 8.7 million people...

     involving a female snake who attained human form and fell in love with a man.

The concept of a principal or presiding deity has fluctuated over time in Chinse mythology. Some examples include:
  • Shangdi
    Shangdi
    Shangdi , also known as Di in Oracle Bone Inscription and Thirteen Classics, refers to the supreme god or a divine power regarded as the spiritual ultimate by the Chinese people from the Shang Dynasty. He controlled victory in battle, harvest, the fate of the kingdom, and the weather...

    (上帝), appears as early as the Shang Dynasty
    Shang Dynasty
    The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

    ; also appears as Huangtian Dadi 皇天大帝, but more commonly in later eras as 皇天上帝, (the dating of these occurrences depends on the date of Oracle Bones and the Shujing, aka "Book of Documents"). When Huangtian Dadi was used it refers to Jade Emperor or Yu Huang, and Tian 天 and Jade Emperor were synonymous in Chinese prayers.

  • Yu Di
    Jade Emperor
    The Jade Emperor in Chinese folk culture, is the ruler of Heaven and all realms of existence below including that of Man and Hell, according to a version of Taoist mythology. He is one of the most important gods of the Chinese traditional religion pantheon...

    (玉皇 or 玉帝 or Jade Emperor), appears in literature after the establishment of Taoism in China, but the position of Yu Huang dates back to beyond the times of Huangdi, Nuwa or Fuxi.

  • Tian
    Tian
    Tian is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the cosmos and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang Dynasty the Chinese called god Shangdi or Di , and during the Zhou Dynasty Tian "heaven; god" became synonymous with Shangdi...

    (天, or Heaven), appears in literature probably about 700 BC, or earlier (the dating of these occurrences depends on the date of the Shujing, aka "Book of Documents"). There are no "creation" oriented narratives for 'Heaven', although the role of a creator is a possible interpreatation. The qualities of 'Heaven' and Shangdi appear to merge in later literature (and are worshiped as one entity ("皇天上帝") in, for example, the Temple of Heaven
    Temple of Heaven
    The Temple of Heaven, literally the Altar of Heaven is a complex of Taoist buildings situated in the southeastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for good harvest...

     in Beijing). The extent of the distinction (if any) between them is debated. The sinologist Herrlee Creel
    Herrlee Creel
    Herrlee Glessner Creel was an American sinologist and philosopher, and authority on Confucius. He was the Martin A. Ryerson Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor of Chinese History at the University of Chicago...

     proposes that an analysis of the Shang oracle bones shows Shangdi
    Shangdi
    Shangdi , also known as Di in Oracle Bone Inscription and Thirteen Classics, refers to the supreme god or a divine power regarded as the spiritual ultimate by the Chinese people from the Shang Dynasty. He controlled victory in battle, harvest, the fate of the kingdom, and the weather...

     preceded 'tian' as a deity, and that Zhou Dynasty
    Zhou Dynasty
    The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

     authors replaced the term Shangdi with tian
    Tian
    Tian is one of the oldest Chinese terms for the cosmos and a key concept in Chinese mythology, philosophy, and religion. During the Shang Dynasty the Chinese called god Shangdi or Di , and during the Zhou Dynasty Tian "heaven; god" became synonymous with Shangdi...

     to cement the claim of their influence.

  • Nüwa
    Nüwa
    Nüwa is a goddess in ancient Chinese mythology best known for creating mankind and repairing the wall of heaven.-Primary sources:...

    (女媧), appears in literature no earlier than about 350 BC. Her companion was Fuxi (伏羲), the brother and husband of Nuwa. These two beings are sometimes worshiped as the ultimate ancestor of all humankind. They sometimes believe that Nuwa molded humans from clay for companionship. They are often represented as half-snake, half-human creatures. Nüwa was also responsible for repairing the sky after Gong Gong
    Gong Gong
    Gong Gong is a Chinese water god or sea monster, said to resemble a serpent or dragon. He is responsible for the great floods together with his associate, Xiang Yao , who had nine heads and the body of a snake....

     damaged the pillar supporting the heavens (see below).

  • Pangu
    Pangu
    Pangu was the first living being and the creator of all in Chinese mythology.- The Pangu legend:...

    (盤古), written about 200 AD by the Taoist author Xu Zheng, was a later myth claiming to describe the first sentient being and creator.

Three August Ones and Five Emperors


During or following the age of Nuwa and Fuxi came the age of the Three August Ones and Five Emperors (三皇五帝). These legendary rulers ruled between c. 2850 BC to 2205 BC, before the Xia dynasty
Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him...

.

The list of names comprising the Three August Ones and Five Emperors vary widely among sources (see Three August Ones and Five Emperors
Three August Ones and Five Emperors
The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were a group of semi- mythological rulers and culture heroes from ancient China during the period circa 2500 BC to 2100 BC. This period preceded the Xia Dynasty....

 for other versions). The most widely circulated and popular version is:
  • The Three August Ones (Huang):
    • Fuxi (伏羲) - The companion of Nuwa.
    • Shennong
      Shennong
      Shennong , which names mean "Divine Farmer", but also known as the Emperor of the Five Grains , was a legendary ruler of China and culture hero reputed to have lived some 5,000 years ago...

       (神農) - Shennong, "Divine Farmer", reputedly taught the ancients agriculture and medicine.
    • Huangdi (黃帝) - Huangdi, "Huang Emperor"(normally "黄" means "yellow", but not here. See below for the full explanation of "皇帝"), is often regarded as the first sovereign of the Chinese nation.

(Source: Shangshu (尚書))
  • The Five Emperors (Di):
    • Shaohao
      Shaohao
      Shaohao , also known as Shao Hao, Jin Tian or Xuanxiao, was a Chinese emperor in 2600 BC. According to some traditions , he was, in some versions, one of the Five Emperors....

       (少昊) - Leader of the Dongyi
      Dongyi
      Dongyi was a collective term for people in eastern China and in lands located to the east of ancient China. People referred to as Dongyi vary across the ages.The early Dongyi culture was one of earliest neolithic cultures in China....

       "Eastern Barbarians". His pyramidal tomb is in present-day Shandong
      Shandong
      ' is a Province located on the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China. Shandong has played a major role in Chinese history from the beginning of Chinese civilization along the lower reaches of the Yellow River and served as a pivotal cultural and religious site for Taoism, Chinese...

      .
    • Zhuanxu
      Zhuanxu
      Zhuanxu , also known as Gaoyang is a mythological monarch of ancient China.A grandson of the Yellow Emperor, Zhuanxu led the Shi clan in an eastward migration to present-day Shandong, where intermarriages with the Dongyi clan enlarged and augmented their tribal influences...

       (顓頊) - Grandson of the Huang Emperor.
    • Emperor Ku
      Emperor Ku
      Kù , or Dì Kù , also known as Gāoxīn Shì , was a mythical Emperor of China during the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors period. He was the son of Jiăo Jí , the grandson of Shăohào and the great grandson of Huáng-dì , the Yellow Emperor. According to speculative dates he is supposed to have ruled...

       (帝嚳) - Great grandson of the Huang Emperor; nephew of Zhuanxu.
    • Yao
      Yao (ruler)
      Yao , was a legendary Chinese ruler, one of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors. His ancestral name (姓)is Yi Qi (伊祁) or Qi(祁),clan name (氏)is Taotang , given name is Fangxun , as the second son to Emperor Ku and Qingdu...

       (堯) - The son of Ku. His elder brother succeeded Ku, but abdicated when he was found to be an ineffective ruler.
    • Shun (舜) - Yao, passing over his own son, made Shun his successor because of Shun's ability and morality.


These rulers are generally regarded as morally upright and benevolent rulers, examples to be emulated by latter day kings and emperors. When Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang , personal name Ying Zheng , was king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BC to 221 BC during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BC...

 united China in 221 BC, he felt that his achievements had surpassed those of all the rulers who had gone before him. He combined the ancient titles of Huang (皇) and Di (帝) to create a new title, Huangdi (皇帝), usually translated as Emperor.

Great Flood



Shun passed his place as leader of the Huaxia
Huaxia
Huaxia is a name often used to represent China or Chinese civilization.-Etymology:According to the historical record, Zuo Zhuan, the ancient Xia Dynasty of central China was a state that held propriety and justice in high esteem...

 tribe to Yu the Great
Yu the Great
Yu the Great , was a legendary ruler of Ancient China famed for his introduction of flood control, inaugurating dynastic rule in China by founding the Xia Dynasty, and for his upright moral character....

 (禹). The Yellow River is prone to flooding, and erupted in a huge flood in the time of Yao
Yao (ruler)
Yao , was a legendary Chinese ruler, one of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors. His ancestral name (姓)is Yi Qi (伊祁) or Qi(祁),clan name (氏)is Taotang , given name is Fangxun , as the second son to Emperor Ku and Qingdu...

. Yu's father, Gun, was put in charge of flood control by Yao
Yao (ruler)
Yao , was a legendary Chinese ruler, one of the Three Sovereigns and the Five Emperors. His ancestral name (姓)is Yi Qi (伊祁) or Qi(祁),clan name (氏)is Taotang , given name is Fangxun , as the second son to Emperor Ku and Qingdu...

, but failed to alleviate the problem after 9 years. He was executed by Shun, and Yu took his father's place, and led the people in building canals and levees. After thirteen years of toil, flooding problems were ameliorated under Yu's command. Shun enfeoffed
Enfeoffment
Under the European feudal system, enfeoffment was the deed by which a person was given land in exchange for a pledge of service. This mechanism was later used to avoid restrictions on the passage of title in land by a system in which a landowner would give land to one person for the use of another...

 Yu in the place of Xia
Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him...

, in present-day Wan County in Henan
Henan
Henan , is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" , named after Yuzhou , a Han Dynasty state that included parts of Henan...

. Upon his death, Shun passed the leadership to Yu. The main source for the story of Yu and the Great Flood comes from The Counsels of Yu the Great in the Classic of History
Classic of History
The Classic of History is a compilation of documentary records related to events in ancient history of China. It is also commonly known as the Shàngshū , or simply Shū...

 (尚書·大禹謨).
As a result of his achievement in resolving the Great Flood, Yu, alone among the mythological rulers, is usually called "Yu the Great" (大禹). Alternatively, he is called Emperor Yu (帝禹), like his predecessors.

Xia Dynasty



Upon Yu's death, his position as leader was passed not to his deputy, but to his son Qi
Qi of Xia
Qi was the son of Yu the Great and the second sovereign of the Xia Dynasty. He ruled for approximately nine or ten years.According to legend, Yu married Nu Jiao and stayed at home for only three days before going back to stop a flood. While Yu was stopping the flood, Yu's wife had a son. He named...

. Sources differ regarding the process by which Qi rose to this position. Most versions agree that, Yu designated his deputy, Gaotao
Gao Yao (Xia Dynasty)
Gao Yao was a political advisor of the Yu the Great in China during the Xia Dynasty. His son was Bo Yi .He is cited admonishingly saying to his king: "[The] Heaven can see and hear, and does so through the eyes and ears of the people; Heaven rewards the virtuous and punishes the wicked, and does...

 (皋陶), to be his successor. When Gaotao died before him, Yu then selected Gaotao's son, Bo Yi (伯益) as successor. One version says that all the peoples who had submitted to Yu admired Qi more than Bo Yi, and Yu passed power to Qi instead. Another version holds that Bo Yi ceremoniously offered the position to Qi, who accepted, against convention, because he had the support of other leaders. Yet another version says that Qi killed Bo Yi and usurped his position as leader.

The version currently most accepted in China has Yu name Bo Yi as successor, because Bo Yi had achieved fame by teaching the People to drive animals with fire during the hunts. Bo Yi had the support of the People and Yu could not stand against it easily. But Yu gave Bo Yi title without power. Yu gave his own son all power to manage the country. After a few fruitless years, Bo Yi lost popularity, and Yu's son Qi became more popular. Then Yu named Qi as successor. Bo Yi, did not go willingly and challenged Qi for the leadership. A civil war ensued. Qi, with strong support from the People, defeated Bo Yi's forces, killed Bo Yi, and solidified his rule.

Qi's succession broke the previous convention of meritorious succession, and began what is traditionally regarded as the first dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 of Chinese history. The dynasty is called "Xia" after Yu's centre of power.

The Xia Dynasty is semi-mythological. The Records of the Grand Historian
Records of the Grand Historian
The Records of the Grand Historian, also known in English by the Chinese name Shiji , written from 109 BC to 91 BC, was the Magnum opus of Sima Qian, in which he recounted Chinese history from the time of the Yellow Emperor until his own time...

and the Bamboo Annals
Bamboo Annals
The Bamboo Annals is a chronicle of ancient China. It begins at the earliest legendary times and extends to the Warring States Period , particularly the history of the Wei state...

record the names of 17 kings of the Xia Dynasty. However, there is no conclusive archaeological evidence of its capital or its existence as a state of any significant size. Some archaeological evidence for a significant urban civilization prior to the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 does now exist.

Shang Dynasty



Jie
Jie of Xia
King Jie was the 17th and last ruler of the Xia dynasty of China. He is traditionally regarded as a tyrant and oppressor who brought about the collapse of a dynasty. Around 1600 BCE Jie was defeated by Shang Tang, bringing an end to the Xia Dynasty, that lasted about 500 years, and a rise to the...

, the last king of the Xia Dynasty, was supposedly a bloodthirsty despot. Tang of Shang
Tang of Shang
King Cheng Tang of Shang was the first ruling king of the Shang dynasty in Chinese history. He overthrew Jie, the last ruler of the Xia dynasty.-Early life:...

, a tribal leader, revolted against Xia rule and eventually overthrew Jie, establishing the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

, based in Anyang
Anyang
Anyang is a prefecture-level city in Henan province, People's Republic of China. The northernmost city in Henan, Anyang borders Puyang to the east, Hebi and Xinxiang to the south, and the provinces of Shanxi and Hebei to its west and north respectively....

. Book 5 of Mozi
Mozi
Mozi |Lat.]] as Micius, ca. 470 BC – ca. 391 BC), original name Mo Di , was a Chinese philosopher during the Hundred Schools of Thought period . Born in Tengzhou, Shandong Province, China, he founded the school of Mohism, and argued strongly against Confucianism and Daoism...

 described the end of the Xia dynasty and the beginning of the Shang dynasty. During the reign of King Jie of Xia, there was a great climactic change. The paths of the sun and moon were different, the seasons were confused and the five grains dried up. Ghouls were crying in the country and cranes shrieked for ten nights. Heaven ordered Shang Tang to receive the heavenly commission from the Xia dynasty. The Xia dynasty has failed morally and Heaven has determined her end. Therefore, Shang Tang was commanded to destroy Xia with the promise of Heaven's help. In the dark, Heaven destroyed the fortress' pool. Shang Tang then gained victory easily.

The Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 ruled from ca. 1766 BC to ca. 1050 BC. It came to an end when the last despotic ruler, Zhou of Shang
King Zhou of Shang
Emperor Xin of Shang was the last king of the Shang Dynasty. He was later given the pejorative posthumous name Zhòu . He is also called Zhou Xin or King Zhou . He may also be referred to by adding "Shang" in front of any of his names...

, was overthrown by the new Zhou Dynasty
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

. The end of the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

 and the establishment of the Zhou
Zhou Dynasty
The Zhou Dynasty was a Chinese dynasty that followed the Shang Dynasty and preceded the Qin Dynasty. Although the Zhou Dynasty lasted longer than any other dynasty in Chinese history, the actual political and military control of China by the Ji family lasted only until 771 BC, a period known as...

 is the subject of the influential mythological fiction, Investitute of the Gods (封神榜). Book 5 of Mozi also described the shift. During the reign of Shang Zhou
King Zhou of Shang
Emperor Xin of Shang was the last king of the Shang Dynasty. He was later given the pejorative posthumous name Zhòu . He is also called Zhou Xin or King Zhou . He may also be referred to by adding "Shang" in front of any of his names...

, Heaven could not endure his morality and his neglect of timely sacrifices. It rained mud for ten days and nights, the nine cauldrons (presumably used in either astronomy or to measure earth movements) shifted positions, pontianaks appeared and ghosts cried at night. There were women who became men, the heaven rained flesh and thorny brambles covered the national highways. A red bird brought a message "Heaven decrees King Wen of Zhou to punish Yin and possess its empire". The Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

 formed charts and the earth brought forth mythical horses. When King Wu became king, three gods appeared to him in a dream, telling him that they have drowned Shang Zhou in wine and that King Wu was to attack him. On the way back from victory, the heavens gave him the emblem of a yellow bird.

Unlike the preceding Xia Dynasty
Xia Dynasty
The Xia Dynasty is the first dynasty in China to be described in ancient historical chronicles such as Bamboo Annals, Classic of History and Records of the Grand Historian. The Xia Dynasty was established by the legendary Yu the Great after Shun, the last of the Five Emperors gave his throne to him...

, there is clear archaeological evidence of a government centre at Yinxu
Yinxu
Yinxu is the ruins of the last capital of China's Shang Dynasty. The capital served 255 years for 12 kings in 8 generations.Rediscovered in 1899, it is one of the oldest and largest archeological sites in China and is one of the historical capitals of China and a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

 in Anyang, and of an urban civilization in the Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...

. However, the chronology of the first three dynasties
Xia Shang Zhou Chronology Project
The Xia–Shang–Zhou Chronology Project was a multi-disciplinary project commissioned by the People's Republic of China in 1996 to determine with accuracy the location and time frame of the Xia Dynasty, the Shang Dynasty and the Zhou Dynasty...

 remains an area of active research and controversy.

Creation and the Pantheon


The Jade Emperor
Jade Emperor
The Jade Emperor in Chinese folk culture, is the ruler of Heaven and all realms of existence below including that of Man and Hell, according to a version of Taoist mythology. He is one of the most important gods of the Chinese traditional religion pantheon...

 is charged with running of the three realms: heaven, hell and that of the living. The Jade Emperor adjudicates and metes out rewards and remedies to actions of saints, the living and the deceased according to a merit system loosely called the Jade Principles Golden Script (玉律金篇, see external links). When judgments proposed were objected to, usually by other saints, the administration would occasionally resort to the counsels of the advisory elders.

Dragon


The Chinese dragon
Chinese dragon
Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore, with mythic counterparts among Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Western and Turkic dragons. In Chinese art, dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs...

 is one of the most important mythical creatures in Chinese mythology. The Chinese dragon is considered to be the most powerful and divine creature and is believed to be the controller of all waters. The dragon symbolised great power and was very supportive of heroes and gods. One of the most famous dragons in Chinese mythology is Yinglong
Yinglong
Yinglong is a winged dragon and rain deity in ancient Chinese mythology.-Name:This legendary creature's name yinglong combines 4th-tone yìng 應 "respond; correspond; answer; reply; agree; comply; consent; promise; adapt; apply" and lóng 龍 "Chinese dragon"...

 "Responding Dragon", said to be the god of rain. Many people in different places pray to Yinglong in order to receive rain. In Chinese mythology, dragons are believed to be able to create clouds with their breath. Chinese people
Zhonghua minzu
Zhonghua minzu , usually translated as Chinese ethnic groups or Chinese nationality, refers to the modern notion of a Chinese nationality transcending ethnic divisions, with a central identity for China as a whole...

 sometimes use the term "Descendants of the Dragon" as a sign of their ethnic identity.

For the most part, Chinese myths involve moral issues which inform people of their culture and values.


Religion and mythology


There has been extensive interaction between Chinese mythology and the major belief systems of Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

, Taoism
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

, and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. (see Religion in China
Religion in China
Religion in China has been characterized by pluralism since the beginning of Chinese history. The Chinese religions are family-oriented and do not demand the exclusive adherence of members. Some scholars doubt the use of the term "religion" in reference to Buddhism and Taoism, and suggest "cultural...

)

On the one hand, elements of pre-Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 mythologies such as those in Shan Hai Jing
Shan Hai Jing
Shan Hai Jing is a Chinese classic text, and a compilation of early geography and myth. Versions of the text have existed since the 4th century BC, and by the early Han Dynasty it had reached its final form. It is largely a fabled geographical and cultural account of pre-Qin China as well as a...

 were adapted into these belief systems as they developed (in the case of Taoism), or were assimilated into Chinese culture (in the case of Buddhism). On the other hand, elements from the teachings and beliefs of these systems became incorporated into Chinese mythology. For example, the Taoist
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 belief of a spiritual paradise
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

 became incorporated into mythology, as the place where immortals and deities dwell.

Important mythologies and deities


  • Three Pure Ones
    Three Pure Ones
    The Three Pure Ones also translated as the Three Pure Pellucid Ones, the Three Pristine Ones, the Three Divine Teachers, the Three Clarities, or the Three Purities is the Taoist Trinity, the three highest Gods in the Taoist pantheon. They are regarded as pure manifestation of the Tao and the...

     (三清) the Daoist trinity, beings first transformed from the primordial unity
    • Yuanshi Tianzun (元始天尊)
    • Lingbao Tianzun (靈寶天尊)
    • Daode Tianzun (道德天尊)

  • Four Emperors (四御) heavenly kings of Daoist religion
    • Yu Huang (Jade Emperor)
    • Beiji Dadi
    • Tianhuang Dadi
    • Empress of Earth

  • Eight Immortals
    Eight Immortals
    The Eight Immortals are a group of legendary xian in Chinese mythology. Each Immortal's power can be transferred to a power tool that can give life or destroy evil. Together, these eight tools are called "Covert Eight Immortals" . Most of them are said to have been born in the Tang Dynasty or...

     (八仙)
    • He Xiangu
      Immortal Woman He
      Named Hé Qióng , Immortal Woman He or He Xiangu is the only female deity among the Eight Immortals...

       (何仙姑)
    • Cao Guojiu
      Royal Uncle Cao
      The newest of the Eight Immortals, Royal Uncle Cao or Cao Guojiu is named one of the following:* Cao Yi * Cao Jing...

       (曹國舅)
    • Tie Guaili (鐵拐李)
    • Lan Caihe
      Lan Caihe
      Lan Caihe is the least defined of the Eight Immortals. Lan Caihe's age and sex are unknown. Lan is usually depicted in sexually ambiguous clothing, but is often shown as a young boy or girl carrying a bamboo flower basket.Stories of Lan's behaviour are often bizarrely eccentric...

       (藍采和)
    • Lu Dongbin
      Lü Dongbin
      Lǚ Dòngbīn is a historical figure and also a deity/Immortal revered by many in the Chinese culture sphere, especially by Daoists/Taoists. Lǚ Dòngbīn is one of the most widely known of the group of deities known as the Eight Immortals and considered by some to be the de facto leader...

       (呂洞賓)
    • Han Xiangzi (韓湘子)
    • Zhang Guolao
      Elder Zhang Guo
      "Elder Zhang Guo" or "Zhang Guo Lao" is one of the Eight Immortals. Of the Eight Immortals he, along with Chung-li Ch'uan and Lu Yen, was a real historical figure; the rest exist only in legend...

       (張果老)
    • Han Zhongli
      Zhongli Quan
      Zhongli Quan is one of the most ancient of the Eight Immortals and the leader of the group. He is also known as Zhongli of Han because he was said to be born during the Han Dynasty...

       (漢鍾離)

  • Deities with Buddhist Appellations
    • Guan Yin (觀音) (觀音菩薩, also Kuan Yin)
    • Laughing Buddha
      Hotei
      Budai , pronounced Hotei in Japanese, Bố Đại in Vietnamese, is a Chinese folkloric deity. His name means "Cloth Sack," and comes from the bag that he is conventionally depicted as carrying. He is usually identified with Maitreya Buddha, so much so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in...

    • Dizang
      Ksitigarbha
      Ksitigarbha is a bodhisattva primarily revered in East Asian Buddhism, usually depicted as a Buddhist monk in the Orient. The name may be translated as "Earth Treasury", "Earth Store", "Earth Matrix", or "Earth Womb"...

       (地藏菩薩/地藏王), ruler of the ten hells
    • Four Heavenly Kings
      Four Heavenly Kings
      In the Buddhist faith, the Four Heavenly Kings are four gods, each of whom watches over one cardinal direction of the world.The Kings are collectively named as follows:...

       (四大天王) Four Buddhist guardian gods
    • Gautama Buddha
      Gautama Buddha
      Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

       (釋迦牟尼)

  • Xi Wangmu
    Xi Wangmu
    Xi Wangmu, literally Queen Mother of the West , is an ancient Chinese goddess, also known in Japan and Korea. Her origins can be traced back to oracle bone inscriptions of the 15th century BCE that record sacrifices to a "western mother". Even though these inscriptions illustrate that she predates...

     (西王母). Queen Mother of the West
  • Erlang Shen
    Erlang Shen
    Erlang Shen , or Erlang is a Chinese God with a third truth-seeing eye in the middle of his forehead.Er-lang Shen may be a deified version of several semi-mythical folk heroes who help regulate China's torrential floods, dating variously from the Qin, Sui and Jin dynasties...

     (二郎神)
  • Lei Gong
    Lei Gong
    In Chinese mythology, Lei Gong , also called Lei Kung, or Lei Shen , is the Chinese Taoist deity who, when so ordered by heaven, punishes both earthly mortals guilty of secret crimes and evil spirits who have used their knowledge of Taoism to harm human beings...

     (雷公) god of thunder
  • Nezha (哪吒)
  • Guan Yu
    Guan Yu
    Guan Yu was a general serving under the warlord Liu Bei during the late Eastern Han Dynasty of China. He played a significant role in the civil war that led to the collapse of the Han Dynasty and the establishment of the state of Shu Han during the Three Kingdoms period, of which Liu Bei was the...

     (關聖帝君), God of Brotherhoods. God of martial power. Also revered as God of War.
  • Zhao Gongming (趙公明)
  • Bi Gan
    Bi Gan
    Cai Shen |Hakka]]: Choy Sin) is the Chinese god of prosperity. He can be referred to as Zhao Gongming or Bi Gan...

     (比干)
  • Bi Fang
  • Kui Xing
    Kui Xing
    Kui Xing , originally called 奎星 , also known as 大魁夫子 "Great Master Kui" or 大魁星君 "Great Kui the Star Prince", is a character in Chinese mythology, the god of examinations, and an associate or servant of the god of literature, Wen Chang....

     (魁星)
  • Sun Wukong
    Sun Wukong
    Sun Wukong , also known as the Monkey King is a main character in the classical Chinese epic novel Journey to the West . In the novel, he is a monkey born from a stone who acquires supernatural powers through Taoist practices...

     (孫悟空)
  • Daoji
    Daoji
    Daoji , commonly known as Ji Gong or , was a Chán Buddhist monk of the Southern Song Dynasty in China. He was born with the name of Li Xiuyuan. . Some sources have cited his name as Lǐ Xiūyuán...

     (道濟)
  • Matsu
    Matsu (goddess)
    Mazu , also spelt Matsu, is the indigenous goddess of the sea who is said to protect fishermen and sailors, and is invoked as the patron deity of all Southern Chinese and East Asian persons...

     (媽祖)
  • Zao Jun
    Zao Jun
    In Chinese folk religion and Chinese mythology, the Kitchen God, named Zao Jun or Zao Shen , is the most important of a plethora of Chinese domestic gods that protect the hearth and family with the addition of being celebrated...

     (灶君)
  • Tu Di Gong
    Tu Di Gong
    Tu Di Gong , also known as Tu Di , Tu Gong , and Dabo Gong , is a Chinese earth god worshipped by Chinese folk religion worshippers and Taoists. A formal name for Tu Di Gong is , meaning the earth god of wealth and merit....

     (土地公)
  • Town god (城隍)
  • Zhong Kui
    Zhong Kui
    Zhong Kui is a figure of Chinese mythology. Traditionally regarded as a vanquisher of ghosts and evil beings, and reputedly able to command 80,000 demons, his image is often painted on household gates as a guardian spirit, as well as in places of business where high-value goods are...

     (鍾馗)
  • Lung Mo (龍母)
  • Hung Shing
    Hung Shing
    Hung Shing , also known as Hung Shing Ye and Tai Wong , was a government official in the Tang Dynasty named Hung Hei serving Pun Yue in present-day Guangdong, China....

     (洪聖)
  • Tam Kung
    Tam Kung
    Tam Kung or Tam Tai Sin is a sea deity worshiped in Hong Kong and Macau.In Chinese folk legends, Tam Kung was one of gods who could forecast the weather. He was born in Huizhou Prefecture. It was said that he could cure patients in his childhood. Tam Kung became an immortal in heaven at the age...

  • Wong Tai Sin
    Wong Tai Sin
    Wong Tai Sin is a Chinese deity popular in Hong Kong with the power of healing. His name literally translates to the "Great Immortal Wong". Wong Tai Sin is the divine form of the individual "Wong Cho Ping".-Legend:...

     (黃大仙)
  • Meng Po
    Meng Po
    Meng Po is the Lady of Forgetfulness in Chinese mythology.Literally means Old Lady Meng, Meng Po serves in Diyu, the Chinese realm of the dead...

     (孟婆)
  • Three August Ones and Five Emperors
    Three August Ones and Five Emperors
    The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were a group of semi- mythological rulers and culture heroes from ancient China during the period circa 2500 BC to 2100 BC. This period preceded the Xia Dynasty....

     (三皇五帝), a collection of legendary rulers
  • Zhu Rong (祝融):
  • Gong Gong
    Gong Gong
    Gong Gong is a Chinese water god or sea monster, said to resemble a serpent or dragon. He is responsible for the great floods together with his associate, Xiang Yao , who had nine heads and the body of a snake....

     (共工):
  • Chi You
    Chi You
    Chi You was a tribal leader of the ancient nine Li tribe . He is best known as the tyrant who fought against the then-future Yellow Emperor during the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors era in Chinese mythology. For the Hmong people, Chi You was a sagacious mythical king...

     (蚩尤 chi1 you2)
  • Da Yu (大禹)
  • Kua Fu
    Kua Fu
    Kua Fu is a giant in Chinese mythology who wished to capture the sun.One day out of the blue, Kua Fu was perplexed by the Sun's whereabouts at night and decided to chase and catch the Sun...

     (夸父追日)
  • Cangjie
    Cangjie
    Cangjie is a very important figure in ancient China , claimed to be an official historian of the Yellow Emperor and the inventor of Chinese characters. Legend has it that he had four eyes and four pupils, and that when he invented the characters, the deities and ghosts cried and the sky rained...

     (倉頡)
  • Hou Yi (后羿 hou4 yi4)
  • Chang E
    Chang'e (mythology)
    Chang'e, Ch'ang-O, Chang-Ngo or Sheung Ngo , originally known as Heng'e or Heng-O , is the Chinese goddess of the Moon. Unlike many lunar deities in other cultures who personify the Moon, Chang'e only lives on the Moon...

     (嫦娥)
  • The Cowherd and Weaver Girl
    Qi Xi
    Qixi Festival , also known as Magpie Festival, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month on the Chinese calendar; thus its name. It inspired Tanabata in Japan, Chilseok in Korea, and Thất Tịch in Vietnam...

     (牛郎織女)
  • Han Ba (旱魃)
  • Wenchang Wang
    Wenchang Wang
    Wenchang Wang, or Wenchang Dijun, is a Taoist deity in Chinese Mythology, known as the God of Culture and Literature. He is also at times referred to simply as Wen Qu, or Wen. The literal translation of his name would be King of Flourishing Culture/Language . Wenchang Wang is physically...

     (文昌王)
  • Gao Yao
    Gao Yao (Xia Dynasty)
    Gao Yao was a political advisor of the Yu the Great in China during the Xia Dynasty. His son was Bo Yi .He is cited admonishingly saying to his king: "[The] Heaven can see and hear, and does so through the eyes and ears of the people; Heaven rewards the virtuous and punishes the wicked, and does...

     (皋陶)
  • Tu Er Shen
    Tu Er Shen
    Tu Er Shen is a Chinese deity who manages the love and sex between homosexual men. His name literally means "rabbit deity".According to Zi Bu Yu , a book written by Yuan Mei , Tu Er Shen was a man called Hu Tianbao . Hu Tianbao was originally a man who fell in love with a very handsome imperial...

     (兔兒神)
  • Wu Gang
    Wu Gang
    Wu Gang, or Wu Kang, is a character in Chinese folklore and Taoism. He is known for endlessly cutting down a self-healing Bay Laurel on the Moon. The story has often been associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival...

     (吳剛)
  • Jum sum
    Jum sum
    Jum sum is the Chinese god of sleep or pillow, also of dreams. Originating sometime in the 1st century BC and almost a forgotten deity.-References:* Lo Zu, Jill . Chinese history: comprehensive guide, Hongo Book Company. p. 197....

     (枕神)
  • Xiang River goddesses
    Xiang River goddesses
    The Xiang River goddesses were daughters of the Emperor Yao who were said to have been married by him to his chosen successor, and eventually emperor, Shun, as a sort of test of his administrative abilities: later they became goddesses....

     (Xiangfei) (湘妃 ), they were: Ehuang (娥皇) and Nüying (女英).


Mythical creatures

  • Bashe
    Bashe
    Bashe was a python-like Chinese mythological giant snake that ate elephants.-Name:The term bashe compounds ba 巴 "a proper name; tip, tail; crust; greatly desire; cling to; be near" and she 蛇 "snake; serpent"....

      a snake reputed to swallow elephants
  • Birds:
    • Fenghuang
      Fenghuang
      Fenghuang are mythological birds of East Asia that reign over all other birds. The males are called Feng and the females Huang. In modern times, however, such a distinction of gender is often no longer made and the Feng and Huang are blurred into a single feminine entity so that the bird can be...

       (Chinese Phoenix
      Phoenix (mythology)
      The phoenix or phenix is a mythical sacred firebird that can be found in the mythologies of the Arabian, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese, Indian and Phoenicians....

      )
    • Jian (鶼 jian1) A mythical bird supposed to have only one eye and one wing: 鶼鶼 a pair of such birds dependent on each other, inseparable, hence, represent husband and wife.
    • Jiguang (吉光 jíguāng)
    • Jingwei
      Jingwei
      Jingwei is the name of a character in Chinese mythology. Originally the daughter of the emperor Yandi, she perished at a young age in the East Sea. After her death she chose to assume the shape of a bird in order to exact revenge upon the sea by bringing stones and small twigs from the mountains...

       (精衛) a mythical bird which tries to fill up the ocean with twigs and pebbles.
    • Jiufeng
      Nine-headed Bird
      The nine-headed bird is one of the earliest forms of the Chinese phoenix, worshiped by ancient natives in Hubei Province, which during the Warring States Period was part of the kingdom of Chu ....

       A nine headed bird used to scare children.
    • Peng
      Peng (mythology)
      Peng or Dapeng is a giant bird that transforms from a Kun giant fish in Chinese mythology. In comparative mythology of giant creatures, Peng is likened to the Roc or Garuda and Kun to the Leviathan.-Names:...

       (鵬, a mythical bird of giant size and awesome flying power) Also known as the Chinese roc.
    • Qing Niao (青鳥 qīngniâo) a mythical bird, the messenger of Xi Wangmu
      Xi Wangmu
      Xi Wangmu, literally Queen Mother of the West , is an ancient Chinese goddess, also known in Japan and Korea. Her origins can be traced back to oracle bone inscriptions of the 15th century BCE that record sacrifices to a "western mother". Even though these inscriptions illustrate that she predates...

      .
    • Sanzuniao (三足鳥) a three-legged crow. Represented the sun birds shot down by Houyi
      Houyi
      Houyi , also called Yiyi or simply Yi, was a mythological Chinese archer and the leader of Dongyi. He is sometimes portrayed as a god of archery descended from heaven to aid mankind, and sometimes as the chief of the Youqiong Tribe during the reign of King Tai Kang of Xia Dynasty...

      .
    • Shang-Yang (a rainbird
      Rainbird
      Rainbird, Rain Bird or Rainbirds may refer to:- Birds :* Rainbird, colloquial name given to various birds thought to sing before rain, including the European Green Woodpecker, Jamaican Lizard Cuckoo, Pacific Koel, Channel-billed Cuckoo, Burchell's Coucal and Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike, as well as...

      )
    • Su Shuang
      Su Shuang
      Su Shuang was a merchant from Zhongshan during the late Han Dynasty period of Chinese history. Around 180, he and Zhang Shiping went to Zhuo commandery to trade horses. There they saw Liu Bei's potential and decided to supply him with gold and other valuables...

       (鷫鷞 su4shuang3) a mythical bird, also variously described as a water bird, like the crane.
    • Zhen
      Zhenniao
      Zhenniao or sometimes translated as Zhen or Poisonfeather Birds, is a name given to poisonous birds that is said to have existed in what is now present-day Southern China during ancient times and is referenced in many Chinese myths, annals and poetry...

       (鴆) a poisonous bird
    • Zhu
      Zhu
      Zhu or ZHU may refer to:*Zhu , ancient Chinese string instrument*Zhu , ancient Chinese percussion instrument*Zhuhai Sanzao Airport - ZHU is the 3 letter IATA code for the airport...

      (a bad omen)

  • Chinese dragon
    Chinese dragon
    Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore, with mythic counterparts among Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Bhutanese, Western and Turkic dragons. In Chinese art, dragons are typically portrayed as long, scaled, serpentine creatures with four legs...

    • Yinglong
      Yinglong
      Yinglong is a winged dragon and rain deity in ancient Chinese mythology.-Name:This legendary creature's name yinglong combines 4th-tone yìng 應 "respond; correspond; answer; reply; agree; comply; consent; promise; adapt; apply" and lóng 龍 "Chinese dragon"...

      , a powerful servant of Huangdi.
    • Dragon King
      Dragon King
      The four Dragon Kings are, in Chinese mythology, the divine rulers of the four seas . Although Dragon Kings appear in their true forms as dragons, they have the ability to shapeshift into human form...

       the king of the dragons
    • Fucanglong
      Fucanglong
      In Chinese mythology the Fucanglong or Fu-ts'ang-Lung are the Chinese underworld dragons which guard buried treasures, both natural and man-made. Volcanoes are said to be created when they burst out of the ground to report to heaven....

      , the treasure dragon
    • Shenlong
      Shenlong
      Shenlong, also Shen-lung, is a spiritual dragon from Chinese mythology who is the master of storms and also a bringer of rain. He is of equal significance like Tianlong, the celestial dragon....

      , the rain dragon
    • Dilong, the earth dragon
    • Tianlong
      Tianlong
      Tianlong is a flying dragon in Chinese mythology, a star in Chinese astrology, and a proper name.-Word:The term tianlong combines tian 天 "heaven" and long 龍 "dragon"...

      , the celestial dragon
    • Chi
      Chi (mythology)
      Chi means either "a hornless dragon" or "a mountain demon" in Chinese mythology. Hornless dragons were a common motif in ancient Chinese art, and the chiwen 螭吻 Chi means either "a hornless dragon" or "a mountain demon" (namely, chimei 螭魅) in Chinese mythology. Hornless dragons were a common...

      , a hornless dragon or mountain demon
    • Jiaolong
      Jiaolong
      Jiaolong or jiao is a polysemous aquatic dragon in Chinese mythology. Edward H. Schafer describes the jiao.Spiritually akin to the crocodile, and perhaps originally the same reptile, was a mysterious creature capable of many forms called the chiao . Most often it was regarded as a kind of lung – a...

      , a dragon of floods and the sea.
  • Chinese Beasts
    • Qilin
      Qilin
      The Qilin is a mythical hooved Chinese chimerical creature known throughout various East Asian cultures, and is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a wise sage or an illustrious ruler. It is a good omen that brings rui . It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over...

       - a chimeric animal with several variations. The first giraffe sent as a gift to a Chinese emperor was believed to be the Qilin. An early Chinese painting depicts this giraffe replete with the fish scales of the Qilin. In legend, it is believed to have perfect good will, gentleness and benevolence to all righteous creatures.
    • Xiezhi (獬豸) - Also called Xie Cai, is a creature of justice said to be able to tell lies from truths. It has a single long straight horn that it uses to gore liars.
    • Bai Ze
      Bai Ze
      Baí Zé , or in Japanese, is a fantastic beast from Chinese legend. Its name literally means "white marsh".The Baí Zé was encountered by the Yellow Emperor or Huáng Dì while he was on patrol in the east...

       (白澤) - literally meaning "white marsh", is a legendary creature said to have been encountered by the Yellow Emperor and to have given him a compendium
      Compendium
      A compendium is a concise, yet comprehensive compilation of a body of knowledge. A compendium may summarize a larger work. In most cases the body of knowledge will concern some delimited field of human interest or endeavour , while a "universal" encyclopedia can be referred to as a compendium of...

       listing all the demons in the world.
    • Xiniu (犀牛) - or the rhinoceros
      Rhinoceros
      Rhinoceros , also known as rhino, is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia....

      , started to become mythical creatures when they became extinct in China. Their depictions changed to a more bovine appearance with a single short curved horn on its head that was used to communicate with the sky.
  • The Four Symbols
    Four Symbols (Chinese constellation)
    The Four Symbols are four mythological creatures in the Chinese constellations. They are:*Azure Dragon of the East *Vermilion Bird of the South *White Tiger of the West *Black Tortoise of the North...

     (四象)
    • Qīng Lóng, Azure dragon of the east.
    • Xuán Wǔ, black tortoise of the north.
    • Bái Hǔ, white tiger of the west.
    • Zhū Què, vermilion bird of the south.
  • The Four Fiends (四凶):
    • Hundun (渾敦) - chaos
    • Taotie
      Taotie
      The Taotie is a motif commonly found on ritual bronze vessels from the Shang and Zhou Dynasty. The design typically consists of a zoomorphic mask, described as being frontal, bilaterally symmetrical, with a pair of raised eyes and typically no lower jaw area...

       (饕餮) - gluttony
    • Taowu (梼杌) - ignorance Taowu provides the confusion and apathy that keep mortals mired in an intellectual darkness, free of curiosity, reason, and the other tools that might lead to enlightenment.
    • Qiongqi (窮奇) - deviousness
  • Longma
    Longma
    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.-Name:...

     (龍馬), the "dragon horse", similar to the Qilin.
  • Kui
    Kui (Chinese mythology)
    Kui is a polysemous figure in ancient Chinese mythology. Classic texts use this name for the legendary musician Kui who invented music and dancing; for the one-legged mountain demon or rain-god Kui variously said to resemble a Chinese dragon, a drum, or a monkey with a human face; and for the...

     夔, a one-legged mountain demon or dragon, also Shun's musical master who invented music and dance.
  • Kun
    Peng (mythology)
    Peng or Dapeng is a giant bird that transforms from a Kun giant fish in Chinese mythology. In comparative mythology of giant creatures, Peng is likened to the Roc or Garuda and Kun to the Leviathan.-Names:...

    , also known as Peng (鯤 kun1) a mythical giant monstrous fish.
  • Jiang Shi
  • Luduan can detect truth
    Truth
    Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

    .
  • Yaoguai
    Yaoguai
    Yaoguai or yaomo or yaojing is a Chinese term that generally means "demon". Yaoguai are mostly malevolent animal spirits or fallen celestial beings that have acquired magical powers through the practice of Taoism...

     — demons.
  • Huli jing — fox spirits.
  • Nian, the beast
  • Ox-Head and Horse-Face
    Ox-Head and Horse-Face
    Ox-Head and Horse-Face are two fearsome guardians of the Underworld in Chinese mythology, where the dead face judgement prior to reincarnation. As indicated by their names, one has the head of an ox, and the other has the face of a horse...

     牛頭馬面 devils in animal forms.
  • Pixiu
    Pixiu
    Pixiu or Pi Yao originally known as Pi Xie is a Chinese mythical hybrid creature considered to be a very powerful protector to practitioners of Feng Shui. It resembles a winged lion. Pixiu is an earth and sea variation, particularly an influential and auspicious creature for wealth...

     (貔貅)
  • Rui Shi (瑞獅)
  • Xiao
    Xiao
    Xiao may refer to:* Xiào, “filial piety", or "being good to parents", a virtue* Xiao , a Chinese end-blown flute* Xiao , a rank used for field officers in the Chinese military* Xiao , a Chinese surname* Xiao County, in Anhui, China...

    (魈 xiao1) A mythical mountain spirit or demon.
  • The Xing Tian
    Xing Tian
    Xing Tian meaning "punished one" or "he who was punished by heaven" is a Pre-Qin Dynasty mythological headless giant appearing in the Shan Hai Jing, Oracle Bones and also mentioned in the Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era.-Sources in the Shanhaijing:...

     (刑天 "punished one" or "he who was punished by heaven") is a headless giant. He was decapitated by the Yellow Emperor
    Yellow Emperor
    The Yellow Emperor or Huangdi1 is a legendary Chinese sovereign and culture hero, included among the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors. Tradition holds that he reigned from 2697–2597 or 2696–2598 BC...

     as punishment for challenging him. His face is in his torso because he has no head. He wanders around fields and roads and is often depicted carrying a shield and an axe and doing a fierce war dance.
  • Chinese Monkey Warded off evil spirits and was highly respected and loved by all Chinese people.
  • Yifan Zhang - Cat goddess, led a legion of cats to uphold righteousness before the Shang Era. Descendant of Huangdi.
  • Zhayu (詐窳) - a creature of pure yin said to devour evil humans.
  • Iphot - a creature of light that brings light to the universe

There are also many other creatures.

Mythical places

  • Xuanpu (玄圃 xuan2pu3), a mythical fairyland on Kunlun Mountain (崑崙).
  • Yaochi (瑤池 yao2chi2), abode of immortals where Xi Wang Mu lives.
  • Fusang
    Fusang
    Fusang or Fousang refers to several different entities in ancient Chinese literature, often either a mythological tree or a mysterious land to the East....

     (扶桑 fu2sang1), a mythical island, interpreted as Japan.
  • Queqiao (鵲橋 que4qiao2) the bridge formed by birds across the Milky Way.
  • Penglai
    Penglai
    Penglai, Peng Lai, or Peng-lai may refer to:*Penglai City, Shandong, China*Mount Penglai, a place in Chinese mythology*Penglai Pagoda in Penglai City...

     (蓬萊 peng2lai2) the paradise, a fabled Fairy Isle on the China Sea.
  • Longmen
    Longmen, Zhejiang
    Longmen is a town of 7000 in northwestern Zhejiang province, People's Republic of China, located south of the city of Fuyang, which administers it. The town lies south of the Fuchun River, at the foothills of the Xianxia Range, and oversees 11 administrative villages...

     (龍門 long2men2) the dragon gate where a carp can transform into a dragon.
  • Di Yu
    Di Yu
    Diyu is the realm of the dead or "hell" in Chinese mythology. It is loosely based on a combination of the Buddhist concept of Naraka, traditional Chinese beliefs about the afterlife and a variety of popular expansions and re-interpretations of these two traditions.Diyu is typically depicted as an...

     (地獄 di4yu4), Chinese term for hell.

Literary sources of Chinese mythology

  • Zhiguai (誌怪), a literary genre that deals with strange (mostly supernatural) events and stories
  • In Search of the Supernatural
    In Search of the Supernatural
    In Search of the Supernatural is a 4th century CE Chinese compilation of legends, short stories and hearsay concerning spirits, ghosts and other supernatural phenomena...

     (搜神記), 4th century compilation of stories and hearsay concerning spirits, ghosts and supernatural phenomena
  • Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, by Pu Songling
    Pu Songling
    Pu Songling was a Qing Dynasty Chinese writer, best known as the author of Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio.-Biography:Pu was born into a poor landlord-merchant family from Zichuan...

    , with many stories of fox demons
  • Imperial historical documents and confucian canons such as Shiji, Lüshi Chunqiu
    Lüshi Chunqiu
    The Lüshi Chunqiu is an encyclopedic Chinese classic text compiled around 239 BCE under the patronage of the Qin Dynasty Chancellor Lü Buwei...

    , Liji, Shangshu
  • Zǐbùyǔ (子不語)
    Zi Bu Yu
    Zi Bu Yu is a collection of allegedly true supernatural stories compiled by Qing Dynasty scholar and writer Yuan Mei . Literally Zi Bu Yu means "what Confucius did not speak of" which refers to the saying "Confucius did not speak of strange events, violence, riots and supernatural things" from...

    , a collection of supernatural stories compiled during the Qing Dynasty

See also


  • Ba gua
  • Buddhist mythology
    Buddhist mythology
    Buddhist mythology operates within the Buddhist belief system. It is a relatively broad mythology, as it was adopted and influenced by several diverse cultures such as Gandhara which was the capital of Bactria. Later on, it also came to incorporate aspects from countries such as China and Japan...

  • Celestial bureaucracy
    Celestial bureaucracy
    The Celestial bureaucracy is the pantheon of Chinese mythology. As the name suggests, it is organised similarly to a government administration , with the Jade Emperor as the senior official to whom the other deities must report...

  • Chinese astrology
    Chinese astrology
    Chinese astrology is based on the traditional astronomy and calendars. The development of Chinese astrology is tied to that of astronomy, which came to flourish during the Han Dynasty ....

  • Chinese creation myth
  • Chinese folk religion
    Chinese folk religion
    Chinese folk religion or Shenism , which is a term of considerable debate, are labels used to describe the collection of ethnic religious traditions which have been a main belief system in China and among Han Chinese ethnic groups for most of the civilization's history until today...

  • Chinese mythology in popular culture
    Chinese mythology in popular culture
    Elements of Chinese mythology have appeared many times in popular culture.- Dragon turtle :*Bowser, the arch-nemesis of Mario in the Super Mario Bros. video game franchise, is a well known dragon turtle....

  • Chinese spiritual world concepts
    Chinese spiritual world concepts
    Chinese spiritual world concepts are cultural practices or methods found in Chinese culture. Some fit in the realms of a particular religion, others do not...

  • Great Flood (China)
  • I Ching
    I Ching
    The I Ching or "Yì Jīng" , also known as the Classic of Changes, Book of Changes and Zhouyi, is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts...

  • List of deities


External links