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The Four Symbols
are four mythological
Chinese mythology is a collection of cultural history, 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...
creatures in the Chinese constellations. They are:
- Azure Dragon of the East (青龍)
- Vermilion Bird of the South (朱雀)
- White Tiger of the West (白虎)
- Black Tortoise of the North (玄武)
Each one of them represents a direction and a season of the year, and each has its own individual characteristics and origins. They have been portrayed in many historical Chinese and Korean myths and fiction, and also appear in many modern Japanese comic books
Manga is the Japanese word for "comics" and consists of comics and print cartoons . In the West, the term "manga" has been appropriated to refer specifically to comics created in Japan, or by Japanese authors, in the Japanese language and conforming to the style developed in Japan in the late 19th...
is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation". The definition sometimes changes depending on the context. In English-speaking countries, the term most commonly refers to Japanese animated cartoons....
These Four Symbols were given human names after Daoism became popular. Azure Dragon has the name Meng Zhang (孟章); Vermilion Bird is Ling Guang (陵光); White Tiger is Jian Bing (監兵); Black Tortoise is Zhi Ming (執明).
The origin of those 4 symbols are from China. In the 1987, a tomb was found at Xishuipo (西水坡) in Puyang, Henan Province. There were some clam shells and bones forming the images of the Azure Dragon, the White Tiger and the Northern Dipper. It is believed that the tomb belongs to the Neolithic Age, about 6,000 years ago.
Correspondence with the Five Elements
Each of these mythological creatures has also been synthesized into the 5 element system:
- Azure Dragon of the East: Wood
- Vermilion Bird of the South: Fire
- White Tiger of the West: Metal
- Black Tortoise of the North: Water
Additionally, there is a fifth legendary beast, Huáng-lóng (黃龍), or the Yellow Dragon of the Center. The cardinal direction
The four cardinal directions or cardinal points are the directions of north, east, south, and west, commonly denoted by their initials: N, E, S, W. East and west are at right angles to north and south, with east being in the direction of rotation and west being directly opposite. Intermediate...
associated with this animal is "center," and its element is Earth.
Correspondence with the Four Seasons
The four legendary beasts (excluding Huáng-lóng; see above) represent a season each. The seasons they represent are as follows:
- Azure Dragon of the East: Spring
- Vermilion Bird of the South: Summer
- White Tiger of the West: Autumn
- Black Tortoise of the North: Winter
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