Chinese Mythology

#Chinese #Legends ~ Princess Iron Fan

Original Chinese Characters and the Korean representations in “A Korean Odyssey”:

Monkey King ~ Son Oh Gong

*The Monkey 🐵King’s Chinese name is Sun WuKong.  Wu is the Chinese word for “5” while “Oh” is the Korean word for “5”  So Son Oh Gong is just a rewrite of Sun WuKong. 😋

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The Monk Xuanzang ~ Jin Seon-mi

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The Bull Demon King ~  Woo Ma-Wang

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Princess Iron Fan ~  Na Chal-nyeo 

**Its her fan Woo Ma-Wang is getting in Episode 1 to put out the burning mountain 😍

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Pigsy ~ P.K / Jeo Pal-gye

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Sandy ~ Sa Oh-jeong (Son Oh Gong’s brother)

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The Background

There is a place in time, where lions roam and dragon roar. A land in an age where the pathways between Earth and Heaven were highways for all sorts of creatures and heavenly beings.  Deities, demons, fairies, and monsters roamed freely back and forth, hiding themselves amongst the humans in mortal or animal form. Spawning the legends and myths that have passed through the eons from grandmother to child as long as time has been ticking past. 

But none of those tales is more wild, more dangerous, more exciting than that of the Monkey King and his great companions on their famed Journey to the West.   You see the monkey king was both beloved and a great terror for the heavenly and demonic beings. Many called him friend, but his character was capricious.  For such is the nature of these mischievous beings.  Much like little children, not yet mature with the wisdom of age and time, monkeys can be reckless, careless, and have a very bad tendency to rush in with arrogance to places not even the bravest of kings would dare to go.  

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Such was the nature of the monkey king, Sun Wukong, and boy did he have a lot to learn before becoming the true king and hero that he always had the potential to be.  You see the Monkey King was clever.  Not particularly wise, but clever. He was born from a magic rock and was extremely strong as a stone monkey. He could leap from cloud to cloud, passing halfway around the world in only one jump. He had magic (he could make himself into 72 different forms like bugs or trees or other animals).   He was even able to command the great staff he uses as a weapon — a tool that weighs more than 15,000 pounds!  What a guy!  In fact, his fellow monkeys, the great Jade Emperor of the Heavens, the Guānyīn (Goddess of Mercy), and the Buddha all saw the possibilities that existed in WuKong, but it was obvious from the beginning he was going to have to mature before his abilities could be use properly.  

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Even with all of that power and capability, the Monkey King was simply unreliable. He thought that all of his skills made him stronger than the other heavenly beings.  Wiser than the smartest deities. And more deserving of the title Emperor than the Jade Emperor himself (the most powerful of all the deities). He was fickle and easily distracted.  Selfish and demanding. After causing many problems for the heavens (like stealing the peaches of immortality and killing many heavenly beings during a big temper tantrum), he ended up actually going up against the Jade Emperor in a war.  It was a terrible battle, for despite his personal character flaws, Sun WuKong was powerful.  Eventually, the Jade Emperor went before the great Buddha to request help controlling the troublesome monkey.   

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The Buddha listened and agreed, the Monkey must be punished with time to reflect on his poor behavior. So he moved the giant Mountain of Five Fingers (Mount Wuzhi) to fall on top of Sun WuKong.  There the monkey king was trapped for not one, not two, but FIVE hundred years!

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Finally, after the centuries had passed, the great Goddess of Mercy, the Guānyīn, decided to show pity upon the poor Monkey King and interceded on his behalf.  It was agreed that Buddha would release him from his prison on one condition — he must guide and protect the famous Buddhist Monk, Xuanzang on his Journey to the West searching for the holy Buddhist scriptures.  Of course WuKong was not particularly thrilled to be going on this “adventure” and there was no way the Buddha or Guānyīn were going to trust him to accomplish his mission without a little more persuasion.  So the Guānyīn puts a magic circlet on his head. Whenever Xuanzang repeats the chant she tells him, the circlet will constrict on the Monkey’s head, giving him a horrible headache. 

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With them on this long and treacherous journey went two other companions — Pigsy (a pig with a weakness for women, sleep, food, and wine — his arrogance matched that of the Monkey King and they fought constantly) and Sandy, a great general from Heaven who broke a vase in the middle of a temper tantrum and was sent to earth in punishment (sound familiar).  So now, stuck with a Monk watching his behavior closely, and two companions who mirrored to him his own poor behaviors, the Monkey King set off on the adventure of a lifetime. 

The Story of the Bull King and Princess Iron Fan

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In a journey that would last 14 years and hundreds of thousands of miles, the Monkey King and his companions certainly met with many, many challenging situations.  Especially since the Monk was a little naive and easily tricked by demons wearing human form.  They were all interested in eating the monk to gain power, and it was up to the Monkey King to protect him.  Each adventure passed, teaching its own lessons about life and virtue.  But few were as frustrating for them as the problem of the Bull King and Princess Iron Fan.  

Riding the great heavens and roaming the lovely earth was a great demon king known as Bull Demon King (牛魔王) who had married a beautiful woman Princess Iron Fan (铁扇公主).  Early during the Monkey King’s adventure, he and the Bull Demon King had become, well, friends for lack of a better word, though “pact brothers” is perhaps more appropriate.  This was very lucky for the travelers because the Bull Demon King was very powerful (the highest ranked of all demon kings, and of a position higher than even that of the Monkey King).   Together, he and Princess Iron Fan had a son  Boy Sage King (聖嬰大王) or Red Boy.  

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Now Red Boy had been assigned to protect one of their dominions known as the Fiery Mountains, because he was so skilled at controlling fire (he could send fire out of his month and eyes that could not be put out by any water!).   But he was also a very wicked boy.  He disguised himself as a little boy, bound naked to a tree and begged Xuanzang to help him.  Xuanzang was easily fooled and ended up instead being captured by Red Boy who hoped to eat him for his power. 

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Although the Monkey King warned Red Boy that the Bull Demon King and he were now allies, Red Boy refused to listen and even tried killing the Monkey King!  After trying many different methods, the Monkey King was forced to look for help from his patron, the Goddess of Mercy. 

Now Red Boy, being rather foolish, stumbled upon the Goddess of Mercy’s temple while fighting the Monkey King and stupidly decided to test out her throne for himself. Naturally, that did not end particularly well for him.  He was stabbed by many swords and eventually got caught.  He struggled even more, but finally was defeated and left bound in position with his hands folded in prayer. 

image117Fast forward many, many years later to another leg of the companion’s journey.  They have been traveling a long time, but discover that each step keeps getting hotter and hotter.  Everything around them is red . . . the buildings, the windows, the lanterns  All reflecting the fiery red colors of the nearby Flaming Mountain (Huo Yan Shan) of Xinjiang Province. 

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Again you have to go back in time a bit. 500 years ago (before the great mountain imprisoned him), the Monkey King had been causing all sorts of trouble up in Heaven. In the process, he tipped over the great heavenly furnace and the holy flames fell out to earth.  Setting the whole mountain range on fire and inextinguishable by normal methods.  (So really, the whole situation was the Monkey King’s fault to being with!)  At first, the Monkey King bounded off to see if they could bypass the mountain, for the flames were far too hot to pass through.  But the fires stretch on and on and on. There was no way to go around, so they were stuck finding a way through the flames.

Finally, a kind old man they met in the nearby village told them about the Demon Bull King’s wife and her magic fan.  The fan could not only blow out the fire in one way, a second wave of the fan would make a large wind and the third wave caused it to rain. This was very good for the villagers since that was the only time they could plant and harvest their crops. After the harvest, the fire would return until the Princess deigned to wave her fan in a blessing once again. 

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At first, Sun WuKong decided to just go ask the Princess for her fan.  BAD choice. Remember, Red Boy and all his troubles? Well, Princess Iron Fan felt that the Monkey was to blame for most of those events — which was not really fair to the poor Monkey King to be honest. If Red Boy wasn’t so greedy and arrogant, he wouldn’t have gotten on the wrong side of the Goddess of Mercy in the first place.  But, like all loving mothers, Princess Iron Fan was only saddened that she could no longer see her son.   Naturally, she refused WuKong’s request!  Her only response was to come at him with a sword! Fierce mama!  

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Illustration by Ma De

 

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After a lot of fighting and bickering, the Monkey get tired of fighting with the Princess. So he turns himself into a bug and hides in the drinking water. When the poor Princess Iron fan goes to get a drink she swallows him! 😱  He immediately starts punching and kicking the insides of her stomach, giving her horrible pains and cramps.  Finally, she surrenders and promises to give him the fan if he will just leave her alone!  

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But Princess Iron Fan wasn’t stupid. No. . . she was almost as stubborn as WuKong himself!  She sneakily gives him a fan that looks precisely like her own, except it has one rather noticeable flaw. When the Monkey King waves it to put out the fire, it only makes the flames even worse!!  Still, the Monkey King was determined NOT to give up. 

 

Unfortunately for the poor Princess Iron Fan, the Demon Bull King was not particularly the faithful kind of husband one might desire. Two years earlier he had run off with a Fox-Princess (Princess Jade, the hussy, had promised him her lands if he would come live with her), and he had now abandoned his wife.  Hoping that his love for Princess Iron Fan had faded and counting on their old “brotherhood” relationship, WuKong bounded off to their home.  The thought was the Demon Bull King might be able to persuade his wife to give up her fan. 

Sadly, but unsurprisingly, the Monkey King again rushed into a situation without caution. Upon stumbling across Princess Jade, WuKong believed her to be some servant or something.  He decided to pretend to be the Bull Demon King’s relative and claim to be inviting him to a banquet with. . . you guessed it – Princess Iron Fan.  Well that sent Princess Jade into quite the temper and she went off.  She yelled at him, he lost his temper and yelled at her.  Some very harsh words were exchanged — words we should not mention here.   She then fled sobbing and complaining straight into the arms of her lover — the Demon King.  Of course, with a woman like that, it took him a very long time to appease her temper and it put him in a horribly foul mood.  (It didn’t help that he also blamed WuKong for the fall of Red Boy and that he knows the only reason the Princess Iron Fan would refuse to help is if the Monkey King had been pestering her). 

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After several fights with the Bull Demon King, WuKong realized that this plan was probably not going to work.  Of course, Monkey King might have many, many, many flaws . . . but surrendering without a fight wasn’t one of them.  Then there was the fact that he was tricky and clever. Playing jokes on someone and causing trouble was almost second nature for him! So what does he do? He changes into the shape of the Bull Demon King and goes to visit Princess Iron Fan!  (sounds like something Zeus would have pulled in the Greco-myths). 

What would any poor woman do when her much loved husband returns after two years away professing to love and adore you? She fell under the Monkey’s spell and threw open her doors to let him in.  She flirted (showed off her chest!), offered him a meal, and finally got drunk with him — all the while believing her beloved had returned.  Troublesome monkey!  Lost in a haze of wine, her tongue loosened up and she ended up not only giving the Monkey King the fan, but telling him how to wield it!  

Victory!

Surely, the Monkey King then slipped out secretly with Princess Iron Fan none the wiser. But no!  He had to boast of what he had done — showing off his skills and talents. Shredding the Demon Bull King’s form, he laughed at Princess Iron Fan for falling into his trap.  Leaving with his treasure, he found that the precious holy fan was 12 feet long and a hefty dog to boot.   But still he set off on his way to put out the flames.

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Meanwhile, the Demon Bull King realized something was up and decided to go check on his wife (at last!). Arriving he found her in a much angrier state as she came at him for letting WuKong return to trick her.  To appease her rage (and to get revenge on WuKong), Demon Bull King promised to bring her back that annoying Monkey’s heart after his bones were ground to dust. Oh dear!

The Demon Bull King was not an enemy to be trifled with. There was a reason his rank and power were so great, for he was awfully clever and tricky himself.  Changing himself into the form of Pigsy, he went down and met WuKong as he journeyed back to his companions.  After listening to WuKong’s boast about how he had managed to get the fan, the Demon Bull King praised his efforts and catered to his ego.  Finally, in passing, the Demon Bull King mentioned that WuKong must be very tired after so much effort. Why didn’t the Monkey King let him hold the fan for a while?  This was almost the same trick WuKong had tried to pull on Princess Iron Fan!  Surely he saw through this and hurried away! But No!  WuKong fell straight into the trap and handed off the fan to the Bull King 😭

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Suffice to saw what followed was a very long battle between the Monkey King and the Demon Bull King.  It was the match of the era. A Monkey King with powers even heaven found it difficult to battle and the strongest of all the Demon King’s. Back and forth they went, on and on.  Indeed, their powers were very well matched.   At last, unhappy that the Princess Iron Fan and the Demon Bull King had used such petty reasons to interfere in Xuanzang’s tasked mission and realizing that he was too much for the Monkey King to defeat, the Buddha and the Jade Emperor send down the heavenly warriors to assist WuKong. 

Once defeated, the Demon Bull King and his wife promised to stop behaving so badly and follow the Buddhist life in the future.   Sun WuKong at last was handed the holy Fan and he set out to quash the flames and bring forth the winds and rain.  The companions were able to move on and so the adventure continued. 

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Moral of the Story

The Journey of the West was largely a moral tale, designed to introduce to children the proper ways of behaving and the beginning of wisdom.  As this story shows, the Monkey King is not actually a bad sort — just childish and self-centered.  He has so much potential, but not the maturity to rise into it.  He and his companions must all learn to avoid the vices of greed, selfishness, quick-tempered behavior, and recklessness.  It shows that past actions can influence future events, and that how you handle a trouble today may either help or hinder you later.  Most important . . . no matter how strong you might be or how confident you are, there is always someone out there who is just as strong and confident themselves.  Pride goes before a fall!

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Wikipedia. “Princess Iron Fan.”
  2. Journey to the West (English Translation)
  3. Seymour Center 
  4. Chinese Aesop
  5. Princeton.edu
  6. When You Wish Upon A Star blog
  7. Ancient Origins
  8. Inner Journey to the West
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#Art I Love ~ The Goddess of Mercy

Obtained from ThaiYogaUp.com. Original Artist – I’m Not Sure

The Goddess of Mercy in Chinese Buddhism is named Guanshiyin  (观世音菩萨 — Guān shì Yīn Pú Sà) or Guanyin for short.  The name means “one who always hears the cries of the world. While many of the Buddhist deities are rather frightening (as seen in their paintings and depictions), Guanyin is actually very highly respected for being merciful to her followers.  (more…)

Finding #Love over the Magpie Bridge

Xiān yún nòng qiăo, fēi xīng chuán hèn, yín hàn tiáo tiáo àn dù
Jīn fēng yù lù yì xiāng féng, biàn shèng què rén jiān wú shù
Róu qíng sì shuĭ,  jiā qī rú mèng, rĕn gù què qiáo guī lù
Liăng qíng ruò shì jiŭ cháng shí, yòu qĭ zài zhāo zhāo mù mù

As Clouds float like works of art; 
Stars shoot with grief at heart.
Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid.

When autumn’s Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade
All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.

Their tender love flows like a stream; 
This happy date seems but a dream.
Can they bear a separate homeward way?

If love between both sides can last for aye,
Why need they stay together night and day?
(Translated by Xu Yuanchong)

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In a magical world in a century so long ago it has faded into dream and myth, there lived a tragic, poor, lonely man named Niu Lang. Most of his family had all died several years before, and those who remained had thrown him out on the street. So to stay alive, he found a small job taking care of some cows.  

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Imagine his surprise when he found out that one of those cows was something special. It actually had once belonged to the God of the Heavens, and it could talk to Niu Lang! They had some lovely conversations, and the cow came to like Niu Lang.Because although he was poor and his life was not good, his heart was still rather cheerful and he had a knack for finding joy in even the difficult times.  So the cow decided to give Niu Lang a little bit of advice. (more…)

History of Our World: The Chinese Origins and Foundations Myth

Beyond Yonder HillsUnlike with Korea, China’s origin stories are primarily Creation Myths (which tell of the origin of the world), rather than simply Foundation Myths (which more specifically relate the origin of a people, nation, or culture).   Still, pinning down one final Chinese myth about the origin of the world is an impossible task for even the best student of history. There are simply far too many varieties available, gathered from thousands of diverse cultural backgrounds and centuries upon centuries of oral story-tellers offering their own unique twists and versions. Nonetheless, there are certain elements that carry through as shared themes in the different tales.

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Mythology in China is rather special given the conflicting philosophies that pull and tug the stories in multiple directions. What many fail to recognize about the country is that it has at least 6 major religions/philosophical authorities working against one another. The first is the traditional animism or the belief that the earth or nature is alive and has a spiritual essence flowing throughout. Adherents believe that the plants, animals, and earth itself are alive and conscious. It is actually from this belief that most of the traditional origin myths come, since that is the oldest religion or philosophy. Following closely on its heels though is Taoism or Daoism, a religion based upon one of the oldest Chinese classics and book of divination called the I Ching. You will see some elements of Taoism within the origin myths as given because of its age and influence. Still, this religion found itself sharply in conflict with the Confucian and Buddhist philosophers on many occasions. Oddly enough, Buddhism in China seems to mix elements of both Taoism and Confucianism although if frequently fought with them too. But it still offers its own unique twist to myth and legends. Then you have the ancestral worship affecting things. And of course the more recent impact of Christianity, Islam, and Atheism moving in.

The problem with the Chinese myths is the whole Taoism, Buddhism, Ancestral Worship, Animism, and Confucian elements. Sometimes they agree on mythology and come together. Other times they disagreed and re-wrote the old stories with their own variations. It just gets a little confusing. Luckily, the different origin myths were usually old enough that they came out of the Taoist-Animist mix and have many similarities that bring them together into 3 interesting tales. In fact, many seek to combine the three stories into one that flows together.

Variation #1 ~ The One Becomes Two

Some Chinese mythology begins with the theory that the world was initially a giant ball of chaos, all swirling together. The chaos was made out of “Qi,” a sort of gas or ‘energy,’ which-at the moment of the world’s beginning- suddenly split into two different elements. Some Chinese writers argue that this was an almost magical moment, with no sign of a creator. Others propose that it was triggered by a supernatural figure, and still others seem to suggest that the chaos was actually gods in conflict with one another themselves.

Regardless, the two elements that resulted were contrasts in masculinity and femininity, passion and passivity, hard and soft, dark and light, hot and cold. In western variations, we label them Yin and Yang. However, please bear in mind though that our “western adaptations of Yin and Yang” are often not actually primary in the belief systems of the majority of the Chinese. Not all of them were Taoist, as noted above. So while the Chinese myths may mostly agree that the original universal elements were dual in nature, they don’t necessarily all agree with the significance or religious aspect the Taoists have given to those features.

Variation #2: Pangu and the Hundun

The Pangu myth is one of those situations where the newer religions (in this case Taoism) added some stuff to the initial story so that it fit their point of view. Although it fits into the middle if you read the three versions as one story, it was actually the last one to appear in written mythology.

Once again,  the world begins with chaos and utter disorder, but this time the chaos was confined inside the Hundun. The Hundun was shaped like a giant egg, and inside Yin and Yang, male and female, good and evil, light and dark all writhed around in a complete mess.

Inside the the chaos, there slowly grew a giant dragon named Pangu. For centuries he lived and grew, lived and grew. Finally he became so large that he was able to shatter the Hundun egg into two. All the chaos inside spilled out, with the yin elements moving upward where they would become the heavens and the yang elements falling downward where it would become the earth. To keep the two from mixing again, Pangu resolved to stand in between them, holding them apart. Every day, Pangu grew ten feet taller, the earth ten feet bigger, and the heavens ten feet higher. Finally, after 18,000 years everything was as big as it was going to get. Pangu even added some creativity of his own by stomping on the earth to create the flat lands and using his hands to form some of the rivers.

Tragically, Pangu eventually reached the end of his life. As he did so, his body began to disintegrate over top of the earth. Breathing out his last, his breath transformed into the wind and clouds in the sky. His final words the thunder echoing over the land. The sweat and “bodily fluids” became rain. His eyes split into two-the left becoming the sun and the right becoming the moon.His skin became the earth and ground; His veins and muscles hold the earth together.  His arms, legs, and “extremities” were changed into the four compass points and five great mountain peaks (some later consider these to be part of the pillars Nuwa would later repair-see below). The blood and semen (yuck!) changed into water in the rivers and oceans. His hair became trees, plants, and stars. His teeth and bones the metal and rock. His marrows and insides the precious jewels like pearls and jade. 

According to this version, humans actually came from the less than pleasant origin of “bugs” or “fleas” that had lived upon his body. Caught by his breath on the wind as they fell to earth, they became alive and were the original humans. To be honest, some people believe that rather than these being the origins of modern humans, the people created here were more like the dwarves, fairies, and other more supernatural figures. For example, this legend would have you believe that Nuwa and Fuxi were created from him in a similar fashion.

Variation #3: Nüwa and Fuxi

The story of Nüwa and earth’s creation come mainly from  ancient texts such as the Huainanzi, Chu Ci, and Shan Hai JingThis story has several variations, but they tell a pretty consistent story over all. If you watched the recent Chinese 2015 film “The Monkey King” (excellent watch for students of Chinese mythology), you saw one version of Nüwa’s story. 

Some myths suggest Nüwa and Fuxi were simply gods living upon the earth after its creation. Others claim that they were actually the children (grandchildren?) of Pangu himself. However, in literature, Nüwa’s story came 6 centuries before that of Pangu. Nonetheless, Nüwa and Fuxi are depicted in ancient Chinese art as figures with the body of a snake and the top of a human. You can see an ancient depiction of the two on the right. Theirs was a love story, and one that is significant to the origin myth. Actually Nüwa’s story comes in two parts – the creation of humanity and the salvation of the world. 

1) The Creation of Humanity

When the earth and heaven were first divided, two supernatural figures lived on the earth. The first was Nüwa and the second her brother Fuxi. Although they were related, they fell in love with one another and wished desperately for the chance to marry. However, they knew that this was unnatural and were unsure about whether it was appropriate. So Fuxi climbed one of the great mountains with Nüwa and they prayed. One story says they asked that if the heavens approved of their love, then a great mist or fog would gather. If the heavens disapproved, the fog would disappear. To their great joy, the mists of fogs grew very large and permission for their marriage was granted. Another story (the Shan Hai Jing) says that they got permission after they built two separate fires that morphed into one.

Some myths suggest that Nüwa created humanity with the help of her husband, but others suggest she worked alone. Either way, Nüwa got creative and began fashioning human figures out of a mixture of yellow earth, then  after she became tired, she began using mud instead. To help hold everything together she added some ropes or cording to make them stand up. She also gave them legs instead of her own tail and created men and women so they would recreate on their own. Finally, when her work was completed, she breathed life into the figures and created humans. Unfortunately, those made out of yellow earth were of higher quality and were thought to be the forefathers of the aristocracy. The peeople made out of mud were more common and became the ancestors of the poor, working folk.

Nüwa was delighted with her creation and loved them very much, seeing them as her children and treasures on the earth. So when they were in danger, she was willing to do anything to protect them.

2) The Salvation of the World

According to the most ancient of Chinese myth, the earth originally had four separate corners, each of which held 1 or 2 pillars holding up the heavens. These pillars were the only point at which the heavens and earth were connected and had to be closely protected to keep the two from crashing into one another. There was also a concern of the more evil creatures using the pillars as a chance to move up or down between the heavens and the earth. It was during the peaceful time when the pillars were working that Nüwa and Fuxi created humans. But tragedy struck.

Gònggōng or Kanghui, one of the sea gods or sea serpents, unfortunately had the dubious notoriety of having gotten into various fights with the “good deities.” After losing one of the battles, he grew angered (or embarrassed–the myths aren’t quite sure) and broke one of the pillars (named Buzhou Mountain) in a fit of temper. As a result, the whole sky began falling in the northwest as the earth rose in the southeast. This caused the entire axis of the earth to shift and resulted in complete and utter chaos. Fires, Floods, Animals going Wild and eating people-everything went haywire and Nüwa realized something had to happen if the world was to survive.

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The stories differ on what precisely Nüwa did to save the world, but most go with the Huainanzi’s version. Therein, Nüwa went and found five blue stones, which she used to repair the broken sky (giving it the blue color). Then she  cut of the four legs of the mythological turtle Ao and put them up as pillars to re-set the sky and earth in their places. She also killed off a black dragon who was helping to cause some of the chaos. It is unclear whether she survived her work- some myths have her dying as part of the final solution and sacrificing her body to reform the world. Others say that she lived in peace with Fuxi and helped establish the first Chinese government.

The Combination

Naturally, some chose to accept the stories as independent of one another- particularly since the addition of Pangu came so much later. The minorities are more inclined to accept the Pangu myth, while the larger groups tend to pick up the Nüwa version.  Nonetheless, others choose to produce some combination of the the three. It is fairly simple to see how this would play own.

As Version 1 states, the world originally lay in utter chaos with all the different contrasting elements mixed together. Then Version 2 picks up by stating the chaos however was confined in the Hundun egg, where Pangu grew until he split the egg apart. He is the father of the world, creating earth and the heavens from his body and efforts. When he died, his body mixed with the supernatural elements still in the air to form Nüwa and her brother Fuxi. Together, the two of them created humans and rejoiced. However, all of Pangu’s hard work was nearly destroyed when the pillars he fashioned from his extremities were broken by Gonggong. To save the world Nüwa threw up the five stones to fix the sky and formed the pillars anew. Thus the earth was created and nearly destroyed, while humans managed to survive it all to become the illustrious Chinese we know today.

The varying religions like Buddhism, Animism, Taoism, and Ancestral Worship have picked apart and pieced together these three myths to suit their own story-lines. Thus, we have multiple versions of the Chinese origin myth existing today. 

Whatever the version, the modern eye can clearly see the intricacy and beauty of Chinese mythology in all its forms and fashions. The details, the imagery, the themes and plots spread throughout. The Chinese legends are beautiful and full of magic, ingenuity, passion, and wisdom. The best part is that it is still preserved in the art and style of classic Chinese artistry still preserved today. Take a trip to Beijing and see the paintings on the ancient palace pillars.  Look at the writings and painted visions lining the museum walls. Chinese mythology is a truly unique and stunning creation!

Goddess of Mercy

Mercy

This beautiful statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy lies in Daxiangguo Temple in Kaifeng, Henan, China.  Gold-plated, it is a memorial to both propriety and filial piety, two of the great Chinese Confucian virtues.  The story below is a combination of the story told by the tour guide and some local conversationalists who were happy to relate the story to me.  

Many centuries ago,

An old emperor of China grew very, very ill and saw that his country was suffering as well.  Realizing that the country was troubled and needed heavenly assistance, the worried king called out to Buddha and asked for guidance on how to appease the heavens and reclaim the blessings from above.  

Buddha responded that the country and its king had done some very wicked things in the past and that now a sacrifice would be required to repair the damage.  Buddha asked that the Emperor offer up to the heavens one arm and one eye from someone within his family. If he did so, Buddhas said, the country and emperor would be healed and would live in peace once more.  

The Emperor was very saddened and worried, because the only family he had left were his three young daughters.  The Princesses though were very concerned about their father and finally convinced him to share what Buddha commanded.  Upon hearing of the sacrifice required, the sisters were quite upset.

 The eldest daughter went to her father ~ “My king, although I love you and would do anything else that you asked of me, I cannot do this for you. I am a new mother, my baby is still nursing. If I only have one arm and one eye, how could I possibly care for my baby the way a good mother is supposed to?” (more…)