Chinese Mythology — Origins, Facts, and Characteristics

In the history of China, myth and legend originated as long as humans appeared.


When these primitives were learning and fighting to survive, they created a beautiful land for their descendants and left many breathtaking stories that have been passed on for thousands of years. 

Chinese Mythology

Multi Origins and Systems

Chinese Mythology contains many immortals with different origins. They coexist harmoniously in Chinese culture, and there’s no consensus in regard to who is the strongest or most powerful one. 

In general, immortals in Chinese myth include heroes from the prehistoric era who made great contributions, extraordinary kings, deities from Taoism Religion, and Buddhism. 

Click to Read More About Creation Myth Legends in Chinese Mythology

Brush Painting of Chinese Mythical World

Everyone and Everything Is Possible to Become Immortal 

In Chinese myth and legend, everything in the universe has the possibility to gain supernatural power and become immortals. 



Those who had made great contributions to humankind, or who had finished adequate, orthodox practices, would have the chance to fly up to the sky and transform into deities after they departed. 

Many Prehistoric Kings in the time are immortals because of their exceptional accomplishments. 


Besides Mythical Creatures, some other animals can turn into human or celestial beings, if they went through assiduous cultivation, did extremely contributive activities (like having saved people’s lives), or run into a lucky opportunity.  


Plants have their own wills; those growing in blessed magical places can absorb nimbus, and obtain different superpowers. 

However, after having gained supernatural power, every immortal should behave with high moral standards; otherwise, they would lose everything. 

Therefore, they usually focus on further practicing in beautiful wonderlands, traveling around the world, and helping humans when it’s necessary. 

Chinese gods and goddess

Magical Places in Chinese Mythology 

Up in the Sky

Around 6500 years ago, the sky was divided into four parts in Chinese astrology, namely east, west, north, and south. Each section contains seven stars, which look like images of some mythical creatures.

Those Four Mythical Creatures represent each section of the sky and control the four seasons respectively; a yellow dragon named Ying Long is guarding in the middle, who is superior and more powerful. 

They were important celestial beings and laid the foundation for Chinese culture, mythology, Fengshui, and magic arts in the Taoism Religion.

Mount Kunlun in the West

Mount Kunlun is the most important mountain in Chinese mythology.


It is a sacred, beautiful land where many celestial beings and mythical animals are living. 

Penglai Islands in the East

In ancient Chinese mythology, Penglai Islands are some mountains floating in the sea.


In those mythical mountains, fancy palaces are made of jade and gold, all animals and plants are pure as white clouds, and some powerful immortals are living there. 

Therefore, Emperor Qin Shi Huang and Emperor Wudi of Han, two of the greatest monarchs in Chinese history, all had been to Penglai to search for immortals.  

Penglai Island Painted by Artist Qiu Ying (about 1497 — 1552)

Penglai Island Painted by Artist Qiu Ying (about 1497 — 1552) — Poly Art Museum

Mount Tai the Connection of Heaven and Acheron 

At the foot of Mount Tai, there is the entrance to the underworld, where all the ghosts would go through.


On the top, however, is a path to heaven. 

Therefore, it is believed as a magnificent, mythical place that connected the worlds of celestial, human, and ghosts. 

Other Mythical Places 

In Chinese culture, most of the magnificent mountains, rivers, and lakes have their own immortals guarding those places, as well as protecting local inhabitants. 

Taoists and Buddhists have been practicing in those quiet, spectacular places for thousands of years, during when they had built many spectacular temples, pagodas, and grottoes

Click to Read More About Mythical Lands in Chinese Mythology

Mount Kunlun of Chinese Mythology

The Sun in Chinese Mythology

The origin of the sun is various in Chinese culture, it was the incarnation of the Pan Gu’s left eye or son of a mysterious queen. 

Except for having been shot down by hero Hou Yi, and chased by a clan leader Kua Fu, there were not many stories about the sun. 

However, the track of the sun was clearly and frequently described in many myths and legends, which has great Astronomy value.

Therefore, the sun in Chinese Mythology was not a sacred, mythical object that was worshipped by many people; instead, it was considered more for practical and agricultural utilizations. 

Fighting Against Nature

Many legends in Chinese Mythology are regarding fighting with nature or supernatural, to survive, and to protect human’s well being. 

When the weather was extremely hot, a hero would shoot the suns down; when a huge flood was deluged, they would fight and conquer it. They also had created characters, documented medical herbs,  and killed evil monsters, etc. 

Major characters in those myths are diligent and fearless workers, sometimes with miraculous power.


In the end, they became celestial beings because of their outstanding contributions, hard work, and the spirit of sacrificing. 

Nv Wa Fixing the Broken Sky in Chinese Mythology

Been Historicized and Secularized by the Confucianism 

Confucius, the founder of Confucianism, was highly against supernatural ideology.


Therefore, in most of his masterpieces, he historicized many immortals in ancient myths and secularized many mysterious legends. 

Mythology in Confucianism, then, served for the ruling class and their governance, in which the emperor’s power was granted by immortals.


Meanwhile, sovereigns’ behaviors would be reflected by natural phenomena.