Mythological World in Chinese Mythology and Folklore
Divine Creatures and Great Deity In Heaven
The Sacred Kunlun Mountains On West Side
Three Mystical Islands On East Side
Holy Mountains From Mythology and Folklore
Great Heroes and Legends on Central Plain
Divine Creatures and Great Deity In Heaven
In Ancient Chinese Astrology, the sky was divided into four parts: east, west, north, and south. Each section contains seven bright stars, which look like images of four mythical creatures.
These four divine creatures are also named the Four Symbols, representing each section of the sky and controlling the four seasons, respectively.
Qing Long or Cyan Dragon
Qing Long is considered one of Chinese mythology's most powerful mythical creatures.
It guards in the east of the sky and is the representative of the left, spring, and wood.
Cyan Dragon is the representative of power, strength, and integrity. Therefore, humans respected it as the guardian of their land.
Bai Hu or White Tiger
Bai Hu lies and is in charge of the west of the sky and represents right, autumn, and metal.
The White Tiger symbolizes loyalty, power, bravery, and justice, and is respected as the God of War in ancient China.
So, the white tiger had been widely used in the military, such as the army flag and seal.
Zhu Que or Vermilion Bird
Zhu Que guards the south of the sky and represents the front, summer, and fire.
Vermilion Bird, which looks like a giant red bird, is believed to be a mythical creature that can lead people’s souls to heaven after death.
Xuan Wu or Black Tortoise
Xuan Wu lies in the north of the sky and represents the back, winter, and water.
Black Tortoise, the mythical creature that looks like a turtle entwined with a snake, was widely used in divination as a messenger, which could take questions to celestial or ancestors in another world and then bring back the answer.
Ying Long or Yellow Dragon
In the middle of the sky lies Ying Long, the representative of the earth from the Five Element Theory, and is believed superior to other mythical creatures.
Ying Long, or Yellow Dragon, was in charge of wind and rain, assisted Yellow Emperor (about 2717 BC — 2599 BC) in intense battles, and helped Yu the Great (about 2123 BC — 2025 BC) in defeating the massive floods.
Unlike other Chinese Dragons, Ying Long has two wings, which later evolved into colorful clouds in handicraft masterpieces.
Chinese Emperors had strictly and exclusively used images of the Ying Long dragon in history.
Chinese God Hao Tian Shang Di
Hao Tian Shang Di is the supreme god in the Chinese Han culture that rules everything in the universe.
Hao Tian Shang Di is the representative of heaven or the anthropomorphized Hao Tian who lives in upper heaven.
From Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC — 256 BC) to the last feudal empire Qing Dynasty (1636 — 1912), Hao Tian Shang Di was worshipped by emperors in grand imperial sacrificial ceremonies.
Memorial Tablet of Hao Tian Enshrined on Main Hall of the Temple of Heaven, Where Emperors of Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368 — 1912) Held Grand Sacrificial Ceremonies to Worship the Heaven.
The Sacred Kunlun Mountains In West
In China, there are two different Kunlun Mountains.
The Legendary Kunlun Mountains
The Legendary Mount Kunlun is respected as the most supreme and sacred mountain in Chinese Mythology and Taoism Religion.
It is believed to be the ancestor of all mountains and the center of the world.
Located in northwest China, the Legend Mount Kunlun is huge and steep and has a vast pillar leading a path to heaven.
It is surrounded by four gates, nine paths, and a river named Ruo Shui, and it has five magic cities and twelve fabulous buildings scattered.
Outside those gates and the river is the Mountain of Fire, which could burn everything unwelcome into ashes.
On Mount Kunlun, there are countless valuable flowers and plants, mythical animals, treasures, and beautiful natural sceneries.
Kunlun is regarded as the origin of Chinese culture, where many influential kings used to live and hold sacrifice rites.
The Taiji, Bagua, Traditional Chinese Calendar, and ancient customs and etiquettes, were all invented there by King Fu Xi.
In addition, it's where the deity Nu Wa created human beings and patched the broken sky.
Xi Wangmu — Deity of Kunlun Mountains
Xi Wangmu is a powerful goddess living in Yaochi of Mount Kunlun, a magical lake surrounded by many beautiful flowers and unique plants.
She is in charge of all female deities and controls all the elixirs of life in the world.
She had often sent mythical animals, deities, or even herself to the secular world and helped humans defeat destructive disasters.
Some exceptional emperors in the history of China who had achieved outstanding accomplishments also had met or were rewarded by Xi Wangmu.
San Qing — Messenger of Xi Wangmu
San Qing is a mythical bird that delivers messages for the Goddess Xi Wangmu and accompanies her wherever she goes.
According to historical documents, Emperor Wu of Han (156 BC — 87 BC) saw a San Qing bird and was told that the great deity from Mount Kunlun would be visiting soon.
So he started preparing for her arrival.
Sometime later, Xi Wangmu came, rewarded the emperor with seven magical peaches, and promised the prosperity of the Han Empire and the success of his military activities.
Afterward, the emperor built a fantastic building on Mount Tai, which was the place for she to live when she came into the secular world.
Lu Wu — Guard of Kunlun Mountains
Lu Wu is the guard and open-minded administrator of the Kunlun Mountains, who is in charge of the plants, animals, and climates.
Lu Wu has a human head, a tiger’s body with nine tails, and is as big as 99 normal tigers.
He had helped Yu the Great, the founder of the Xia Dynasty (about 2070 BC — 1600 BC), defeat monsters and fight against the vast flood.
Bai Ze — Smartest Mythical Creature
Bai Ze is a highly knowledgeable animal that can speak the human language.
It has beautiful white fur and looks like a goat with one horn and two wings.
Usually, Bai Ze only lives in Mount Kunlun and only shows up in the secular world when the society is at peace and prosperity.
Therefore, it is representative of luck, safety, and happiness in Chinese culture.
Bai Ze knows about 11520 types of supernatural beings and the means to defeat those evil ones.
Once, Bai Ze came into the secular world and passed on that information to the Yellow Emperor (about 2717 BC — 2599 BC), who then edited that knowledge into a book and disseminated it to all civilians.
Mythical Creature Bai Ze, Picture from Atpom.
The Prototype of the Legendary Mount Kunlun
Based on the description of mythology and the activity territory of ancient Chinese people, the Xicheng Mountain, which was apotheosized in Chinese culture afterward, is believed to be the prototype of the mysterious Mount Kunlun.
Xicheng Mountain is located in Shanxi province, where the earliest Chinese ancestors lived and built the fundamental mold of Chinese culture, where Yu the Great fought against the vast flood, and great King Tang of the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC — 1046 BC) held big ceremonies to pray for rain.
Today, the inhabitants here still can recognize this mountain's four gates and nine paths, precisely the same as how the legendary Mount Kunlun is described.
Red Mountain Outside the Mount Xicheng, the Prototype of Mountain of Fire outside the Mount Kunlun.
The Geographical Kunlun Mountains
The geological Kunlun Mountains are located in the northwest of China, extraordinarily tremendous, magnificent, and mysterious; in Taoism Religion, this is the most sacred place.
With an average of 5500 to 6000 meters (about 3.42 to 3.73 miles) altitude and around 500,000 square kilometers (about 193,051 square miles) area, most Kunlun Mountains are covered by snow.
Only a tiny part of Kunlun Mountains is open to tourists, while most of it is still shrouded in mystery.
Three Mystical Islands On East
Penglai, Fangzhang, and Yingzhou are three grand islands or mountains floating in the sea in the east of China.
In those mythical mountains, all palaces are made of jade, silver, and gold, all animals and plants are pure white as clouds, and some powerful deities live there.
The supreme deity Dong Wanggong there, is in charge of all male deities
Therefore, Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259 BC — 210 BC) and Emperor Wu of Han (156 BC — 87 BC), two of the greatest monarchs in Chinese history, visited there in search of immortals.
After Qin Shi Huang commanded to build three islands in a big lake in his palace to simulate these three mythical mountains in the east, the Three Islands in One Lake layout was followed by most emperors of China in their Imperial Palaces.
Penglai Island Painted by Artist Qiu Ying (about 1498 — 1552) — Poly Art Museum
Holy Mountains From Mythology and Folklore
Mythological Mountains from Legend
Hundreds of holy and mysterious mountains are recorded in the ancient mythological geology masterpiece the Classic of Mountains and Seas. Some famous ones are essential places in Chinese mythology and folklore.
Danxue Mountain: A magic mountain full of gold and jade, the place the Chinese Phoenix or Fenghuang lives in.
Qingqiu Mountain: With jade on the southern side and cyan mineral pigment on the north, Qingqiu is the hometown of the Nine-Tailed Fox or Jiu Wei Hu.
Fajiu Mountain: Covered by trees and rocks, this is the place where the vengeance Jingwei stays.
Mount Buzhou: Buzhou locates northwest of the Kunlun Mountains, in a frigid area, and used to be the pillar that supports heaven, which later got crashed by Gong Gong.
Changliu Mountain: Beasts here have colorful tails, birds have bright heads, and jade from Changliu is radiant. On top of the mountain lives the deity Shaohao.
Mystical Mountains from Chinese Legend, Picture from Yigerende Xiuxing.
Geological Mountains with Mystical Power
Besides those from legends and books, some mountains in the real world had been endowed with mystical power and meanings.
Mount Tai -- the Connection of Heaven and Acheron
Mount Tai in Shandong Province is believed as the place that connected the worlds of celestial, human, and ghosts.
At the foot of Mount Tai is the entrance to the underworld, where all the ghosts would go through. On the top, however, is a path to heaven.
Hence, accomplished emperors would hold the grandest Fengshan Ceremony there, which made Mount Tai the holiest mountain with significant mythological and political meaning in Chinese culture.
Ancient Stairs and Buildings on Mount Tai of Shandong Province.
Great Mountains with Mystical Meanings
Since the late Han Dynasty (202 BC — 220 AD), Taoism Religion appeared, and Buddhism was introduced. Meanwhile, local mythology and folklore kept thriving.
Gradually, many magnificent mountains, rivers, and lakes have their deities, from both religions and local legends, guarding those places and protecting local inhabitants.
Taoists and Buddhists have been practicing in those quiet, fancy places for thousands of years, during which they built many spectacular temples, pagodas, and grottoes.
Great Heroes and Legends on Central Plain
Ancient China's Central Plain was where many deities, creatures, and people lived and fought.
Together they survived and built some strong clans, formed ancient Chinese culture, and left some legendary stories.
Mythical Creatures in Chinese Folklore and Mythology
In this mythological world lives many mythical creatures. Some are documented in The Classic of Mountains and Seas, others from other mythology books and local folklore.
They have been used in divination, worship, or other mysterious rites. Images of some lucky ones are widely applied in clothes, decoration, and architecture, most of which are still quite popular nowadays.
Meanwhile, this fabulous mythological world and those creatures are essential elements of today's Xianxia Culture.
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