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Chinese Mythology

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  Quote fastspawn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Chinese Mythology
    Posted: 14-Aug-2004 at 13:12
I am no expert on chinese mythology, but just rehashing some stories i had heard.

In the beginning there was nothing, from this nothingness came a giant, Pang-gu. Using a giant cleaver he separated nothing into heaven and earth.

and so on.... And he died lonely. His dismembered body parts formed the geological contours of our world. His blood and tears forming the bodies of water, his eyes becoming the sun and moon, his fingers becoming mountains.... blah blah (i forgot the exact order).

Now i am too tired to explain about Nu-wa and the creation of man, if someone can pick up from here they are welcome to do so.
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  Quote demon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Aug-2004 at 11:55
That's sad...but where did Jupiter go?
Grrr..
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18-Aug-2004 at 12:12

His dismembered body parts formed the geological contours of our world. His blood and tears forming the bodies of water, his eyes becoming the sun and moon, his fingers becoming mountains.... blah blah (i forgot the exact order).

Is it just me or does that sound similar to the story of Ymir in Norse mythology?

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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Aug-2004 at 20:52

By the way, these "Chinese legends" are shared by the acient Chinese, the Miao people in southwest china and some austronesians (nmainly those living in Taiwan and the filipines).

Nuwa was a half woman and half snake godess.  She was roaming the world which Pang Gu created.  Yet she felt really lonely.  So she bent down next to the yellow river and used the mud to make a figure in her image.  When she breathed to it and put it down on the ground, to her suprise the little mud person became man and ran away.  She was so happy so she started making more of them and these people started working, singing and dancing around her.  She wanted to make a lot more of these little people, but making them one by one just takes so much time.  So she took a branch, and dipped it in mud, then wipped it in the air.  All the mud drops became people.  But since she didn't pay too much attention to these new creations, these people are less noble and some are handicapped.

After the creation of man, nuwa adored her creations.  When the god of fire Zhurong (appraise melt) and the god of water Gonggong (United engineer) had a battle.  The losing the god of water rammed into one of the four pillars that supports the heaven away from the earth, BuZhou mountain, and broke off the mountain top.  The top of the mountain came crashing down to earth, creating a great hole in the sky with heaven and earth tilted to one side.  The water stored up in the heaven came pouring down to earth, drawning Nuwa's creations.  While the falling mountain top creats flames and dust that burns people to death.

Unable to bare watching the suffering of her creations, Nuwa set to collect the rare five colored stones and melted them together to patch up the sky.   Then she cut down the legs of a giant turtle to replace the broken pillar.  The she blocked the flodding on earth using the ashes left over when she melted the five clolred stones.  When it is all over, Nuwa was so tired, she went into an eternal sleep.

Afterwards, the stone she used to patch up the sky became stars.  The heaven and earth are still tilted, that is why all water flows from west to east (which is true in China).   



Edited by hansioux
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  Quote vagabond Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2004 at 04:22

Very similar to some of the tales that I have read:

There was an egg that contained the entire universe.  All was darkness.  Pangu - the first being - was formed from the darkness.  He broke his way out of the egg.  The lighter parts of the egg rose and became the heavens, the heavier part sank and became the earth.  Pangu pushed them apart until they would remain separated.  He was so tired from his efforts that he lay down and slept forever.  His head, feet, torso and two arms became the five mountains that surround the earth.  His eyes became the sun and the moon.  His other body parts became the oceans, rivers, rocks, plants and animals...

Nawa (Nugua) (The Mother Goddess) loved the living things that Pangu became, but was not satisfied - so she created Man from the clay...

Another  is the story of Yi the archer and the ten suns - each of the suns is supposed to take its turn in the sky, but all decide to rise and set at the same time, burning the earth.  Yi uses the elixir of immortality given to him by the Mother of the West to resist the heat of the ten suns, and shoots down nine of them to save the earth.  His wife steals the elixir and drinks the rest.

Another - Bao Chu - son of Liu Chun - who travels with the golden phoenix to fight the demons in the village of lost souls and after many adventures fight the Demon King to rescue the sun after it has been stolen by the demons and imprisoned in a cave.  He loses his life saving the sun and he becomes the star that shines in the east prior to the rising of the sun.  The phoenix returns to his home to tell his mother that he has died, then carries the sun back to the heavens.



Edited by vagabond
In the time of your life, live - so that in that wonderous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it. (Saroyan)
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  Quote demon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2004 at 05:26
Facinating story I should say
Grrr..
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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2004 at 16:48

What Pang-Gu was born out of was not an egg exactly.  It was called Huen-Duen, which means "Chaos".  This chaos was shapped like an egg surrounding Pang-Gu.  When Pang-Gu woke up, he was trapped in this chaos where light and darkness are all mixed up together.

This story amazes me sometimes for its similarity to the big-bang theory.

The name Pang-Gu means "Occupied the Ancient times"

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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2004 at 17:41

The thing about Chinese mythology is that it is not very well organized.  China is never formed by one race of people.  These "mythology" most likely exaggerated histories in the views of different ethic groups created different versions.  The most obvious example is that of 黃帝 Huang-Di (The Yellow King). 

Pre-historic ancient China is a small area reaching west to the Bend of the 黃河 yellow river, east to the 東海 East sea, north to the edge of the desert of Mongolia and south to the north side of 長江 Yang-zi (Long) river.  In these four regions, 4 ethic groups, each worshiping a different animal as their ancestors, arrived in different times makes up the core of ancient Chinese.

Before that there was only 3 major ethnic groups in China.  The 三苗 "Three Miao" which consists of 苗 "Miao", 越 "Yue (a.k.a. Viet)" and several other races, arrived the earliest, living around the Yangzi River, with close cultural similarities to the Austronesians.  They worshipped the god of Fish and Snakes.

The 夷 Yi people lived alone the coast line near yellow river.  They are more of Altaic origin.  They worshiped the phoenix or other birds.  These people were credited for the invention of fire.  They also worshiped wind, believing wind is generated when the great phoenix flapped its wings.

The 羌 Qiang people was worshipper of the holy goat, deer and bull.  Their lead was called 神農 "Shen-Nung" god of agriculture or 炎帝 "Yan-Di" the king of flames.  This tribe came later than the Miao and the Yi people.  They came from Central Asia through 天山 Tian Shan.  Their language was closer to the Tibetans.  Their language was probably the root of modern Chinese.  They brought Agriculture with them, and before the coming of the race of 氐 Di, they ruled China with close relations to the Miao people.

The 氐 Di race arrived from Central Asia the last, bring the usage of Chariots in war fairs with them.  They were worshipers of lions and beasts.  They soon come in conflict with the Qiang people living around the 河套 Yellow river bend.
 
They leader of Di race, 黃帝 Huang-Di, from the tribe of 軒轅 Xuan-Yuan (actually means axle and carriage) allied with the Yi people to the east to fight with Yan-Di of the Qiang race.  蚩尤 "Chi-You" of the Miao race was the military leader for Yan-Di, the King of Flames.  In the end, Huang-Di won the battle probably due to more advanced war technology, including the invention of 指南車, a mechanical cart that always points to the south.

When history started being recorded in China around 商 Shang Dynasty (BC 1600~1046, formed by the 夷 Yi people, with legends that the mother stepped into the foot print of a giant bird and became pregnant to give birth to the first king of Shang).  Shang was replaced by the 周 Zhou (Chou) dynasty (BC 1046~249).  The leaders of Zhou dynasty are the decedents of the Di race and Huang-Di the Yellow King.  Since the Zhou dynasty ruled over China for 800 years, they got the last say on ancient legends.

In their version, Huang-Di was the great leader of the people, defeating the evil and ruthless half man half bull demon that is Chi-You (most likely because Yan-Di practices bull worship), with help of goddess of the wind.  After ruling for sometime, he accended to the heaven on the back of a dragon and became a god.  This became the version of the Han Chinese.

However, people living in southwest of China, lots of them stilled called Miao today has a totally different story.  They claim that Huang-Di and his people invaded their land and drove them out of the yellow river bend, forcing them to migrate to the south.  Their brave hero Chi-You fight to the last but was no match of Huang-Di's deceit and treachery.  To this day, they worship the spirit of Chi-You as all things good and honest.

Man... i talk a lot.  Anyway, what i am trying to say is, ethnic diversity is why many Chinese mythologies contradicts itself.  Many of them have very similar themes with different flavors.  It is not as organized as Greek mythology.



Edited by hansioux
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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26-Aug-2004 at 17:52

It is said that Huang-Di created the image of dragon after he conquered all 3 other races in China.  He combined all the image of the Animal of worship and created dragon.  That is why dragon has the antler of the deer, the scales of fish, the head of the lion and the claws of phoenix.  This creation is purely political, attempting to rule over all four races.

By the way, if you can tell, Nu-wa (half woman half snake) is the legend of the Miao people of Snake worship.



Edited by hansioux
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Aug-2004 at 21:32
Originally posted by hansioux

The thing about Chinese mythology is that it is not very well organized.  China is never formed by one race of people.  These "mythology" most likely exaggerated histories in the views of different ethic groups created different versions.  The most obvious example is that of 黃帝 Huang-Di (The Yellow King). 

Pre-historic ancient China is a small area reaching west to the Bend of the 黃河 yellow river, east to the 東海 East sea, north to the edge of the desert of Mongolia and south to the north side of 長江 Yang-zi (Long) river.  In these four regions, 4 ethic groups, each worshiping a different animal as their ancestors, arrived in different times makes up the core of ancient Chinese.

Before that there was only 3 major ethnic groups in China.  The 三­] "Three Miao" which consists of ­] "Miao", 越 "Yue (a.k.a. Viet)" and several other races, arrived the earliest, living around the Yangzi River, with close cultural similarities to the Austronesians.  They worshipped the god of Fish and Snakes.

The 夷 Yi people lived alone the coast line near yellow river.  They are more of Altaic origin.  They worshiped the phoenix or other birds.  These people were credited for the invention of fire.  They also worshiped wind, believing wind is generated when the great phoenix flapped its wings.

The 羌 Qiang people was worshipper of the holy goat, deer and bull.  Their lead was called 神農 "Shen-Nung" god of agriculture or 炎帝 "Yan-Di" the king of flames.  This tribe came later than the Miao and the Yi people.  They came from Central Asia through 天山 Tian Shan.  Their language was closer to the Tibetans.  Their language was probably the root of modern Chinese.  They brought Agriculture with them, and before the coming of the race of 氐 Di, they ruled China with close relations to the Miao people.

The 氐 Di race arrived from Central Asia the last, bring the usage of Chariots in war fairs with them.  They were worshipers of lions and beasts.  They soon come in conflict with the Qiang people living around the 河套 Yellow river bend.
 
They leader of Di race, 黃帝 Huang-Di, from the tribe of 軒轅 Xuan-Yuan (actually means axle and carriage) allied with the Yi people to the east to fight with Yan-Di of the Qiang race.  蚩尤 "Chi-You" of the Miao race was the military leader for Yan-Di, the King of Flames.  In the end, Huang-Di won the battle probably due to more advanced war technology, including the invention of 指南車, a mechanical cart that always points to the south.

When history started being recorded in China around 商 Shang Dynasty (BC 1600~1046, formed by the 夷 Yi people, with legends that the mother stepped into the foot print of a giant bird and became pregnant to give birth to the first king of Shang).  Shang was replaced by the 周 Zhou (Chou) dynasty (BC 1046~249).  The leaders of Zhou dynasty are the decedents of the Di race and Huang-Di the Yellow King.  Since the Zhou dynasty ruled over China for 800 years, they got the last say on ancient legends.

In their version, Huang-Di was the great leader of the people, defeating the evil and ruthless half man half bull demon that is Chi-You (most likely because Yan-Di practices bull worship), with help of goddess of the wind.  After ruling for sometime, he accended to the heaven on the back of a dragon and became a god.  This became the version of the Han Chinese.

However, people living in southwest of China, lots of them stilled called Miao today has a totally different story.  They claim that Huang-Di and his people invaded their land and drove them out of the yellow river bend, forcing them to migrate to the south.  Their brave hero Chi-You fight to the last but was no match of Huang-Di's deceit and treachery.  To this day, they worship the spirit of Chi-You as all things good and honest.

Man... i talk a lot.  Anyway, what i am trying to say is, ethnic diversity is why many Chinese mythologies contradicts itself.  Many of them have very similar themes with different flavors.  It is not as organized as Greek mythology.

 

 

how about the myth about Xia Dynasty?

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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Aug-2004 at 23:24

I think for Chinese people, the amount of detailed records of 夏 (Xia) makes it very hard to consider it a myth.  The creation of 夏 (Xia) dynasty is directly linked to the great flood of the acient times. 

It was said during the last of 堯 (Yao)'s rule, floods began to take over the land.   According to legend 鯀 (Guen) saw the suffering the man, and decided to steal 息壤 (Xi-Rang), a magical soil that will expand when it contacts the earth, from the heaven.  Xi-Rang soon stopped the flood and the people were able to live in peace again. 

However, 天帝 (King of heaven, a.k.a God) discovered that Guen stole Xi-Rang.  God sent 祝融 (Zhu-Rong, the god of fire) to kill Guen.   Zhu-Rong chased Guen to the top of 羽山 (U-Shan, feather mountain) and killed him then took Xi-Rang back to the heaven.  The flood once again roamed the earth.  Guen believed that he did the right thing and didn't deserve his fate.  His anger stayed in his body and it didn't decay for 3 years.  God was afraid, so he sent someone to destroy the body of Guen.  When Guen's belly was cut open, a yellow dragon (snake, some even say bear) came out of his belly.  Guen turned in to a fish and jumped into the flood.  The yellow dragon is his son, 禹 (U). 

According the real history, 史記 (Shi-Ji) and 竹書紀年 (Zhu-Shu-Ji-Nian), 堯 (Yao) appointed 鯀 (Guen) to quell the flood.  When Yao passed his leadership to 舜 (Shuen), Shuen discovered that Guen used the method of land filling to stop the flood, however by blocking the path of the water, it made the flood even worse, Shuen ordered the death of Guen.  Then he appointed Guen's son 禹 (U) to continue his job.  U used the method of digging the river deeper, and creating other water ways to divert the water flow, finally stopped the flooding.  Shuen then passed on the leadership to U.  Shi-Ji actually described U's engineering effort in detail.

When U was old, he wanted to pass his leadership to 益 (Yi), who has been helping him run the kingdom.  However his son 啟 (Qi) decided that he like to be king himself.  According to Shi-Ji, the power transfer was peaceful.  However, according to Zhu-Shu-Ji-Nian, which has been a recent archeology discovery written before Shi-Ji, Qi actually killed Yi and took over the thorn.  Qi started the Xia dynasty.  It's from this point on, China started it's imperial control for the thousands of years that follows.  The name 啟 (Qi) actually means the beginning.

In the ancient China, a name tells a lot.  The last name tells which tribe the mother is from.  The tribal name tells which tribe a person is from.  From the stories gathered, it is obvious that the Xia dynasty is created by the leaders of 三苗 (Miao) people who worship Fish and Snake.  The word鯀 (Guen) means big fish.  The word 禹 (U) is a person grabbing the snake in his hand.

Just how much detail was U's engineering effort recorded in Shi-Ji you asked?

  禹乃遂與益、后稷奉帝命,命諸侯百姓興人徒以傅土,行山表木
,定高山大川。禹傷先人父鯀功之不成受誅,乃勞身焦思,居外十三
年,過家門不敢入。薄衣食,致孝于鬼神。卑宮室,致費於溝淢。陸
行乘車,水行乘船,泥行乘橇,山行乘橋。左準繩,右規矩,載四時
,以開九州,通九道,陂九澤,度九山。令益予眾庶稻,可種卑溼。
命后稷予眾庶難得之食。食少,調有餘相給,以均諸侯。禹乃行相地
宜所有以貢,及山川之便利。

  禹行自冀州始。冀州:既載壺口,治梁及岐。既脩太原,至于嶽
陽。覃懷致功,至於衡漳。其土白壤。賦上上錯,田中中,常、衛既
從,大陸既為。鳥夷皮服。夾右碣石,入于海。

  濟、河維沇州:九河既道,雷夏既澤,雍、沮會同,桑土既蠶,
於是民得下丘居土。其土黑墳,草繇木條。田中下,賦貞,作十有三
年乃同。其貢漆絲,其篚織文。浮於濟、漯,通於河。

  海岱維青州:堣夷既略,濰、淄其道。其土白墳,海濱廣潟,厥
田斥鹵。田上下,賦中上。厥貢鹽絺,海物維錯,岱畎絲、枲、鉛、
松、怪石,萊夷為牧,其篚酓絲。浮於汶,通於濟。

  海岱及淮維徐州:淮、沂其治,蒙、羽其蓺。大野既都,東原厎
平。其土赤埴墳,草木漸包。其田上中,賦中中。貢維土五色,羽畎
夏狄,嶧陽孤桐,泗濱浮磬,淮夷蠙珠臮魚,其篚玄纖縞。浮于淮、
泗,通于河。

  淮海維揚州:彭蠡既都,陽鳥所居。三江既入,震澤致定。竹箭
既布。其草惟夭,其木惟喬,其土塗泥。田下下,賦下上上雜。貢金
三品,瑤、琨、竹箭,齒、革、羽、旄,島夷卉服,其篚織貝,其包
橘、柚錫貢。均江海,通淮、荊。

  及衡陽維荊州:江、漢朝宗于海。九江甚中,沱、涔已道,雲土
、夢為治。其土塗泥。田下中,賦上下。貢羽、旄、齒、革,金三品
,杶、榦、栝、柏,礪、砥、砮、丹,維箘簬、楛,三國致貢其名,
包匭菁茅,其篚玄纁璣組,九江入賜大龜。浮于江、沱、涔、漢,踰
于雒,至于南河。

  荊河惟豫州:伊、雒、瀍、澗既入于河,滎播既都,道荷澤,被
明都。其土壤,下土墳壚。田中上,賦雜上中。貢漆、絲、絺、紵,
其篚纖絮,錫貢磬錯。浮於雒,達於河。

  華陽黑水惟梁州:汶、嶓既蓺,沱、涔既道,蔡、蒙旅平,和夷
厎績。其土青驪。田下上,賦下中三錯。貢璆、鐵、銀、鏤、砮、磬
,熊、羆、狐、貍、織皮。西傾因桓是來,浮于潛,踰于沔,入于渭
,亂于河。

  黑水西河惟雍州:弱水既西,涇屬渭汭。漆、沮既從,灃水所同
。荊、岐已旅,終南、敦物至于鳥鼠。原隰厎績,至于都野。三危既
度,三苗大序。其土黃壤。田上上,賦中下。貢璆、琳、琅玕。浮于
積石,至于龍門西河,會于渭汭。織皮昆侖、析支、渠搜,西戎即序


  道九山:汧及岐至于荊山,踰于河;壺口、雷首至于太嶽;砥柱
、析城至于王屋;太行、常山至于碣石,入于海;西傾、朱圉、鳥鼠
至于太華;熊耳、外方、桐柏至于負尾;道嶓冢,至于荊山;內方至
于大別;汶山之陽至衡山,過九江,至于敷淺原。

  道九川:弱水至於合黎,餘波入于流沙。道黑水,至于三危,入
于南海。道河積石,至于龍門,南至華陰,東至砥柱,又東至于盟津
,東過雒汭,至于大邳,北過降水,至于大陸,北播為九河,同為逆
河,入于海。嶓冢道瀁,東流為漢,又東為蒼浪之水,過三澨,入于
大別,南入于江,東匯澤為彭蠡,東為北江,入于海。汶山道江,東
別為沱,又東至于醴,過九江,至于東陵,東迆北會于匯,東為中江
,入于梅。道沇水,東為濟,入于河,泆為滎,東出陶丘北,又東至
于荷,又東北會于汶,又東北入于海。道淮自桐柏,東會于泗、沂,
東入于海。道渭自鳥鼠同穴,東會于灃,又東北至于涇,東過漆、沮
,入于河。道雒自熊耳,東北會于澗、瀍,又東會于伊,東北入于河


  於是九州攸同,四奧既居,九山枅旅,九川滌原,九澤既陂,四
海會同。六府甚脩,眾土交正,致慎財賦,咸則三壤成賦。中國賜土
姓:「祗台德先,不距朕行。」

That's FREAKING A LOT OF DETAIL.  And it is written in classical Chinese, hense already very very condensed.



Edited by hansioux
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  Quote fastspawn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2004 at 10:05
i can't read the unicode. How do i correct that?
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  Quote Bryan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2004 at 12:30

It's Chinese traditional, in Big5, if I'm not mistaken...

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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30-Aug-2004 at 13:11

Yeah... it's the traditional Chinese.

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  Quote MengTzu Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01-Sep-2004 at 21:41

Hey all,

    Interesting thing to note is that the Pang Gu myth was first mentioned relatively late, something like 0 AD.  Prior to that, the Chinese had much more "rational" (and quite boring) legends.  When many other cultures are interested in stories of powerful deities and superhuman strength, the Chinese celebrated heroes such as Yu and Shun, people who are recognized for their wisdom in governance (the Solomon type of figures) rather than individual valor.  Even the stories of wars mention less about courageous hero slicking his way through duels and combats but more about righteous sage-kings leading campaigns against oppresive warlords.

    Pang Gu and the other more "fantastic" legends became, if I'm not mistaken, more popular as time went on.  The Taoists were the masters of fantastic tales, and with Buddhism imported from India, the treasury for legendary thinking increased significantly more.  Zhou Gong (circa 1000 BC), a celebrated sage and minister who brought about a time of prosperity and peace, was portrayed as the commander of a group of superheroes in his campaign against the evil Shang dynasty, and these heroes later joined the pantheon of gods and immortals.  This Chinese pantheon is as impressive in number as in power, and is an important source of many creative imaginations.

    That is not to say that the creation story mentioned here wasn't ancient, but it appears that the Chinese in antiquity wasn't very interested in explaining the universe through tales.  During the rise of the Hundred Schools (circa 300 BC,) more theories were formed regarding the metaphysical origin of the universe, and such questions regarding Tao, the power that creates and animates all things, and the basic substance of the world were suggested by Confucians and Taoists alike.

Peace,

Michael

9-1-2004

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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Sep-2004 at 03:12

Actually, Chinese usually just refer to the unexplainable powers, creations and fate as the heaven (actually the sky, but the heaven sounds so much better in English).  Sometime towards Soong and Ming dynasty, people started refering the this sky as a person, calling him The lord Sky (老天爺, Lao Tian, Yie)....

Before that they just called it 蒼天 (The dark blue Sky, Cang Tian)

It is actually the Taoists, which started at late Han dynasty that created the 玉皇大帝 (Actually said to be 黃帝 Huang Di, king of Yellow) and stuff for the reason mentioned by MengTzu.

Frankly, I think the stories such as 女媧 Nuwa, 大禹 DaYu are much more interesting. 



Edited by hansioux
Begging plea of the weak can only receive disrespect, violence and oppression as bestowments. Blood and sweat of the weak can only receive insult, blame and abuse as rewards.

Lai Ho, Formosan Poet
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  Quote lars573 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19-Sep-2004 at 23:32
I have question who was Yu the jade emperor in chinese folklore?
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  Quote hansioux Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Sep-2004 at 13:48

Originally posted by lars573

I have question who was Yu the jade emperor in chinese folklore?

Yu the jade emperor... that's the first time I hear the name translated ^_^~

 

Well, 玉皇大帝 (Yu Huang Da Di, or The Great Jade Emperor) is actually just Chinese folk religion Daoism creation.  This name did not exist before the end of Han dynasty, when Buddhism starts to enter China, and the traditional religions felt a need to create gods to compete. 

The Great Jade Emperor is basically emperor in the heaven.  He is the god of gods in the heaven, so in another words... he is the Chinese Zeus, or the Chinese Sakra-devanam-indra, ruler of Trayas-trimsa.  In fact, Chinese buddhist claimes that the Great Jade Emperor is Sakra-devanam-indra (帝釋 Di Shi).

Daoist has a funky story for the Great Jade Emeror, which is is just a made up story of him being a really nice non-existed prince in a non-existed kingdom.  Wait, sounds like the story of Shekyamoni?  oh... they probably based this story on that one....

Anyway, others claim that he is the Yellow king (黃帝) after he has gone to heaven.  Some claims he is 帝昊 (Di Hao, another ancient China ruler), hence the Jade Emperor is also called 昊天大帝 (Hao Tian Da Di).

But I think, he is just a mixture of all the god in Ancient Chinese races and Buddhist influenced stories.  The Jade Emperor caught on after Tang dynasty collapsed.  And became a house hold name in China.  Before that, people normally just refer to the god as heaven.

Begging plea of the weak can only receive disrespect, violence and oppression as bestowments. Blood and sweat of the weak can only receive insult, blame and abuse as rewards.

Lai Ho, Formosan Poet
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  Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Oct-2006 at 12:13
 
Nwa as Repairer
 
The earliest literary role seems to be the upkeep and maintenance of the Wall of Heaven, whose collapse would obliterate everything. Also note the association to Deluge traditions below.

There was a quarrel between two of the more powerful gods, and they decided to settle it with a fight. When the water god Gong Gong saw that he was losing, he smashed his head against mountain Buzhou, a pillar holding up the sky. The pillar collapsed and caused the sky to tilt towards the northwest and the earth to shift to the southeast. This caused great floods and suffering to the people. Nwa cut off the legs of a giant tortoise and used them to supplant the fallen pillar, alleviating the situation and sealing the broken sky using stones of seven different colours, but she was unable to fully correct the tilted sky. This explains the phenomenon that sun, moon, and stars move towards the northwest, and that rivers in China flow southeast into the Pacific Ocean. (this account is similar to the Huainanzi account;Smile

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