Our guest blog this week is by Robert Bailey. Robert is a travel writer with a gung-ho attitude to discovery and impressive knowledge on China’s Myths and Legends. You’ll usually find Robert sat in the background with a camera around his neck and a notebook in hand. Visit Robert’s website here to discover more of his exciting ventures!
China holds many secrets. In the west, it’s generally been represented as traditional and exotic. Kung-fu, mythical dragons and magical mountains have always been a trope associated with the middle kingdom. However, whilst Chinese myths and legends might be common place in Oriental movies, there are still many myths which just haven’t made it into English yet, or at least have been changed in a way which makes them pretty dissimilar to western conceptions.
Here is a list of five different myths and legends from China. Some of which might just be making an appearance in the future.
The Bridge Gods
The Bridge gods, or Qiao Shen, are one of the less well known pieces of mythology in China. Their own histories are varied and are generally different in each area. Each bridge in China will have its own Qiaoshen. These are embodied in the mythical statues which stand guard over them day and night; forever stuck in the same position.
Compared to western witches, Chinese ones tend to be a little friendlier. They are not the embodiment of evil, but old relatives or servants brought back to help younger generations. This is just one of the way in which China’s cultural focus on improving the lives of its youth is channeled into its mythology.
The White Serpent
The legend of Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian is one famous throughout China and focuses on the Hangzhou West Lake. It is a tale of star-crossed lovers, immortality, jealousy and revenge. Whilst the tale has many different variations, more modern versions tend to focus on the love story between Bai Suzhen and Xu Xian. However, if you look deeper, there is often something a little more sinister behind these tales.
The Magical Lingzhi Mushroom
The magical Lingzhi mushroom was said to originate on mount Emei. Whilst it is actually a real mushroom, there was also a much more special and greatly revered version: the magical version. The Lingzhi mushroom was said to be able to restore life to any who lost it. In some versions of the tale of the White Serpent, it was used to revive Xu Xian when he had died.
Dragons are usually known for their role in the Chinese zodiac and link to the Chinese imperial banners of the past. However, what some people don’t know is that in Chinese mythology, dragons are also said to control all manner of natural disasters and sometimes even nature itself. Whilst sometimes said to be the strongest beings in Chinese mythology, like all things, they are ultimately the product tied to the limitations of those who created them.Share: