Chinese Mythology

Updated: May 21 2008(GMT+08:00)

China is an old nation, and its ancient mythology is very rich and colorful. Pre-Qin books such asShanhaijing(The Classic of Mountains and Seas),Guoyu(The Discourses of the States), Zhuanzhuan(The Zuo Commentaries), andChuci(Poetry of the Chu Kingdom), etc., recorded many famous ancient fables.

 

Among them,Shanhaijing, a major source of Chinese mythologies, brings together a treasure trove of rare data and colorful fiction about the mythical figures, rituals, medicine, natural history and ethnic peoples of the ancient world. It narrates episodes of 204 mythical figures, notably the gods Foremost, Fond Care, and Yellow, and goddesses like the fearsome Queen Mother of the West and the doomed Girl Lovely, the nurturing solar and lunar goddesses, and many others. This eclectic collection also contains crucial information on early medicine (with cures for impotence and infertility), on omens to avert catastrophe, rites of sacrifice, and familiar and unidentified plants and animals. It offers a guided tour of the known world in antiquity, moving outwards from the famous mountains of central China to the lands "beyond the seas."

 

Shanhaijingis regarded as one of the most important collections of Chinese mythologies. From this collection and other ones, scholars and critics have written about the special features of Chinese mythology.

China's mythical stories, either those created by the primitive people or those written by later scholars, are full of human feelings. Gods, ghosts, foxes and spirits are commonly described as living things with human qualities and human feelings. Chinese inventors of myths describe gods the way they describe man, or treat them as if they were human, and endow them with human nature.

 

 Chinese ethnic minorities have their own fables full of national flavor. Mythology holds an important position in the history of literature. It is one of the early types of literature that had influence on various Chinese literatures. Quite a lot of fables provide direct materials for writers and artists. The rich imagination and visualization of mythology are the origin of artistic makeup and romantic creation methods of the later generation writers.

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