Chinese mythological creatures
I’ve watched Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings yesterday, and I really enjoyed it.
I don’t quite want to spoil it, yet there’s a little bit of context to the film’s third act I wish to provide, using information that already exists and is easily accessible on the internet with a quick google search.
You see, many cultures have their mythological animals. Chinese culture is no different.
Dragons, in Chinese mythology, are revered creatures. Powerful, wise, benevolent, noble, very much unlike the monstrous depictions in Western stories. They are long, serpentine in nature, and mostly have four limbs with hawk-like claws. Some have many animal-like forms like turtles and fish, but the most common depiction is that of being snake-like with four legs. They symbolize the sovereignty of emperors, are seen as lucky and good. They are one of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. They live at the bottom of seas, rivers, lakes, or anywhere with water.
This is what they typically look like:
Next up, we have the qilin. A qilin is a mythological hooved chimerical creature with one horn. It is said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or an illustrious ruler.
They look something like a Chinese unicorn, if you will. Something like this:
The Phoenix, the myths of which go back 4000+ years, signifies the just rule of the Emperor. An auspicious creature, it is associated with the sun, south, justice, obedience, and loyalty. It is also a peaceful creature.
This is what they look like:
There is another mythological animal, the huli jing, the fox spirit.
The nine-tailed fox, among the most famous of the huli jing, is a shapeshifter, and can either be benevolent or malevolent.
Their most famous incarnations often look like this:
And then there is the dijiang, the patron god of mountains in Chinese mythology. Described as a round chubby sack and having six legs, four wings, and no face, it causes chaos and confusion wherever it goes. But hey, it enjoys song and dance. In some Chinese myths, the dijiang is said to be one of the deities created from the the final breath of Pan Gu, the mythological Creator of the World.
This is what a dijiang looks like:
Lastly, there is another mythological hybrid creature called the pixiu. Resembling what is basically a lion with wings, they are considered to be powerful protectors. They have a voracious appetites for exclusively gold, silver, and jewels, thereby being regarded by the Chinese as a very auspicious creature that draws cai qi, wealth, from all directions.
This is what a pixiu looks like:
I promise you, these bits of preexisting information about Chinese mythological animals are pretty relevant to the film.
While I already knew about the dragon, the phoenix, and the qilin, it wasn’t until later that I discovered just what the nine-tailed fox spirit, the pixiu, and the dijiang were.
Well, it isn’t very often that I learn something new about my culture. 😅
2K notes · View notes
The Kelpie [Scottish mythology, Celtic mythology]
Kelpies are among the most well-known creatures in this bestiary. These aquatic spirits are recurring beasts in Scottish mythology: they take the form of horses that seem to invite travelers to mount and ride them, but those who do are lead to an untimely death as the kelpie suddenly jumps into a river and drowns its rider. Originating from Celtic mythology, these monsters are also able to take on the form of a human, usually an attractive woman (but sometimes a handsome man). In its horse form, it is sometimes depicted with the front legs of a horse but the hind body of a fish, with a long finned tail.
Some folklorists claim that kelpies exclusively dwell in and around rivers, whereas accounts of lake-bound kelpies actually refer to the Celtic Each-uisge, a similar spirit. Some others doubt this claim. What can I say, faery classification is not an exact science.
Despite their magic, kelpies are not invincible, and some sources claim that silver can harm them. Much like werewolves in modern fiction, silver bullets can be used to permanently kill these spirits. If you manage to slay a kelpie, its body will turn into a pile of blubber resembling dead jellyfish. This is actually a trait they share with several other Scottish mythical creatures, like the Suath or Each-Uisge.
The Laird of Morphie, a Scottish folklore character, managed to capture one of these creatures and used its considerable strength to move blocks of stone. This way, the lord built his castle, and when the work was finished he released the kelpie. However, the creature was not happy after being used as a free source of labor, and it cursed the lords family, eventually leading to the extinction of his bloodline.
According to Lewis Spence’s book “The magic arts in Celtic Britain” (1999), some kelpies wear a bridle of unknown origin. This bridle is a potent magical artifact and if you manage to remove and steal it, putting it on a human’s head will magically transform that person into a horse.
In real life, the stories likely originated as cautionary tales to warn children not to play near deep water, and also to warn girls not to go with handsome strangers.
(image source 1: saostar.vn but original artist was not mentioned)
(image source 2: Wolf-Fram on Deviantart)
(image source 3: “the Kelpie”, painting by Herbert James Draper, 1913)
81 notes · View notes