Chinese mythology is rich and complex and dates back to more than 4,000 years. Chinese myths are intertwined with history and reality and make up for some fascinating tales. Chinese gods are often worshipped as historical figures and myths are treated as reality. The three great religious traditions — Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism have all played their role in shaping Chinese mythology. The result has been a rich tapestry of tales and characters, both imagined and real.
Here are some interesting facts from Chinese mythology.
1. Sun Wukong
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He’s the most iconic Chinese monkey god and a key character in the Chinese classic “The Journey to the West”. Sun Wukong was a mischievous little monkey eager to control the whole world. Buddha had to take enough pains to calm him down. Wukong became a loyal companion of Xuanzang, the monk, in the latter’s journey to India and back.
2. Chang’e and Hou Yi
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The two were a couple. Hou Yi once took a magic potion to gain immortality. But it was insufficient for two. At the same time, he didn’t want to drift away from his wife Chang’e either. He asked Chang’e to look for it. When one of his students tried to steal the potion from Chang’e, she drank it fully, and flew to the moon, were she has been staying since. According to legend, she can be spotted during the Moon Festival.
3. Jade rabbit
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There are several stories of Jade rabbit that are spread all over Asia. The Jade rabbit became the companion of Chang’e. It’s usually shown sitting beside Chang’e on the moon. The Jade rabbit is closely involved with medical profession and is usually shown carrying a pestle and mortar.
4. Yuhuang Dadi
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He’s more popularly known as the Jade Emperor and considered as the highest deity ruling the Chinese world. Yuhuang Dadi is the most important character in all the Chinese myths and legends with enormous powers. He controls all the gods of Taoism, Buddhism, and other religions. The Jade Emperor is also the most commonly worshiped god among the Chinese.
5. The cowherd and weaver girl
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It’s a sad love story that involves cowherd Niulang and weaver girl Zhinü. They fell for each other and married. But the two were banished to two sides of Milky Way when Zhinü’s mother, a goddess, came to know of it. Magpies, once every year, build a bridge to connect the two lovers. This day is considered as Valentine’s Day in China. Magpies are a symbol of happiness and love in China.