Chinese lore- Pan Hu

I love lore and myths in general and so I figured that I will start a new series of posts on Chinese lore that I’ve collated and manually translated across to English. My followers and other readers can read it for inspiration or just for entertainment. Anyway, it will be stored under the Inspiration sub-category for Writer’s Craft for those who might be interested in searching for the new series later. Here’s the first one of the series, which will be on a mythical creature called Pan Hu.


Physical Description:

A dog that has five colours on its body: indigo, white, red, black and yellow.


In the time of Emperor Ku, an old woman working in the Palace was suspected of having tinnitus (an affliction of the ear) and was treated of it when the doctor extracted a small worm from her ears. She kept this worm as a pet in a gourd that has been cut in half with a covering lid. Not long afterward, this worm has turned into a dog that has five different colours on its body. The Emperor Ku found out about this event and named the dog Pan Hu- Pan which means a large dish (as in the physical object, not a large serving of food) and Hu is a gourd.

Emperor Ku was waging war against the Western Rong, who had an especially capable general. After numerous failures, the Emperor declared that he will marry his own daughter to the one who was able to present him with this general’s head as well as giving him many monetary rewards. After a while, Pan Hu came forth with the general’s head in its mouth.

Emperor Ku was at a loss as to what to do given that Pan Hu was a dog and his retainers all opposed the keeping of his promise in this regard. In the end, it was the Princess who came forth and persuaded the Emperor that Pan Hu was not just simply a dog and therefore his promise should not be easily broken. Thus, Pan Hu brought the princess with it to live in Mount South after the marriage.

Pan Hu and the Princess together had six sons and daughters respectively and the siblings married each other after their father’s death. The Princess returned to the Palace and told the Emperor about his grandchildren. The Emperor sent an envoy to bring back his grandchildren but none of them wanted to leave the mountain, preferring its quiet to the noises in a city. The Emperor heeded the desires of his grandchildren and gave them land in areas with famous peaks and plenty of water sources and gave them the title of Man Yi. Their descendants, thereafter also known as Man Yi have since scattered and lived in regions such as Liang Han, Ba Shu, Wu Ling, Chang Sha and Lu Jiang.

In an alternative version, it was said that Pan Hu was a worm that fell out the Empress’s ears and it was the Princess herself that kept and fed it. After it defeated the enemy general, it suggested that it would be able to turn into a man if he kept himself isolated within a large bell made of gold for seven days. Yet, on the sixth day, the Princess accidentally opened up the bell in her concern for Pan Hu and thus Pan Hu’s transformation was incomplete- he had become a creature with a man’s body but a dog’s head. Despite this, Pan Hu and the Princess still successfully married.

As with all of my serial posts except for Moonlake’s Book Discoveries, the posts for this series will happen at irregular intervals aka according to the whims of the author.

Published by moonlakeku

intermediate Chinese fantasy writer working on her debut series

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