Chinese lore- Legendary Horses

Pictures of all the horses can be seen here . Listing over there is in reverse order to this post here.

No. 10: The Yellow-hoofed Flying Thunder (Zhao Huang Fei Dian)

As its name indicates, it has four yellow hoofs but its body is white throughout. It is a very tall, powerful, dignified, elegant and yet arrogant mount. It is the preferred mount of the villainous warlord Cao Cao (the closest pronunciation is Chow Chow) whenever he returned in triumph after a battle.

No. 9: Stolen Pure Black (Dao Li)

One of the eight legendary horses used to pull the carriage of Zhou Mu Wang (a warlord of ancient times), it was said to light black all throughout and with a slender neck. It was said to be a very strong and fast horse with a great temper that makes it hard to tame.

No. 8: De Le Biao

Its fur is a yellowish colour with white showing through with its mouth being of a light black colour. It was ridden by Li Shi Ming, second emperor of the Tang dynasty when he recovered a part of the land in the modern Shan Xi province. It is put in the first place of honour among one of the burial places of the Emperors of the Tang dynasty.

No. 7: The Jade Lion that Shines in the Night (Zhao Ye Yu Shi Zi)

It is white throughout, with nary a hair of a different colour. It was said that this horse was of a foreign breed and could travel a thousand Chinese miles in a day (about 300 km- 550 km depending on the dynasty of reference). It originally appeared in the Water Margin (one of the 4 classics in Chinese literature about a bunch of righteous outlaws/grass-root rebel heroes) driving a section of the plot and has since been said to be the mount of a number of people such as Zhao Yu of the Three Kingdom era (his signature image is a rider on a white horse wielding a silver spear).

No. 6: The Yellow Horse Speckled with White (Huang Biao Ma)

As its name indicates, this horse has white spots on its yellow hide which are concentrated around its belly and its ribs. Its mane contains tufts of white hair that are shaped like a full moon. Consequently, it also has the nickname of “the Jade-headed Dry-straw Yellow of Xi Liang” (Xi Liang is a place). In addition, this horse’s ribcage will always be visible no matter how much it is fed, earning it the nickname of “the Dragon with Protruding Bones”. It is reputedly the mount of a famous general in the early days of the Tang dynasty who is called Qin Chong.

No. 5: Shadowless (Jue Ying)

The mount of Cao Cao of the Period of the Three Kingdoms in ancient China (starting from the ending days of the Han Dynasty). From its name, it is clear that it runs so fast that its shadow won’t be able to keep up. It was recorded in The Book of Wei (a historical record) that Shadowless was hit by a volley of arrows on its cheek and legs (presumably to its death) and in the same battle Cao Cao was injured on his right arm.

No. 4: Melancholy Dew Purple (Sa Lu Zi)

The mount of Li Shi Ming (2nd Emperor of the Tang Dynasty) when he vanquished Wang Shi Chong of the Luo Yang province on his Eastern campaign. It was killed by an arrow in its chest and is in the first place of honour on the place dedicated to mounts within the Emperor’s tomb.

No. 3: Black Piebald (Wu Zhui)

The mount of Conqueror Xiang (major competitor to founder of the Han dynasty, also his sworn brother). It is a horse whose body is purely black and shiny (like a bolt of black silk) and has four hooves as white as snow. For this reason, it is called the Black Piebald who Trod on Snow (Ta Xue Wu Zhui). It has a long and smooth back and short hips and strong limbs. In the legends, after Conqueror Xiang slayed himself with a sword alongside the Black River (Wu Jiang), this horse followed on the footsteps of his owner by jumping into the river.

No. 2: Di Lu

The mount of Liu Bei of the Period of the Three Kingdoms, it was famous of having borne its owner across a mountain stream spanning several Chinese miles called Tan Xi and thus helping him to chase the opposing army chasing him. It was the most famous horse of its ear but was still one of the more renowned ones. In particular, its popularity was greatly heightened as it appeared in the work of Xin Qi Ji, a famous poet of the Southern Song dynasty.

No. 1: The Red Rabbit (Chi Tu)

Its original name has the same sound (and the second character is almost identical except for having an additional part to it) but actually means “a ferocious red horse like a tiger”. It was reputedly of the breed of “Han Xue Bao Ma” or Blood-coloured Sweat Horses which is a breed of horses imported by the Chinese whose sweats is blood-coloured. It has become a term used to describe a really good horse as in the saying “Chi Tu among horses, Lu Bu among men” (Lu Bu happened to be one of its owners who was reputedly the greatest warrior of his time). It lived in the same era of Di Lu and was the most famous horse of its era and possibly ever afterwards till now. It was reputedly first the mount of Dong Zhuo and was given to Lu Bu as a bribe to win him over. After Lu Bu’s death, it was given to Guan Yu by Cao Cao (who killed Lu Bu) to try to win him over from Liu Bei (who was Guan Yu’s elder sworn brother). After Guan Yu was slayed, it was said that Chi Tu missed him so much that it refused to eat anymore and died.

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