Chinese Lore- Gan Jiang and Mo Xie (1)

I’m still in my lethargy phase (sort of) so I’m going to recycle a bit of Chinese lore I just delved into for my Citadel submissions (for the What makes a weapon magic quest), which is on a pair of legendary swords. The male sword is called Gan Jiang while the female one is called Mo Xie, named for the husband and wife of a smith couple. There are two different legends surrounding this set of swords.

 

Today I will be sharing the first legend:

Gan Jiang and Mo Xie were citizens of the Kingdom of Chu (more like a province of China in modern terms). Being famous smiths, they were asked to craft swords for the Lord of Chu. It took them three years to finish and the product was a set of two swords. The slow completion time angered the Lord and made his mind turn to killing. Meanwhile, Mo Xie was about to give birth. Hearing of the Lord’s plans, Gan Jiang told his wife, “I took three years to finish the sword crafting for the Lord. He is angry and will surely kill me when I go to him. If you give birth to a son, then tell him the following when he grows up: look towards the mountain in the south once he sets foot outside the door, there’s a conifer tree growing on top of a stone, the sword is at the back.” Then he went to the Lord with the female sword only. Like Gan Jiang expected, the Lord was very angry and asked for a detailed examination of the sword. The sword examiner told the Lord, “The product should be a pair of swords, this is only the female one, the male one is missing.” This made the Lord even angrier and he order Gan Jiang killed.

The son that Mo Xie gave birth was named Chi (meaning Red). When he asked about his father, Mo Xie told him the words left by Gan Jiang. Thus Chi found the male sword and plotted to have vengeance on the Chu Lord. At the same time, the Chu Lord had been dreaming of a boy whose eyebrows are spaced wide apart, who swore vengeance on himself. Consequently, he put out a bounty for such a boy. Hearing of this news, Chi fled deep within the mountain. There he met a wandering swordsman who asked him what was the matter when he found Chi crying. Chi told him everything and he told Chi to give him the sword and his own head and said that he would help Chi to get his vengeance. Chi agreed and committed suicide. Chi’s corpse held both his own head and the sword in his hands but his body stood rigid. The wandering swordsman promised to not let him down and only then did his body fall down.

The swordsman presented Chi’s head to the Lord of Chu, which made the Lord overjoyed. The swordsman told the Lord that Chi’s head is the head of a brave warrior and that is should be cooked in a pot. The Lord followed his advice and yet Chi’s head remained intact even after three full days’ cooking. Moreover, the head actually jumped out of the cooking pot and stared angrily at the Lord. The swordsman said, “Lord, this child’s head cannot be cooked. Please come besides the pot and then I’m sure that the head will be cooked.” The Lord believed him and immediately walked to the side of the pot. The swordsman suddenly swung his sword towards the Lord and the head of the Lord fell into the cooking pot along with the sword. Then the swordsman beheaded himself and his head fell in too. Then all of the three heads in the pot were cooked and it was possible to distinguish between them. In the end, the pot of “head head” soup was separated into three equal portions and buried under the name of “The Tomb of the three Lords”. Now this tomb can still be found within the province of Yu Nan.

 

Chinese Lore- the Nine Sons of the Dragon

To be honest, I’m currently going through a phase that I call “Writer’s Lethargy”. So I’ve decided that it’s time for me to re-use old work and so today’s post will be a Chinese lore. In Chinese, there is a saying about the nine sons of the Dragon being all different, which is mainly to refer to the fact that siblings could be very different to each other (and possibly varying in ‘quality’). Below, you guess it, I’m going to describe each of them.

Qiu Niu- Depicted as a typical Chinse dragon, Qiu Niu is said to have a passion for music and its head often serves as ornamentation for the tops of musical instruments

Ya Zi- Depitced as a creature with the head of a wolf and a dragon’s body, its preference for killing makes it a common decorative component on sword-grips. Its name also appears in a Chinese idiom/proverb (the special four-charcter phrases in Chinese) describing vengeful personalities.

Chao Feng- Chao Feng itself is considered an incarnation of birds and takes the image of a phoenix. It is said to like precipices and therefore figurines of Chao Feng are placed on the four corners of roofs. However, these figurines are normally of a four-legged beast form.

Pu Lao- Another with the look of a typical Chinese dragon. Reputedly, it likes to cry. It is represented on the tops of bells, serving as handles

Suan Ni- A lion-like creature that likes to sit down. Figurines of it are commonly found upon the bases of Buddhist idols under the Buddhas’ feet.

Bi Xi/Ba Xia- A creature similar in form to a Trionychidae (a form of soft-shelled turtle which can be found in Asian diet, viewed as a delicacy and prized for the its supposedly health strengthening effects) which is said to be fond of literature. It is put on the sides of grave monuments. Alternativley, Ba Xia is a big tortoise that likes to carry objects. Figurines of Ba Xia are commonly the support structures for grave monuments.

Bi’an- A tiger-like creature which likes litigation. Figurines of it are placed over prison gates to keep guard.

Fu Xi- Unclear of its entire apperance but it is certain that it has the serpentine body typical of a Chinese dragon. Fu Xi looks after anything of an artistic nature and is depicted as spiraling in a vertical sense at the top of stone monuments

Chi Wen- It has the head of a dragon but the body of a fish. It likes swallowing and is placed on both ends of the ridgepoles of roofs to swallow all evil influences.

There is also an alternate version where Qiu Niu, Chao Feng and Fu Xi are replaced by the following:

Tao Tie- A horned, clawed beast with a tail roughly corresponding to the relevant body part of a cow, tiger and goat. Its face decorate a wide range of tools and storage devices made from an alloy of bronze, tin and lead whose name translates to Indigo Bronze. It is associated with gluttony and greed. In modern terms, part of its name is used in a term that refers to food connoiseirs.

Ba Xia (pronounced with different inflections than the Ba Xia in version A)- With a typical Chinese dragon’s apperance, Ba Xia is said to like water and his image is sculpted into the foundation pillar for bridges.

Jiao Tu- A conch or clam, which does not like to be disturbed. It decorates door knobs or the doorstep (in ancient times, door knobs have a flat surface which is in the shape of Jiao Tu’s face that is attached to a ring of metal which is used to knock)

Hope that would be of interest or use to someone and stay tuned for my post at the end of the working week (for Australasians, that is).

Chinese Lore- Tian Gou (Heavenly Dog)

Physical Description:

A fox-like creature whose head is white, said to be originating from a pre-histoical mammal.

Lore:

Originally seen as an animal that can counter evil, it somehow became the synonym to comets which are seen as bad omen in ancient China.

In particular, the Tian Gou eating the Sun or the Moon is a common story passed down through folklore, which was how the ancient populace explained the phenomenon of sun or moon eclipses. During such times, the populace often rang gongs, played drums or even used firecrackers so as to ‘scare away’ the Tian Gou. Closely related to this story is the legend that when Chang E stole the immortal pills rewarded to her husband Hou Yi for shooting down nine Suns (and thus only leaving one sun in the sky), Hou Yi’s hunting hound chased her all through her ascent up to the sky. Hearing its bark, Chang E hid herself in the Moon. Meanwhile, all the hair on the hound’s body stood up erect and its body kept on expanding. Then in one motion, it leapt up and swallowed the Moon whole.  When the Heavenly King and Queen heard about this event, they sent the Heavenly Guards to apprehend the black dog. When it was brought forth, the Heavenly Queen recognised it as Hou Yi’s hunting hound and gave it the title of Heavenly Dog and the responsibility of guarding the Southern Heavenly Door. As a result of the honour given to it, the hound spat out Chang E and the Moon. Thereafter, Change E made the Moon her home.

There is another story concerning how Chang Xian (an immortal in Chinese lore) shot the Heavenly Dog. In this story, the Heavenly Dog was obstructing the constellations from going to the mortal realm as children. When Chang Xian shot the Heavenly Dog and made it run away, the people were then able to get children and as a result, Chang Xian was known as “the children-giving Chang Xian”.