Mythological Creatures of China

The two most prominent mythological creatures of China are the dragon and the phoenix. There are descriptions and stories of dragons that are benevolent.

In Chinese mythology, each of the cardinal directions had a guardian. The dragon was the Guardian of the East. Known as Long in the Chinese language, these creatures were often depicted with whiskers to show their immense wisdom and power. Chinese dragons are very kind creatures despite their great power and awe-inspiring forms. In fact, dragons are associated with the emperor. Even the color of the emperor’s robes is associated with the dragon. As such, the emperor and empress were the only ones to wear yellow robes, signifying their royalty.

In Chinese mythology, a yellow dragon presented the Chinese people with a scroll imbibed with mystic characters that are the origins of the Chinese style of writing. Dragons are known to live in rivers, lakes, oceans, and other bodies of water and to control precipitation. As the guardian dragon was found in the East, he was associated with the season spring, the color blue, the element of water, and the virtue propriety.

Another well-known mythological creature of China, the phoenix, was the Guardian of the South. However, this mythological creature of China is nothing like the descriptions of it found in Greek or Egyptian mythology. Known as the Feng-huang in China, the phoenix’s plumage is comprised of the five mystical colors—black, white, red, green, and yellow—and it has a consistent amount of twelve tail feathers to signify the twelve months. It is also depicted as the most melodious bird that exists, and the phoenix is only seen during times of good fortune, as it hides when there is trouble. Also very unlike its Western relations, the Feng-huang does not have the ability to rejuvenate itself. It is associated with the season summer, the element fire, and with knowledge.


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