east asian mythology




Chang'e or Chang-o [嫦娥] is the Chinese goddess of the Moon. Unlike many lunar deities in other cultures who personify the Moon, Chang'e only lives on the Moon.

In one version of the Chang'e legend, she was a beautiful young girl working in the Jade Emperor’s palace in heaven, where immortals, good people and fairies lived. One day, she accidentally broke a precious porcelain jar. Angered, the Jade Emperor banished her to live on earth.

Chang'e was transformed into a member of a rich farming family. When she was 18, a young hunter named Houyi from another village spotted her, now a beautiful young woman. They became friends. One day, a strange phenomenon occurred—10 suns arose in the sky instead of one, blazing the earth. Houyi, an expert archer, stepped forward to try to save the earth. He successfully shot down nine of the suns, becoming an instant hero. He eventually became king and married Chang'e.

But King Houyi grew to become greedy and selfish. He sought immortality by ordering an elixir be created to prolong his life. The elixir in the form of a single pill was almost ready when Chang'e came upon it. She either accidentally or purposely swallowed the pill. This angered King Houyi, who went after his wife. Trying to flee, she jumped out the window of a chamber at the top of the palace—and, instead of falling, she floated into the sky toward the Moon.

↳ CHANG’E (嫦娥)

Legend has it that in ancient China, ten suns hung in the sky and the extreme heat scorched the earth. An archer, Hou Yi, shoot down nine of them and was given the elixir of immortality as a reward. However, he did not want to consume it as he did not wish to become immortal without his wife. 

One day, when Hou Yi was out hunting, his apprentice, Fengmeng, broke into his house and forced Chang’e to give up the elixir of immortality. When she realised that she couldn’t defeat him, Chang’e consumed the elixir and flew upwards towards the heavens, choosing the moon as residence to be nearby her beloved husband.

It is said that during the Mid-Autumn Festival, Chang’e and Hou Yi are reunited, which is why Mid-Autumn Festival is also an important day for families to come together.

Ravi Zupa - Qilin.

Qilin is a mythical hooved chimerical creature known in Chinese and other East Asian cultures, said to appear with the imminent arrival or passing of a sage or illustrious ruler. It is a good omen thought to occasion prosperity or serenity. It is often depicted with what looks like fire all over its body.

According to legends, it is one of 9 sons of a dragon, which can distinguish between good and evil. It is sometimes included in the list of four noble animals, along with the Chinese dragon, phoenix and tortoise. The mention of this mythical animal goes back to the days of Confucius. Back then, it had a more peaceful appearance. When walking, it did not cause any harm even to insects (like the image of the Lamb in Christian mythology). When stepping on the grass it did not crush it. It fed on magic grasses. It could walk on water and fly. Carved on gravestones, it would protect from evil spirits, as well as accompany the dead to heaven. However, over time it changed its appearance and symbolism - once a symbol of peace and gentleness, it also acquired the features of power and strength.


Mythology Meme • East Asian Mythology

Magu (麻姑; Mágū; “Hemp Maiden”) is a legendary Taoist xian (仙 “immortal; transcendent”) associated with the elixir of life, and a symbolic protector of females in Chinese mythology. Stories in Chinese literature describe Magu as a beautiful young woman with long birdlike fingernails.

TRICKSTER WEEK; day six: east asian

Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shape shift into women. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives. Kitsune are often presented as tricksters, with motives that vary from mischief to malevolence. Stories tell of kitsune playing tricks on overly proud samurai, greedy merchants, and boastful commoners, while the crueler ones abuse poor tradesmen and farmers or devout Buddhist monks. Their victims are usually men; women are possessed instead. For example, kitsune are thought to employ their kitsunebi to lead travelers astray in the manner of a will o’ the wisp. Another tactic is for the kitsune to confuse its target with illusions or visions. Other common goals of trickster kitsune include seduction, theft of food, humiliation of the prideful, or vengeance for a perceived slight.

(From Japanese mythology)




Amaterasu [天照], Amaterasu-ōmikami or Ōhirume-no-muchi-no-kami is a part of the Japanese myth cycle and also a major deity of the Shinto religion. She is the goddess of the sun, but also of the universe. 

In Japanese mythology, Amaterasu, the goddess of the sun, is the sister of Susanoo, the god of storms and the sea, and of Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon. It was written that Amaterasu had painted the landscape with her siblings to create ancient Japan. She became the ruler of the sun and the heavens along with her brother, Tsukuyomi, the god of the moon and ruler of the night. Originally, Amaterasu shared the sky with Tsukuyomi, her husband and brother until, out of disgust, he killed the goddess of food, Uke Mochi. This killing upset Amaterasu, causing her to label Tsukuyomi an evil god and to split away from him; separating night from day.

There is also a long-standing rivalry between Amaterasu and her other brother, Susanoo. When he was to leave Heaven by orders of Izanagi, he went to bid his sister goodbye. Amaterasu was suspicious, but when Susanoo proposed a challenge to prove his sincerity, she accepted. Each of them took an object of the other’s and from it birthed gods and goddesses. Amaterasu birthed three women from Susanoo’s sword while he birthed five men from her necklace. Claiming the gods were hers because they were born of her necklace, she decided that she had won the challenge. The two were content for a time, but her brother became restless and went on a rampage, destroying Amaterasu’s rice fields, hurling a flayed pony at her loom, and killing one of her attendants in a fit of rage. Amaterasu, who was in fury and grief, hid inside the Ama-no-Iwato (“heavenly rock cave”), thus effectively hiding the sun for a long period of time. The world, without the illumination of the sun, became dark. The gods could not lure Amaterasu out of her hiding place until the goddess of dawn, Ame-no-Uzume, was able to trick her into reappearance.

ishida: manages to write a bestselling horror tragedy manga that incorporates not only an entire alternate universe revolving around a fictional species with its own biology and social aspects, but also bucket-tons of symbolism and hidden meanings with the use of tarot cards, trump cards, flower meanings, classical literature, east asian history and mythology, aspects from multiple religions, hidden puns with multiple languages, etc., along with an amazing cast of characters and a complex and interesting plotline



The legend of these two princesses comes in many variations. In the pagan version, the princesses were close friends who were sent from Heaven to bring peace to two feuding villages. They both took a village each as a guardian. The princesses were unmatched in their own skills: Princess Santubong can weave fine clothes and Princess Sejinjang can pound rice so delicious mortals would be full for days. Their talents brought prosperity to the villages and the people were content. The peace did not last long as contempt started to brew between the princesses. 

Some versions claimed that they were envious of each other’s beauty, some say it was over love for an indecisive prince and some say it was because of neglect over their land. Their fights increased in frequency and intensity until they both had abandon their responsibility to their people, causing chaos and natural disasters in their wake. After a grueling seven-day war, a final battle ensued. 

Princess Sejinjang had struck a blow to Princess Santubong’s cheek, breaking it. In response Princess Santubong used a daggered pole and threw it to her, shattering Sejinjang’s head to pieces. Despite her victory, both of them had neglected their duty to their people so the heaven cursed Santubong into a mountain (where the gash at her cheek was said to be the peak) and Princess Sejinjang’s shattered corpse became an isle of islands. Their story was immortalized in a popular Sarawakian folk song.




The three-legged crow is a creature found in various mythologies of Asia, Asia Minor and North Africa. It is believed by many cultures to inhabit and represent the sun. In Chinese mythology and culture, the three-legged crow is called the Sanzuwu (三足烏).

The most popular depiction and myth of a Sanzuwu is that of a sun crow called the Jīnwū, or “golden crow”. According to folklore, there were originally ten sun crows which settled in 10 separate suns. They perched on a red mulberry tree called the Fusang, literally meaning the Leaning Mulberry Tree, in the East at the foot of the Valley of the Sun. This mulberry tree was said to have many mouths opening from its branches. Each day one of the sun crows would travel around the world on a carriage, driven by Xihe, the ‘mother’ of the suns. As soon as one sun crow returned, another one would set forth in its journey crossing the sky.

According to Shanhaijing, the sun crows loved eating two sorts of mythical grasses of immortality, one called the Diri, or “ground sun”, and the other the Chunsheng, or “spring grow”. The sun crows would often descend from heaven on to the earth and feast on these grasses, but Xihe did not like this thus she covered their eyes to prevent them from doing so. Folklore also held that, at around 2170 BC, all ten sun crows came out on the same day, causing the world to burn; Houyi, the celestial archer, saved the day by shooting down all but one of the sun crows.

anonymous asked:

The story I would like to write is about a Korean American girl who's a Gumiho (or Kumiho depending on spelling). She's adopted by a Japanese Kitsune family and has always thought she was one too. When she finds out that she's not, she starts being afraid of hurting her friends. I wanted to play with the Kumiho being always chaotic evil in myths, but I'm a little worried that I would be portraying Koreans as bad people in general though. It's a world where Kitsune, Kumiho, & Huli jing coexist.

Demonization of Koreans

I’m actually wondering why the kumiho is portrayed as chaotic evil while the kitsune aren’t. I’m not that great with East Asian mythology, but one of the things that does stand out is that fox spirits in East Asia (China/Japan/Korea) are pretty much all considered chaotic evil to some extent? Like there’s some exceptions that do exist, but it always seems like in general they’re all demonic/antagonistic, so I find anon’s reasoning arbitrary.

I invite my fellow East Asians that are more well-versed in kitsune, kumiho, and hulijing to comment. I admit to being out of my depth here.

—mod Jess 

I’m not well-versed in East Asian mythology, either! I do know that kumiho are often seen as malevolent. Ancient Korean texts, however, don’t seem to paint them as unilaterally evil. I don’t know much about kitsune or huli jing.

One solution to your issue, Anon, is to have more Korean characters in your text, so it’s clear that you’re not painting all Koreans as evil.

While there’s a mythological component to your work, there’s also themes like East Asian identity, Asian American identity, adoption, innate evil, etc within your work, and being prepared to tackle those as sensitively and empathetically as possible is going to be important. Please do not overlook researching things like the experiences of adoptees while you write, particularly Korean American adoptees. 

As Jess said, though, we’d love to hear from fellow East Asians on this one. What’s your take? If you’ve got advice or insight for Anon, please share!

~mod Stella


Batu Belah Batu Bertangkup (The Stone that Opens and Closes) is a Malay legend of a large boulder that has an open mouth like a cave where bloodcurdling screams would come out of. It was said that the stone had swallowed many humans that had come to worship it. A popular folk tale exists of a recent widow who, out of madness, ran into the jungle to be eaten by the boulder. Her two young children, Melur the elder sister and Pekan the younger brother, could not stop her and were left as orphans. An old woman started to visit Melur in her dreams. Through her guidance, Melur bred an unbeatable cockerel for her brother to champion. After winning against a match with the king’s own prized bird, the king offered his hand to Melur. When she was queen, she told the king of the boulder that swallowed her mother. The king’s entourage visited the great stone and the king himself shot an arrow into the cavern. In Malay legends, a king’s lineage owns divine, superstitious powers and since then, the boulder sat silent and unmoving.

anonymous asked:

So dragon fanfan is his background based on the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien as well as East Asian mythology?

Exactly. Dragon Yifan was around during the days of middle earth. He heard of the destruction of Smaug. He remembers how people used to hunt dragons and he remembers when the elves left for Valinor.
However, as you mentioned, he is also based in Chinese mythology. He is not a western dragon with long scaly wings that breathes fire and destroys and hoards. He is an eastern dragon. He looks more like a giant snake, slithering through the sky or in the ocean. He protects the land and the people there, and many think he brings good luck.

For all that, he still gets dragon pox every few years and has to use a fire extinguisher on the throw pillows when he sneezes.

- Admin J


Hang Tuah’s deep loyalty to and popularity with the sultan led to rumors being circulated that Hang Tuah was having an illicit affair with one of the sultan’s lady-in-waiting. The sultan sentenced Hang Tuah to death without trial for the alleged offence. The death sentence was never carried out, however, because Hang Tuah’s executioner went against the sultan’s orders and hid Hang Tuah in a remote region of Melaka. Believing that Hang Tuah was dead, murdered unjustly by the king he served, Hang Jebat avenged his childhood friend’s death. Hang Jebat’s revenge allegedly became a furious rebellion against the sultan. The sultan was unable to stop him, as none of the warriors dared to challenge the more ferocious and skilled Hang Jebat. The executioner then informed the sultan that the only man able to stop Hang Jebat, Hang Tuah, was still alive. The executioner recalled Hang Tuah from his hiding place and the warrior was given full amnesty by the Sultan and instructed to kill Hang Jebat. After seven grueling days of fighting, Hang Tuah was able to kill Hang Jebat, completing his sultan’s order.




Pan Jinlian [潘金蓮] is a protagonist in the Chinese classic novel Jin Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase), and a minor character in the Water Margin, another classic. A well-known figure in Chinese culture, she represents the quintessential adulterous wife, and has become the patron goddess of brothels and prostitutes.

Pan Jinlian was the wife of Wu Dalang, whose younger brother, Wu Song, eventually became one of the major marsh rebels and a most memorable hero. While Wu Song was a handsome, stout and tall young man, Wu Dalong was an unsightly dwarf, making a living by peddling bread. Pan Jinlian, young, beautiful and graceful, was always jeered by neighbors as “a flower planted in a cow’s dung.”

Pan, dissatisfied with her marriage, has an extramarital affair with Ximen Qing, a handsome womanizer in town. Wu Dalang learns of the affair, but Pan and Ximen murder him by adding poison to his food. They bribe the coroner to conceal the true cause of his death. Wu Song grows suspicious of his brother’s death and carries out his own investigations to eventually discover the truth. Wu Song takes the law into his own hands in revenging his brother after his failure to bring the case to a corrupt court: he slays Pan Jinlian and her lover.




Long Mu [龍母] or Mother of Dragons was a Chinese woman who was deified as a goddess after raising five infant dragons.

Wen Shi frequently went to the Xi River to fish and wash clothes for her family. On one such errand, she found a large smooth white stone along the banks of the river. She took the beautiful stone home, but later discovered that the stone was actually an egg, from which hatched five baby snakes. Wen Shi’s family was poor, but Wen Shi saved the best food she had for her baby snakes and fed them by hand.

As the snakes grew, they helped Wen Shi catch fish at the Xi River. The snakes were natural swimmers and became very good at catching fish. The snakes eventually matured into five powerful dragons. In Chinese culture, dragons are considered spirits of water, and have the power to control the weather; during a drought, therefore, Wen Shi asked her dragon children to summon the rain for her village. When rain came and ended the drought, the grateful villagers gave Wen Shi the name “Mother of Dragons.”


The Gamble of Two Kings ― In the Tale of Pak Belalang The (Fake) Fortuneteller, when an army from Masai along with its Sultan arrived in Beringin Rendang, the kingdom braced for war. Instead, the Sultan of Masai challenged the Sultan of Beringin Rendang for a match of wits between their Royal Fortunetellers with their own kingdom as the prize. Confident with the abilities of his Royal Fortuneteller, Pak Belalang, the Sultan of Beringin Rendang agreed. 

The riddles, given by the Masai Sultan’s Royal Fortuneteller were: How can you differentiate between the root and the branch of a stick nicely carved with equal width? How can you tell the sexes of two newly-hatched ducklings? What is the answer to this riddle: One is many, two is sometimes, three is infrequent, four is rare? Where does the strength of Admiral Hang Tuah lie: In his keris or his spirit?

Pak Belalang was given a night to meditate the answers. He went home and started packing. He asked his son to go to the pier and find a boat to smuggle in. At the pier, his son, spotted the Masai Sultan going on a boat with his Royal Fortuneteller and he managed to hide on it. His son overheard the answers to the riddles after the Masai Sultan begged his Royal Fortuneteller to confide him. His son went back home and relayed what he heard to his father. Overjoyed, Pak Belalang didn’t run away and came back to answer the riddles the next day. His Sultan won the wager and gained a kingdom. (answers