Mythical Creatures

Introduction:

At the heart of Chinese Mythology there are variouse important mythical creatures that form the foundation of their beliefes. Out of all of those many creature there are four main "Celectial Emblems". Each represents a direction on a compass. The four creatures are Turtle (North), Tiger (West), Bird (South),and Dragon (East).
The fure date all the way back to the 2nd Century BC. Each creature has a corresponding season, color, element, Virtue, stars, and even partion of the sky. These four and many more creatures in mythology are very prevalent in art. From painting to tomb walls. They can be found in all diffrent kinds of art mediums. All Chinese Mythological creatures come from or are associated with the founding four.

The Four Symbols:

Each one of them represents a direction and a season of the year, and each has its own individual characteristics and origins. They have been portrayed in many historical Chinese and Korean myths and fiction, and also appear in many modern Japanese comic books and animation.
These Four Symbols were given human names after Daoism became popular. Azure Dragon has the name Meng Zhang 孟章; Vermilion Bird is Ling Guang 陵光; White Tiger is Jian Bing 監兵; Black Tortoise is Zhi Ming 執明.

Azure Dragon of the East
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In the novel Shuo Tang Yanyi (Tales of Tang Dynasty), the reincarnation of the White Tiger's Star is said to be Li Shimin's general Luo Cheng (羅 成 / 罗 成) and the reincarnation of the Azure Dragon's Star is said to be Wang Shichong's general Shan Xiongxin (單 雄信 / 单 雄信). They two are sworn brothers of Qin Shubao (秦 叔寶 / 秦叔宝), Cheng Zhijie (程 知節 / 程知节) and Yuchi Jingde (尉遲 敬德 / 尉迟敬德). Their souls after death are said to possess the body of the new heroes of the Tang Dynasty and the Liao Dynasty, Xue Rengui (薛 仁貴 / 薛仁贵) and He Suwen (郃 苏文)
In some legends of the Tang Dynasty's general Xue Rengui, he's said the reincarnation of the White Tiger's Star. And his archenemy, Liao Dynasty general He Suwen is the reincarnation of the Azure Dragon's Star.

Black Tortoise of the North
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In ancient China, the tortoise and the snake were thought to be spiritual creatures symbolising longevity. During the Han Dynasty, people often wore jade pendants that were in the shape of tortoises. Because of ancient Chinese influence on Japan, honorific titles and badges in Japan often referred to the tortoise or images of tortoises.
In the classic novel, Journey to the West, Xuánwǔ was a king of the north who had two generals serving under him, a "Tortoise General" and a "Snake General." This king had a temple at Wudang Mountains in Hubei, thus there is a "Tortoise Mountain" and a "Snake Mountain" on the opposite sides of a river in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei.
In Taoist legend it was said that Xuánwǔ was the prince of a Chinese Emperor. However, he was not interested in taking the throne, but decided to study in Tao's way. At age 16, he left his parents to search for enlightenment in Tao's way. It was said that he eventually achieved god status and was worshipped as a god of northern sky.

White Tiger of the West
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It is sometimes called the White Tiger of the West (西方白虎, Xī Fāng Bái Hǔ), and is known as Byakko in Japan, Baekho in Korea and Bạch Hổ in Vietnam. It represents the west and the autumn season. During the Han Dynasty, people believed the tiger to be the king of all beasts. Legend had it that when a tiger reached 500 years old, its tail would turn white. In this way, the white tiger became a kind of mythological creature. It was said that the white tiger would only appear when the emperor ruled with absolute virtue, or if there was peace throughout the world. Because the color white of the Chinese five elements also represents the west, the white tiger thus became a mythological guardian of the west. In some legends of the Tang Dynasty's general Xue Rengui, he is said to be the reincarnation of the White Tiger's Star, and his archenemy, the Liao Dynasty's prince He Suwen is the reincarnation of the Azure Dragon's Star.

Vermilion Bird of the South
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According to Wu Xing, the Taoist five-elemental system, it represents the fire-element, the direction south, and the season summer correspondingly. Thus it is sometimes called the Vermilion bird of the South (南方朱雀, Nán Fāng Zhū Què) and it is also known as Suzaku in Japan, Jujak in Korea and Chu Tước in Vietnam. It is often mistaken for the Fenghuang due to similarities in appearance, but the two are different creatures.The Fenghuang (Similar to the phoenix in western mythologies) are legendary ruler of birds associated with the Chinese Empress in the same way the dragon is associated with the Emperor, while the Vermilion Bird is a mythological spirit creature of the Chinese constellations. The Vermilion bird is an elegant and noble bird in both appearance and behavior, it is very selective in what it eats and where it perches, with its feathers in many different hues of reddish orange.

Implications:
The mythical creatures of Chinese Mythology are unique yet similar to those of other mythologys.

LINKS:
-wikipedia
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