On the other side of the globe, in the East, are – perhaps – the oldest civilizations in the world. In this sense, the chinese mythology is one of the most complex and remote, presenting a universe full of deities with unique personalities.

Unlike other cultures that had a centralized pantheon, Chinese mythology is characterized by its polytheistic and decentralized nature, with deities coming from different regions and traditions.

As indicated Wikipedia Chinese mythology “is the set of cohesive fantastic stories of the culture of ancient China“. “Many of its legends take place during the period of the three augusts and five emperors. Much of Chinese mythology is unique, although it shares a lot with Japan and Korea, due to its influence in ancient times,” he details.

The Temple of Heaven, in Beijing.  Photo: archive.The Temple of Heaven, in Beijing. Photo: archive.

For this reason, the most important gods were transformed into virtuous sovereigns who reigned in ancient times. “They also associated their gods with the five directions (the four cardinal points and the center),” he concludes.

Shangdi, the Emperor of Heaven

Also known as Tiandi or the Jade Emperor, he is considered the supreme deity in Chinese mythology. His name means “of all that is great, he is greatest.” For some, Shangdi is the creator of the universe but there are many doubts about what this concept really wanted to represent.

It is associated with the sky, the creation of the universe and the cosmic order. He is a distant and uninterventionist figure. In literature he appears for the first time in the five classics compiled by Confucius in the 6th century BC. c.

Fuxi and Nuwa: the first ancestors

They are considered the first ancestors of humanity in Chinese mythology. According to legend, Fuxi taught humans fishing, hunting and agriculture, while Nuwa created humans from mud.

Both are brother-husbands and symbolize the union between heaven and earth, creation and human procreation. His myth reflects the importance of the balance between the masculine and the feminine in the Chinese worldview. She represented them with intertwined snake tails.

PanGu illustration in ink and paper, Sancai tuhui, Qing dynasty, 17th century.  Photo: Wikipedia.PanGu illustration in ink and paper, Sancai tuhui, Qing dynasty, 17th century. Photo: Wikipedia.

Gods of Chinese mythology: Pangu

He is venerated in taoism. He is usually depicted with a pair of horns, a hairy body, and clothing made from plants. When he emerged from chaos, with his ax he divided yin and yang, and thus he created heaven and earth.

Guan Yu

He is the god of war and loyalty, and also a symbol of justice. In real life he was a soldier of the 3rd century AD who was revered for his bravery.

Guan Yu played an important role in the events leading to the end of the Han dynasty and the establishment of the state of Shu Han founded by Liu Bei during the Three Kingdoms period. While there are no explicit descriptions of his physical appearance, he is depicted with a long beard and a gun. He is a red-faced warrior.

More deities of Chinese mythology

  • Yu the Great, god of water.
  • Lu Ban, the god of craftsmen.
  • The Eight Immortals.
  • To Xiang, the driver of the Thunder God chariot.
  • Bi Fang, the god of fire.
  • Bi Gan, god of abundance who rides a tiger.
  • Guan Yin, goddess of compassion and mercy.

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