The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures
By: John and Caitlin Matthews
Ao Chin–one of the four great dragon kings described in Chinese mythology. The others are Ao Shun, Ao Kuang and Ao Ping. Together they control the rain and the sea. They are under the command of the August Person of Jade. They live in great crystal palaces at the bottom of the ocean and are tended by crayfish, lobster and crabs as guards and by the fish as courtiers. Whenever there is a drought in China, the dragon kings are petitioned for aid. If they fail to respond, statues of them are brought out and left by the roadside to prompt them into action.
Ao Kuang–the third of the four great dragon kings of Chinese mythology. Who controls the rain and the waters of the sea.
Ao Ping–the fourth of the four great dragon kings of Chinese mythology, who together control the rain and the sea.
Ao Shun–one of the four great dragon kings of Chinese mythology, who together control the rain and the waters of the sea.
Baku–in Japan, Baku is a great tapir with the body of a horse, the head of a lion, and the legs and paws of a tiger. His duty is to devour the nightmares that human beings have. So dreamers call on him to scavenge their bad dreams. Baku ensures that the day can then begin in peace and without the shadow of nightmarish fear. All you have to do is invoke him with “Devour them, O Baku.”
Carp–throughout China and Japan, the carp is the fish that represents the qualities of courage and perseverance through struggles. When the carp swims up stream to spawn, it is believed to “leap to the Dragon’s Gate” and become a dragon. This process is applied to the examinations of scholars who are called “carps who have leapt the Dragon’s Gate” when they succeed, thus making the carp the symbol of literary or scholarly prowess. The carp is also shown as a pair of fish with one set of eyes, an emblem for all lover’s as well as for a martial fidelity, a happy household and many children. In Japan, the carp is the emblem of the samurai, who are believed to share the carp’s stirling qualities of courage, endurance, good luck, dignity and resignation to fate. At the annual Boy’s Festival in Japan, boys fly paper kites in the shape of carp to symbolize courage and tenacity.
Cat Fish–the Cat Fish is a Chinese fish monster which causes earthquakes. It lives at the base of a volcano and it upheavals bring all kinds of disturbance. It appears in the legend of Monkey King or Sun Wu Kung, when Monkey and his friends are accompanying the monk Tripitako on his way to receive the scriptures from Buddha. His friend Sandy is swallowed up by the Cat Fish and when Monkey goes to rescue him, he to is devoured. While the monk prays to stop another earthquake, Monkey finds Sandy making up to a fairy spirit in the Cat Fish stomach. Along with Pigsy, the third friend who is also consumed, the heroes decide against getting out of Cat Fish by the back door and try to go out the way they came down. Sandy tickles the Cat Fish in the throat until the monster starts to laugh and spits them out.
Celestial Stag–in Chinese myth, the Celestial Stag is a deep capable of human speech and understanding. It lived both in the heavens and in the underworld where it wandered in mines and caverns, offering to show lost miners where rich gems were if only they would help it to the surface. The surface of the earth was not in it’s proper place, however, and should the Celestial Stag set foot upon it, it would become am amorphous blob of diseased jelly.
Centipede–in Japanese legend, the giant centipede was a monstrous insect which lived upon cattle and humans in the northern mountains. The people of that locality sent messengers to help rid them of its terrible depredations. The hero Hidesato hunted it, successfully shooting an arrow through the centipede’s head. In return for his services, the dragon king of Zake Biwa gave him an eternally renewing bag of rice.
Chan–in Chinese legend, the Chan was a sea monster in the shape of a huge clam. The out breathing of the Chan were said to make coral reefs in the shape of wondrous palaces.
Ch’ang O–in Chinese mythology, Ch’ang O was the king of the snakes. He had the ability to change in size from tiny to enormous in order to match his enemies. He was finally defeated at the Celestial battle of Mu which was fought between the gods and immortals.
Chang Lung–in Chinese folklore, Chang Lung was originally a magistrate during the reign of Chung Tsung in the 7th century. Through his practice of pious meditation in the local temple, he began to metamorphose into a dragon protector. His son became anxious about his father’s long absences and finally discovered what was happening. Chang Lung confessed to his son that he was being challenged by another dragon and required the help of all his sons to overcome him. His sons made Chang Lung wear a red ribbon about his arm so that they might tell which dragon was which. The rival dragon was finally shot and killed by the arrows of Chang Lung’s sons. From that time onwards, Chang Lung remained in dragon form as a protector of the temple and his community.
Ch’i Lin–this is the alternate spelling of the creature from Chinese mythology that had a deer’s body and an ox’s tail, with a single horn on its head and the legs and hooves of a horse.
Chi Lung Wang–in Chinese folklore, Chi Lung Wang is the protector of domestic water supplies and is one who is in charge of the pumps when it comes to putting out fires. His name means “Fire Engine King Dragon”, and he is a dragon who is under obedience to the Dragon King, Lung Wang, who is the provider of water to the whole earth.
Chiai Tung–this is an alternate spelling of the Chinese unicorn, which is called Hai Chiai.
Chiang Liang–in Chinese mythology, Chiang Liang has the body of a panther and the head of a tiger with a human face upon it. It has huge legs with hooves. It is frequently shown with a snake in its mouth.
Chin-Chin Kobakama–in Japanese folklore, the Chin-Chin Kobakama are the faeries. The writer and traveler Lafcadio Herne wrote a book of stories about them of this same name.
Chio-Tuan–in Chinese mythology Chio-Tuan is the unicorn who appeared to Gengis Khan in the 13th century, warning him to stop his wars. He is the same as Ki-Kin and Ch’i Lin.
Cho’os Shyon–Cho’os Shyon is one of the eight giants of Buddhist Tibet who are known in India as the Dharma palas or protector of the dharma (teachings). They are inimical to all enemies of Buddhism and protect the faithful.
Ch’ou T’i–in Chinese mythology, Ch’ou T’i is a beast with a head at each end of its body. This creature is very like the Amphisbaena.
Crayfish–among the Ainu people of north Japan, the crayfish is the god of the rivers or “the gods who walk backwards”. It was crayfish who, in North American myth, dived to the bottom of the craters for the mud from which the Great Spirit recreated the earth after the deluge.
Dragon-Carp–Chinese mythology contains a number of hybrid forms of dragon, including this one, which had the head of a dragon an the tail of a gigantic carp. It also has the gift of human speech and legend describes a poor fisherman catching the monster. Delighted with his catch, he got a great surprise when the Dragon-Carp begged to be set free. In his astonishment, the fisherman was swayed by its eloquent and allowed the creature to return to the sea. The Dragon-Carp was in fact the son of the Dragon King of the sea and such was in gratitude that from that day forth the fisherman never returned home without full nets.
Dragon-Horse–this hybrid, from Chinese mythology, is a messenger of the gods. It has the body of a dragon and the front quarters of a horse. This being bore both the vital essence of heaven and earth and it was revealed to the yellow emperor at the interpenetrating symbol of the yin and yang, the balance of polarity of the female and male energies in the world.
Eight-Forked serpent of Koshi–an important creature in the mythology of Japan, the Eight-Forked Serpent, as it name suggests, comes armed with eight tails on its gigantic body. Its eyes shine bright red, and it is so huge that when it moves, its body creates seven valleys and seven mountains. Trees grow upon its back and necks so that it resembles nothing so much as huge slab of moving earth.
Every year for seven years the great beast demands a sacrificed one of the Emperor’s daughters. Failure to provide this would result in the destruction of the entire country. When the eighth year came around, the Emperor’s last surviving daughter, Princess Comb-Ricefield, was due to meet the fate of her sisters but the hero god Brave-Swift-Impetuous-Male intervened. He created a huge enclosure full of rice beer, then hid and waited for the eight heads of the serpent of Koshi to appear over the horizon. Anticipation of the promise of sacrifice together with the smell of the alcohol, drew the attention of the creature, which soon had it’s eight heads in each of the eight vats of beer. After awhile, the serpent slept deeply, at which point the hero emerged from hiding and severed the eight heads from the eight necks. Blood from the monster flooded the entire sea, but among the wreckage of the creature’s body, the hero discovered an enchanted sword, which can be seen to this day in the shrine at Atsuta. Brace-Swift-Impetuous-Male then married Princess Comb-Ricefield. The nearby mountain where the creature had lived was renamed eight cloud mountain, and the image of the monster was thereafter to be found on all local currency.
Fei Lian–a Celestial being who commands the winds in Chinese mythology. Fei Lian, whose name means Wind Lord, is described as having a sparrow’s head with bull’s horns, the body and legs of a stag, with the markings of a leopard and a serpent’s tail.
Feng Hwang–the name given to the Phoenix in Chinese mythology. It personifies the primordial strength of the heavens and have the head and comb of a pheasant and the tale of a peacock. Its sweet song makes it a messenger between heaven and earth, but it will never be glimpsed if the land is at war. The Feng Hwang is drawn to the sound of flute playing and, once in a blue moon, you may hear it singing along with the tune that is being played Feng Hwang is one of the Ssu Ling, the four heavenly creatures who keep the world in balance, along with the Tortoise, the Ch’i-Lin and Dragon. Feng Hwang shares the balance of Yin and Yang within itself, for it represents the solar yang and lunar powers. Feng Hwang represents the empress, and the qualities of beauty and peace. Not only does it keep these powers in balance it also represents the five elements, for its head is that of the solar cockerel while its swallow-back represents the lunar crescent, its tail represents the trees and the flowers, its wings the wind and its feet the earth.
Fian-Sian-Che–according to ancient Chinese folk tradition, Fian-Sian-Che is the bear spirit who casts out evil. He is the leader of the Dance of the Twelve Animals in the new year celebration called the Ta-no. Boy dancers attired as different animals whirled about Fian-Sian-Che after hurling menacing gestures at the forces of evil. Then all twelve, led by the bear spirit run through the countryside to take their healing powers to cast out evil.
Fox–in both China and Japan there are many myths of fox spirits appearing in human form, often as beautiful maidens who cause trouble and bring disaster to those who encounter them. The true nature of these spirits can be revealed by looking at their reflection in water or a mirror. Although the fox is an archetypical illusionist, trickster and magician, it’s not always malefic and may be called upon for help if properly rewarded. In Japanese tradition, the fox is also an aspect of the rice deity Inari, and is the spirit of the rice itself, making it an extremely important creature among Japanese myths, there is a story that tells how a fox spirit appeared as a beautiful woman and tricked the emperor into marriage. Afterwards, she killed more than 1,000 of his men before being discovered and slain in her turn. Fox spirits are also said to secrete a compound similar to the Elixir of Life and there are a number of stories of heroes and heroines who go in search of this. In Japan, a black fox is said to bring good luck, a white fox the opposite, two or three foxes together mean imminent disaster. Among the Ainu people of Japan, the fox is admired for its kindness and the shamans of the tradition, keep fox skulls for use in divination. In China, the fox symbolizes long life and the spirits of the dead sometimes migrate into the bodies of foxes.
Frog–as a creature of water, the frog is considered to be sacred to the moon, and is often described as being a rainmaker or rain bringer. In China, the frog spirit Ch’ing Wa Sheng, is venerated as a healer and for the prosperity it can bring to those engaged in business. A frog is a well is said to depict a person of small understanding and less vision. In the Ainu mythology of Japan, the frog was originally a woman who behaved badly, killing husbands and generally displeasing the gods until they turned her into a frog. Afterwards she only gave birth to frogs.
Fu-Hsi–according to the mythology of ancient China, Fu-Hsi ruled over the great 3rd of humankind, which from 2852 to 2738 BC. The emperor was described as half serpent with the head and body of a human or alternatively with a human torso but the head of a bull with horns emerging from its forehead. He shared the throne with his empress, Nu-Kwa, who was also described as human form from the waist up and serpent below. These primal beings brought the gifts of architecture and the arts of humanity, and are often depicted entwined together and holding up symbols of these skills.
Fum Hwang–in the traditions of ancient China this is an alternative name for the phoenix which is also known as the Feng Hwang.
Fu-Ts’ang–a renerable dragon from the mythology of ancient China, Fu-Ts’ang has a special responsibility for the minerals of the earth and is sometimes known as the Dragon of the Hidden Treasures.
Gaki–monstrous creatures from the legends and folklore of Japan, the Gaki are roughly human shape, but have huge stomachs, and their bodies are bright red or green. They have the heads of horses or oxen, with three eyes each and twisting horns and talons. They suffer constantly from terrible hunger and thirst, which drives them to hunt human beings. Gaki feed off of the souls of evil men and women who are about to die and they take them to the torments of the lower world. It is said that they may be converted to a more gentle nature through the power of Buddha, and there are sacred ceremonies that are known to be effective against them.
Giu Xian–in Chinese mythology, Giu Xian is the Tortoise one of the four spiritual creatures or Ssu Ling. It is the symbol of long life and righteousness. By the time it was 1,000 years old, it was able to speak human language. Giu Xian is also associated with the ability to divine, for the cracks in its shell are related to the ancient divination practice of the I Ching.
Gong-Si–the Gong-Si are zombies of Chinese mythology. Though they have physical bodies, they are not alive and have no will of their own or the ability to think. There are still Chinese alive today who say they have seen Gong-Si and that before the Civil War and the 2nd World War, the dead regularly walked the roads of rural China, drawn back to their ancestral homes. Id a dead Chinese was buried away from home without any of the accompanying rituals, they were likely to take to the zombie form in a desire to return home. In modern Hong Kong cinema, the Gong-Si are the slaves of an evil Taoist priest who sends armies of these animated corpses against kung-fu heroes.
Gou Mang–one of several asmir dragons from Chinese mythology, Gou Mang, together with Rou Shou, are messengers of the sky gods and are sometimes represented as a double dragon. Gou Mang brings good fortune with the return of spring and is said to promote longevity, while Rou Shou represents bad fortune and the coming of autumn.
Grasshopper–in Chinese myth, Pa Cha is the spirit of grasshoppers, and protects people against other destructive insects. It is depicted as having the head and claws of a bird of pret with ear tufts similar to those of an owl. In Chinese culture, the grasshopper signifies good luck, the abundance of summer, many male offspring and general virtue.
Hai Chiai–Hai Chiai was one of the names of the Chinese unicorn who is usually called the Chi-Lin or Ki-Lin.
Hai Ho Shang–in Chinese mythology, Hai Ho Shang is the fish which has a monk’s tonsure and a scaly hood over its head. It has a long monk’s robe which lengthens into a tail. It is of huge size and attacks sea-going junks, overturning them so that the crew down, attacks can be averted if the crew do a ritual dance and burn feathers, which Hai Ho Shang cannot abide. Some sources have said that he is like a merman.
Hai Riyo–Hai Riyo is a creature from Japanese folklore. It has the head of a dragon and the body, wings and claws of a bird. Sometimes called the Tobi Tatsu or Schachi Hoko, is it found in the decorations of Chinese temples. It may derive from the Ying Lung.
Hibagon–in Japan, the Hibagon is a humanoid working ape who is about 5 feet tall and looks like a gorilla. It has glaring eyes, a snub-nose and is very smelly, according to reports. It was sighted in 1972 in Hiwa.
Hiyakudori–in Japanese myth, the Hiyakudori is a two-headed bird who symbolizes the union of two famous lovers. It resembles the bird of paradise.
Ho-o--Ho-O is an alternative name for Feng Hwang, the Phoenix of Japanese myth.
Hsi Wang Mu–Hsi Wang Mu (or Xi Wang Mu) has a variety of appearances, one of which is a monster with the teeth of a tiger, the tail of a leopard and a human face. She was originally the goddess of epidemics, but she changed into the revered Queen Mother of the West in Chinese tradition. Where she is seen as the source of yin or female energy. She rules over the western paradise of the immortals in the Kunlun Mountains where she was attended by the Jade Girls, who were three-legged birds. She tends the peaches of immortality and when they are ripe-every 3,000 years- she invites all the gods to feast. All who eat of them are released from death. Her consort Dung Wang Gong lives in the furthest east and is the source of all yang or male energy.
Hsiao–in Chinese tradition the Hsiao is a composite creature which has the body of a monkey and the form of a man. It also sports wings.
Hsing-T’ien–in Chinese legend, Hsing-T’ien is the great monster who has a giant human shape but has a mouth in his navel and eyes in his chest, like Acephala in Greek tradition. He wonders looking everywhere for his head, for he was beheaded during the battle of Mu, which was fought between the gods and monsters. He wields an axe and shield with which he confronts people.
Hua-Hu-Tiao–in Chinese Buddhist tradition, Hua-Hu-Tiao is the other worldly white-winged elephant which was kept in a bag of panther skin by the Diamond King. When the Diamond King felt it was time for men to learn the errors of their ways, he would release Hua-Hu-Tiao to create havoc and chaos on the earth, killing many people. It once swallowed the warrior Yang Ching, which was a big mistake, for the hero continued to fight inside the elephant’s belly and he ripped open from within.
Huang Fei-Hu–in Chinese mythology, Huang Fei-Hu is the earth hod who takes the form of a one-eyed bull with a snake’s tail. It because the mountain god who guards the holy mountain of Tai Shon in Eastern China when the dead come for judgement. From here he acts as a judge to the souls of those who have recently died.
Hu-Hsien–Hu-Hsien are the spirit foxes of Chinese folktales. These shapeshifting creatures can assume human form. Usually of a handsome youth or beautiful maiden. Hu-Hsien can act like an incubus or succubus, a male or female spirit that visits members of the opposite sex and steals their vial sexual energy from those who fall in love with them. Like all vampires, Hu-Hsien increase their own vitality at the expense of their lovers. However, they are normally betrayed by their love of wine, for when they become drunk they lose their human form and are unmasked for what they really are. Because such scholars are considered virtuous and venerable, Hu-Hsien often appear to them when they need to hide from the wrath of the Thunder God who sends thunderbolts to punish them for their deeds. In return for protection, Hu-Hsien grant favors to scholars, promising to lead them to high office. However, no one should have much reliance of this promise. The invisible Hu-Hsien already know what is written about them and scholars does not write down the truth in case the spirit foxes revenge themselves upon them.
Hui–in Chinese tradition, Hu is a great dog with a man’s head. He is able to run and leap clear of all obstacles. Hu’s appearances in a region is generally taken to be a sign that a typhoon is pending.
Hwa Yih–in Chinese myth, Hwa Yih was a form of Lwan or pheasant, able to change its body color.
Hwang–in Chinese tradition, the Hwang is an alternative name given to the Feng Hwang or Phoenix. It cannot appear unless the land is at peace.
I-Mu Kuo Yan–a race of one eyed giants in the ancient China. They are included in the many volumes of the Great Imperial Encyclopedia, which set out to list every creature and spirit, god and goddess in the country. The I-Mu Kuo Yan probably originally in early traveler’s tales that became exaggerated over time.
Inari–the rice or harvest god of Japan, which sometimes takes upon itself the form of a fox. In this shape, it is invoked as a bringer of prosperity.
Jinshin-Mushi–according to Japanese mythology, Jinshin-Mushi, the earthquake beetle, is responsible for the shaking of the earth that occurs so often, particularly in the south. Despite the fact that Jinshin-Mushi is called a beetle, it has a dragon’s head, spider’s legs and a body covered in scales.
Jinshin-Uwo–in Japanese mythology, this is the name for the earthquake fish that is believed to be responsible for the disturbances, which shake the earth so frequently in this part of the world. It is described as an eel 700 miles in length that holds the island of Japan on its back. It is said to stretch from north to south, its head lying beneath Kyoto in the south, and its tail beneath Awomori in the north. Some authorities have suggested that these locations should be reversed, since it is the south that earthquakes are more frequent and it is easier to equate this with the lashing of the eel’s tail.
Kamaitachi–a creature from Japan myth and folklore, whose name is constructed from the words kami (“sickle”) and itachi (“weasel”). The Kamaitachi are said to look something like weasels but move to quickly that no one has ever actually seen one clearly. They hunt in packs of three, in which the first knocks over their victim, the second slashes with its teeth, and the third heals the wound to enable the process to begin again. This continues until the victim is dead.
Kami–according to the mythology of ancient Japan, the Kami is a kind of giant catfish responsible for causing the earthquakes that occur frequently in that part of the world. According to one tale, the Great Deity of Deer Island stopped this by thrusting his sword into the earth, transfixing the Kami’s head. From this time onward, whenever the earth shakes, the god has only to lay his hand on the hilt of the sword to quieten it. If this vast sword, carved in granite, may be seen emerging from the earth near the shrine of Kashima. The story is told that in the 17th century a certain great lord dug for six days in an attempt to acquire the sword. At the end of the sixth day, he had still not reached the point and gave up. Elsewhere in Japanese tradition the earthquake fish, Jinshin-Uwo and the earthquake beetle, Jinshin-Mushi are said to be related to the Kami. Elsewhere in Japan, Kami is the name given to the spirit of nature.
Kappa–in the Shinto religion of Japan, the Kappa are water spirits who pull children into the water and drown them, and who also attack travelers. They are unable to survive for long on land since they must keep their heads wet. They are described as having long hair, the body of a tortoise, scaly limbs and an ape-like face. At sometimes in the past they may have been wise monkeys, but over the years they have changed into their present form. They live on a diet of cucumber and blood and they fly on enchanted cucumbers, which sprout wings like dragonflies. They may well have influenced the creators of the children’s television series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Kiau–Kiau is a type of serpent or marsh dragon from the medieval tradition of China. One of these creatures was killed in 1129 by a local hero, having plagued the fishermen along the Chien-Tang River for many years.
Kih Tiau–a kind of sea dragon described in the folklore of China. It was believed to secrete a preservative similar to the Ambergris to be found on sale in the market places of Canton and Fouchow in the 19th century.
Kirin–Kirin is the Japanese version of the oriental unicorn. Described as a multicolored creature with a single horn protruding from its forehead, it is considered to be an agent of the gods, dispensing goodness and justice to those who deserve it, and punishing in an appropriate fashion to those who do evil deeds.
Kirni–according to the folklore of old Japan, the Kirni is similar to the medieval griffin, having the body of a lion with the head, torso and legs of an eagle and an extremely wide wingspan. In common with its European cousin, the Kirni is said to protect hoards of treasure.
Kiyo–a particularly fierce fire-breathing dragon from the medieval tradition of Japan.
Kojin–a gigantic female ogre from the legends of Japan. The Kojin had thousands of arms, which she used to crush her victims to death. She was especially fond of killing children but in more recent times was turned back to goodness, becoming a projector of children instead of their hunter.
Konoha Tengu–the folklore of Japan described many Tengu, all of which are essentially giant winged humans with bird heads, sharp talons and long flowing hair. The Konoha Tengu lives in the forests of northern Japan.
K’ouei–in ancient Chinese mythology K’ouei was the crocodile musician who was originally a drum. He was the inventor of dances on as who hanged his tail upon his stomach. The noise that he had created made him laugh and his laughter was like thunder.
Kudan–a creature from Japanese legend depicted as a bull with a man’s head, three eyes on each flank and horns along its back. It is said that the Kudan always told the truth and so it was often sought as a means of discovering events that were to come.
Kw’en–a gigantic fish, several miles in length, that was said to occupy the Great Northern Sea of China. According to the myths and legends of that country. Remarkably, the Kw’en could transform itself into a massive bird called the P’eng.
Ky-Lin–a variant of the unicorn from the mythology and traditions of China. The Ky-Lin has the head of a dragon, with a single horn, the mane of a lion, the body of a stag and the tail of an ox. This is taken to indicate that the Ky-Lin represents the five elements and the five virtues. It is also said to embody the yin-yang balance between masculine and feminine. “Ky” being male and “Lin” female. Its single horn stands for the unity of the world under one great ruler and the Ky-Lin, which normally lives in Paradise only visits the world at the birth of wise philosophers or during the reign of especially virtuous monarchs.
Lei Chen-Tzu–in Chinese mythology, Lei Chen-Tzu is a hero who became a great winged, green dragon, with a boar’s tusks. He was hatched from an egg, that resulted when his father Lei, the thunder dragon, sent a thunder cap down to earth. He was adopted by the god of literature, Wen Wang, whom he loved so much that he rescued him from imprisonment by shapeshifting from a man into a dragon. While still in human form, Lei Chen-Tzu ate two apricots given to him by his father, Lei, these had the effect of making him become a green boar faced dragon. He was so implacable in this form that he was easily able to rescue his foster father.
Lei Gong–in Chinese mythology, Lei Gong (or Lei Kung) is the god of thunder. He had the beak, wings and claws of an owl but a human body and he is blue. He wears a loin cloth and is shown carrying his emblems of hammer and drum with which to produce thunder. In the bureaucratic way of Confucian deities, Lei Gong is an official in the ministry of Thunder, helping to keep celestial administration going. Lei Gong pursues all who are guilty of undetected crimes.
Lung–the Lung (or Lung Wang) are the dragon kings of Chinese mythology who are the servants of the Yuanshi Tian Zung ( the “celestial Ancient of the Primordial Beginnings). In Taoist belief, there are many Lung who guard the five cardinal points, as well as celestial Lung who guard the heavens and those who patrol the four oceans of the world. Sometimes, the Lung have the body of carp, tiger’s legs, eagle’s talons, stag horns. Each Lung has a pearl of wisdom in its mouth, while the fire and smoke issuing from its mouth are the power to release rain clouds.
Lwan Shui–Lwan Shui is a Chinese bird that resembles a large pheasant but has more colorful plumage, which can change color. Whenever one of the Lwan Shui died, its funeral was attended by 100 pheasants.
Maneki-Neko–in Japanese folklore, this is a good luck symbol that takes the form of a cat sitting on its hunches with the paw raised in a beckoning gesture. Japanese shop keepers use it to lore customers into their shops.
Moon Bird–a Japanese fisherman once found a robe of white feathers on the beach. No sooner has he picked ut up than a beautiful shining girl emerged from the sea, begging him to restore her property. For, she said, “without my plumage, I cannot go back to my home in the sky. If you give it back to me, I will sing and dance for you.” The fisherman took pity on her and returned her lovely rove of feathers. She put them on, took up her flute, and sang a hymn to the moon, where she had her palace. Gradually, as she danced, she rose up onto the sky, where she unfolded her white wings and flew away towards the moon.
Nu Kwa–in Chinese mythology, Nu-Kwa is human from the waist up but has the lower half of a serpent. She is inseparable from the serpent bodied Emperor Fu-His, with whom she is eternally entwined. She is the creator of humanity and is responsible for keeping the world in order. After making humans, Nu-Kwa put down a rebellion against her order. When the rebel chieftain pulled down the pillars of the shy, she remade it by melting turquoise. She used the toes of Kashy Apu, the cosmic tortoise, as direction markers. After the great flood, she restored the earth by using ash from burnt reeds. She established the custom of marriage and is the embodiment of creativity and cosmic order.
O Goncho–a gigantic white winged dragon from the traditions of Japan. The O Goncho inhabited a particular stretch of water near Yamahiro. Every 50 years, it transformed into a golden bird with a cry resembling the howl of a wolf. This metamorphosis and the cry of the O Goncho were believed to presage imminent disaster.
Oni–in Japanese tradition, these evil spirits cause disasters such as famine, disease or earthquake. They appear human but have three eyes, enormous mouths, horns and very sharp nails. They are also winged and fly around, seizing the souls of dying wrong doers. A ceremony known as the Oni-Yarah, is performed every year to expel these spirits from village and towns across the country.
Pai-Lung–Pai Lung is a white dragon of Chinese mythology, one of the Lung (Dragon Kings). It came into being after a family sheltered an old man from a storm. After he had left, the young girl who had opened the door was found to be pregnant, so her family threw her out of the house. When she delivered, her baby was nothing more but a ball of white flesh that the midwife subsequently threw it into water. It turned into the dragon, but Pai Lung’s mother never recovered from the shock of having given birth to a dragon and she died. Her grave because a shrine. Pai Lung’s own temple is in Mount Yang Suchow in Kiangsu.
Pan-Gu–in Chinese mythology, Pan-Gu is a giant who hatched from the cosmic egg from which the sky and earth were formed. The upper part of the egg was the heavens and the principle of yang, which the lower part of the egg was the earth or the principle of yin. His exertions to be born from the egg caused him to fashion the mountains and the earth and, as he grew at the rate of 10 feet a day, he soon because enormous. After emerging, he burst apart and died, and his whole body formed the universe, giving his breath to the winds, his voice to the thunder, his body to the earth, his eyes to the sun and vision, his sweat the waters and his hair because the vegetation. The fleas upon his body because the first humans. Another myth tells how he was born from the five elements, creating the heavens and earth with hammer and chisel. Taoist iconography depicted him as a shaggy being with a hammer.
P’eng–the P’eng is a great bird that in Chinese mythology began life as a fish called Kw’en. After it became a bird, it was so huge that its wings blotted out the heavens. In the typhoon season, the P’eng flows south from its northern home.
Pheasant–in Chinese legend, Song-Sseu is the name of the mythical bird with a human head and the body of a female pheasant. This divine pheasant was traditionally embroidered on the ceremonial dance of a marriageable princess, for the first calling of the pheasant was a signal to young people that it was time to come out and dance. According to legend, the raven-nosed emperor Yu collects the feathers of the divine pheasant, which is like a Bird of Paradise with the eight wings, from the place where his father’s body was buried, for that is where she roosts.
Pheng–in Japanese legend, the Pheng is a bird so large it can swallow a camel in one gulp, when its feathers fall to earth, humans can make water barrels from the quills. Like the Rol of Arabian legend, its wing span blots out the sun when it’s in flight.
Raicho–in Japanese mythology, the Raicho is the thunder bird who lived in the tall pine tree. He has the shape of a rook but his song is considerably louder.
Raiju–in Japanese mythology, Raiju is the spirit of lightning who takes form of a cat, badger or weasel. When a tree has been marked by lightning, people say that it has been scratched by Raiju. During thunderstorms, it becomes agitated and leaps from tree to tree, just like a cat. Raiju likes to hide in human navels, so it is advisable for people to sleep on their fronts during a thunderstorm unless they want to harbor this busy spirit.
Raitaro–Raitaro is the dragon of Buddhist Japan.
Rou Shou–in Chinese mythology, Rou Shou is the counterpart dragon to Gou Mang. Together they go as the messengers of the sky god. Rou Shou is associated with the western direction and is the herald of Autumn, just as Gou Mang heralds the Spring in the east.
Ryujin–in Japanese mythology, the Ryujin is a sea dragon god who lives at the bottom of the sea. He is a controller of the tides, with a huge mouth into which he sucks the water, letting it all out in one rush as he breaths slowly in and out. His messengers are turtles.
Samebito–in Japanese myth, the Samebito is half shark and half human with a black shin, a beard and green eyes. This being was encountered by the hero Totaro when he was crossing the Long Bridge. Instead of attacking him, Samebito asked for food and shelter, for it had been exiled from the ocean. Totaro gave Samebito hospitality in the lake of his own palace grounds. Later when Tataro fell in love with the lovely Tamana, Tamana’s father tried to prevent the union by asking for a bride price of 10,000 precious stones. This price was far too high for him and Totaro fell into a decline. Samebito was alarmed and distressed by his rescuer’s predicament. It shed tears of such sadness that each of them turned into precious stones, which Totaro was then able to exchange for Tamana’s hand in marriage.
Shang Yung–Shang Yung is the fabulous bird of Chinese legend. Also called the rain bird, Shang Yung has only one leg. It was piously appealed to during droughts and it would appear to herald the rainy season. One story tells how it flew down and perched on the arm of the Prince of Ch’I who took counsel with Confucius on hose to create alystem of drains and canals. With the help of Shang Yung, the city was preserved from a terrible drought.
Shen Lung–Shen Lung is the Chinese dragon that brought the rains. It was a five toed dragon with a multi-colored skin. The wearing of its image was forbidden to all but the Emperor himself so sacred was Shen Lung.
Shojo–in Japanese folklore, Shojo is a wild man in human shape with red or pink skin and long red hair. Shojo dressed only in seaweed and lives on the seabed. Shojo are renowned for brewing medical potions and herbal cures and can make a Shirosake or brandy that is poisonous to the wrong doer but tastes delicious to the good.
Song-SSeu–in Chinese legend, Song-Sseu is the name of the mythical bird with a human head and the body of a female pheasant. This divine pheasant was traditionally embroidered upon the ceremonial dance robe of a marriageable princess for the first calling of the pheasant was a signal to young people that it was time to come out and dance.
Ssu Ling–in Chinese mythology, the Ssu Ling are the four spiritual creatures who stand at each point of the compass. The Ki-Lin or Chinese unicorn with its deer body, ox’s tail, horse’s hooves and single horn stand in the west. In the south is the Phoenix. In the north is the Gui Xian the tortoise, while in the east is the Lung of dragon.
Sun Hou-Zi–in Chinese myth, Sun Hou-Zi is the divine monkey who was born from an egg impregnated by the wind. This extraordinary birth equipped him with magical powers and a swift wit so that he could trick the gods. He obtained the peach of immortality from them. He is also called Sun Wu-Kung.
Sun Wu-Kung–Sun Wu-Kung is the Chinese name of the Monkey King.
Tanuki–in Japanese folklore, Tanuki is a badger with a mischievous spirit. Sometimes he takes human form, but at others he can appear as a bottle of saki.
T’ao Tieh–the most noticeable feature of this creature, which is found in the traditions of China, is its enormous head, cavernous mouth and serried rows of dagger-like teeth. Not surprisingly, its name can be translated as “Glutton”, and it appetite is legendary. It can take several different forms, including that of a human being and a tiger, but whatever the creature the head represents also dictates the body under it. This a T’al Tiech with the head of an animal has the foreparts of that animal, but in each case it has two hind parts and two stomachs. Sometimes it is painted on the side of dished to warn diners of the effects of over indulgence.
Tengu–in Japanese mythology, the Tengu are a race of monsters with human bodies, glowing eyes, sharp red beaks, and bird’s wings. The female Tengus are slightly different being depicted as humans in shape but possessing an animal head with huge fangs and enormous ears and noses. There are several types of Tengu, including the Karas and Konoha. All of these creatures are extremely aggressive and skilled in martial arts. They live in a fortress in the dark forests of Mount Kurana near Kyoto, and in the past warriors traveled in the hope of encountering a Tengu and learning its skills. However, any traveler who dares to go to the home of one of these evil-natured creatures is more likely to be driven mad by fear.
Ti-Chiang–a strange celestial bird in the legends of China, the Ti-Chiang has neither eyes nor beak, though it is possessed of the most splendid scarlet plumage and three pairs of feet.
T’ien Kou–a gross celestial dog in Chinese astronomical myth, the T’ien Kou is described as a huge dog with a tail of fire like a comet. Its home was in the heavens, but it sustained itself by descending to earth every night and seeking out human children to eat. If it could not catch any children it would attack a human adult and consume his liver.
Tobi Tatsu–a frightening and rapacious monster from the traditions of Japan. It is described as having the body of a bird with bird’s claws and wings, but the head of a dragon. It hunts men and is especially fond of small children. It is also known as the Hai Riyo and the Sachi Hoko.
Tsuchi-Gumo–a giant malignant spider from the folk traditions of old Japan. Tsuchi-Gumo is described as a creature so huge that it was believed impossible to kill. It hunted humans for sport as well as food and destroyed everything that crossed its path. In the end, it was killed by being trapped in its own cave. A huge mesh of steel wire was stretched across the cave-mouth, then the people built fires so that it was roasted to death.
Uwarbami–in Japanese mythology, Uwarbami is the great serpent with wings who was given to swooping down on unsuspecting people and carrying them off. It was finally killed by the hero Yegare-mo-Heida.
Xiang Yao–in Chinese folklore, Xiang Yao is a monster with nine human heads and the body if a serpent. It goes about in the company of a black dragon called Gong-Gong. Their dung befouls water courses turning them into stinking swamps.
Yang Jing–in Chinese mythology, Yang Jing is the goat god to whom peasants make sacrifices so that their life stock may be free of the depreations of wild beasts. Yang Jing is depicted wearing a goat’s head mask and a goat skin. We find a close relationship here with the animal herdsman-god, the Satyr Pan.
Yata Garasu–in Japanese lore, Yata Garasu is the three legged bird, very like a huge crow, which acts as the messenger of the gods.
Yeren–in Chinese cryptozoology, the Yeren or Yeh’ren is the equivalent of Bigfoot or the Yeti. The word Yeren means “wildman”.
Ying Lung–Ying Lung is the dragon of Proper Conduct in Chinese Confucian lore. This is the only Chinese dragon to have wings.
Yofune-Noshi–Yofune-Nushi was a Japanese sea serpent of huge size that preyed upon the islands of Japan making the life of a fisherman particularly hazardous. They kept it in check by offering it a maiden every 13 June. A very courageous maiden called Tokoyo equipped herself with a sharp knife while she was waiting to be seized by the serpent. When it was close enough she stabbed out its eyes, killing it outright while it withered in agony.
Yu Lung–in Chinese lore, Yu Lung started out as the Celestial carp but when it leapt the dragon’s gate waterfall, it transformed into a dragon with the head and fins of a carp instead. Yu Lung was the emblem and metaphor of students who had passed their examinations, and thus passed from being mere students into masters of their objects.
Yu Siang–in Chinese legend, the Yu Siang was a beautiful bird very like an exotic pheasant that could change its body color at will.