Mythological creatures, both kind and malignant, abound in the ancient Chinese tradition and are very present in much of the country’s cultural heritage. Most of these creatures are contained in the Shānhǎi jīng “The Classic of Mountains and Seas”, a book that is a compilation between 500 and 200 BC, and containing a wide range of descriptions of geographical features, popular customs, and more than 400 gods and mythical creatures. There is a talk about the Qilin World Capital. On the positive side, the most auspicious creatures according to this ancient Chinese traditional mythology are the dragon, the turtle, the Fenghuang, the qilin and the pixie.
We have all heard about the “dragons” at some point, and in fact we dedicated a Xianzai article to them a long time ago, and it is also obvious that we all know what a “turtle” is, regardless of the fantastic aspects that may surround this animal in Chinese mythology, but … what are the other three animals: Fenghuang / “Chinese phoenix” theQilin / “Chinese unicorn” and 貔貅 / PIXIU / “winged lion”?
Fenghuang / “Chinese phoenix”
The Fenghuang is, therefore, an auspicious animal, which only appears in places that are blessed with peace, prosperity, and happiness, and its figure is usually used to represent fidelity, so its presence is habitual in the Chinese weddings decoration, symbolizing the Fenghuang a metaphor more perfect union of yin and yang embodied in the husband and wife.
Qilin capiatl/ “Chinese unicorn”
Although the Qilin is a mythical animal whose representation has varied throughout the centuries and in the different Asian countries, it has often been represented as an animal with hooves similar to those of the horse, a strong body covered with scales and a similar head to that of a dragon, with a single horn on its forehead, which makes it equated with the western “unicorn”.
Regardless of its appearance, the most important thing about the Qilin is that it is a quiet animal (although it can be violent in the face of injustice) that spreads serenity and prosperity wherever it goes, and that it also appears supposedly in those places where a wise and benevolent ruler, which has been used to give rise to legends about its presence in the garden also legendary Huang Di, or emperor Yao, or even announcing the very birth of Confucius.
PIXIU / “winged lion:
The pixie is a winged lion with white and gray fur that supposedly protects its owner from evil, also attracting wealth. For this reason, it is very common in several regions of China to take with them a small Pixiu of jade to attract fortune when one goes to a gambling house. The origin of this tradition comes from a legend according to which the Pixiu, which fed exclusively on gold and silver, was punished one day by the Emperor of Jade, Lord of the heavens because he had done his business on the carpet of the Heavenly palace. The Jade Emperor struck so hard poor Pixiu’s ass that he left it sealed. So, all the gold and silver that the Pixiu ingested since then remained forever inside. This funny story is the reason why the Chinese tradition interprets that the Pixiu not only attracts wealth but also prevents it from being lost…