Chinese Mythology A to Z Copyright © 2004 by Jim DeFelice All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher. For information contact: Facts On File, Inc. 132 West 31st Street New York NY 10001 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Roberts, Jeremy, 1956– Chinese mythology A to Z: a young reader’s companion / by Jeremy Roberts.—1st ed. p. cm.—(Mythology A–Z) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8160-4870-3 (hardcover: alk. paper) 1. Mythology, Chinese. I. Title. II. Series. BL1825.R575 2004 299.5′1′03—dc22 2004005341 Facts On File books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk quantities for businesses, associations, institutions, or sales promotions. Please call our Special Sales Department in New York at (212) 967-8800 or (800) 322-8755. You can find Facts On File on the World Wide Web at http://www.factsonfile.com Text design by Joan M. Toro Cover design by Cathy Rincon Map by Jeremy Eagle Printed in the United States of America VB Hermitage 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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Acknowledgments Introduction Map of China A-to-Z Entries Important Gods and Mythic Figures Selected Bibliography Index iv v xv 1
151 153 154
I wish to thank my wife, Debra Scacciaferro, for her help in researching and preparing this book. Also I would like to thank Dorothy Cummings; my editor, Jeff Soloway; Lauren Goldberg; and everyone else at Facts On File who helped prepare this volume.
China covers nearly 4 billion square miles in Asia, roughly 14 percent of the world’s landmass. It has grasslands and deserts, a long coastline, and some of the highest mountains in the world. Its rich river valleys have hosted civilizations for thousands and thousands of years. When Rome was still young, China’s ancestors were wrestling with the problems of governing an empire as populous and diverse as any ever known. When Europe was struggling to recover from the Dark Ages, China was outfitting merchant vessels to sail across the oceans. So it is not surprising that China has a long history, rich with events and achievements. This long history has produced a tapestry of interwoven myths, religious stories, legends, and folk beliefs, which have all changed over time. Even today, as the stories are told to a new generation, the tellers transform them in the very process of preserving them— one more reminder that myths and mythmaking are a vital part of the human experience. FIRST CIVILIZATIONS One of humankind’s oldest ancestors, Homo erectus, was discovered in China during the early part of the 20th century. Named “Peking man” in honor of the city near where the remains were found, this forerunner of present-day Homo sapiens sapiens roamed China between 400,000 and 200,000 years ago. (Peking is an old way of saying Beijing, the capital city of China.) Peking man’s offspring eventually turned from hunting to farming as a way of life. The Neolithic Age—sometimes called the end of the Stone Age—started in China perhaps 5,000 years ago. Archaeological sites along the YELLOW RIVER (Huang Ho in Chinese) show that the early Chinese in this area had thriving industries of pottery, cloth making, and farming. Symbols have been found on the remains of their pottery that archaeologists believe indicated different clans or connected families. THE SHANG The word dynasty refers to the ruler of a country and his or her successors, generally chosen from his or her descendants. Archaeologists and historians break up much of China’s history according to these different v
families of rulers. In the case of the SHANG, the word is also used by archaeologists and...