11. Myth & Folklore


Allan, Sarah. "The Jishi Outburst Flood of 1920 BCE and the Great Flood Legend in Ancient China: Preliminary Reflections." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 23-34.

Abstract: On August 5, 2015, Science published an article by Wu Qinglong and a team of distinguished archaeologists that reported on the discovery of evidence for a massive outburst flood in the upper reaches of the Yellow River c. 1920 BCE. The archaeologists identified this flood with the one brought under control by Yu, who was traditionally regarded as the founder of the Xia dynasty. They further argue that since Erlitou culture originated around 1900 BCE, the coincidence of date serves to confirm the identification of Xia and Erlitou culture. This article argues against the historical interpretation of this evidence for an ancient flood. In the early texts, Yu did not control a flood along the Yellow River; he dug all the riverbeds throughout the world so that the waters could flow into the sea. Moreover, the story of Yu controlling the waters and the foundation of the Xia dynasty were not linked in the earliest accounts. This story originated as part of a cosmogonic myth in which the world was made habitable and conducive to agriculture. Thus, it cannot be identified with any particular flood or used to date the foundation of the Xia. Finally, it argues that a great flood was more likely to have caused social disruption than the development of a new level of state power. However, this flood may have caused people from the Qijia culture, which was centered in the region of the flood and already had primitive bronze-casting technology, to flee to other regions including that dominated by Erlitou culture. This cultural interaction introduced metallurgy which was further developed in the context of Erlitou culture, thus spurring its development as a state-level society. (Source: journal)


Andersen, Poul, The Demon Chained under the Mountain: The History and Mythology of the Chinese River Spirit Wuzhiqi. Berlin: G & H Verlag, 2001.


Barrett, T.H., The Religious Affiliations of the Chinese Cat: An Essay Towards an Anthropozoological Approach to Comparative Religion. London: London School of Oriental and African Studies, 1998.


Birrell, Anne, "The Four Flood Myth Traditions of Classical China." T'oung Pao 83 (1997) 4-5: 213-259.


Birrell, Anne M., "James Legge and the Chinese Mythological Tradition." History of Religions 38(1999)4: 331-353.


Birrell, Anne, Chinese Myths. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press in Co-operation with British Museum Press, 2000.


Blauth, Birthe, Altchinesische Geschichten über Fuchsdämonen. Kommentierte Übersetzung der Kapitel 447 bis 455 des Taiping guangji. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 1996.


Brereton, Brian G. "Taiwan’s Mythological Theme Parks: Mnemonic Guardians and Uncanny Imaginaries." Acta Orientalia Vilnensia 7.1-2 (2006): 61-76.

Abstract: This paper analyzes the mnemonic roles of mythological theme parks in contemporary Taiwan. I investigate two popular theme parks, Madou’s “Prefecture that Represents Heaven” and its single Taiwanese precedent, the “Palace of Southern Heaven” in Zhanghua. I term these sites “mythological theme parks” because they differ significantly in form and function from other popular religious temples throughout Taiwan and China. Though both theme park and temple are loci of social production and reproduction, the nature of interaction at mythological theme parks resembles in many ways that which occurs at the imaginary realms manufactured by secular theme parks. These mythological theme parks feature moral imaginaries displayed in sculptural and animatronic depictions of the afterlife and acts of filial piety. My study addresses both textual sources and ethnographic data, collected while conducting fieldwork during the summers of 2004 and 2005, to evaluate how these mythological theme parks culturally convey the past into the present.


Brereton, Brian G. “Addressing Enduring Ethnocentricities through a Critical Investigation of the Historiography of Chinese Hell.” Critical Studies in History 1 (2008): 2-26.


Brereton, Brian Gosper. “From Flesh to Fantasy: Contemporary Conceptions of the Chinese Afterlife in Spirit-travelogues and Mythological Theme Parks.” Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University, 2009.

Abstract: My dissertation analyzes the influence of conceptions and representations of the religious afterlife on individual and collective action in contemporary Taiwan. The critical study of representations of the Chinese afterlife has occurred almost exclusively in their anthropological locus classicus : the ancestral tablet, funerary ritual, and the underworld (Ahern 1973; Wolf 1974; Cohen 1988). My research, which builds on these foundtional inquiries, focuses on two alternative and fecund fields of otherworldly (re)production and representation: recent textual depictions of the afterlife and mythological theme parks. In this study, I will address both textual sources and ethnographic data to launch an inquiry into three key research questions concerning conceptions of the afterlife in Taiwan today: namely, (1) the struggle between individual desire and collective concerns, (2) the applicability and adaptability of traditional models of the religious afterlife, and (3) the processes by which representations of the afterlife illuminate and influence contemporary social systems. My analytical framework - inspired by practice theory, psychoanalytic thought, and psychological anthropology - illuminates an otherwise overlooked integrity in conventional Chinese conceptions of the afterlife and reveals the emotional correlates of their continuities and changes in current Taiwanese society.


Burruss, Susan Langhorne, "Foreign Influences on Chinese Mystical Horse Imagery." Masters Thesis (M.A.), Virginia Commonwealth University. 1999.

Abstract: Representations of the horse developed parallel to significant cultural elements at the dawn of China's vast history. As early as the Shang Dynasty (1766-1045 BC) images of the horse appeared on oracle bones. After its first appearance on oracle bones the horse remained highly significant and mystical representations of the horse continue to be a feature in Chinese art into the late twentieth century.

This study will focus specifically on representations of the horse as a mystical creature in Chinese art, as distinct from general equine imagery. Mystical equine imagery can possess characteristics associated with other animal species or mythological beings. I will establish the impact of foreign cultures on the Chinese perception of the horse as mystical. Outside elements include aspects of religion, mythology, legends, ritual, and folklore. It will be seen that these elements, combined with the indigenous mystical beliefs in China, were influential in Chinese representations of the horse as a mystical creature.

Ancient legends and myths of supernatural horses existed at an early period in China and were manifest in representation of mystical horses. Through contact with outside cultures along the silk routes the indigenous notions of the horse as a mystical creature were reinforced in China. The sheer amount of equine imagery in general in Chinese art and the obvious connections to early religious belief systems apparent in mystical representations of the horse in particular, suggest the significance of this topic. While scholars often acknowledge this in passing, to date there is no systematic study specifically of the mystical representation of the horse in Chinese art. This thesis will provide this information which is crucial for a thorough understanding of this significant subject in Chinese art. (Source: Dissertation Abstracts International)


Chan, Hok-lam. Legends of the Building of Old Peking. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press; Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Abstract: Legends of the Building of Old Peking examines a series of popular legends surrounding the building and rebuilding of the city that served as the capital of a succession of dynasties, including the Nazha or Nezha City legend of the Yuan (1279-1368) "Great Capital" and the Ming (1368-1644) "Northern Capital," and the Mongol legend of "siting by bowshot to locate the capital city" and its Chinese adaptations. These legends reveal a rich tapestry of religious and cultural traditions surrounding the majority Han and non-Han people's conceptions of the origins of their capital cities-legends that are distinct from imperial ideologies and dynastic traditions, and evolved under changing political and cultural circumstances. The book is a unique study of the historical origins of old Peking (spelled thus to distinguish it from modern Beijing) as well as the genesis and efflorescence of related popular culture in today's capital. [Source: publisher's website]


Chen, Frederick Shih-Chung. "Who are the Eight Kings in the Samadhi-Sutra of Liberation Through Purification? Otherworld Bureaucrats in India and China." Asia Major 3rd series, 26, pt.1 (2013): 55-78


Chen, Lianshan. "A Discussion on the Concept of 'Sacred Narrative'." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 35-47.

Abstract: Sacred narratives are one of the foundations upon which human societies depend for their existence, since in all societies those narratives help establish the legitimacy of the social order and values. While Western societies have opted to regard tales of the supernatural as their main form of sacred narrative, ancient Chinese societies chose, instead, to regard ancient history as theirs. Even though the narrative contents of myths and ancient history differ, they fulfill the same social function and both are believed to represent “facts” from immemorial antiquity. Therefore, the author uses the concept of the sacred narrative to embrace both myths and ancient history, transcending differences in content between mythological and historical narratives and setting forth an argument based on their common social function. This not only allows mythology studies to be in keeping with historical reality but also contributes to an accurate understanding of the narrative foundations of different social and cultural systems. (Source: journal)


Csete, Anne, "The Li Mother Spirit and the Struggle for Hainan's Land and Legend." Late Imperial China 22(2001)2: 91-123.


Diény, Jean-Pierre, "La légende, le conte et l'histoire: le cas du vénérable Zhang Guo (VIIIe siècle)." In: Jacques Gernet & Marc Kalinowski [eds.] (avec la collaboration de Jean-Pierre Diény), En suivant la voie royale: mélanges offerts en hommage à Léon Vandermeersch. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.315-328.

Abstract: The purpose of the present article is to show, by the use of a specific example, the vital role played in the writing of history by the strange and ambivalent collections characteristic of the literary production of China known as biji. The example chosen is the story of the Venerable Zhang Guo (8th century A.D.) about whom legendary, romantic or so-called historical biographies of different kinds have been produced based on a combination of elements taken from many biji. [Source: article.]


Drège, Jean-Pierre. “Des têtes qui volent, un aspect du vampirisme sinoasiatique.” Études chinoises 34, no. 1 (2015): 17-44.

Abstract: Parmi les curiosités des populations étrangères de l’Asie du Sud-est que décrivent les livres de voyage chinois à partir du XIIe ou du XIVe siècle figurent des êtres à la tête qui vole durant la nuit pour se repaître tantôt de poissons et de crustacés, tantôt des entrailles des humains, plus particulièrement des femmes et des petits enfants. Ces pratiques bizarres, que les auteurs chinois ont du mal à s’expliquer, se trouvent corroborées par les croyances révélées par les études ethnographiques. Mais ces faits ou ces croyances étranges étaient déjà attestés dans le sud même de la Chine depuis les premiers siècles de notre ère et elles figurèrent bientôt parmi les légendes qui nourrirent toute une littérature fantastique. C’est à ce titre qu’elles passèrent au Japon beaucoup plus tard pour venir grossir les histoires de fantômes. (Source: journal)


Eschenbach, Silvia Freiin Ebner von, "Tierische Heroen und heroische Tiere in der chinesischen Kultur." Georges-Bloch-Jahrbuch des Kunstgeschichtlichen Seminars der Universität Zürich 2 (1995): 127-144.


Faure, Bernard. „Indic Influences on Chinese Mythology: King Yama and His Acolytes as Gods of Destiny.“ In India in the Chinese Imagination: Myth, Religion, and Thought, edited by John Kieschnick and Meir Shahar, 46-60. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.


Frühauf, Manfred W., Die Königliche Mutter des Westens: Xiwangmu in alten Dokumenten Chinas. Bochum: Projekt Verlag, 1999. (Edition Cathay, Bd. 46)


Frühauf, Manfred W., "Der Kunlun im alten China: Versuch einer Positionsbestimmung zwischen Geographie und Mythologie &endash; Erster Teil." minima sinica 1/2000: 41-67.


Frühauf, Manfred W., "Der Kunlun im alten China: Versuch einer Positionsbestimmung zwischen Geographie und Mythologie &endash; Zweiter Teil." minima sinica 2/2000: 55-94


Giskin, Howard, "Chinese Folktales and the Family." In: Giskin, Howard & Bettye S. Walsh [eds.], An Introduction to Chinese Culture Through the Family. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2001. Pp.123-138. (Note: See pp.126-130 on dragon tales)


Haar, Barend J. ter. Telling Stories: Witchcraft and Scapegoating in Chinese History. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

Abstract: This book analyzes the role of oral stories in Chinese witch-hunts. Successive chapters deal with the implications of Chinese versions of the Little Red Riding Hood story; the use of parts of the adult human body, children and foetuses, to draw out their life-force; attacks by mysterious creatures, causing open wounds, suffocation, the loss of hair and the like; the presence of a Drought Demon in the corpses of recently deceased women; and finally the emperor forcibly recruiting unmarried women for his harem. Of interest to historians and anthropologists working on oral traditions, folklore and witch-hunts (also from a comparative perspective), but also to those working on anti-Christian movements and the intersection of popular fears and political history in China. [Source: publisher's website]


Hammond, Charles E., "The Righteous Tiger and the Grateful Lion." Monumenta Serica 44(1996): 191-211.


Hammond, Charles E., "The Demonization of the Other: Women and Minorities as Weretigers." Journal of Chinese Religions 23(1995):59-80.


Hammond, Charles E., "Vulpine Alchemy." T'oung Pao 82(1996)4-5:364-380.


Henricks, Robert S., "On the Whereabouts and Identity of the Place Called 'K'ung-sang' (Hollow Mulberry) in Early Chinese Mythology." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 58(1995)1:69-90.


Henricks, Robert G., "Fire and Rain: A Look at Shen Nung (the Divine Farmer) and His Ties with Yen Ti (the 'Flaming Emperor' or 'Flaming God')." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 61(1998)1: 102-124.


Hsieh, Daniel. "Fox as Trickster in Early Medieval China." In: Alan K.L. Chan & Yuet-keung Lo [eds.], Interpretation and Literature in Early Medieval China. Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2010. Pp. 223-249.


Huntington, Rania, "Foxes and Sex in Late Imperial Chinese Narrative." Nan Nü 2(2000)1: 78-128.


Idema, Wilt L., with an essay by Haiyan Lee. Meng Jiangnü Brings Down the Great Wall: Ten Versions of a Chinese Legend. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Abstract: Meng Jiangnu Brings Down the Great Wall brings together ten versions of a popular Chinese legend that has intrigued readers and listeners for hundreds of years. Elements of the story date back to the early centuries B.C.E. and are an intrinsic part of Chinese literary history. Major themes and subtle nuances of the legend are illuminated here by Wilt L. Idema's new translations and pairings.

In this classic story, a young woman named Meng Jiang makes a long, solitary journey to deliver winter clothes to her husband, a drafted laborer on the grandiose Great Wall construction project of the notorious First Emperor of the Qin dynasty (BCE 221-208). But her travels end in tragedy when, upon arrival, she learns that her husband has died under the harsh working conditions and been entombed in the wall. Her tears of grief cause the wall to collapse and expose his bones, which she collects for proper burial. In some versions, she tricks the lecherous emperor, who wants to marry her, into providing a stately funeral for her husband and then takes her own life.

The versions presented here are ballads and chantefables (alternating chanted verse and recited prose), five from urban printed texts from the late Imperial and early Republican periods, and five from oral performances and partially reconstructed texts collected in rural areas in recent decades. They represent a wide range of genres, regional styles, dates, and content. From one version to another, different elements of the story - the circumstances of Meng Jiangnu's marriage, her relationship with her parents-in-law, the journey to the wall, her grief, her defiance of the emperor - are elaborated upon, downplayed, or left out altogether depending on the particular moral lessons that tale authors wished to impart.

Idema brings together his considerable translation skills and broad knowledge of Chinese literature to present an assortment of tales and insightful commentary that will be a gold mine of information for scholars in a number of disciplines. Haiyan Lee's essay discusses the appeal of the Meng Jiangnu story to twentieth-century literary reformers, and the interpretations they imposed on the material they collected. [Source: publisher's website]


Ju Xi. "Legend of Nine Dragons and Two Tigers: an Example of City Temples and Blocks in Beijing." Cambridge Journal of China Studies 11, no. 1 (2016): 48-67.

Abstract: Peking Temple Survey Schedule in Capital Library of China recorded the saying of “nine dragons, two tigers and one stele”, this legend still spread in the old residents in Xizhimen Street. Through the history research and fieldwork, this essay finds out the exact meaning of nine dragons and two tigers and the relationship with the temples, wells in Xizhimen Street. We find three characteristics of the temples in Beijing inner city through the legend: First, the temples have complicated responsibilities, clear objects and class attributes, which is the important reason for the great number of temples in Beijing. Second, the people have their own view and imagination towards the city landscape, this kind of special sense has some difference with the upper class. Finally, temples are not only served for the diverse religious and social needs of the residents, but also the basement of constructing their urban spatial aesthetics, the temples communicates the secular and gods, they are also the junction of city and universe. Based on the understanding and arrangement of the real temples, citizens construct their unique cosmic order. (Source: journal)


Kang, Xiaofei, "The Fox [hu] and the Barbarian [hu]: Unraveling Representations of the Other in Late Tang Tales." Journal of Chinese Religions 27(1999): 35-67.


Lai, C.M., "Messenger of Spring and Morality: Cuckoo Lore in Chinese Sources." Journal of the American Oriental Society 118(1998)4: 530-542.


Lévy, André, "Brève note sur un long bâton. À propos de l'arme magique de Sun Wukong dans le Xiyou ji." In: Jacques Gernet & Marc Kalinowski [eds.] (avec la collaboration de Jean-Pierre Diény), En suivant la voie royale: mélanges offerts en hommage à Léon Vandermeersch. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.329-331.

Abstract: This short note points to some possible Indian sources other than the Ramayana for the Monkey's cudgel peculiar feature of changing size at will. [Source: article.]


Lewis, Mark Edward. The Flood Myths of Early China. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Abstract: Early Chinese ideas about the construction of an ordered human space received narrative form in a set of stories dealing with the rescue of the world and its inhabitants from a universal flood. This book demonstrates how early Chinese stories of the re-creation of the world from a watery chaos provided principles underlying such fundamental units as the state, lineage, the married couple, and even the human body. These myths also supplied a charter for the major political and social institutions of Warring States (481&endash;221 BC) and early imperial (220 BC&endash;AD 220) China.

In some versions of the tales, the flood was triggered by rebellion, while other versions linked the taming of the flood with the creation of the institution of a lineage, and still others linked the taming to the process in which the divided principles of the masculine and the feminine were joined in the married couple to produce an ordered household. While availing themselves of earlier stories and of central religious rituals of the period, these myths transformed earlier divinities or animal spirits into rulers or ministers and provided both etiologies and legitimation for the emerging political and social institutions that culminated in the creation of a unitary empire. [Source: publisher's website]


Lewis, Mark Edward. “The Mythology of Early China.” In: John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski [eds.], Early Chinese Religion: Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC-220 AD). Leiden: Brill, 2009. Pp.541-594.


Liu, Yuqing. "A New Model in the Study of Chinese Mythology." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 1-22.

Abstract: Chinese mythology [shenhua] does not exist independently as a cultural medium like mythology does in the West but, rather, comprises ideological and narrative forms that emerge according to historical and cultural trends. Not only have myths withstood humanity’s conquest of nature, but they have drawn and continue to draw on the mysteries of scientific development for new content. It is possible to identify three highpoints of creativity in the history of Chinese mythology, each corresponding to shifts in the function and nuance of myths. The first highpoint occurred very early on in China’s ancient history, in the period of the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors [wudi sanwang], when myths were a way to articulate history—that is, history as myth. The second highpoint occurred in the period from the Qin through Jin dynasties, when mythology mainly expounded on philosophy and theory—that is, philosophy as myth. The third highpoint occurred during the Yuan and Ming dynasties, when the narrative content of mythology turned toward the religious—that is, religion as myth. (Source: journal)


Münke, Wolfgang, "Chinesische Mythologie." Nachrichten der Gesellschaft für Natur- und Völkerkunde Ostasiens 157-158(1995):175-229.


Münke, Wolfgang, Mythologie der chinesischen Antike: mit Ausblick auf spätere Entwicklungen. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1998.


Paterska-Kubacka, Agnieszka. "Chińskie mity i wierzenia związane z księżycem (yuè 月, yuèliang 月亮)." Roczniki Humanistyczne 67, no. 9 (2019): 101–118.

Abstract: This article is an attempt to gather in one place the most popular myths, symbols and characters associated with the Moon. It has been divided into two parts. The first part refers to legends and presents residents of the Silver Globe (Chang'e, bunny/rabbit, toad/frog, Wu Gang) and objects located there (cinnamon tree, Moon Palace). The second part is an attempt to scientifically verify these beliefs and myths. It refers to such issues as frog deity and Moon deity in the context of femininity, fertility and immortality. Next, it deals with the relationship between Moon and number "seven." The last two sections briefly discuss the traditional Chinese holidays, connected with the Moon (Mid Autumn Festival and Double Seventh Festival) and the Chinese Lunar Exploration Project, which could be a modern proof of the Chinese people's attachment to traditions and popular beliefs (names of space vehicles).


Pimpaneau, Jacques, Chine: Mythes et dieux de la religion populaire. Paris: Philippe Picquier, 1999.


Pleiger, Henriette, "Das qilin - die vielen Gesichter eines chinesischen Fabeltieres." minima sinica 14(2002)1: 35-57.


Porter, Deborah Lynn, From Deluge to Discourse: Myth, History, and the Generation of Chinese Fiction. Albany: SUNY Press, 1996.


Sangren, P. Steven, "Myths, Gods, and Family Relations." In: Meir Shahar & Robert P. Weller [eds.], Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1996. Pp.150-183.


Sangren, P. Steven, Myth, Gender, and Subjectivity. Hsin-chu: Program for Research of Intellectual-Cultural History, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Tsing Hua University, 1997. (Hsin Chu Bank Endowed Lecture Series on Thought and Culture)


Sangren, P. Steven, "Separations, Autonomy and Recognition in the Production of Gender Differences: Reflections from Considerations of Myths and Laments." In: Charles Stafford [ed.], Living with Separation in China: Anthropological Accounts. London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2003. Pp.53-84. [Note: Deals with popular stories about gods who must leave their families in order to achieve recognition. Nezha and Miaoshan are the case-examples.]


Schwarz, Ernst & Amina Agischewa, Der Trank der Unsterblichkeit. Chinesische Schöpfungsmythen und Volksmärchen. München: Kösel Verlag, 1997.


Shahar, Meir. „Indian Mythology and the Chinese Imagination: Nezha, Nalakubara, and Krsna.“ In India in the Chinese Imagination: Myth, Religion, and Thought, edited by John Kieschnick and Meir Shahar, 21-45. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014.


Shahar, Meir. Oedipal God: The Chinese Nezha and his Indian Origins. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2015.

Abstract: Oedipal God offers the most comprehensive account in any language of the prodigal deity Nezha. Celebrated for over a millennium, Nezha is among the most formidable and enigmatic of all Chinese gods. In this theoretically informed study Meir Shahar recounts Nezha’s riveting tale—which culminates in suicide and attempted patricide—and uncovers hidden tensions in the Chinese family system. In deploying the Freudian hypothesis, Shahar does not imply the Chinese legend’s identity with the Greek story of Oedipus. For one, in Nezha’s story the erotic attraction to the mother is not explicitly acknowledged. More generally, Chinese oedipal tales differ from Freud’s Greek prototype by the high degree of repression that is applied to them. Shahar argues that, despite a disastrous father-son relationship, Confucian ethics require that the oedipal drive masquerade as filial piety in Nezha’s story, dictating that the child-god kill himself before trying to avenge himself upon his father. Combining impeccable scholarship with an eminently readable style, the book covers a vast terrain: It surveys the image of the endearing child-god across varied genres from oral and written fiction, through theater, cinema, and television serials, to Japanese manga cartoons. It combines literary analysis with Shahar’s own anthropological field work, providing a thorough ethnography of Nezha’s flourishing cult. Crossing the boundaries between China’s diverse religious traditions, it tracks the rebellious infant in the many ways he has been venerated by Buddhist monks, Daoist priests, and possessed spirit mediums, whose dramatic performances have served to negotiate individual, familial, and collective tensions. Finally, the book offers a detailed history of the legend and the cult reaching back over two thousand years to its origins in India, where Nezha began as a mythological being named Nalakubara, whose sexual misadventures were celebrated in the Sanskrit epics as early as the first centuries BCE. Here Shahar reveals the long-term impact that Indian mythology has exerted—through the medium of esoteric Buddhism—upon the Chinese imagination of divinity. (Source: publisher's website)


Su, Xiaowei. "Researching the Image of the Yellow Emperor in China’s Early Textual Sources and Archaeological Materials." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 48-71.

Abstract: In China’s early textual sources and archaeological materials, the Yellow Emperor ?? appears in the following three contexts: in genealogical records, among predynastic rulers, and in sacrificial rituals. The earliest appearance of the Yellow Emperor is probably in genealogical records; then, after being an ancestral ruler, he becomes the earliest emperor and a legendary ruler. This demonstrates his shift from an ancestral context to a monarchic context and illustrates the gradual yet colossal shift in ancient Chinese political thought from a system of enfeoffment built on blood relations to a system of prefectures and counties based on regional ties. The image of the Yellow Emperor in the context of sacrifice is closely linked to the yin-yang and five elements theories beginning in the later stage of the Warring States period; as society developed, this image also became associated with a certain Daoist path, thereby acquiring a religious value. (Source: journal)


Su, Yongqian. "An Exploration of the Queen Mother of the West from the Perspective of Comparative Mythology." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 72-90.

Abstract: Constant interactions among cultures make it possible to conduct cross-cultural studies on the myth of the Queen Mother of the West. Since the original manuscript of the Classic of Mountains and Seas [Shanhaijing] served as the expository writing of the now lost Map of Mountains and Seas [Shanhaitu], there is reason to believe that it contains information on early depictions of the goddess. By revealing the symbolism at work in those descriptions and by consulting a wide range of ethnographic data, it becomes possible to reconstruct her primeval form. The Queen Mother of the West, once regarded as the Chinese version of the prehistoric Great Mother, was seen as the goddess embodying both death and regeneration. However, after the rise of the patriarchal system, the original Queen Mother of the West slowly fell into obscurity and was ultimately relegated to the subordinate status of a spouse for the Jade Emperor [yuhuang]. (Source: journal)


Sun Xiaosu. “Liu Qingti’s Canine Rebirth and Her Ritual Career as the Heavenly Dog: Recasting Mulian’s Mother in Baojuan (Precious Scrolls) Recitation.” CHINOPERL 35.1 (2016): 28-55.

Abstract: In the Tang dynasty Dunhuang transformation text (bianwen) about Mulian rescuing his mother from the underworld, Madame Liu Qingti, mother of the filial monk Mulian, is allowed to ascend to the Trayastrimsa Heaven once her sins have been purged. A similar happy ending is found in the most widespread versions of the legend. However, in many baojuan (precious scrolls) from the late imperial period and the modern era, Qingti is depicted as an inveterate sinner who continues to misbehave when reborn as a dog. For example, in the baojuan about Mulian used nowadays in Changshu, southern Jiangsu province, in a ritual to expel evil spirits and ensure a successful pregnancy, Qingti appears as the Heavenly Dog—a malign, infant-eating star spirit capable of causing miscarriage or neonatal death. This paper combines fieldwork on a ritual to expel the Heavenly Dog in Changshu and textual analysis to explore the ways in which Liu Qingti has been recast in baojuan literature. I consider, in particular, the motif of Qingti's unenlightened soul, and its relation to her ritual career as the Heavenly Dog in baojuan recitation. Special attention is paid to the different ritual contexts of such rituals. (Source: journal)


Terekhov, Anthony. “The Reception of the Myth of Miraculous Birth in Han China.” Bochumer Jahrbuch zur Ostasienforschung 39 (2016): 213-226.


Verellen, Franciscus, "Zhang Ling and the Lingjing Salt Well." In: Jacques Gernet & Marc Kalinowski [eds.] (avec la collaboration de Jean-Pierre Diény), En suivant la voie royale: mélanges offerts en hommage à Léon Vandermeersch. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.249-265.

Abstract: Zhang Ling, fondateur du mouvement taoïste des Maîtres célestes au IIe siècle de notre ère, fut également vénéré comme héros civilisateur de la région du Sichuan. Le présent article propose une nouvelle lecture de la légende de Zhang à partir de cette perspective régionale. L'image du héros au sein de la mythologie de Sichuan ancien est illustrée en particulier par les légendes ayant trait à sa création du Lingjing, puits de sel important et source majeure de richesse de la région au Moyen Age. [Source: article.]


Watson, James L. "Waking the Dragon: Visions of the Chinese Imperial State in Local Myth." In: James L. Watson & Rubie S. Watson, eds. Village Life in Hong Kong: Politics, Gender, and Ritual in the New Territories. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2004. Pp. 423-441.


Witt, Barbara. Die "Nezha-Legende" im Roman Investitur der Götter (Fengshen yanyi): Eine literaturwissenschaftliche Untersuchung und Kontextualisierung. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2020.

Abstract: Die Hagiographie des Gottes Nezha 哪吒 gehört zu den bekanntesten Episoden der chinesischen Erzählliteratur. Sie erzählt vom Kampf des jungen Helden gegen Drachen, eine Steindämonin und seinen eigenen Vater sowie von wundersamer Geburt, aufopfernder Selbsttötung und Wiedergeburt in einem Lotuskörper. Als gelungenste Version dieser Geschichte gilt die "Nezha-Legende" des Romans Investitur der Götter (Fengshen yanyi 封神演義), der vermutlich in den 1620er Jahren erstmals veröffentlicht wurde. Barbara Witt legt in ihrer Studie eine Kontextualisierung der "Nezha-Legende" aus strukturalistischer, religionsgeschichtlicher und literaturwissenschaftlicher Perspektive vor und analysiert die darin enthaltenen Motive und Themen vor dem Hintergrund der Kultur Chinas der späten Kaiserzeit. Ausgehend von Gérard Genettes Begriff der "Transtextualität" werden dabei buddhistische und daoistische Vorläufertexte, zeitgenössische Figurendarstellungen und geläufige Handlungsstränge sowie verschiedene vormoderne Romanausgaben betrachtet. Hierbei zeigt sich, dass der Roman Investitur der Götter bewusst bekannten Elementen der Nezha-Geschichte eine eigene Bedeutung verleiht, die im Gegensatz zu zeitgenössischen Bearbeitungen des gleichen Ausgangsstoffes steht.


Zhang, Hanmo. "From Myth to History: Historicizing a Sage for the Sake of Persuasion in the Yellow Emperor Narratives." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 91-116.

Abstract: Among the many depictions of the Yellow Emperor that survive in a number of early Chinese texts, the historicized image of this purported ancient sage king has been accepted by many Chinese scholars as that of a historical figure and has greatly inspired their reconstruction of China’s remote past. In examining some of the extant Huangdi narratives, especially passages preserved in the Discourses of the States [Guoyu], Records of the Grand Historian [Shiji], and Remaining Zhou Documents [Yi Zhoushu], this paper reveals a trend of historicizing an originally mythical Yellow Emperor presented in early Chinese writings. It also explores the historiographical reasoning behind such historicization and provides an alternative approach emphasizing the role of persuasion in the Huangdi narratives. (Source: journal)


Zhang, Zhenjun. "Two Modes of Goddess Depictions in Early Medieval Chinese Literature." Journal of Chinese Humanities 3, no. 1 (2017): 117-134.

Abstract: Early medieval Chinese literature depicts two modes of goddesses, derived from the two masterpieces attributed to Song Yu, “Rhapsody on the Goddess” and “Rhapsody on Gaotang.” Since Cao Zhi’s “Rhapsody on the Goddess” overshadowed other works among rhapsodies and poems, it appeared as if the influence of “Rhapsody on Gaotang” had stopped. This study reveals the two lineages of goddess depictions in medieval Chinese literature, showing that the “Goddess of Love” has never disappeared. (Source: journal)