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T H E G OD OF T U N D ER

F r o» : a C / mus e pu tur e

m t he R) /a m i s L i bra ry , Ma n e /t e s te r
TH E GRE S H AM PUBL IS H I
N G COMPAN Y LT D
.

66 CHAN DOS S T C
. OVE N T G ARDEN L ON D ON
P RE F A C E

This vo l ume deals with the myt h s o f C h ina and


Japan and it i s sho w n that these throw light on the
,

origin and growth o f civilization and the widespread dis


semination o f compl e x ideas associated with certain modes
o f life
. T h e Far East does n o t app e ar t o h ave remained
immun e to outside cultural influences in anci e nt times .

Modern research h as estab l ished that the old school o f


opinions whic h insisted o n th e co m plete isolation of C h ina

can no longer obtain As Laufer says : I t cannot be
.

strongly enough emphasize d on every occasion t h at


Chinese civilization , as it appears n o w is n o t a unit and
,

not the excl usive production o f th e Ch inese but the final


,

r e su l t of the cultural e Ho rt s o f a vast conglomeration o f


'

the most varied trib e s an amalgamation o f ideas acc um u


,

l ated from manifold quarters and widely di ffe rentiated in


space and tim e . No graver error can hence be
committed than t o attribute any cu l ture idea at the
outset to th e Chinese fo r n o ot h er reason t h an because
,

it appears within the pr e cincts o f their empire .

Even th e Chinese records have to be regarded wit h


caution . It is impossible nowadays t o accept as s e rious
contributions to history the inflated c h ronology and the
obvious fables compi l ed and invented by C h inese scholars
vi P REFACE
for political and other purposes during the Han and later
dynasties These scholars h ad really little knowledge o f
.

th e early history of th e ir country and people They were


.

puzzled even by certain existi n g customs and religious


practic e s an d provided ingenious secondary explana
,

tions wh ich , li k e their accounts o f the early d ynasties,


do n o t accor d with the data acc um ulat e d by arch ae ologists


and other wor k ers in the scientific fi eld The complex
.

religious ideas o f the Chinese w e re obviously n o t of


spontaneous generation Many o f these r e semble too
.

closely the complexes found elsewhere and the ir h istory


,

cannot be traced within the limits o f the Chines e empire .

I ndeed , as is sho w n , some o f them are undoubtedly


products o f human experiences obtained elsewhere , and
t h ey reveal traces o f the influences t o whic h they were
subj ecte d during the process o f gradual transmission
from are as o f origin N o r would it appear, was Chinese
.
,

civilization n e arly as anci e nt as the native sc h o l ars wo uld


have us b e lieve .

When t h e early Chinese entered China, they found


non Chines e peopl e s in d i fle re n t parts o f that vast area
- ’

which th e y ultimately w e lded into an empire They were


.

an inland people and did not invent boats ; they did not
originate the agricultural mod e of l ife but adopted it ,

using the seeds and implements they had acquired ; nor


did they invent t h e potter s w h eel with which they were

familiar from the earliest tim e s in China, having evidently


become possessed o f it along with the complex culture
,

associated with it, before they m igrated into the provinc e


o f Shensi Nor could an agrarian peop l e like the Chinese
.

have been t h e originators of the belief in t h e existence of


P REFACE vii
Isles o f the B l est in th e Eastern Ocean ; they were
n o t alone in Asia in believing in a Western Paradise
situate d among t h e m ountains .

The Chinese , as Laufe r demon strat e s i n h is Ja d e ,

did not pass through in C h ina that culture stage called


the Neolithic When they first settled in Shen si , t h ey
s e arched fo r and found j ade, as did t h e carriers of bronze
w h o first entered Europe .T h ere was obvious l y an ac
quired psyc h ological m otive for t h e search fo r j ade , and
the evidence o f Ch in e se j ade symbolism demonstrates to
the full that it had b e e n ac q ui re d from those who had
,

transferred to j ade the e arlier symbolism o f she ll s , pear l s ,

and pr e cious metals . I n the chapter devoted to j ade


it is shown t h at this V iew i s confirm e d by t h e evidence
a fforded by Chines e customs connected wit h j ade , s h ell s,
pear l s , & c
.

I n no country in the world are the processes of cu l ture


drifting and culture mixing made more manifest than in
China T h e Chin ese dragon is as Professor E ll iot Smith
.
,

puts it, a composite wonder beast T h roughout t h is

vo l ume it is shown to yi e l d w h en dissected , remarkab l e


,

evidence r e garding the varied influences u n der w h ich it


acquired its high l y complex character Th e fact t h at a .

C h inese dragon c h arm cl osely resemb l es a Scottish serpent


charm is o f specia l interest in t h is conn ection When , .

h owever, it is found t h at C h ina obtained certain myths


and practices from the area call ed by its writers E u l in “ -

(the Byzantine Empire) , and that not on l y Byzantine but


n ean influences are traceab l e in the Ce l tic fie l d t h
,
e c h arm
l ink between Gael ic Scotl and and China may not, after a ll ,

be regarded as far fetc h ed


“ -

T h e sam e may be said
.
viii P REFACE
regard ing the curious similarity betwe e n the myths and
practices connected with shells , and e specially cockle
sh e lls i n Japan an d the Scottis h Hebri d es Although
, .

the West Highland e rs and the inhabitants o f the Land o f


the Rising Sun were never brought into contact, it may
be that similar cultural infl uences drifted east and west
from their area o f origin and that the carriers were the
,

anci ent mariners w h o introduced the same type o f vessel


into far separated oceans

.

A s in China, w e d o not in Japan find a culture o f


purely native origin , but rat h er o n e wh ich has grown up
from a mass o f imported elements as varied as the racial
types that compos e th e pres e nt day population B oth in

.

China and Japan these importe d elem e nts have been s ub


e c t e d t o t h e influences o f time and locality and infused
j
with national ideas and i d e als The process e s o f growth
.

and change have n o t, however, concealed the sourc e s from


which certain o f t h e early ideas emanated in varying de
grees of development .

The early native history o f Japan is , like that o f


China, no mor e worthy o f acceptance than are the long
discarded English and Scottis h fables regarding B rute and
Scota .

The data accumulated in this volume tend to show ,

although w e have n o direct evidence o f systematic m is


s i o n ar enterprise earlier than that o f the B h ud d i s t s that
y ,

the in fluential r e ligious cults o f ancient times that flourished


in Mesopotamia and in the Egyptian Empire (w h ich i n
cluded part o f Western A sia) appear t o have le ft their
impress o n the intellectual life o f even far distant peoples
-
.

A pparently modes o f thought were transmitted along


P REFACE
direct and indirect avenu e s o f intercourse by groups of
traders Even before trad e routes were open ed, religious
.

be l iefs and practices appear to h ave been introduc e d into


distant l ands by prospectors and by settlers w h o founded
colonies from whic h l ater colonies budded When the
same s e t o f complexes are found in wide l y separated
areas , it is d i fli cul t t o accept the V iew that they originated
'

from th e same particular experiences and t h e same s e t o f


circumstances , especially wh en it is made manifest t h at
the comp l exes in the ol d er c e ntre o f culture reflect strictly
local physica l conditions , and even the local politica l con
d i t i o n s that resulted in a fusion o f peoples and of t h eir
myths , symbols , and re l igious beliefs and practices .

D O NAL D A . M AC K E N Z I E .
C ON T E N T S

C H AP .

T HE A N O F C I I L I AT ION
D W V Z

A F T R A E LL E D IN E N T ION
A R- V V

A N I E N T MA R IN ER S AN D E
C L O RER S XP

T HE W O R L D W I D E S E A R H F O R W

C E AL T H

C H IN E S E D R A G ON L O RE

B I R D AN D S ER E N T M P Y T HS

D R A G ON F O L S O R I E S
K- T

T HE K IN GD O M N D ER T HE S U EA

T HE ISL AN D S O F T HE BL E S T
T HE MO T HER G O DD E SS O F C H INA AN D JA AN
-
P

T REE H ER AN D S TON E L O RE
E -

H w C O ER
o PP LT RE RE A HE D C H INA
-
CU U C

T HE S M Y M O F JA D E
B O L IS

C RE A T ION M AN D T HE G AN D G O DD E SS
Y T HS OD

CU L T S

MY T H ICA L AN D L E G E N D A R K IN G S Y

M Y T HSAN D D O T R IN E S O F TAOI S MC

C MI IN G IN JA AN
U L T U RE X P

JA AN E S E G O D S AN D D R A G ON S
P

RI A L D E I T I E S O F L I F E AN D D
V E AT H , SU N S H IN E AN D
S T O RM

T HE D R A G ON SLA ER AN D
-
Y H IS I AL
RV

A N I ENT
C MI K A D O S AN D H ER O E S
IN D E X
L IS T OF PL AT E S

T H E G OD OF T UN D E R (
H in co lo u r)
F rom a Ch i n es e p z c t ure m th e j oh n Ry l a nd s L z bra ry , Ma nc h e ster

P O T TE R S W HEEL S I M L A I N D I A

, ,

Fr o m a s k e tc h s by L o c k w oo d l m g i n t h e Vi ct orz a a nd A l bert Muse um

A M O E R N CHINE S E JU N
D K ON T H E C A NTON R I V E R
CHINE S E R AG ON B OA T F E ST I VA L
D -

Fr om a rp i c tu r M
e w o v en m r
co l o u e d sz l k s a n d go l d t h e ad i n t h e Vi c torz a a nd r
A lb e t
us e um

CHINE S E R AG ON S AM O N G
D T H E CL O U S D

Fr om a p ai n ti ng i n th e B rz ti s h Mus e um

CHINE S E R A G ON VA S E W ITH C A RV E D W OO S T A N
D D D

( rM ) Vi c torz a an d A lbe t us eum

C A R P LE A P IN G F R O M WAV E S
Fr om a r
j ap a ne se p a i n ti ng i n th e B i t i s h Mus eum

CHINE S E P O RCEL A IN VA S E D ECO R ATE D W ITH F I VE


CL AW E D D R AG O N S RI S IN G F R O M WAVE S
( Vi c to rz a a nd A lbert Mus e um )
x1 ii
P LATES LIS T OF
R E S O N A N T S TO N E O F JA E S HO W IN G D R A G ON W ITH D
CL O U D O R N AM EN T S S U SP EN D E D F R O M C A R V E BL A C
,
D K
W O O D F R AM E
By r
co u f r F
tesy of B M .
f
L au e r , Ci e ld us e um o N a tu a l H i s tory , h ic ago

TO RTOI S E AN D SNA E K

Fr om a r ubbi ng r
i n t h e B i t i sh Museum of a C h i ne s e o r
i g i n al

G ATHE R IN G F R U IT S O F LO N G E IT Y V

Fr om a r C h i ne se p ai n ti ng i n th e B i ti sh Mus e um

S HOU S H A N (i e.

HILL S O F LO N G E V ITY T H E TA OI S T
PA R A D I S E
.

Fr om a wo v en sz lk r
p i c tu e i n rM
th e Vi c tori a a nd A lb e t us eum

T H E CHINE S E SI WA N G MU UA P A N E S E S E IO B O ) A N D MA O
NU

Fr an z a j ap ane se p ai nti ng ( by H i d eno bu) i n th e B r i ti s h Mus eum

M OUNTA IN V IE W W I T H S CH O L A R S RETRE AT ’

Fr C om r M a hi ne se p ai n t i ng i n t h e B i ti s h us e um

G ENII AT T HE COU R T OF SI WA N G M U
Fr om a C h i nes e p ai n t i ng i n t h e B ri t i sh Museum

S Q UA RE BRIC O F K T HE H AN Y N A STY W ITH


D , MY T H O
LO G IC A L F I G U R E S AN D IN S CRI PT ION S
CHINE S E BOW L W ITH S YM BOL LON GE V IT Y OF

rM ( Vi c tori a a nd A lb e t us eum )

G OA T S CR O PP IN G P L A NT OF LI F E
Fr j om th e r ad e sc ulp t u e i n th e S c o tt i s h N i
a t o na l Mus eum , E di nb u gh r
LIST OF P LATES
T HE F AM O U S OL D T O RI W - I (G O DD E SS SYM BOL ) M I Y A ,

J I MA JAPA N
,

Fr om a ph o tog r p h by H
a . G . P o n t z ng ,

T H E JAPA NE S E T RE AS URE S HI P
Fr om a r w o o d c ut m t h e B i t i sh Mus eum

S U SA - N O -W O MA IN G C O MPA CT W I T H I S E A S E S P IRI TS
K A D 3 60
Fr om a f apa n e s e p a i n t i ng (by H og a ) in th e B i t i sh r Mus eum

AMATER ASU , T H E SU N G O DD E SS E M ER G IN G F RO M
, H ER
C AV E
Fr om a j ap a ne s e p a i n t i ng i n th e B r i tis h Museum

S E IO BO ( 2 CHI N E S E WA N G M ) W I T H A TT EN D A N T
T H E SI U
AN D T HREE RI S I H

Fr j om a apa ne se ) r M
p a i n ti ng ( by S a nra k u i n the B i ti s h us eum
MY T H S OF
C H IN A AN D JA PA N

C HA P TE R I
T h e D aw n o f C i v i liz at i o n
r I r
C h i n e s e C ul t u e — H ad i t n d e pe n d e n t O i gi n t— E v o l ut i o n i n H um an
r
A flai rs — S t rat i fic at i o n T h e o y — T h e My s t e y o f Mi n d — Man s

r i st P h i lo

Fr
r
so h y o f L i fe — In flue n c e s e x e c i se d b y A n c i e n t C i v i l i z at i o n s — C ul t u e Mi x i n g
p r
- T he Id ea o f r r
P o g e ss— A rt i n t h e P l e i s t o c e n e A ge — n t o d uc t i o n o f A g i I r r
c ul t u er
— r r
B i t h o f O s i i an C i v i l i z at i o n T h e
— at e of W
e e n n e ss as

r Gr
at e W r
o f L i fe — H o w C o m m e c e B e ga n— r I r
n t o d uc t i o n o f C o
pp e w o i n g— T h er rk -

O l d e s t C al e n d ar i n the W o r ld — T he “
Ki n gs o f M ki d
an n i A nc
-
ent Ma n
an d Mod e r n Man .

T d e stinies of a people are shaped by thei r mod e s of


H E

thought and their real h istory is therefore the h istory of


,

their culture The C h inese frame of mind h as made the


.

Ch inese the people th e y are and China t h e country it is .

Every section of society has be e n sway e d by this far .

reaching and en d uring influence the sources of which lie ,

in remote antiquity It is the force that has even b e en


.

S hapi n g public opinion and directing political movements .

Emperors and l eaders of thought have been uplifted by


it o r cast down by it .

To understand China, it is ne c essary that we S hould


inquire into its inner history t h e history o f its culture —

( D 71 ) 1 2
2 MYTH S OF CHINA AND JA P AN
so as to get at the Chinese point of V iew and l ook at
things through Chines e eyes . T h at inner history is i n
part a record o f its early exp e rienc e s among the nations
o f the earth

. Th e re was a time when China was in the
making when t h e little leaven that leavened th e whole
lump began to move , when that culture w h ich sprea d
over a vast ar e a was confine d to a small c e ntre and to
a comparatively small group o f people W ho were t h is
.

people , wher e were they situate d what influences w e re at


,

work to stir them and shape their a mbitions , and what


secret did they learn which gave them power over the
minds and bodies o f about a third of the inhabitants of
the g l obe ? I n S hort, h o w and where did C h inese culture
originate and h o w did it S pread and become firmly estab
,

l i s h e d ? Was it a th ing o f purely local growth ? Did


it begin to b e quite independently o f all other cultures ?
Does it o w e its virility and d istinctiveness among the
.

cultures o f ancient and modern times to the influ e nce o f


the locality in whic h it had independent origin

Had
it an in d epen d ent origin ?
Th ese queries open up the l arger problem as to the
origin of civilization in the world A t this point, there
.

fore we must decide whether or not we are to acc e pt the


,

idea o f evolution in human aflai rs Can the principles of


f
.

biological evolution be applied t o the problems of e t h n o


logy (using th e term in its widest sense to include the
physical and cultural history of man k ind) ? Can we
acce pt the theory that i n isolated quarters of the globe
s e parat e d communities were stirred by natural laws to
make progr e ss in adapting themselves to t h eir environ
ments and that , once a beginning was made , separate d
,

commu n ities d e v e loped on similar lines Did each ancient


civilization have its natural p e riods o f growth and decay ?
Were s e parated communities uni n flue n ce d durin g these
THE D AW N OF CIVILI Z ATI O N 3
periods by human m inds and wi ll s ? Were th eir destinies
shape d by natural laws , or by the cumu l ative force of
public O pinion ? Was it a natural l aw that ma d e men
abandon t h e hunting and a d opt t h e agricultural mode of
life ? Did certain communities o f men , influenced by
natural laws in ancient times begin to shape their reli
,

i o us systems by first worshipping groups of spirits and


g
ultimately, h aving passed through a sequence of well
defined stages , find t h emselv e s elevated by these natural
laws to th e stage o f monotheism ? Is it because certain
races have, for some myst e rious reason , be e n prompted
to pass t h rough these stages more quickl y than others ,
that they are deserving of the t e rm progressive w h ile

others m ust be characterized as backward ?
If these questions are answered i n t h e a ffi rmative, we
must assum e that we have solved t h e ridd l e o f M ind .

Those who apply t h e principles of bio l ogical evo l ution to


human aflai rs are in t h e habit of r e ferring to l aws that

contro l the workings of the human mind But what do


.

we really know about t h e workings of the h uman mind ?


T h is question has only to be asked so t h at the hazardous
ch aracter o f the fashion o f thinking adopted by extrem e
exponents of the Evolution School may be emp h asized .

I t cannot b ut b e a d mitted that we know litt l e or not h ing


regarding the human mind . What happens w h en we
t h ink ? H o w are memories stored in the brain ? H o w
are emotions caused ? W h at is Consciousness ? H O W
does the Will operate ? Grave psycho l ogical prob l ems
have to be solv e d befor e we can undertake the responsi
b i l i ty of discussing with any degree of confide n ce the law s
t h at are supposed to govern human thought and action .

The researches into t h e earl y h istory o f man o f about


,

a generation ago , were believed by some to h ave reveale d


t h e essential simi l arity wit h which , under many superficia l


4 MYTHS OF CHI NA A ND JA P AN
di fferences the human mind h as e laborat e d its first cru d e
,

philosophy o f life I t w as found that si m ilar beliefs


and practices obtained a m ong widely separat e d communi
ties, an d it was not suspecte d that the i nfluence exercised

by direct and indirect cultural contact between pro gre s
sive an d backward communities exten d ed to suc h
” “ ”

great d istances as h as since be e n found t o be the case .

Prospect i ng routes by land an d sea w e re the avenues along


“ ”
which cultural influenc e s drifted Early man was
.

m uch more enterprising as a trader and explorer than was


believed in T y l o r s day The evidenc e accumulated of

.

late years tends to S how that almost no part of the


globe re m ain e d im m une to the influences exercised by
th e great ancient civilizations an d that these civilizations
,

wer e neve r in a state o f splendid isolation at any


period in their histories In the light o f this knowle d ge


.

it is becoming more an d more clear that Victorian eth mo


l o gi s t s were inclined to make t o o much o f res e mblances ,
and failed to take into account the di fferences that a more
intensive study o f local cultures have revealed Th e re .

were, of course r e semblances which suggest the influ e nce


, ,

o f cultural contact and the settlement a m ong backward

peoples o f colonists from progressive communities, but


'

there were also d i fle re n c e s o f beliefs and customs which


w e re of local origin and can hardly be characterized as
One o f t h e results o f contact was the

process o f culture mixing Customs and fash ions o f
thinking were intro d uced into a country and blended
with local customs and local mod e s o f thought In early .


C hina as w ill be shown there w as
, ,
culture m ixing
The C hinese frame o f mind is the r e s ul t o f compromises
e ffe ct e d in remote ti m es .

H o w , then did t h e idea of progress originate ?


, Is
th e re in the h uman mind an instinct which stirs mankind
THE D AW N OF CIVILI Z ATI O N 5
to achi e ve progress ? I f s o h o w does it come about t h at ,

some peoples have fai l ed to move until brought i nto


contact with progressive races ? Why did t h e Melane
sians, for instance , remain in the Stone Age until reached
by t h e missionary and the sandal wood trader ? T h e —

missionaries and the traders caused t h em to advance in


a brief period from the Stone Age to the Age of Stee l
and Mac h inery Can it be maintained that in ancient
.

days n o sudden changes took place ? Did the people ,


for instanc e , w h o introduced bronze working into a -

country introduc e noth ing else ? Did they leave behind


th e ir beliefs their myths their customs , and their stories ?
, ,

When it is asked h o w progress originated , we can


on l y turn to such evidence as is available regard ing the
early h istory of Modern M an At a remote period,
dating back in Europe to the P l eistocene Age men lived ,

in organized communities and pursued the h unting mode


of life T h eir culture is revealed by their pictorial art in
.

the prehistoric cave dwel lings of France and Spain and —


,

t h eir decorative art by their finely engraved implem e n ts


and weapons This art reached a h ig h state of pe rfe c
.
1

tion. In some aspects it compares favourab l y wit h


mo d ern art Evidently it h ad a long history, an d was
.
2

practised by those w h o were e ndowed wit h the artistic


faculty an d h ad receive d a training These early men , .

who be l onged to the Cro Magnon races , were trad e rs as -

wel l as hunters In some of t h eir inland stations



.

h ave been found sh e ll s that h ad been imported from the


Mediterranean c oast .

The h unting mode o f life pr e vailed al so among t h e


proto Egyptians in t h e Ni l e val l ey , an area whic h was
-

less capable in remote times o f maintaining a large po pu


1 My ths of C r e te a n d P re—H e llent c E r
u ope, pp 2 6 e t se
q
r
. .

2 Ibi d . S e e i l l us t at i o ns o ppo s ite p


. 20 .
6 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JA P AN
lation than were the wid e and fertil e plains o f Europe .

Egypt w as thinly peopled unti l the agricultural mode o f


life was intro d uced Someone d iscovered h o w to make .

us e o f t h e barley that grew wild in t h e Nile valley and


western Asia In time the se e d s w e re cultivat e d and
.
,

som e littl e community thus provi d e d its e lf with an


abundant food supply M e n s minds were afterwards

.

engag e d in solving the problem h o w to extend t h e area


available for cultivation in the narrow Nil e valley .

Nature w as at hand to make suggestions to th e m Each .

y e ar the River Nile ca m e down in flood and fertilized the


parched and sun burnt wast e s The waters caused th e
-
.

desert to blossom like t h e rose Intelligent observers


p e rceiv e d that if the proc e ss o f wat e r fe rtilization w e r e -

maintaine d as in the D e lta region they could e xtend


, ,

th e ir little farms and form n e w ones The art o f irriga .

tion was discovered and gradually adopted with t h e ,

result that the narrow river valley whic h had be e n thinly ,

peopled during th e Hunting P e rio d , became capab l e o f


maintaining a large population .

I n what particular area the agricultura l mode of life


was first introduced, it is impossible to s ay Some favour .

southern Palestine an d some southern M e sopotamia .

Those who favour Egypt can r e fer to interesting and i m 1

portant evidence in support o f their vi e w It is the only .

ancient country for instance in which ther e are traditions


, ,

r e gar d ing the m an w h o introduc e d the agricultural mode


2

o f life This was Osiris a priest king w h o w as deified —


3
.
, ,

o r a god to whom was credit e d the d iscov e ry, m ade by a

1
P r f r C rr
o e s so he y T h e Origi n of A gri cul tu r (Me em . an d P r o c. Man ch e s t e r L it . an d

P hi l S oc ,
d rd d
. .

“ ”
2 In B aby l o n i an l e ge n i
s c i v i l i z at o n i s i nt o uce by t h e go at -
fis h go d E a, who
c am e fr r
o m t h e P e s i a n G ul f
T Or r fi
.


3
h o s e w h o gi v e si is a L i by a n o i gi n b e l i e v e h i s n am e s i gn i es T h e Old
T h e O l d Man
” ”
O ne , or .
8 MYTHS O F CHI NA AN D JA P AN
become an agriculturist by instinct H e conducted .

observations ex e rcised his reason i ng faculty made ex


, ,

e ri m e n t s and a gr e at discove ry w as fort h coming The


p , .

man w h ose memory is enshrined in that o f Osiris was


o n e of th e great b e nefactors o f t h e human race When .

h e solved the problem of h o w to provi d e an abundant


supply o f food, h e made it possible for a large population
to live in a small area I t is told of Osiris that he gave
.

them (the Egyptians) a body of l aws to regulate their


conduct by No doubt the early h unters observed

.

laws which r e gulat e d conduct in the cave home as wel l -

as on the hunting fie l d The fact that a great pictoria l


-
.

art was cultivate d by A urignacian man in west e rn


Europe about ,
years ago indicates that the social
,

organization h ad b e e n s ufli c i e n tly well d e veloped to per


mit of certain individuals o f a class possibly the priestly —

class devoting themselves to the study o f art, while


others attend e d t o th e food supply A urignacian art


-
.

coul d never hav e reached the d egree o f excellenc e it did


h ad there not been a school o f art appar e ntly religious —

art an d a system of laws that promoted i t s welfare



.

When , in Egypt the agricultural mode o f life was


,

introduced and an abun d ant supply o f food was assure d ,


,

n e w laws b e came a necessity s o that t h e growing c o m


,

m un i t i e s might be k e pt under control These laws were .


given a religious significance Osiris instructed them .

the Egyptians in that rev e rence an d worship which t h ey


( )
were to pay to the gods Society was united by t h e

.

bon d s o f a r e ligious organization and as is found Nilotic , , ,

religion had a close association with th e agricultural mode


o f life . It reflected th e experienc e s o f the early farmers ;
it refl e cted t o o the natural phenomena o f the N ile vall e y
, ,
.

Water t h e Nile wat e r was t h e fe rtilizing agency I t


— —
.

was the wat e r o f life



Th e god Osiris was close l y
TH E D AW N OF C I V I L I ZAT I O N 9
associated with t h e Nil e ; he was the fr e sh o r t h e “

“ ”
ne w water that flowe d in due season after th e trying
“ ”
period of the l o w N ile , during which the land was
parched by the burn ing s un and every green thing was
coated by the sand storms Ho, Osiris ! t h e inun d ation
-
.

comes , cried the priest when th e N i l e began to ris e .

Horus com e s ; h e recognizes h is father in thee , youthful


”1
in thy name of Fresh Water The literal rendering .

is : “
Horus com es ; he beholds h is father in the e ,gree nness
in t h y name of Wa ter of G reenness The reference is t o
t h e new water which flows quite green for the first

few days of the annual inundatio n T h e new water



.

entered the soil and vegetation sprang up Osiris was .

the principle of life ; he was al so th e ghost god who -

controlled t h e river A s the Ni l e, Osiris was regarded


.

as t h e source of al l l ife the creator and sustainer and


ruler in o n e .

When t h e discovery of how to grow corn was passed


from people to people and fro m lan d to land , not only
the seeds and agricultural implements w e re passed along,
but the ceremonies and re l igious b e liefs connected wit h
the agricultural mode o f life in t h e area of origin The .

ceremonies were regarded as of as much importance as th e


impl e ments .

It need not s urpris e us, t h erefore , to find , as we do


find, not only Nort h African millet in t h e East I ndies ,
but North African religious beliefs connected with agri
culture in widely separate d countries Osirian r e ligious .

ideas and myths w e re, it wou l d appear, d istributed over


wid e areas and among various races T h ere is therefore .

a germ o f historical truth in the account giv e n by Plu


tarch o f t h e missionary e fforts o f Osiris “
W ith th e .

same disposition w e read “


h e (Osiris ) afterwards ,
I
B r ’
e as t e d s Rel igi on a nd T h ough t i n E gyp t, p
. 1 8 .
Io MYT H S O F CHINA AN D JA P AN
trav e lled over the rest o f t h e world inducing the people ,

everywhere to submit to his d iscipline The Gre eks .

conclude him to have b e en the same person with their


” 1
Dionysos o r B acchus .

I n the process of time the Egyptians found t h at they


w e re able t o produce a larger food supply than they -

require d for their o w n needs They were consequently .

abl e to devote th e ir surp l us to stimulating tra d e s o as to ,

obtain from other countri e s things which were not to be


h ad in Egypt They were thus bro ught into touch with
.

other communities and these communities , such as the


,

wood cutters of Lebanon w e re influenced by Egyptian



,

civilization and stimulat e d to adopt n e w modes o f life .

T heir food supply was assured by the Egyptian d emand


-

for timber They rec e ived corn from the Nile valley i n
.

paym ent for their labour There are references in the .

Egyptian texts to the exports of wheat to North Syria


an d Asia Minor .

When th e great discovery was made of h o w to work


copper the e arly agriculturists ac h ieved rapid progress
, .

Boats were built more easily and in larger numb e rs n e w ,

weapons wer e produced an d the Upper Egyptians con ,

quered the Lower Egyptians , with the result that Egypt


w as united under a singl e king Wit h this union wh ich .
,

was followed by a perio d of remarkable activity, begins


t h e h istory o f A nci e nt Egypt .

The man r e membered as Osiris who first sowed h is


, ,

lit tl e corn patch sow e d also the seeds from which gr e w


,

a mighty e mpir e and a great civilization His d iscovery .

spread from peopl e to people and from land to land , and ,

a n e w era w as inaugurated in t h e history of the world .

Progr e ss was ma d e possible when mankin d were l e d from


the wide hunting fie l d s to the little fields o f th e Stone

1
S . S qui r e, Pl uta r c h

s T r i
ea t s e
qf Is i s an r (C r d
d Os i i s am b i ge ,
TH E D AW N O F CI V I L I ZAT I ON II

Age farmer, and s h own how they cou l d live p l easant


1

and well ordered lives in large communities


-
.

The ear l y Egyptian farmers found it n ecessary to


measure time and take account o f the seasons A Calen .

dar was introduced and adopt e d during the prehistoric


( Pa l e olithic
) period ,
2
and was used by the Egyptians for

thousands o f years Julius C ae sar adapted this Calendar


.

for use in Rome It w as subsequently adj usted by Pope


.

Gr e gory and ot h ers , and is n o w in use al l over the


civilize d world Eac h time we hang up a new calendar
.
,

t h erefore we are reminded o f the man who stimulated


,

progress over vast areas by sowing corn , s o as to provide


food f o r h is family in a distant land at a far d istant period -

of time .

W h en we consider the prob l em of the origin of pro


gress, let us not forget h im and oth e rs like him those —

early t h inkers and discoverers to w h om all h umanity owe


a debt of gratitude T h e fe w invent, the many adopt ;
.

t h e few t h ink and lead , and the many fo l low .

No abstract doctrine writes Sir Jam es F Frazer .


in this connection , is more false and mischievous than
t h at of th e natural equality o f men T h e e x pe ri .

ence o f common l ife s ufli c i e n tly contradicts such a vain


imagination T h e men o f keenest inte ll igence and
.

strongest characters l ead the rest and shape the mou l ds


into which , outwardly at least society is cast Th e , .

true ru l ers of men are t h e thinkers wh o advance know


ledge . I t is knowledge whic h , in the long run ,
directs and contro l s the forces o f society Thus the dis .

coverers o f n e w tr uths are the rea l thoug h uncrowned



and unsceptred kings of m ankind 3
.

1 r
In E gy pt th i s w as t h e S o l ut e an s t age o f t h e ao - c all e d P al ae o l i t h i c A ge
2 T r
h e e w as n o N e o l i t h i c A ge i n E gy pt
r d
.

3 T h e S cope of S aci a ’ A n th opol ogy (L o n o n,


pp . 1 2— 1
3 .
1 2 MYTHS OF CHI NA AN D JA P AN
Progress has its origin in Mind I t has been mani .

fe s t e d in the past in those districts in which the mind o f


man was applied to overcome natural obstac l es and to
develop natural r e sources T h e histories of the great .

ancient civilizations do n o t support the idea of an e v o l u


t i o n ary process which had its origin in human instinct .


T h ere has , Professor G Elliot Smith writ e s
” “
b e en .
,

no g e neral o r wid e spr e ad tendency o n t h e part o f h uman


societi e s to strive after what by Europeans is regarded
as intel l ectual or material progress Progressive societies .

are rare becaus e it requires a very comp l ex series of


factors to compel men to embark upon the h azardous

process o f striving after such artificial advancement .

Professor E ll iot Smith will have none of what Dr .

W H R Rivers refers to as crude evo l utionary ideas


. . .
“ ”
.

“ Th e history o f man
, he writes

wil l be truly inter

,

re t e d , not by mean s o f hazardous and mistaken analogies


p
with biological evolution but by the application of t h e ,

true h istorical m ethod The causes of the mo d e rn actions


.

o f mankind are deeply rooted in th e past But the spirit .

o f man has ever been the same : and the course of anci e nt

history can only be prop e rly appreciat e d when it is realized


that the same human motiv e s whose nature can be studied

i n our fellow men to day actuat e d t h e men of o l d also
— — 1
.

I n t h e c h apters that immediately fol l ow it wil l be


s h own t h at separated communities were brought into
close touch by traders T h e term trading however,

.

,

refe rs e specially in early times , chi e fly to prospecting and


,

the exploiting o f l ocal ly unappreciated forms o f w e alth .

I t was not until after civilization had S pread far and wide
that permanent trade routes were established Some .

overl and routes became less important when s e a routes


were ultimately opened .

1 r
P i m i ti v e Man (P r d
o ce e i n gs o f th e r
B i t i sh A ca d em
y, V ol . V II ), p. 50 .
C HAP TE R II

A F ar -
t r av e ll e d In v e n t i o n
T h e P o t te r ’
s Wh e e l— A n E gy p i I
t an nv e n t i o n — T he Wh eel i n T h e o l o gy
— C l ay P o ts an d S to ne V e sse l s— k r r
S i ll e d A t i san s p o d uc e P o o r r
P o t te y — T h e
Y k ut
a E v id e n c e— F l
em a e Po t te r
s— P o t S y m b o l o f Mo t h e g o d dre
-
s s —
P o t te r ’
s

Wh l ee wo rk
b y Me n E gy pt i a n
ed heel

ad o t e d i n
p

W ”
e t e , B ab y l o n i a, Cr
Iran , I
n d i a, an d C h i n a No “
h e el

W
i n A m e i c a— S e c u a an d
-
r
e l i gi o us l r R
r
P o t t e y i n C h i n a, apan , n d i a, an d J I
o m e— C o a se R r Gr
av e P o t t e y — P o t t e s -
r r ’

W r r rr
h e e l as S y m b o l o f C e at o — C h i n e s e E m pe o s as P o tt e y — C ul t u e H e o e s r r r
r r r
A sso c i ati o n o f A g i c ul t u e w i t h P o tt e y — E gy pt i an d e as i n F ar E as t I .

W H A T bearing, it may be asked , have the discoveries made


in Egypt on the earl y history of China ? Is there evidence
to sho w that these wi d e ly separated countries were brought -

into contact in remote times ? Did th e primitive C h inese


receive and adopt Egyptian inventions and if so , how ,

were such inventions conveyed across the wide and d i ffi


c ult country lying between the Mediterran e an coast and
the Yellow Sea ? IS there any proof that trade routes
ext e nded in ancient times right across Asia ? Did pro
specting and trading ancient mariners cross the I ndian
Ocean and coast ro und to Chinese waters ?
Interesting evidence regarding cultural contact is
This wonderfu l machin e
'

aflo rd e d by the pott e r s wheel



.

was invented in Egypt some tim e before the Fourth


Dynasty (about 3 0 0 0 B C ) and in its area o f origin it ,

exercised an influence not only o n c e ramic craftsmans h ip


but on religious ideas I t was regarded as a gift o f t h e .

gods, as in ancient Scot l and bronze weapons implements , ,


13
I4 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JA P AN
musical instruments , & c were regarded as gifts from the
.
,

fairies Apparently the invention was first introduced in


.

M emphis , the ancient capital , t h e chief go d of which w as


Ptah the suprem e deity of all handicraftsmen and o f al l
,

workers in metal and stone Ptah was alrea d y regarded
.

as the creator of the primeval egg from which the universe



was hatched , and o f the sun egg and the moon egg
“ “
.

H e was evi d entl y a deity whose life history goes back to -

primitive times when t h e m other go d dess was symbolized —

as the goose that laid the primeval egg T h e problem o f .

wh e ther the egg o r th e bird came first was solved by the


priests o f th e Ptah cult o f Memphis , who regarded their
“ ”
d e ity as the creator o f the egg A fter the potter s .

wh e el came into us e they depicted Ptah turning the


,
“ ”
egg upon it The man ufacture of wheel made pottery
.
-

thus came to hav e r e ligious associations It was closely .

connected with the culture o f Egypt which had its basis


in the agricultural mode o f life The arts and crafts were
.

all stimulated by religious ideas ; they were cu l tivated by


the priestly class i n temple workshops , and were essen
t i all y an expression o f Egyptian beliefs and conceptions .

B efore th e potter s wheel came into use, the potter s


’ ’

art had d egenerated Vases , bowls j ars, platters and


.
, ,

other vessels were made of such costly stones as diorite ,


alabaster and porphyry ; these were drilled o ut with
,

copper implements . Copper vess e l s were also made .

The discovery of h o w to work copper h ad caused the


craftsmen to neglect the potter s art, and to work with ’

enthusias m in the har d est stone until they achiev e d a high


degree of skill . The coarse pottery of the pre whe e l -

period is therefore no indication that the civilization had


reached a stage o f decadence This fact should be a warning
.

to those arch aeologists w h o are prone to conclude that


if the pottery taken from a stratum in some particular
1 6 MYTHS OF CHINA A ND JA P AN
potter s whe e l w as invented by man , and credited to a

g od and h as from the beginning been worked by men


,

only There w as appar e ntly a religious sign ificance in


.

f
t h e connection o f the sex e s with the d i fie re n t processes .

The clay po t w as , in ancient Egypt, a symbol o f the


m other go d dess Pots used in connection with the wor
-
1
.

ship o f the Gr e at Moth e r were apparently pro d uced by


h e r priestesses A s women played their part in agri c ul
.

tural ceremoni e s s o did they play t h eir part e vidently a ,


pro m inent o n e i n producing the godd e ss s pot symbols




.

The coarse jars in which wer e store d wines and oi l s and


foo d stu ffs w e re gifts of the Great Mother, t h e giv e r o f
-

all ; S he was the inexhaustible sacred P o t the womb of —

Nature Domestic pott e ry used by women was very


.
,

properly, t h e ancient folks appear to have argued , pro


d uc e d by women .

It will be not e d writes O T Mason in t h is con . .


n e cti o n that t h e fe m inine gen d er is used throughout in
,

S p e a k ing o f aboriginal potters This is because every .

piece of such ware i s t h e work of woman s h ands S h e ’


.

quarri e d t h e clay and , lik e the patient beast of burden , ,

bore it ho m e o n h e r back She washe d it and knea d ed it .

and rolled it into fill e ts Th e s e she wound car e fully and .

sym m e trically until the vessel was built up She further .

decorated and burned it and wore it o ut in house h o l d ,


” 2
drudgery The art at first was woman s.

.

In many countries the conn e ction of women w ith


hand mad e and o f men with wh e el made pottery obtains
- —

even in o ur d ay T h e following state m ent by two Ameri .

can scholars w h o have pro d uce d a short but authoritative


,

paper o n the potter s art i s the result o f a close investiga ’

l The E v o l uti on f
o th e Dr a
gon, G E lli o t S m i th d
( L o n o n, pp 1 7 8 e t se q
T Or r
. . .

2
0 . . Ma so n, i
g i ns o
f In v e n ti on
, p. 1 66 ; an d W om a n s

S ha e in P ri m m v e Cul
f

ture , 1
p 9 . .
A FAR -
TRAVELLE D I NVENTI O N 1 7

tion of evidence co l lected over a wide area, and carefully


1
digested and summarized
The potter s w h ee l is t h e creation o f man , and t h ere

fore is an independent act of invention whic h was not


evo l ved from any contrivance uti l ized during the period
of hand m ade ceramic ware The t wo processes have
-
.

grown o ut o f t w o radical ly distinct sphe res o f human


activity The wheel so speak , came from anot h er wor l d
.
, .

I t h ad no point of contact with any too l that existed in


the old industry, but w as broug h t in from an outside
quarter as a novel a ffair when man appropriated to
himself t h e work hit h erto cultivated by woman Th e .

development was o n e from outside , not from within All .

e flo rt s , according l y, which view t h e subj ect so l ely fro m


'

the tec h no l ogical angle , and try t o derive t h e w h ee l from


previous devices of the female potter, are futi l e and mis
leading It is as erroneous as tracing th e p l ough back to
.

the h oe o r digging stick whereas i n fact, t h e t wo are in


-
, ,

no historical interrel ation and belong to fundamentally


d i E e re nt cu l ture strata and periods t h e h oe to the —

gardening activity of woman , t h e plough to t h e agri cul


tura l activity of man B ot h in India and China the .

division o f ceramic labour sets apart the thrower or w h ee l


potter, and distinctly separates h im from the mou l der .

The potters in India, wh o work on the wheel , do not


intermarry with those who use a mould or make images .

They form a caste by thems e l ves 2


.

T h e oldest w h ee l made pottery is found in Egypt -


.

T h ere can be no doubt that the potter s whee l was ’

invented in that country It was imported into Crete .


,

1
T h e B egi nni ngs of P o cela i n i n r C
h i na, b y B e t h o l d L au e an d H r fr i ch o l sW N
F d N r r r r
. .

( i e l Mus e um o f at u al H i s t o y P ub l i c at i o n, 1 9 2, A n t h o po l o gi c al S e i e s , V o l X II, .

No 2. Ch i c ago ,
.

2
Ibi d , pp . 1 53
— 1 54
.

( D 71 )
1 8 MYTHS O F CHINA A ND JA P AN
which had tra d ing r e lations with the merchants o f th e
ancient Pharaohs as far back as about 3 0 0 0 B C Before ,
. .

the wh e e l w as a d opted the Cretans made stone v e ss e ls ,


foll owing Egyptian patt e rns , but using soft ston e instead
o f hard Their hand made pottery degenerate d , as d i d
.
-


the Egyptian Pott e ry came again to i t s o w n i n both
.


countries , writ e s Mr H R Hall, with t h e invention . . .

”1
o f the potter s wh e el and t h e baking furnace

-
.

T h e pott e r s wheel must hav e foun d a ready mark e t


in the o l d days It w as adopted , in tim e , i n western .

“ ”
Europ e ; it w as quickly taken up in Babylonia and in
Iran an d was ultimately in troduced into I n d ia and China
,
.

But only the high A siatic civilizations were capable o f


constructing it, and cons e quently wheel made pottery is -


not found everywh e re Among the aboriginal Am eri .


cans the wheel was n e v e r e m ploye d It is an interesting .

fact that t h e mind o f man which is al l eg e d to work o n ,



th e sa m e lines everywh e re, n e ver evolved a potter s ’

wheel in M exico o r Peru Maj or Gordon tells that in .


2


Assam the women fashion the pots by hand ; they do
3

' ”
n o t use th e potter s wh e el Similar evidence i s obtain .

ab l e i n various other countries I n China there are wheel .

potters an d moulders , and a d istinction is drawn betw e en


them by ancient writers This clear distinction i s ac c e n .

t uat e d by Chu Yen in his treatise o n pottery H e j us t l y 4


.

observes also that t h e articles made by the wheel potters —

were all inten d e d fo r cooking, wit h the exception o f the


vessel y u which w as designed fo r measuring ; while the
,

output o f t h e m oul d ers w h o m ad e the ceremonial vessels ,

h uei an d tau by availing themselves o f the plumb lin e , w as -

1 T he j our n a l n
y pna n A
( r che ol o r
gy , A p i l , 1 9 1 4, p 14
r
. s

A bori gi n a l P ott e ry of t h e E (T w e n t i e th A n n ual Re po t ,


2
as t e r n U n i te d S ta tes , p 5 0
r r W
.

Bu e au o f Am e i can E t h n o l o gy , as h i n gt o n ,
3 T h e K h as i s, p 6 1 . .
4
T a o S h uo, c h ap i i , p . . 2 (n e w e d i t i o n,
A F A R— TRA VELLE D INVENTI O N I9
intended for sacrificial use Al so here , i n like manner as .

in ancient Rome, I ndia, and Japan , t h e idea may have


prevai l ed that a w h eel made j ar is of a l ess sacred char -

” 1
acter than one m ade by hand Her e then we touch on .

another point whic h must b e borne in m ind by those who


draw conc l usions regarding ancient cultures by means of
pottery In Britain, for instance, a rather coarse pottery
.

is found in graves It is possible that a better pottery .

was made for everyday use The conservatism O f burial .

customs may have caused coarser pottery to be put into


grave s than the early folks were capable o f producing
during the period at which t h e burial took place .

The wheel pottery w as as sacred to some cults as the


-

hand made was to others Even t h e potter s w h ee l was


-
.

sacred I n Egypt the Ptah cu l t adopted it, as has been


.

stated ; in I ndia it was a symbo l of the Creator ; in China


(as in ancient Egypt ) the idea original l y prevai l e d that

the Creator was a potter who turned on his wheel t h e


sun and t h e moon , man and woman although in time ,

this myth became a p h ilosophical abstraction The


symbo l ism o f Jeremiah has simi l arl y a h istory

0 h o us e o f I s l c nn t I d o w i t h y o u s t h i s p t t r ?
rae , a o a o e

s ith t h e L d B h l d as t h l y i s i t h e po t t h an d s o

a or e o e c a n er s
, ,
.


a e r i m ine h n d
n 0 h o us o f Is
e l
a C h t X V II I 6 —
y p
, ,
e rae . a er .

St Pau l, t o o , refers to t h e pott e r


.


N ay b ut , 0 m an , w h o art t h o u t h at re p i e s t a ai n s t G o d ? l g
S h all th e th in g
fo rm e d s ay t o h i m t h at fo m e d i t , W h y h as t t h o u r
m ad e m e t h us ? H at h not th e po t t e r po w e o v e r t h e r ly
c a , o f t h e

s am e lum p to m a e k one n
v e ss e l u t o h o n o ur
, a
nd a no t h er n
u to
i
d sh o n o ur ? ”
(R o m an s, i x , 20

C h inese emperors were compared to potters . Th e y


1 Th e B egi n nz ngs f
o P orcela i n i n C h i na, pp 1 —
54 5 In “
r
c ul t u e m i x i ng old l o c al
r f r r
. .

eli
gi o us b e l i e s we e no t o bl i t e at e d .
20 MYTHS OF CHI N A AND JA P AN
were credited with t h e power to control a nation as th e
potter controlled his wheel T h e anci e nt peoples who .

adopted t h e Egyptian potter s wheel evi d ently l e arn e d’

that it was of divine origin They adopted the Egyptian


.

beliefs and myths associated with it Withal the whee l .


,

was associated with t h e agricultural mo d e o f life , having


originat e d in a country of agricul turists Ptah th e .
,

d ivine potter , was , lik e all the oth e r prominent gods of


Egypt, fused with Osiris the god who was , among other


things , the c ul ture hero T h e Chinese “
cul ture
hero , Shun , who becam e emperor, is said to h ave

practised h usbandry, fis h ing, and making pott e ry j ars ”


.

He manufactured cl ay vessels without flaw on the river


bank .
1

The Chinese culture h ero , S h en ming ( Divine “ -


Husbandman ) was regar d ed as the father o f agriculture
and the d i s coverer of the healing property O f plants ”
.

I n ancient C h inese l ore we meet a close association o f


agriculture wit h pottery, and an il l ustration o f the fact


that husban d man and potter were one and the same

person during the primeval period 2
.

Memories of Ptah Osiris c l ung to the potter s whee l


-

.

T h e trade routes must have hummed with stories about


the god who had gifted this wonderful contrivance to
mankind These stories were l ocalized in various coun
.

tries and they took o n t h e colour o f the period during


,

which t h e wheel was imported I n Japan t h e Ptah .


,

legend has been given a Buddhistic significance Th e .

potter s wheel is reputed there to be the invention o f the


famous K orean monk , G y Ogi (A D 6 7 0 No doubt . .

the first potter s whe e l reached Japan from K orea whence


came the con q uerors of the A inus B ut there is evidence .

1
r
Ch av an n e s, Me m oi res hi s to i ques d e S m a T s i e n, V o l I, pp 7 2 — 4
'
e-

r C
. . .

2
T h e B egi n ni ngs qf P o ce l ai n i n h i na, p 1 60
. .
1 1 MYTHS O F CHINA AN D JA P AN
l e dge w as of In d ian origin T h e s e a traders who had .

crossed the Indian Ocean reached the B urmese coast


several centuries before the Christian era, as the archaic
character o f B urmese river boats suggests It may be .
,

how e ve r that the potter s wh e el w as carried along the


,

mid Asian trade routes long before the shipp e rs coast e d


-

roun d to Chin e se waters There can be no d oubt that .

the potter s wheel was introduced into China at a very


remote period Investigators are unable to discover any


.

native legen d s regarding its origi n Nor are there any .

traditions r e gardi n g female potters T h e culture heroes .

of China who made the first pots appear to have used the
wheel , and the C hinese potter s whe e l is identica l with ’

t h e Egyptian .

Wh e n the w h eel w as introduced into Japan , hand


made pottery was i n use fo r religious purposes and fo r ,

long afterwards the vessels use d at Shinto S hrines were


not turned o n the w h e e l I n India hand ma d e pottery
.
,
-

was similarly reserved for r e ligious worship after the


wheel made variety came into us e
-
The wheel did not .
1

reach southern India until its Iron A ge W hen the .


2

southern India Iron Age began is uncertain It was not , .


o f cours e , an Age in the real sense but a cultural ,

stage Iron was known and apparently in us e during


the A ry o Indian Vedic period in the north
-
.
3

The potter s wh e el was introduced i nto Babyl onia at


a v e ry remote period From Babylonia it was carrie d


.

i nto P e rsia The A vestan word fo r kiln is ta n ura , which


.

is believed according to Laufer to be a loan word from


, ,

Semitic ta nur .

Ther e are, o f course, no r e cor d s r e garding the intro


l
A n ti q ui ti es of In d i a, L Ba D r n e tt, p76 1

r r C r r
. . . .

2
Ma d as G ov e n m en t M use um l
a ta o ue
g f
o P e h i s to i c A n ti qui ti es, p 1 1 1

d
. .

3 Ve d t c In d ex of N a m es an d S ubj e cts, Mac o n e l l an d K e i t h, V o l I, pp 3 1. .


, 3 2.
A FAR TRAVELLE D INVENT I O N
-
23

duction o f the potter s wheel into Babylonia, India, o r


China Al l that we know d efinitely is that it first cam e


.

into us e in Egypt , and that it was aft e rwards adopted in


the various anci e nt centres o f civilization from which
cultural influences flowed to various areas With t h e

.

w h eel went certain religious ideas and customs T h ese


.

are not found in t h e areas unreached by t h e potter s ’

wheel.

C h ina appears to have been influenced at the dawn of


its history by t h e cu l ture represented by the Egyptia n
w h ee l
.
C HA P TE R I I I
A n c ie nt Ma rin e r s an d E x
pl o re r s

T h e C h i ne se un — J k K utas— T h e A n ci e n t : “
R eed Fl o at an d k
S in
b uo y e d R
aft —

T w o o at s fl o f th e S ky

— D ug- o ut C an o e s — Wh r
e e S h i ppi n g
w as d e v e l o ed —
p Bu r m e se an d C h i n ese J k r
un s e se m b l e A n c i e n t E gy pt i an
S h i ps — C r e t an an d P h oe n i c i an Ma ri rne s — A fri ca r
c i c um n av i ga t e d — W as

S um e ri a co l oni z ed by S ea -
frr
a e s?— E gypt i an B o a ts on S e a o f O h o ts k k
Jp
a an e se d P ly i
an o n e s an B o at s — E gy pt i an T yp e s i n Me d i te rr anean an d

N r h r r p S ri
o t e n E u o e— to es o f L o ng V o
y age s i n S m all C r f Vi i
a t— s t of C h i n e se
J k h Th
un to t S l e am e s— o om on s

S h i ps .

F U R T H E R important evidence regarding cultural contact in


early times is aflo rd e d by shipping H o w came it about

that an inland people like the primitive C h inese took to


seafaring ?
Th e question that first arises in t h is connection is
Were s h ips invent e d and deve lop e d by a single ancient
people, or were they invent e d independentl y by various
ancient peop l es at d i fle re n t periods ? Were the Chinese
'

j unks o f independent origin ? Or were these j unks


developed from early mo d els of vessels such foreign —

vessels as first cruised in Chinese waters ?


Chinese j unks are flat bottome d ships , and t h e largest -

of th em reach about 1 0 0 0 tons The poops and fore .

castles are high and the masts carry lug sails generally
,
-
,

of bamboo splits Th ey are fitted with ru d ders Often


. .

on the bows appear painted o r inlaid eyes These eyes .

are found o n models of ancient Egyptian S hips .

D uring the first Han dynasty (about 2 0 6 B C ) j unks


24
Ph o to . U n d e rw o o d

A M O D ER N CHI N E S E JU N O N
K T H E C A N T O N RI V ER
ANCIENT MARI NERS AND E X P L O RERS 25

of one thousand hi n (about I 5 tons) were regarded as


very l arge vessels . I n t h ese boats th e ear l y Chinese
navigators appear to have reac h ed K orea and Japan .

But long before t h ey took to the sea there were ot h er


mariners in the C hina sea .

T h e Chinese were , as stated, original l y an in l and


people Th ey were acquainted with river hufas (coracles)
.

before they reached the seashore These resembled t h e .

kufas of the Babylonians referred to by Herodotus , who


wrote

T h e boats which come down the river to Babylon
are circ ular, and made of skins The frames , which are .

of willow, are cut in the country o f t h e Armenians above


Assyria and on these whic h serve for hulls , a covering
, ,

of skins is stretched outside, and thus the boats are made,


wit h out eit h er stem o r ste m , quite round lik e a shie l d .
” 1

These kufas are sti l l in use in Mesopotamia T h ey .

do not seem to h ave altered much since t h e days o f


Hammurabi , or even of Sargon o f Akkad The Assyrians .

crossed rivers o n ski n floats , and some of the primitive


peoples o f mid Asia are still using the inflated skins of

cows as river ferry boats -


But such contrivances h ard l y
enter into t h e history of s h ipping The modern liner did .

“ ”
not evolve from either kufa or skin float Logs of wood .

were no doubt, us e d to cross rivers at an early period


, .

The idea o f utilizing these may have been suggest e d


to ancient h unters w h o s aw animals being carried down
on trees during a river flood But attempts to utilize .

a tree for crossing a river wou l d have been disastrous


w h en first made, if the hunters were unab l e to swim .

Trees are so apt to ro l l round in water Besides, t h ey .

would be useless if n o t guided wit h a punting pole, -

expert l y manipulated Early man must have learn e d


.

1
Boo k I, c h ap . 1 94 .
26 MYTHS OF CHINA A ND JA P AN
how to navigate a river by using to begin with at least , ,

two tr e es lashe d together In Egypt an d Babylonia we


.

find traces of his first att e mpts in this connection The .

re e d float consisting o f t w o bun d l e s of reeds and t h e raft


, ,

t o which th e inflat e d skins o f animals were attache d to


give it buoyancy were in us e at an early period o n the
,

Rivers Nile an d Euphrates A raft O f this kind h ad .


.

evi d ently its origin among a peopl e acc ustomed as were ,

the later Assyrians, to use s k in floats when swimming


across rivers There are sculptured representations o f
.

the Assyrian soldiers swimming with inflated skins under


t h eir ch e sts .

Th e reed float was i n us e at a very early period on t h e


Nile Professor Breasted says that the t w o prehistoric
.

floats were bound firmly together side by sid e , like t w o ,

huge cigars and ad d s the following interesting note :


The writer was once without a boat i n N ubia and a ,

native from a neighbouring village at once h urried away


and returned with a pair o f such floats mad e o f dried
reeds from the Nile S hores On this somewhat pr e carious
.

craft he ferried the writer over a wide C hannel to an island


in t h e river I t was the first time that the aut h or h ad
.

ever seen this contrivance an d it was not a littl e inter


,

esting to find a craft whic h h e knew only in t h e Pyramid


texts of 5 0 0 0 years ago sti l l surviving and in daily use on

the ancient river in far o f? Nubia —
.

I n the Pyramid t e xts th ere are refe rences to the


ree d floats used by the souls o f kings wh e n being
ferrie d across the river t o death The gods bind tog e ther
.

the t w o floats fo r this K ing Pepi runs a Pyramid


text .

T h e knots are tied, t h e ferry boats are brought -

together says another and there are all usions t o the


,

fe rryman (t h e prehistoric Charon ) standing in the stern


and poling the float B efore the Egyptian sun go d was
.
-
28 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JA P AN '

river When they began to convey stones fro m their


.

quarries , th e y required substantial rafts Egyptian needs .

promoted the d evelopment of t h e art of navigation on a


river specially suited for experiments t h at led to great
discoveries The de m and for wood was always great,
.

and it was intensified after metal working had been intro —

d uc e d , because of the increased quantities of fuel required


to feed the furnaces It became absolutely necessary for
.

the Egyptians to go far afield in searc h O f timber The .

fact that they received supplies o f timber at an early :

period from Lebanon is therefore of special interest .

Their experien c es in drifting rafts of timb e r across t h e


Mediterranean fi o m the Syrian coast apparently not on l y
stimulated n av al architecture and increased the experiences
of early navigators but inaugurated the habit of o rgan i z
,

ing seafaring expeditions on a growing scale “
M en , .

says Professor E l liot Smith , did not take to maritime


tra ffi cking either for aimless pleasure o r for idle ad v e n


ture They went to s e a only under the pressure of the
.

”1
strongest incentives .

The Mediterranean m ust have been crossed at a very


early period Settlements o f seafarers took p l ace in Crete
.

before 3 0 0 0 On t h e island have been found


flakes of obsidian t h at were imported at t h e dawn of its
h istory from the I sland of Me l os No doubt obsidian .

artifacts were used in connection with the construction


of vessels before copper imp l ements became common .

Th e earliest evidence o f shipbuilding as an organized


and important national industry is found in the Egyptian
tomb pictur e s of the Old K ingdom period (c 2 40 0 B C ) . .

Gangs o f m e n , under overseers , are seen constructing


many kinds o f boats large and small There are records ,
.

1 i d e nce, & c
S hips as E v
pp 5 , 6
,

r
. . .

2 My ths of Cre te a nd P r e- H el l e ni c E
p
u o e, pp . 1 46 an d 1
91 , e t s e q.
ANCIE NT MARINERS AND E X P L O RERS 2
9

o f organized expeditions dating back 5 0 0 years earl ier .

Pharaoh Snefru bui l t vesse l s nearly one h undred and


seventy feet l ong “


He sent a fleet of forty vessels to ”
.

the Ph oe nician coast to procure cedar l ogs from the slopes


o f Lebanon
1
Expeditions were al so sent across t h e Red

.

Sea Vessels wit h numerous oars, and even vessels with


.

sai l s are depicted on Egyptian pr e historic pottery dati ng


,

back to anything like 60 0 0 B C I n n o other country . .

in the worl d w as seafaring and shipbui ld ing practised


at such a remote period .

T h e earl iest representations of deep sea boats are -

found in Egypt One is se e n in the tomb of S ah ure , .

of the Fifth Dynasty (c 2 60 0 B C ) A great expedition . .

sailed to Punt (Somaliland) during the reign of Queen


H al s h e ps ut (c I 5 0 0 B C ) Five of the highly deve l oped
.
1

.

vesse l s are depicted in her temple at Deir e l Ba h ari ‘


- -
.

It is o f interest to compare o n e of these vessels wit h



a Chinese j unk Between th e Chinese and Burmese .

j unks of t o day and the Egyptian ships o f about s i x


-


thousand years ago there are , writes E K ebel Chatterton , .


many points of simi l arity Unti l quite recently, .

China remained in the same state of deve l opment for


four thousand years I f that was so with her arts and .

life generally, it has been especially so in the case of


her sai l ing craft ”
B oth the Chinese j unk and the ancient
.

Egyptian s h ip show a common influence and a remark


able persistence i n typ e
Are we to believe a reader asks , that t h e ancient
Egyptian navigators went as far as China ? Is there any
proof that th e y made l ong voyages ? We re th e ancient
Egy ptians not a peop l e who l ived in isolation for a

prolong e d period ? 3

1
B r e as t e d ’
s r
A H i s to y qf E gypt, pp 1 1 4 5 - 2
S ai li ng S hips a nd th e i r r
S to y , pp 3 1 32
r D C r ,
. . . .

3
Mas pe o i n h i s T h e a w n o
f i v i li z a ti on
p ote sts agai n s t t h i s v i e w .
3 0 MYTHS OF CHI NA AND JA P AN
It is n o t known definitely h o w far the anci e nt E gy p
tian mariners went aft e r they h ad begun to venture to
s ea . B ut o n e thing is certain Th e y made m uch longer .

voyages than wer e credited to them a generation ago .

T h e Ph oe nicians , who b e came the s e a traders o f the -

Egyptians learn e d the art o f navigation from those


,
.

Nilotic a d venturers who b e gan to visit their coast at a


very e arly period in quest o f timb e r ; they adopted the
Egyptian style o f craft, as d i d the C r e tans their prede ,

c e s s o rs in Mediterranean s e a tra ffi cking B y the time .

o f K ing Solomon the Ph oe nicians had e stablished coloni e s

in Spain , and were trading not only from C arthage in the


Mediterranean but apparentl y with the Britis h Isles ,
,

while th e y were also active in the Indian Ocean They .

were evidently accustomed to make long voyages o f


exploration At the time of t h e Jewish captivity , Pharao h
.

Necho ( 60 9 5 9 3 B C ) sent an exp e dition o f Ph oe nicians



.

from the Re d Sea to circumnavigate A frica T h ey re .

turned three ye ars later by way o f Gibral tar B ut their .

voyage excited n o surprise in Egypt It had long been .


1

believ e d by the priests that the world was surroun d ed by


water B esi d es these priests preserv e d many traditions
.
,

o f long voyages that had been made to d istant lands .

Th e re are those who believe that the early Egyptian


mariners , who were acc ustomed to visit British East
Africa and sail round t h e A rabian coast founded the ,

earliest colony in Sumeria (ancient B abylonia) at t h e head


o f the Persian Gulf The cradl e o f Sum e rian culture
.


w as Eridu ,

the s e a port Th e god o f Eridu w as Ea
.
,

w h o had a ship with pilot and crew According to B aby .

lonian traditions , h e instructed the p e ople as did Osiris ,

in Egypt h o w t o irrigat e the lan d grow corn build


, , ,

h ouses and t e mples m a k e laws e ngage in trad e and s o


, , ,
1 E gy pti a n My th and L
ge n d , p 3 7 2
e . .
ANCIENT MARI NERS AND E X P L O RERS 3 1

on . He was remembered as a monster a goat fis h go d — —


,

o r half fis h half man A pparently h e was identical with


, .

the C an n e s o f B erosus It may be that E a Oannes s y m .


b o l i z e d the seafarers who visit e d the coast and foun d ed


a colony at Eridu introducing t h e agricultural mo d e of
,

life and the wor k ing o f copper Early inland peoples .

must hav e r e garde d the mariners with whom they first


came into contact as semi divine beings, j ust as t h e —

Cubans regarded Columbus and his fol l owers as visitors


from t h e S k y The Mongols of Tartary entertained
.

quaint ideas about t h e British for e ign devils after they


had fought in o n e o f the e arly wars against China M . .

Huc, the French missionary priest o f t h e congr e gation of


St Lazarus who travelled t h roug h Tartary Tibet, and
.
, ,

China during 1 8 44 6 had once an interesting conver —


,

sation with a Mongol , who had been told by the
Chinese what kind o f people , o r monsters rath er , these
English were T h e story ran t h at the Englishm e n
lived in the water l ike fis h , and when you least expected
it they would rise to the surfac e and cast at you fiery
,

gourd s Then as soon as you bend your b o w t o send an


.

arrow at them they plunge again into th e water like


,

frogs .
1

Those who suppose that the Sumerian s coasted round


from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea landed o n the ,

barren A frican coast and setting o ut to cross a terrible , ,

des e rt, penetrat e d to the Nile vall e y along a hitherto


unexplored route o f abo ut 2 0 0 miles have to explain ,

w h at was t h e particular attraction o ffe red to th e m by


prehistoric Egypt if according to their theory, it was ,
“ ”
still uncultivated and i n the Hunting Age How .

came it about t h at th e y knew o f a river which ran through


desert country ?
1
E n
gl i s h t r i
an s l at o n o f M . H ue

s Re coll e c ti ons ( L on d o n,
p
. 21 .
3 2 M YTHS OF CHI NA AND JAP AN
I t is mor e probable that th e N ilotic people penetrated
to t h e Red Sea coast, and afterwards ventured to sea in
their river boats , and that, in time , having obtained S ki ll
in navigation , they coasted round to t h e Persian Gu l f .

I n pre Dynastic times the Egyptians obtained shells from


-

the Red Sea coast .

At w h at period India was first reached is uncertain .

W hen Solomon imported peacock s from that country


(the land of the peacoc k ) , the sea route was alrea d y well
known I t is significant to find that al l round the coast,
.

from the Red Sea to I ndia Ceylon, and Burma, the ,

Egyptian types of vessels h ave been in use from th e


earliest s e afaring periods The Burmese junks o n the .

Iraw ad i resemble closely, as has been indicated , the Nile


boats o f the ancient Egyptians The Chinese j unks .
1

were developed from Egyptian models More antique .

Egyptian boats than are found on the Chinese coast are


still b e ing used by the K oryak trib e who dwell around
the sea of Okhotsk Mr Chatterton says that th e . .

K oryak craft have “


important similarities to the E gy p
tian sh ips o f the Fourth and Fift h Dynasties (c 3 0 0 0 2 5 0 0 .

BC
) Thus
.
,
besides copying the ancients in steering with
an o ar, the for e end of the prow of their sailing boats
-

terminat e s in a fork through whic h the harpoon line is -

passed, the fork being sometimes carved with a h uman


face which they believe will serve as a protector of the
boat Instead of rowlocks they have, like the earl y
.

Egyptians , t h ong loops through which the o ar or p addle


is ins e rte d Their sail too is a rectangular S hap e of


.
, ,

dress e d reind e er S kins sew e d tog e ther B ut it is their .

mast that is especially like t h e Egyptians and Burmese .



This mast is made o f three poles s e t up in th e manner
1 E . K ebel C h att e r
ton s
'
S a i l i ng S h i ps a nd th e i r S tory , pp 7 . an d 31 , an d i ll us t r a

tio n o
ppo s i t e page 8 .
AN CIENT MARINERS AND E X P L O RERS 33

T h e do ub l e mast was common in ancient



o fa tripod
Egypt but M r Chatterton notes that Mr Villiers Stuart
,
. .

found o n t h e wal l s of a to m b belonging to the Sixth


Dynasty (c 2 40 0 E C ) at G ebe l Abu Faida the painting
. .
,

o f a boat with a trebl e mast made o f three spars arranged

l ike the e d ges of a triangular pyr amid 1


Thus we find ”
.

that v e ssels of Egyptian type (adopted by various peoples )


not only reached China but went a considerab l e distance
beyond it Japan e s e vesse l s stil l display Egyptian charac
.

t e ri s t i c s.I n the M oluccas and Malays t h e ancient thr e e


limbe d mast has not yet gone out of fashion Polynesian .

craft were likewise developed from Egyptian mod e l s .

William Ellis, the missionary noted the pec ul iar and



,
2

almost classical shape of t h e large Ta h itian canoes with


elevated prow and stern an d tells that a fleet o f them
reminded him of representations o f the sh ips in whic h

the Argonauts sailed , or the vessels that conveyed the



heroes of Hom e r to the siege o f Troy .

Various writers h ave called attention to the persis


tence of Egy ptian types in t h e Mediterranean and in

northern Europe I n every age and every district o f
.

the ancient world wrote Mr Cecil Torr, the great .


authority on classic shipping t h e method o f rigging,

ships w as substantiall y the same ; and this method is first



depicted by the Egyptians 3
.

The Far East e rn craft went l ong distances in ancient


days E ll is tells of regular voyages made by Po l ynesian
.

chiefs which extended to 3 0 0 and even 60 0 m il e s A .

chief from Rurutu onc e visited the Society Islands in


a native boat built somew h at in the shape o f a cres

cent, the stem and stern h igh and pointe d and t h e sides
1
S a i l i ng S h i ps a nd th e i r S tory , pp 3 2— 3
Fr d
. .

3
P oly nesi an Res e a rch es, i s t E i t i o n, 1 8 2 9 , V o l I, p
. . 1 69 .

3 A n i en t
c S hips, p 7 8
. .
34 MYTHS OF CHINA AN D JA P AN
deep Sometimes exceptional ly l ong voyages w e re
forc e d by the weat h er conditions of Oceania “
In .


Ellis writes , t w o canoes were driven from
A n cars o to one of t h e P hilippine Islands , a distance o f
8 0 0 miles He gives other i nstances of voyages of
.

like character A C hristian missionary, travelling in


.

a native boat was carrie d nearly 8 0 0 mi l es i n a south



,

westerly direction ? Reference has already been made
to the long and d aring voyage made by the P h oe nicians
who circumnavigated Africa Another extraordinary .

enterprise is referre d to by Pliny t h e elder, who quotes 3

from the lost work o f Cornelius N e pos This was a voyage .

perform e d by Indians w h o had, before 60 B C , embarked . .

on a commercial voyage and reache d the coast of Ger


many It i s unc e rtain whether they sail e d round the
.

Cape of Good Hope and up the Atlantic Ocean , or went


northward past Japan and discovered the north e ast -

passage s k irting the coast o f Siberia , an d sailing round


,

Laplan d and Norway to t h e Baltic They w e re made .

prisoners by the Suevians and handed over to Quintus


M e tellus C eler, pro consular governor of Gaul -
.

I n 1 7 7 0 Japanese navigators reached the northern


coast o f Sib e ria an d lande d at K a m chatka T h ey were .

t aken to St Petersburg w h ere th e y were received by the


.
,

E m press of Russia who treated them with marked kind ,

ness In 1 8 4 7 8 the Chin ese j unk Key i ng sailed from


.

Canton to the Tham e s and caused no small sensation on


its arrival This vess e l rounded t h e Horn an d took 4 7 7
.

days to complete th e voyage .


Solomon s ships made long voyages : Once every

1
P oly i
nes a n Res ea rch es, i Fr d st E i t i o n , 1 8 2 9 , V o l I, pp 1 81 , 2. T he r
c e s c e n t - sh a
pe d
r r
. .

v e sse l i s q ui t e E gy pt i an i n c h a ac t e .

3
Ibi d, V o l II, pp 5 0 , 5 1
. . .
3 Bo o k II, 6 7 .
C H A P TE R I V
T h e W o rld w i d e S e a r c h fo r W e a l t h -

Rl i I i fQ
e ig o us f W l h S r
n c e nt v e f Pr i oM l ue s t o ea t —

ac e d n e ss o e c o us eta s

an d G l d h Sky i i Ir
S t o n es — o d h D il M
an t l C i
e De t e s— o n as t e ev

s e ta — h n es e

Dr d M
ago n s l anG ld d d S i l r b i I d i r
e t a s— o d go o an ve ad n n a— D ago ns an

C pp r lp r f M r ry Dr Bl d li i r f i f “ ’
o e — Su hu et od e cu as ago n s oo an E x o L e

Dr P rl
ago n s a n d h J l ea r ll D i r
s —T ry f B d d h i
e

ew e t h at g an t s a es es — S to o u st

Abb d o t an G J l f Fl d d bb J p d K r
th e S ea -
od ewe s o oo an E —
a an an o ea

d
S e a go—
b d as P rl P r i

A unrl F i rl i y f
an t ea nce — Pea s h e rs - E a y H st o r o S ea
traffi k i c r d r d C l i C M S ll d P rl
n g— T a e s an o o n s t s— o w, o o n, he s, an ea s c o n n e c te d

w th
i M r d T othe -
G dd
go ll l f
d e ss C l r Dri f
— h e Sow o e ss— She Be i e s— u tu e ts an d

C l r C
u tu pl e om ex es .

T HERE can be no doubt as to the reasons why Solomon


sought to emulate t h e maritime activities o f the Ph oe nicians
who had been bringing peacocks from I n d ia silver from ,

Spain , an d gold from W est Africa and els e wh ere l ong


b e fore h i s day .

A d K i g S o lo m o n m d
n nn y o f h ip i E i o g b r a e a av s s n z n- e e ,

wh i h i s b si d E l t h
c th
e sh o ef th R d S o in t h l n d f
,
on e re o e e e a, e a o

Ed m o A d H i m s n t in t h
. n y h i s s a t s h i pm n t h t
ra e e n av e rv n s, e a

h d k no w l d g o f t h
a ew ith t h e s n t s f S o lo m n A d
e s e a, e e rv a o o . n

t h y cam
e t O ph i r d f t h d f m t h n c g ld f ur h un d r d
e o ,a
n e c e ro e e o , o e

d b ugh t i t t o K i g S o l o m n
” 1
an d t w e n ty t l n t s a e , an ro n o .

Wh n t h e Queen o f Sheba visited Jerusal e m s h e was


e

accompanied by camels that bare S pices , and very much



gold an d precious stones
,
2
About seven centuries
b e fore Solomon s d ay , Q ueen Hatsh epsut of Egypt, to ’

1 1 K i n gs , i x, 2 6- 8 .
2
1 K i n gs , x, 2 .
W O RL D W I D E SEARCH FOR W EALTH
-
37

whom reference was made in the last chapter had emu ,

late d the fe ats o f her ancestors by sending a fleet t o Punt


(Somaliland o r B ritish East Africa
) to bring back among ,

other things , myrrh trees for her n e w temple Th e .

myrrh was required fo r the incense i n t h e temple


servic e Ancient mariners s e t o ut on long voyages ,

not only on the qu e st of wealth but a l so of various ,

articles requir e d fo r religious purposes I ndeed , the .

quest of wealth had originally religious associations .

Gold , si l ver, copper pearls , and pr e cious stones w e re


,

all sacred , and it w as because of their connection with the


ancient deities that they were first soug h t for Th e s o .

“ ”
call e d ornam e nts worn by our re m ot e anc e stors were
charms against e vil an d il l luck M etals were similarly .

supposed to have protective qualities Iron is still r e garded .

in t h e Scottish Highlands as a charm against fairy attack .

In China it is a protection against drago n s The souls o f .

the Egyptian dead w e re charm e d in the other world by


the amulets placed in t h e ir tombs W hen the Pharaoh s .

soul entered t h e boat of t h e s un god h e w as protected by —


metals B rought to the e a Pyramid text stat e s are , ,
” 2
blocks o f silver and masses of malachite Gold was the .

m e tal o f the s un god and S ilver o f the deity of the moon


-
.

Horus had associations with copper an d Ptah , the go d of ,

craftsmen , with various metals Iron w as the bones of .

Set , the Egyptian devi l I n Gr e ec e and India the mythi



.

cal ag e s were associated with metals and iron was the ,

metal o f th e dark age o f evil (t h e Indian K ali Y uga


In Ch ina the metals h ave similarly re l igious associa

tions Th e dragon gods of water rain , and th under are


.
-
,

connected with gold ofvarious hues t h e golds co l oured


“ —

by t h e alchemists by fusion with other metals T h us we .

1
B r
e as t e d ’
s A H i s tor y on y pt, p 2 74
r d
. .

2
B Re l i gi on a n d T h ough t i n A n ci e n t E gy pt , p

e as t e s . 2 79.
3 8 MYTH S OF C H INA AN D JA P AN
have Chines e refe r e nces to red , yellow white , bl ue , an d
black gold, as in the following extract
Wh n t h y llo w dr go b n f o m y ll w go l d t h u d
e e e a n, or r e o 2 o sa n

y s o ld t s d p pl
e ar ,
en ery ll w Sp i g das h s fo t h ; d i f
a ee ac e , a e o r n e r an

f o m t h i s s p in g s o m
r p t i c l s
(fi d
r ust ) a i se , t h b co m e ar e ne r e se e e a

y ll w lo ud
e o c .


In t h s m w y blu sp in gs d blu l uds o i gi t f m
e a e a e r an e c o r na e ro

b lu d g n s b n f m b lu g l d i g h t h un d d y
e ra o , or s ld ;
ro d e o e re e ar o re ,
w hit d bl k s p i gs
e , an d c l ud s f m r d w h i t
ac d bl k
r n an o ro e , e , an ac

d go s b o n f m g l d f m c l o urs a t h o us n d y
”1
ra n r ro s o ld
o o sa e o a e ar .

I n Indian Vedic lore gold is a good metal and silver a


bad metal One of the Creation Myt h s states in t h is
.

connection
H (P j p t i)
e t d As u s (d m o n s)
ra a a Th at w as d is
c re a e ra e .

p l s
ea i g t h
n i m T h t b
o m t h p i us
. m t l w ith t h b da e ca e e re c o e a e a

c o l ur (s i l
o ) T h i w s t
v erh i g in .f i l r H s t d g d s a e or o s ve . e c re a e o .

T h t w as pl in g t h i m Th t b m t h p c i o u m t l w i t h
a e as o . a eca e e re s e a

th g o d l u (g l d) T h t w s t h o i gin f g l d ” 2
e o co o r o . a a e r o o .

The dragon o f the Far East is associated with copper as


well as gold I n the Japanese H i stori ca l Re cord s the story
.

i s told h o w the E m peror Hwang brought down a dragon


so that he might ride o n its back through the air He .

first gathered copp e r on a mountain Then he cast a .

tripod I mm ediately a dragon , dropping its whiskers


.
,

came down to h i m After the monarch had used the god .


as an airship , no fewer than seventy o f his subj e cts

followed his exa m ple Hwang w as the monarch wh o .

prepare d the liquor of i m mortality (the Japanese


soma by m e lting Cinnabar (sulphuret o f m ercury,


known as dragon s

Chinese dragons accord ’

ing to Wang E u in Rh y a y i h dread iron and lik e precious ’

1
Q uo t e d fr om a Ch i n e s e wo rk D r Wby M W V r de i sse i n Th e Dr gon
a in C hi n a
Jp rd
. . . .

a nd a an
(A m s t e am ,
2
Mui r’
s S a ns /m t T ex ts, V o l I, p 5 1 6 . .
W O RL D W I D E SEARCH F O R W E AL TH
-
39

stones In Japan the belief prevai l ed that if iron and filt h


.

were flung into ponds the dragons raised h urricanes that


devastated the l and The Chinese roused dragons, w h en .

they wanted rain , by making a great noise and by throw


“ ”
ing iron into dragon pools Iron has a pungent nature .

and inj ures the eyes of dragons , and t h ey rise to protect


t h eir eyes Copper has, in China, associations with dark
.

ness and d e at h The Stone of Darkn e ss is h o ll ow and


.

contains water or the vita l spirit of copper


“ 1
Dragons ”
.

are fond of these ston e s and of beautifu l gems .


2

T h e dragon shaped s e a gods of I ndia and t h e drago n


- -

gods of China and Japan have close associations with


pearls In a sixth century C h inese work, it is stated t h at
.
— 3

pearls are spit o ut by dragons Dragons have pearls .

worth a hundred pieces of gold in their mouths , under


their throats , or in their poo l s When dragons fig h t .

in the sky, pearl s fal l to the ground De Groot makes “


.

reference to t h under p e arls that dragons have dropped


from their mout h s These illuminate a house by night
. .

In Wang F u s d escription o f the dragon it is stated that


a dragon h as a bright pearl under its c h in


A mountain in Japan is called Ry us h uh o , w h ic h means


Dragon Pearl P e ak
-
It is S ituated in Fuwa district of
M ino province , and is associat e d in a legend w ith t h e

B uddhist temple called Cloud Dragon Shrine When -
.

this temple w as being erected a dragon , carrying a pear l ,

in i ts mouth , appeared before one of t h e priests Moun .

tain and sanctuary were cons e quent l y given dragon names .

The j ewe l that grants all desires is known in India,


“ ”

C h ina, and Japan A Japanese story relates that once


.

upon a time an Indian Buddhist abbot, named Bussei

2
Dr . W M . . W V r . de i s se
3
, The Dgon i n
ra C hi n a a nd Jp a a n,
p 69
. .

Ibi d ,p 223. S h i i hi , c h ap i i
V
. . . .

‘Reli i ous S s tem


g y of Ch i n a, V o l .
, p 8 67
. .
40 MYTHS OF CHI NA AND JA P AN
s e t o ut o n a voyage wit h purpose to
( Buddha s )

v ow ,

obtain this j ewel (a pearl ) which w as possessed by th e “

d ragon king o f the ocean I n the mi d st o f the s e a t h e


boat hove to while B ussei performed a ceremony and
r e peated a charm , ca using the d ragon king to appear -
.

The abbot, making a mystic S ign t h en demanded t h e ,

pearl ; but t h e dragon d eceived him and nullifie d th e



mystic sign Risi n g in the air, the K ing o f the Oc e an
.

ca us e d a great storm t o rage The boat was d estroyed .

a n d all o n board it except Bussei we re drowne d


, Bussei
, .

aft e rwards migrated from south ern India to Japan , a e com


p an i e d by B aram o n W all gazing —


Th e Jew e ls o f Flood and Ebb w e r e j ewels that

grante d d e sires I n Japanese legend th e se w e re poss e ssed


.

by the drago n king (S aga ra ) whose kingdom li k e that o f


, ,

the I ndian Naga monarch and that o f the Gaelic ruler o f



Land Under W aves , i s situated at the bottom o f t h e
-

s ea . The white j e wel is called P e arl o f Ebb and the



blue j ewel Pearl o f Flood .

A Japanese story relates that the Empress Jingo


“ ”
obtain e d from a sea go d a j e wel that grants all desires
-

During her reign a great fleet w e nt to K orea to obtain


tribut e The K orean fleet w e nt out to m e et it but when
.
,

it w as drawn up for battle a Japanes e go d cast into the


,

sea th e Pearl of Ebb and immediately the waters with


dr e w leavi n g both fle e ts strand e d T h e r e solute K ing of
,
.

K orea n o t t o be daunted leapt o n to th e d ried s e a bed


, ,

,

and, marshalling his troops there advanc e d at the hea d o f ,

them to attack and d e stroy the Japanes e fleet Then the .

Japanese go d flung t h e P e arl o f Flood into the sea



.

No sooner was this done than the wat e rs returned and


drowned large n umbers of K oreans Th en a ti d al wave .

S w e pt over the K orean shor e wh ile t h e troops praye d for


,
“ ”
their lives in vain Not until the Pearl o f Ebb w as
.
41 MYTHS OF CHINA AN D JA P AN
myths , and religious b e liefs associated with a partic ular
mode of life .

Before the culture complexes of C h ina and Japan are


investigated , s o t h at loca l elements may be sifted o ut from


th e overlying mass o f imported elements , it would be
well to deal with the h istory of the search for wealth
across t h e oceans of the world .

It is necessary, t h erefore, to turn back again to the


cradle of shipbuilding and maritime enterprise to ancient —

Egypt wit h its wonderfu l civi l ization of over 3 0 0 0 years


that sent its influences far and wi d e Whether or not t h e .

Egyptians e ver reached China or Japan, w e h ave no


m eans of knowing P aut h i e r s V iew in this connection
.

has come in for a good deal of destructive criticism He .

r eferred to a Chines e tradition t h at about 1 1 1 3 B C . .

t h e Court was visited by seafarers from t h e kingdom of




Nili , and suggest e d that they came from the Nile
valley.
1
T h e N ili , N el e or N er e folk, accord
“ “ ” ”

ing to others came from t h e direction o f Japan or from


,

beyond K orea .Reference s to them are somewhat


obscure I t does not follow t h at because Egyptian s h ips
.

reached C h ina, t h ey were mann e d by Egyptians Ships .

were , l ike potter s wheels, adopted by folks who may


never h ave h eard o f Egypt A cu l ture flows far beyond


.

the areas reached by those who have given it a definite


character, j ust as the Bantu dial ects have penetrated to
areas in Africa far b e yond Bantu control .

What motives , then , stimulated maritime enterprise


at the dawn of the h istory of s e a t rafli c k i ng ? What —

attracted the ancient mariners ? I f it was wea l th, what


was wealth to them ?
Th e answer to the last query is that weal t h was some
t h ing wit h a religious significance Gold was searched .

1
C
h i ne A nci enne, pp 9 4 e t
. se
q
.
W O RL D W I D E SEARCH FOR W EALTH
-
43

for, but not, to begin with for t h e purpose of m aking


,

coins. There w as no coinage Gold was a precious


.

metal in the sense that it brought luck, and to t h e ancient



people luck meant everything they yearned for in this
world and the next .

As far back as t h e S O called Pa l aeo l it h ic period


-

in western Europe , there was, as h as been noted a ,

systematic search for wealth in the form of sea shells -


.

The hunters in central Europe imported she l ls fi o m the '

M e diterranean coast and used them as amu l ets These .

imported shells are found in t h eir graves In Ancient .

Egypt, shells were carri e d from t h e Red Sea coast, as we ll


as from t h e Mediterranean coast l ong before t h e historica l
,

period begins The evidence of th e grave fin d s shows


.
-

that Red Sea pearl S hell and Red Sea cowries were in use

for religious purposes Millions o f them as Maspero


.

h as noted have been found i n Ancient Egyptian graves


, .

In tim e , pearls cam e into use, not only pearls from Ni l e


mussels , but from oysters found in t h e sout h ern part of
the Gulf of Aden As shipping developed, t h e pearl
.

fis h e rs went farther an d farther in search of pearl s Th e .

famous ancient pearl area in the Persian Gulf was dis


covered and drawn upon at some remote period N o .

doubt t h e pearls worn by Assyrian and Persian monarchs


came , in part , from the Persian G ul f A t what period .

C e ylon pearls were first fished for it is impossible to say .

Of one thing w e can be certain however They were , .

fished for by men who used the Egyptian type o f vessel .

T h e m igrating and trading pearl fis h e rs carri e d their


beliefs wit h them from land to land Almost every .

where are found the same beliefs and practices connected


with shells and pearl s T hese beliefs and practices are of
.

a highly complex character s o complex, indeed t h at t h ey



,

must h ave had an area of origin in wh ic h t h ey reflected


44 MYT H S OF C H I N A A N D JA P AN
th e beliefs and customs o f a people with a h istory o f their
o wn . The p e arl for instance, w as connect e d with the
,

moon with the god d ess w h o was the Great Mother, an d


,

with the s un and the sun god Venus (A phrodite) w as -


.

sea born She w as lifted from the s e a, by Tritons seated



.
,

o n a sh e ll She w as the pearl the V ital e ssence o f the


.

magic sh e ll an d s h e was the moon the Pearl of Heaven


, ,

Th e pearl like t h e moon was suppos e d to exercis e an


, ,

influenc e ov e r human b e ings I n Egypt, t h e Mother .

Goddess w as symbolized by a c o w, and c o w , moon , pearl ,

and S hell were connected in an arbitrary way .

I n those areas in which t h e Mother Goddess was


symbolize d by the s o w the S hell w as likewise connected ,

with h er T h e Greeks applied to the cowry a word


.


that means littl e pig this word h ad a sp e cial
reference to t h e fe male s e x The Romans called the .

shell porci and porcelain has a lik e derivation



As .
1

has been S hown women were connected with hand made


,
-

pott e ry and th e pot was a symbol o f t h e Gr e at Mother


,
.

I n Scotland c e rtain S hells are still referred to as cows


,

and pigs

They were anciently beli e ved to promote
.

fertility and bring luck The custom of placing shells o n .

window sill s , at doors , i n fire places and round garden


— —
,

plots still obtains in parts o f England, Scotland and ,

Ireland Some l o w reli e fs o f mot h er goddesses with


.

bask e ts of fruit corn & c surviving from t h e Romano


, , .
,

B ritish period which have be e n found in various parts of


,

B ritain hav e shell canopi e s


,
The Romans took over
-
.

t h e goddesses o f the p e oples o f west e rn Europe o n whom

th e y impose d their rul e , as they took over the Greek


pantheon .

Following the clues a fforded by t h e evidenc e of S hips ,


it is found that the early pearl fis h e rs coaste d round from -

1 E ll i o t S m i th , T he E v o l uti on f
o th e Dr gon, pp
a . 21 6 e t se
q .
W O RL D W I D E SEARCH FOR W EALTH

45

the Red Sea to the Persian Gu l f, round I ndia to t h e Bay


o f B e ngal ,
ro und the Malay P e nin sula to the C h ina Sea,
northwards to t h e Sea of Ok h otsk, and on to the western
coast o f Nort h A merica Oceania was peopled by the
.

ancient mariners, who appear to have reach ed by this


route the coast of South America As we have seen.
,

Africa was circumnavigated W estern and north western


.
-

Europe and the British Isles were reached at a very early


period .

T h e ancient s e afarers searched not on l y for pearls and


pearl s h e l l but also for go l d , silver, copper, tin and ot h er
-
, ,

metals and for precious stones They appear to have


.

founded trading co l onies that became centres fro m w h i c h


'

cultura l influences radiated far and wide From these.

colonies expeditions set o ut t o discover n e w pearl ing


grounds and new mineral fields T h e sear c h fo r weal t h ,
.

having a religious incentive, caused, as h as been said , t h e


S pread of religious ideas . I n di fferent countries imported
,

beli e fs and customs became m ingle d with local beliefs and


customs, with the result that in many countries are found

c ulture complexes which h ave a historical significance
— re fle c t i n
g as they do t h e varied experiences of th e
peoples and the influences introduced into their hom elands
at various periods .

I n the next chapter it wi ll b e s h own h o w t h e dragon


of China h as a history that throws much lig h t on the
early movements of explorers and traders w h o carried the
elements o f complex cultures into far distant lands .
C HAPTE R V

C h in e s e D rago n L o re
Dr ago n R ai n — go d an d T i ge r -
go d of Mo un tai n s an d W o o d s— T h un d e r
go d s o fE as t an d W
G rd i f T r r Dr
e st — Sha rk -
go d s as ua ans o e as u e — ago n an d

Wh l Fi h V r b r
a e C r
s Dr e te d D ae asCr il ha l m s —
ago n an ugo n g, o cod e, E e ,

& c P ly — i Dr o P rl
n es an r C h i Dr
ago n d
as

ea -
m o th e

— n e se ago n an

S t ag
l p G d G
.

of h ky
t B by l
e S i — d ah A ll
o n an S e a go-
an d t e nte o e, az e e, S t ag, an o at

— B by l i a Dr l y r y p i G ll
o n an ago n - s a l p de s— E gi ri t an az e e an d A n te o e - go s— Os s

as a fri
Se a— go dl p
— A d Dr
can rp
A n te oW r e an A s i at i c ago n — T he Se e n t as

ate

C fi
on i yp
ne r

d I n CEg i Dr h
t an r f r
n d i a—
p h n e se ago n as

N at u e o Se en t

A nci rb f
e nt r Dr
A t t i ut e s Dr o l Dr i
F ar—E as t e n ago n — ago n B at t es — ago ns n E as t

an d W e st—Dr g Dr M r d W rld Dr
S t o n e s as “
a on E ggs — ago n o th e an o ago n

— Dr d p r r
ago n s a n E m e o s .

T H EChines e d ragon is a strange mixture o f several


animal s Ancient native writers like Wang E u inform
.

us that it has the head o f a camel , the h orn s of a stag, the


eyes o f a demon , the ears of a cow, the neck o f a snake ,
the belly of a clam , the scales o f a carp , t h e claws of an
eagle , and t h e soles o f a tiger On its head is t h e ch i i h .

“ ”
m uh lump that (like a g as bag
) enables it to soar -

through the air The body has three j ointed parts, t h e


.

first being h ead to shoulders the second S houl ders


“ “
,
“ ”
to breast and the third, breast to tail The scales .

number 1 1 7 , o f which 8 1 are imbued with good influence


( g)
y an and 3 6 with bad influence ( )
y i n for th e d ragon is ,

partly a Preserver an d partly a Destroyer Under the .


neck the scales are revers e d Th e re are five fingers “
.

or claws o n each foot The male dragon has whiskers , .

and under the chin or in th e throat , is a l uminous pearl , .

46
CHI NESE D RA G O N L O RE 47

There is no denying the importance and significance of


that pear l .

A male dragon can be distinguished from a femal e o n e


by its und ulating horn , which is thickest i n t h e upper
part A femal e dragon s nose is straig h t A h orned
.

.

dragon is called h i u l ung and a h ornless o n e ch i lung



-


.

Some dragons have wings I n addition t h ere are h orse .

dragons , snake dragons cow dragons, toad dragons dog


-
,
- -
,

dragons, fis h dragons , & c , in China and Japan I ndeed ,


-
. .

al l hairy, feathered , and scaled animal s are more or l ess


associated with what may be call ed the “
Orthodox

Dragon The tiger is an enemy of the dragon , but
there are references to tiger headed dragons T he -
.

dragon is a divinity of water and rain , and the tiger a


divinity of mountains and woods 1
The w h ite t i ger Is .

a god of the west .

Like the deities of ot h er countries the Chinese ,

dragon god (and the Japanese dragon ) may appear in


-

di fferent shapes as a yout h o r aged man as a l ovely



,

girl o r an old h ag as a rat, a snak e a fish , a tree, a


, ,

weapon, or an implem ent But no matter what its s h ape .


may be , t h e dragon is intimate l y connected wit h water .

It is a rain l ord and therefore t h e thunder god w h o



-

causes rain to fall T h e Chinese dragon t h us l inks wit h


.

the A ry o I ndian god Indra and other rain and thunder


-

gods connected wit h agriculture , inc l uding Z eus of


Greece, Tarku o f Asia M inor, Thor of northern Europe ,
the Babylonian Marduk (Merodach ) Se c There are sea , .

dragons that send storms like t h e wind gods , and may be -

appeased wit h o fferings These are guardians o f treasure .

an d especiall y of pearling grounds Apparent l y t h e ear l y



.

pear l fis h e rs regarded the s h ark as the guardian of pearls


-
.


It seized and carried away the robbers who dived for
1 De V r i ss e , The D gon i n
ra C h i na and
j apan, p . 1 0 9 .
48 MYTHS OF CHI NA AND JA P AN
oysters The chief s e a god of China sometim e s app e ared
.
-

i n shark form an e normous lion h ea d ed S hark


— —
.

Procopius a sixth century writer, says in this connec


,
-

tion “
Sea d ogs are wonderful admirers of the p e ar l
-

fis h , a n d follow t h em o ut to s e a A certain fis h e r .

man , having watched for the moment when the shell fis h —

was depriv e d o f the attention o f its attendant s e a d o g -

s e iz e d the shell fis h and made for the shor e The s e a


-
.

dog however was soon aware of the theft , and, making


, ,

straight fo r the Finding himself


thus caught h e mad e a last e ffort, and threw the pearl
,

fis h on shore immediately on whic h h e was torn to


,
”1
pieces by its protector .

I n Polynesia the natives have superstitious ideas ,

about the shark “


Al though says E l lis , they would
.

not only kill but eat certain kinds of shark, the large
blue shark s S q ua lus gl a ucus were deified by them , an d ,
, ,

rath e r than attempt to destroy them , they would endea


vour to propitiate t h eir favour by prayers and o ffe rings .

Te mples were erect e d in whic h priests o ffi ciated and , ,

o ffe rings were presented to the d eified sharks , while


fishermen and others who w e re much at sea, sought
,
” 2
th eir favour Polynesian gods , like Chinese dragons
.
,

app e ared in various shapes “
One fo r instance , writes .
,

Turner, s aw his god in the eel another in the shark , ,

another in the turtle another in the d o g another i n the , ,

o w l anoth e r in th e lizard ; and so o n throughout a ll the


,

fis h o f the sea and birds and four footed b e asts and


, ,
-

creeping things I n some of the shell fis h even , gods


.
-
,
” 3
were supposed to be present Here w e meet again .

1
Q uo t e rf
d by PS o G E ll i o t m i th , T he E v o l uti on of th e Dr a
g on, p. 1 60
r Fr d
. . .

2 E l l i s, P oly nes i a n Rese a ch es, i st E i t i o n , V o l I, p 1 7 8


r Tr r
. . .

3
Re v G e o ge P o ly nes i a 2 3 8— T h e go d

u ne s N i ne t ee n T e a rs i n
pp 9
r fr f d M J k
. . .

gi n g om th e sh e l l fis h i s e xi co . S h el ls i d e nce o
f

em e -
o un in ac so n s as E v th e

Mi g f
r a ti ons o C r E ar ly ul tu e , p. 52 .
CHI NESE D RA G O N L O RE 49

wit h the shell beliefs The avatars of dragons had pearls . .

In an o l d Chines e work the story is told of a dragon that


app e are d in the shape of a little girl sitting at the entrance
o f a cave and playing with t h ree pearls When a man .

appeared t h e c h ild fled into the cave and reassuming


, , ,

dragon form , put the pearls in its l e ft ear As the .


1

guardian o f pearls the Chinese dragon links with the ,

shark god o f t h e early pearl fis h e rs T h er e were varieties


- —
.

o f these sea gods I n Polyn esia they had , Ellis h as


“ —
.


recor d ed gods who wer e supposed to preside over the
,

fisheries and to d irect to th e ir coasts t h e various shoal s


,

by which they were p e riodically visited The Polyn e sians .


invoke d their aid either befor e launch ing their canoes ,

o r while engage d at sea It is of interest to find in .

this connection that the dragon h ad associations with the


whale Ancient marin ers rever e nc e d th e W hale
. The .

Ligurians and C retans carried home portions of the back


bones o f whales Th e habit o f placing spin e s o f fish in?

graves is o f great antiquity in Europe The early sea .

farers who reached California during its prehistoric age


perp e tuated this very ancient custom B euc h at gives an .

illustration of a kitch e n midden grave in California in -

which a w h ale s vertebra is shown near the human ’

s k el e ton 3
The s w as h t i k a app e ars among the pottery
.

d e signs o f early American pottery The ancient Peru ?

vians worshipped the whale , and the Maori dragon was


compared t o o n e I n Scottish folk lore witches some .
5 —

times ass um e the forms o f w h al e s .

1 De V r i ss e , T he D r a
gon i n C h i na an d Jp a a n,
p 88
. .

M f C r r r r
2
y th s
q r e te a n d P re H ell eni c E-
u ope, p p 30 6— 7 Pie ce d fis h ve t e b ae h av e
f d M S r
. .

be e n o un in al t a, It al y , t h e s o ut h -
e as t of pai n , an d T o
y See Ma l ta a nd th e

r N rd
.

Me d i te r a nean Ra ce, R . . B a ley ( L o n do n , p . 1 36 .

3
Manuel d A rch e ol ogi e A m e i ca i ne , F i g
’ ’ ’
r . 21 , p . 1 1 4 .

4 5
Ibi d .
,p . 1 69 . Ibi d .
, p
. 1 69 .

( D 71 )
50 MYTH S OF CHI NA AND JA P AN
The dolphin , the bluish d ugong (probably the semi 1 “

human whale referred to by fE l i an) and other denizens ,

o f the sea were regarded as d e ities by ancient seafarers .

D e Groot, in his T h e Religi ous Sy stem of Ch i na , quoting


from t h e S h a n h a i K i ng relates that in the Eastern Sea is ,

a Land o f Rolling Waves I n this region d wel l sea
monsters that are shape d like cows and have blue bodies .

They are hornless an d one legged Each time they leave -


.

or enter the waters , winds arise an d rain comes down .

Th eir voice is that of thunder and their glare that of sun


and moon .

T h e reference to the single leg may have been sug


gested by the fact that when the dugong dives t h e tail
comes i nto V iew This interesting s e a animal has been
.
-


recklessly and indiscriminately slaughtered in h istoric ”

times .

Classical writers referred to some o f the strange


m onst e rs seen by their mariners as sea cows I n like -

manner the Chinese h ave connected denizens o f the deep


with di ffe rent land animals .

The religious beliefs associat e d wit h various sea and


l and animals cling to that composite god the dragon I n .

dealing with it, t h erefore , we cannot ignore its h istory ,


not only in China but in those countri e s that influence d
Chinese civilization , w h i l e attention must also be paid to
countries that like China, wer e influ e nced by the early
,

sea and land traders and colon ists


In Polynesia the dragon is call e d 7720 0 and i n o ho - -


.

Their (the Polynesian ) us e o f this word in traditions


says W D Westervelt, s h owed that they O ften h ad
.

.
2

in m ind animal s like crocodiles and alligators , and some


1 T his m am m a l b e l o n gs to th e o rd r r
e Si e n i a, w h i ch i n c l ud e s m an at e e s It i s
d r f d
.

n at i v e to In i an s e as . A va i e ty h as b e e n o un in the Re d S e a .

2 L ege nd s f
o G od s a nd G h os ts (H a w a i i an My t h ology ), 1 9 5 , pp
1 . 2 5 5- 6 .
CHI NESE D RA G O N L O RE 5 1

times th ey referred t h e name to any mo n st e r o f great


mythical powers belonging to the man destroying class -
.

Mighty eels immens e s e a turtles , larg e fish o f the ocean


,

,

fierce sharks w e re all called m o o The most ancient


,
-
.

dragons o f the Hawaiians are spo k e n of as l iving in pools


o r la k e s

M r We stervelt notes that one dragon
. .


lived in the E w a lagoon , n o w known as Pearl Har
bour This was Ka ne hua a na w h o was sai d to have

.
- -

,
1
brought the pipi (oysters ) to Ewa She was worshipped .

by those w h o gather the shell fis h When t h e oyst e rs —


.

b e gan to disappear about 1 8 5 0 , the natives sai d the


d ragon had b e come angry and was sending the oyst e rs to

K ah i k i , or som e far away for e ign land It is evident -
.

that such a beli e f is o f great antiquity T h e p e arl u nder .

the chin of t h e C h inese dragon has , as will be seen , an


interesting history .

B ut it m ay be asked here what conn e ction has a


, ,

mountain stag with the ancient pearl fis h e rs ? As Wang —

F u reminds us the pearl guarding Chinese dragon has ,


-

“ ”
t h e horns o f a stag It was sometimes called, De .

Groot states t h e cel e stial stag the stag o f the S ky


,
2 -

This was not m e rely a poetic image Th e sea go d Ea o f .


-

ancient B abylonia w as in one o f his forms t h e goat “


fis h , as so m e put it Professor Sayce says in this .
,

co n e ctio n

Ea was called t h e ant e lope o f the de e p ,
,

the ant e lop e the creator ‘


t h e lusty antelope He was
‘ ‘
sometimes referre d to as a gazell e L it hi n a stag , ’
.
,


w as a reduplicated form o f e l i m a gazelle B oth wor d s

, .

were equivalent to sa rru, W hatever the Ea


land animal w as whether goat , gaz e lle , antelope or stag—
,

it was associated wit h a s e a go d w h o according to -

Babylonian belief, brought the elements o f culture to the


1
A fr
o m of t h e m o th e r dd
-
go e ss .
2
T h e Re l i gi ous Sy s t em f
o Chi na, V o l III p 1 1 43 .
r ,
. .

3 bbe
H i t L e c ture s, 2 80 —
84
pp . .
5 2 MYTHS O F CHI NA AN D JA P AN
anci e nt Sumerians , w h o were developing their civilization
at the seaport o f Eridu , then S ituated at the h ead o f the
Persian Gulf in which pearls were found
,
Ea was .

depicte d as half a land animal and half a fish , o r as a


man wrapp e d in t h e S kin o f a gigantic fish as Egyptian
deiti e s wer e wrapped in the skins o f wild beasts O n e .

of Ea s na m e s was Dagan , which was possibly t h e


Dagon worshipped also by t h e Philistines and by the


i nhabitants o f Canaan b e for e th e Philistin e s arrived fro m
K aph t o r (the land o f K eftiu , i e Crete) . . .

Ea was associated with the dragon Tiamat which his ,

s o n Marduk Mero ach slew It is stated in Babylonian


( d ) .


script that Ea conferred his name on Marduk In

.

other w ords Mar d uk supplante d Ea and took over


,

certain o f his attributes and part o f his history He , .

was the go d o f B abylon which supplant e d other cities , ,

for m erly capitals ; h e ther e fore supplanted the chief go d s


of thes e cities .

Ea was originally the slayer o f the dragon Tiamat and


th e conqueror o f the watery abyss over whic h he reigned ,

supplanting the dragon He became the d ragon himself


?

“ ”

the goat fis h o r antelope of the deep the —

co m posite deity con nected with animals deified by ancie n t


hunters an d fishers whose beliefs were ultimately fus e d
with those o f others with whom th e y were brought into
c l ose association in centres o f culture Ea who h ad .
,

a dragon form w as connect e d with the serpent, o r


,
“ ”
worm , as well as with the fis h .

I n Egypt Horus , Osiris , and S e t were associated with


t h e gaz e lle Osiris was , i n one o f his forms t h e River
.
,

Nile He w as n o t only the Nile itself, but the controller


.

of it ; h e was the serp e nt and soul o f t h e Nile and h e ,

was t h e ocean into which the Nile flowed , and the


1
L ege n d s of B a by l oni a an d E gypt , L eona rd W . K i n g, pp . 1 1 6— 7
CH INESE D RA G O N L O RE 53
l e viathan of th e deep In the Pyramid texts Osiris is .

addressed : Thou art gr e at, thou art green in thy nam e ,

of Great green (s e a) ; 1 0 , thou art round as the Great


C ircle (O k e an o s ) ; l o , thou art turn e d about thou art ,

round as the circle that e n circles the H aun e b a (JE ge an s )


Osiris was thus t h e s e rpent (dragon ) that lying in t h e ,

oc e an encircled the world His s o n Horus is at one


,
.

point in t h e Pyramid texts (Nos 1 5 0 5 8 ) narrative .



repr e sented as crossing the sea Horus was some 2

times d e picted riding o n t h e back o f a gazelle or ant e lop e .

T h e Egyptian ant e lope go d was i n time fused with the —

serpent o r dragon of the s e a Referring to the e vidence .

o f Frobenius in this connection Professor Elliot Smith


3
,

says that in some parts of Africa especially in the west



, ,

the antelope plays the part of the dragon in Asiatic


stories ” W hen we reach I ndia it is found that the

wind god , Vayu , rides on the back o f t h e antelop e


-
.

Vayu was fused with I ndra, the slay e r o f th e dragon


that controlled the water supply and ind e ed retained -
, , ,

it by enclosing it as th e Osiris serpent o f Egypt or ,

the serpent mot h er o f Osiris enclosed t h e water in its



,

cavern during the p e riod o f the l o w Nile before the
inundation took place After Osiris , as th e water .
6

c o n fin i n
g serp e nt
( dragon ) was S lain ,
the river ran red
with his blood and ros e i n flood Osiris originally .
,
“ ” 6 ”
a dangerous go d , was the n e w o r fresh wate r
o f t h e inundation

The tradition o f his unfavourab l e
.

” “
character B reasted co m ments, survived in vague ,

reminiscences long centuries aft e r h e had gain e d wide


” “
popularity Osiris ultimat e ly b e cam e
. the kindly
1
B r e as t e d , Re l i gi on an d
T h ough t i n A n ci e n t E gy pt, p 2 0 2
Ibi d , p 2 6
r Dr
. . . . .

3 4 T he E v lu
T h e Voi ce f f
o A i ca , V o l II, p 46 7 o ti on
qf t h e a o n,
g p 1 30
r r r fr
. . . . .

5
S e e i l l us t at i o n o f t h e s e
pe n t e n c l o s i n g t h e w at e s i n t h e s h ri ne of t h e N i l e, o m a

as s -
r f
elie i n th e s m all t e m pl e of P h l l as Mas pe r ’
o s T he D aw n
q i v i li z a ti on,
p 39
r d
. . .

2
B e as t e ,o p . ci t . , .
p 38 .
54 M YTH S OF CHINA AND JA P AN
dispenser of pl e nty and his slayer Set origi nal l y , ,

a b e n e fic e n t d e ity was made t h e villain o f the story


,

and fused with the dragon A pe p the symbol o f darkn e ss ,

and evil This change appears to have be e n e ffected


.

after t h e intro d uction o f t h e agric ultural mode of life .

T h e N ile , formerly the destroyer, then became the



preserver sustainer and generous giver of soul s ub
, ,

stance and daily br e ad .

Wh en th e agricultural mode o f life w as introduced


Into China t h e horned d ragon or h orned s e rpent (for —
,


the dragon, Chines e writers remind us , has the nature
of a became the Osiris water serp e nt —
.

H o w a snake becomes a dragon is explained in the


S h u i hi which says :
,

A water snake after 5 0 0 years -

Changes into a hi a o a hi a o aft e r 1 0 0 0 years changes


,

i nto a l ung ; a l ung aft e r 5 0 0 years chang e s into a hi oh


1

? ”
l ung and after 1 0 0 0 y e ars into a y i ng l ung
2
,
I n Japan —

is foun d in ad d ition the p a n lung ( coiled


,

,

-

wh ich h as not y e t asc e n d ed to h eaven The coiled



.
4

dragon i s e vi d ently the water retaining monster -


.

T h e Ch inese dragon is as cl os e ly connected with water


as was t h e serpent form o f Osiris with t h e Nile in ancient
Egypt and as w as I ndra with the droug h t dragon in
,
“ ”

India Th e dragon dw e lls in pools it rises to the clouds ,


.
,

it thund e rs and brings rain it floods rivers it is in the , ,

ocean and controls t h e tid e s and causes the waters to ebb


,

and flo w as do its magic pearls (the J e wels of Flood


and and it is a sy m bol o f the e m peror The .


Egyptian Pharaoh was an avatar o f Osiris , or Horus ,
5


and the Chin e se e m peror was an avatar o r incarnation

1 A k dr
i ao l un g i s
-
a ago n w i th fis h s c al e s

r d dr dr
.

2 3
A ho ne ago n . A ago n w i t h w i n gs
V r D C Jp
.

1

De i sse T he ra
gon i n h i na a nd a a n,
pp 7 2 e t se
q
r O r f r d d D r rd r
, . .

5
H o us t le al i v e
,a d
n si is a te he ie , as . G a i ne i n s i s ts .
5 6 MYTH S OF CHINA A ND JA P AN
to lay waste Sicilian farms The floods o f t h e River ?


Rhone were supposed t o b e caused by the drac In
“ ”
Egypt Set became the roaring s e rpent who crept ,

into a hol e in th e groun d , wherein h e hid himself and



lived . He had previously taken the shapes o f the
crocodile and the hippopotamus to escap e Horus the ,
“ ”
Egyptian dragon slayer .

In C hina the season of drought is winter The .

dragons are suppose d to sleep in their pools during


the d ry sp e ll and that is why, i n the o l d Chines e work ,
,

T i h L i ng it is stated that
,

a dragon hidd e n in wat e r
is useless The dragons are suppos e d to sl e ep s o that

they may pr e serve their bodies They begin to stir .

and rise in S pring Soon they fight with o n e anoth e r,


.

so that there is no n e e d for a Horus , a M erodach , o r


an I ndra to comp e l them , by waging battle , to bring
benefits to mankind T h e Chinese welco m e what they
.


called a dragon battle after the dry season Thunder

.

storms brea k o ut and rain pours down i n torrents If


, .

a number o f d ragons engag e in battl e and the war in ,

the air continu e s longer than i s d esire d t h e rivers rise ,

in flood an d cause m uch destruction and loss of li fe .

As the e mperor was closely connected with the c h ief


dragon god, social uph e avals and war might result, it
-

was anciently b e lieve d , in cons e quence of t h e failure


o f the priests and the emp e ror (the holiest of priests)

to control t h e dragons The dynasty might be over


.

thrown by t h e in d ignant and ruin e d peasantry .

A m ong the curious superstitions entertaine d in


China regarding dragon battles , is o n e that no mortal
should watch them I t w as not only unluc k y but perilous
.

fo r human beings to peer into t h e m ysteries De Visser .

quotes a Chinese metrical v e rse in this connection


1 fE sc h y Ius , P r om e th e us Wnctus , 3 5 1 -
72 .
C I N E S E D R AG ON VAS E W I T H C A R V E D W OO D STA N D
H

( Vi ctori a an d A lbe rt Muse um )


CH INESE D RA G O N L O RE
W h n t h y fi gh t
e e , t h e d rago ns do not l oo k at us ;

W hy sh o u ld we l oo k at t h e m wh n e th e y are fi gh t in g ?
If w e do n ot s ee h t h e d ragons,
T h ey a sol w i ll n ot s ee h us ?

I n Gaelic Scotland the serp e nt which is associated wit h ,

t h e goddess Brid e sl e eps all winter and com es fort h


,
“ ’
o n I s t February old style known as Brid s day
( ), e

A Gaelic verse t e lls in this connection


T h p t w i
e se r l l m f m
en t h h m co e ro e o e

On t h b w d y f B i de ro n a o r e
,

T h o ugh t h Sh ul d b t h e f t o f sn o w
e re o e r e ee

On t h fl t u f e f t h g un d
a s r ac e o e ro
?

AS in China a compact was made wit h t h e


, B ride
s e rpent o r dragon
T d y is th D y f B id
O- a e a o r e
,
T h p t h al l m f m hi h l ,
e se r e n s co e ro s o e

I w i ll n ot m o es t l t h e s e rpe n t ,

A nd t h e se r
pen t w i ll n o t m o es t m e l .

I t is e vident that some v e ry ancient belief, conn e cted


with the agricultural mo d e o f life li e s behind these ,

curious verses in such far separated countries as Scotland —

and China Bride and her serp e nt come forth to inaugurate


.

the season of fruitfulness as do the battli n g dragons in t h e


Far East .

Wh e n Chin e se dragons fight fire balls and p e arls fall ,


-

t o t h e ground Pearls give pro m ise o f abundant supplies


.

o f water in t h e futur e I t is necessary if all is to go ,


.

w ell with th e agriculturist ; that the blue and y e l l ow


d ragons should pr e vail over the others The blue dragon .

is t h e chief spirit o f water and rain and this is the d eity ,

t h at presides duri n g the spring s e ason .

1
T he Drgon i n h i na
a C a nd Jp
a a n,
p 46,
Dr Cr Cr
.

2
. A a m i ch ae l ,
. a m i na G a d l i ca, V o l I, p . . 1 69 .
5 8 MYTH S OF CHINA AND JA P AN
A glimpse is a fforded of the menta l habits of the early
searchers fo r precious or sacre d m e tals an d j e w e l s by the
beliefs ent e rtaine d in China regard ing the origin o f the
dragon go d s These were supposed to have been hatched
-
.

from ston e s especially beautiful stones The colours o f


, .

ston es were supposed t o reveal t h e characters o f t h e


spirits that inhabited them In Egypt, for instance , th e
.

blue turquoise w as connected with the mother godd e ss -

Hathor, w h o w as among other things a d e ity of the s k y


, ,

and therefore the controller o f the waters above the


firm am e n t as well as o f t h e Nile She was the mother
.

o f sun and moon S h e was appealed to for water by the


.

agricul turists and for favourabl e winds by the seafarers .

The symbol used on such occasions was a blue sto n e .


It was a luck stone that exe rcis e d an influence on the
elements controlled by t h e go d d ess In t h e Hebrides a
.

blu e ston e used to be rever e nced by the desce ndants of


ancient s e a rovers Martin in his Western Isl es tells of

.

such a stone , said to be always wet which was preserved


,

in a chapel dedicate d to St Columba o n the Island o f


.


F l ad d a. I t is an ordinary custom , he has written ,
when any of t h e fisherm e n are detained in the isle by
contrary winds to wash the blue stone with water all
,

ro und, expecting thereby to procure a favourable wind ,


which , the credulous tenant living in the isle says , never

fails especially if a stranger wash the stone
, Why a
.


stranger ? W as this curious custom introduce d o f

o l d by strangers who had crossed the deep ? Had the


washing ceremony its origin in the custom o f pouring out
libations practised by thos e w h o ca m e from an area in
which a complex r e ligious culture had grown up , and
where m en had connected a d e ity originally associated
,

with t h e water supply and therefore with the food


-

supply, with tempests a nd oc e an tid e s and th e s k y ?


-
CHI NESE DRAGON LORE 59

T h e Chinese , w h o called certain beautiful s t m e s '


dragon s e ggs believe d that wh e n they split, lightning

flashed and thunder bellowed and darkness cam e on .

Th e n e w born dragons ascended to the s k y Befor e the


-
.

dragons came forth much water poured from the stone


,
.

As in t h e Hebr i des , the dragon ston e had , it would


appear, originally an association with the fe rtilizing water
deity.

The n e w born C h in e se dragon is no bigger t h an a


-

worm or a baby serp e nt or lizard, but it grows rapidly


,
.

Evidently b e li e fs associated with t h e water snake deities -

wer e fused wit h those regarding co l our e d stones The .

snake was th e soul of the river Osiris as the Ni l e was .

a snake His mother had therefore a snake form


.
, ,
.

The ha unting memory of the goddess mother of -


water spirits clings to the dragon mother of a Chinese
-

legend related by ancient writers a version o f wh ic h is ,

summarized by de Visser 1
Once it runs an o l d woman
.
, ,

found five dragon eggs lying in the grass When .

they sp l it (as in Egypt the mountain o f dawn sp l its


to give birth to the s un ) this woman carried the little ,

serpents to a river and l et them go For this service she .

was giv e n the power to foretell future events Sh e .

became a sibyl a priestess



The people cal l ed h er . !

The Dragon Mother When s h e washed clothes at


.
"

the river side , the fis h es , who were subj e cts of dragons ,


-

“ ”
used to danc e before h er
I n various countries certain fish were regarded as
forms o f the shape c h anging dragon Th e Gaelic dragon
-
.

sometim e s appeared as the salmon , and a migratory fish


was in Egypt associated wit h Osiris and his mot h er
“ ”
.

W h en t h e Chinese Dragon Mother died , s h e was


buri e d o n the eastern side o f t h e riv e r Why, it may .

1
T he Dr gon i n
a C hi na a nd Jp
a an
, p. 89 .
60 MYTH S O F CHI N A A ND JA P AN
be ask e d ,
o n the eastern side ? W as it because
, being

originally a goddess , s h e w as regarded as the mother

o f the s un god o f the east

the moth e r who was the

mountain o f d awn an d whose influenc e was conc e ntrated


in the blue stone ? Th e Chinese dragon o f the east i s
blu e an d the blue dragon i s associated with spring the
,

firs t born season o f the year


-
B ut apparentl y th e dragons
.

obj ected t o t h e burial o f the Dragon Mother o n t h e


“ ”

eastern bank Th e legend tells that they rais e d a violent


.

storm, and transferre d h e r grave to th e western bank .

Until t h e present age the belief obtains that t h ere is



always wind an d rain n e ar the Dragon Mother s Grave ’

T h e people exp l ain that the dragons l ove to “


wash th e
grave
Here we find the dragons pouring out libations as did ,

th e worshipp e rs o f t h e Gr e at M other who came from a


distant land .

The go d o f the w e stern quarter is w h ite, and presides


ov e r the autumn season o f fruitfu l ness J ust before t h e
.


birth o f autu m n the Chinese address their prayers to
t h e mountains and h ills .

I n ancient Egypt the conflict b etween the So l ar and


Osirian cults w as a conflict between t h e cult of the east

and the cult o f the w e st

Professor Breasted notes

that although Osiris is First o f the Westerners (th e
west being his quarter) he goes to the east (after d eath)
in t h e Pyrami d t e xts (of t h e solar cult) and the pair ,

Isis and N e pt h y s (the god d ess) carry the d e ad into the


,

east . The east was the place where the ascent to the
sk
y was m ade In.Egyptia n solar theology it combined

with the south T h e rivalry between t h e t w o cults is


.

reflected in o n e particular Pyramid text in which the “

dead is adj ure d to go to t h e west in preference to the east,


in ord e r to j oin the s un god 1

But to the solar cult t h e

62 M YTHS O F CHI NA AND JAPAN
historical classic tells that the dragons bones com e from
,
1 ’

Tsin land I t is noted that the fiv e coloured ones are


.
-

the best The blue yellow re d white , and black ones ,


.
, , ,

according to their colours correspond with the viscera, ,

as do the fiv e ch i h (felicitous plants ) , the fiv e crystal s


and the five kinds o f mineral bole
(shi h y i n
g) , (sh i h ch i
) .

De Groot gives the colours connected with t h e internal


2

organs as follows
I B lu . li d g ll
e— v e r an a .

2 W h i t e lu g d sm ll i t e t i n s
.
— n s an a n s e .

3 R d h a t
. e d l g i t st i s
— e r an ar e n e ne .

4 B l k k i d
ac s n d bl dd r ne a a e
y

. .

5 Y l l w s pl n
. e od s to m h — ee an ac .

A pparently the special curative quality o f a dragon s bone ’

was rev e aled by its colour The go d s of t h e various .

mansions influ e nced di fferent organs o f the human


body .

I n anci e nt Egypt t h e interna l organs wer e placed in


j ars and protecte d by t h e H o rus e s of th e cardinal points .

The god o f the north had c h arge o f the small viscera, the
o d of the south of the stomach and large intestines , the
g
god of the west of liver and gall and the god of the east ,

o f heart an d lungs T h e Egyptian north was red and


.

symbolized by the Red C rown, and the south was white


and symbolized by t h e W hite Crown .

I n M exico the colours whit e red and yellow were , ,

connected with di ffe rent internal organs , and black with a


disembow e lled condition .

I t is evid e nt that the sea and land trad e rs carried their


strange stocks o f me d ical knowledg e over vast areas I t .

is n o t without significance t o fin d in this connection that ,

1
S ee E n gl i s h r
t an s l at i o n by W r r al t e Go n O ld (L o n d o n,
9
Th e Re l i gi ous Sy s te m f
o C h i n a , V o l IV , p. . 2 6.
CH INESE D RA G O N LORE 63

according to C h inese belief, t h ere was an island on w h ic h


dragons bones were found

.

The dragons are not on l y rain gods and gods of t h e -

four quarters and the seasons , but also l ight gods ,


“ ”
-

connected with s un and moon day and night In t h e ,


.

T i h li n there is a reference to a black dragon whic h


vomits l ig h t and causes darkness to turn into lig h t T h e .

mountain dragon o f Mount Chung is cal l ed the E n “


lighten e r of Darkness When it opens its eyes it is
d ay when it s h uts its eyes it is night
,
Blowing he .

makes winter, ex h aling he makes summer T h e wind is .

”1
its breath .

I n like manner the Egyptian Ra and Ptah are un i


versal gods, the sun and moon being their eyes “ ”
.

Even Osiris , as far back as th e Pyrami d period, was t h e


source of all l ife and a worl d god He was addressed —
.


T h e soi l is on thy arm , its corners are upon thee as far
as the four pi ll ars o f the sky Wh en thou m o v e s t the .

eart h trembles As for thee, t h e Ni l e comes forth


.

from t h e swe at of t h y h ands T h ou s pe w e s t out the .

”2
wind . Osiris sent water to bring fertility as do
the d ragons , air for the life breath o f man and beast , and —

al so l ight , which was , of course, fire (t h e h eat w h ic h is


life)
.

T h e idea o f the l ife principle being in fire and water -

lies be h ind Wang Fu s statement : “


Dragon fire and ’

human fire are opposite I f dragon fire comes into .

contact with wetness it flames ; and if it m eets water , ,

it burns If one drives it (the d ragon ) away by means


.


of fire it stops burning and its flames are extinguished
,
8
.

Celestial fire is something di fferent from ordinary fire .

1
De V r i sse , T he D ra
gon i n f apa n a n d hi na , p 6 2 C
r d
. .

2
Re l i gi on a nd Th ou h t i n d n c i en t E

B e as t e s
g gypt, p 21

Dr C Jp
. .

Th e in h i na an d
a
g on a a n,
p 67
. .
64 MYTH S OF CHI N A AN D JA P AN
T h e vital spark is o f celestial origin purer and holi e r —

than ordinary fire Dragon skins , even wh e n cast o ff, .

shine by night S o d o pearls coral and precious stones


.
, ,

shine in darkness in the Chinese myths .

One traces the influence o f t h e solar cult in t h e i d ea


that the d ragon s vital spirit is in i t s eyes I t is because

.

iron blin d s a dragon that it fe ars that m e tal I n Egypt .

the eye o f Horus is blinde d by Set whose metal is iron ,


.

Th e re is a quaint m ixture o f religious ideas in t h e


C hin e se custom o f carrying in procession through the
streets on the 1 5 th o f the first month a dragon made
, ,

o f ba m boo lin e n , and pap e r In front of it is borne a


,
.

re d ball D e Groot says that this is the azure dragon ,


.

the head o f which rose as a star to usher in spring at


“ ”
th e beginning I n like mann er t h e E gyptian spring
.
1

is ush e re d in by the star Sirius the mother o f the s un , ,

from which falls a tear that causes the inundation But .

although the red bal l may have bee n a solar symbol it is ,

also connected with the moon The C hinese themselves .

call the ball Th e Pearl o f Heaven


“ “
that is, the —

7 ,
moon An inscription on porcelain brings this out
clearly Mr B lacker has translated the text be l ow two
. .


dragons rushing towards a ball as A couple o f dragons
facing t h e moon T h e dragons were n o t only m oon
and s un d evour e rs w h o caused eclipses but guardians o f ,

th e se orbs in th eir capaciti e s as gods o f th e four quart e rs .

The all absorbing dragon app e ars ev e n as a va m pir e



.

A tig e r head e d dragon with the body o f a snake seizes


-

human b e ings covers th e m with saliva , an d sucks blood


,

from under th e ir armpits No b l oo d i s l e ft wh en they .

”3
stop sucking I n Japanese l e gends dragons as white
.

1
De G r oot s

T h e Re l i gi ous Sy s te m of C h i n a, V o l I, p 3 6 9
C r C d
. . .

2 h a ts on O i e n ta l h i n a ( L o n o n ,
3
De V ri ss e , T he Dra
gon in C h i na and
j pa n, p 7 9
a . .
CHINESE DRAGON LORE 65

eels draw blood from the legs of h ors e s that enter a river .
l

Evil or sick dragons send bad rain .

T h e gods ride on dragons and therefore emperors ,

and holy men can also use them as vehicles Y u the .


,

founder of the Hea Dynasty had a carriage drawn by t wo ,

dragons Ghosts sometimes appear riding on dragons


.

and wearing blue hats The souls o f the dead are


.

conveyed to the Celestia l regions by the winged gods .

Dragons appear w h en great men are born Emperors .


2

had dragon ancestors The Emperor Yaou was the son


.


of a red dragon ; one Japanese emperor had a dragon s
tail, being a descendant of the sea god 3 -
.

In the next chapter it will be shown that in Chinese


dragon lore it is possible to detect with certainty the
-

sources o f certain layers that were superimposed on


primitive conceptions regarding these deities .

l
The Dr C
gon: i n hi n a a nd j apa n, p 1 1 2
a

A dr r r f
. .

2
ago n a
ppe a e d at t h e b i t h o f C o n uc i us
V r D C
.

3 De i ss e , T h e ra on i n
g h i na an d j apa n, p . 1 45 .

( D 71 )
C HA PTE R VI

an d S e rpe n t My t h s
B i rd

C l r C
u tu e p l i
om Dr l r P
e x es l y ni Dr B li f
ago n - o e— o n e s an ago n e e s— O ce an i c
an d A fri Fi h d R p i l D i i h r R p l f d C
can s -
go s— e t e e t es w e e no e t i e s are o un — h i n e se
D r ago n s an d I di n Dr li k b
an N agas— I i T i b Chi ago n -
n s etw ee n n d a, e t, n a, a n d

Jp
a an — Bi r ds d ank D i r b i f y p Wi d D i k
Sna es — st i ut ron o E g t i an n ge s — H o us
an d th e ry B r I d i M
S e cre t a i d ppl
— S rn ry rd
an un go o s e su an t s

e c e ta Bi
Mun go o se f r o f G d f Ri
m o D o B r
o d rp bi d
c h e s an d e at h — i d an Se e nt c o m ne in
D r ago n — B by l
a Dr o n i an b f l rp
ago n w as a c o m d i i n at i o n o E ag e , S e e n t, an L on

T r ee Fr f C
o m s o Dr
the ly
h i n ese i M h I
a go n , t h e
i Po n e s an o - o , an d t e n d an

N agas— T h e Dr h S lago n , t r e h T d r b i rd
a m o n, th e T e e , an d t e

h un e -

T H Eintensive study o f a count ry s beli e fs and i d eas as ’

revealed in its myth s and l ege nds , is greatly facilitated by


the adoption of the comparative method It may not .

always be found possib l e t o id e ntify areas in which certain


beli e fs h ad origin but when we d e t e ct, as we do in China ,
,

myths similar to those found in other lands, and espe


c i al l
y highly complex myths that had origin in one par ,

t i c ul ar count ry and received additions in another the ,

imported elements m ay be sifted out from a local religious


system without much d i fli c ul t y .

The Chinese dragon h as disti nct and outstanding


C hin e se characteristics , but it is obviously not entirely
a Chinese creation Attached to the composite wonder .


beast are complex ideas that have a history outside -

China as well as those ideas that r e flect Chinese natural


,

phenomena an d Chinese experiences and habits o f life and


thought The fused beliefs as symbolized by the drag on ,
.
,
66
BI RD AN D SERPENT MYTH S 07

have passed t h rough a pro l onged process of l oca l de


v elo m e n t
p but ,
t h ose that were i m ported have not , it

is fo und been e ntirely divested o f their distinctive c h arac


,

t e ri s t i c s , and remain preserved as fl ies are in amber .

I nteresting and important evidence that throws l ight


o n the history o f the C hinese dragon is found in Poly

n e s i a, India and Babylonia, and even in Egypt and


,

Europe . The cultural influence o f Babylonia, w h ich


radiated over a wide area for a score o f centuries or
1 0 nger , is traceable in India , and , as is well known ,
B uddhist I ndia exercised a strong cultural influence on
China But , as will be shown Babyl onian influence
.
,

reached t h e Shensi province o f C h ina long before t h e


Aryans entered India B uddhist ideas regar d ing t h e
.

pearl protecting dragon god o f water and fire were e v i


- -

d e n t l y superimposed i n China upon earlier Babylonian


ideas regarding the water dragon , which had no particular
-

connection with pearls At any rate , there is no m ention


.

o f pearls in the Baby l onian myt h .

When it is found that many o f the ideas connected


wit h the C h inese dragon were prevalent in Polynesia,
what conclusion is to be drawn ? There is no evidence
that Ch inese culture was an active force in New Z ealand
or Hawaii , for instance It cannot have been from China
.

that the Polynesians derived their dragon , or their beliefs


connecte d wit h the serpent, a reptile unknown to the
islanders at first hand The only reasonab l e concl usion
.

that can be drawn is that the Chinese and the Poly n esians
were influenced at an early period by intruders from other
lands The Polynesian intruders must necessari l y h ave
.

been sea t raders Of cours e , the Polyn esians m ay them


-
.

selves h ave imported t h eir dragon be l iefs from th eir


home l and That home l and , however, was certainly not
.

China .
68 MYTHS OF CHI NA AN D J A PAN
The Polynesian MO O o r Mo k o (dragon ) had, as was - —

shown in the last chapt e r, a connection with pearls On .

Maui writes W D W estervelt, t h e greatest dragon



,

. .
1

o f the island was K iha wahine The natives had t h e -


.

saying ,
K iha has m a na , or miraculous power , like
MO O i n an e a
- -
She lived i n a l a rge d eep pool on the

.
,

edg e o f the village Lahaina , and was worshipped by the


royal family O f Maui as their sp e cial guardian Royal .

families were invariably the descendants of intruding con


q u e ro rs It is
. of special interest ,
therefore , to find the Poly
n e s i an dragon god con nected with a m ilitary aristocracy

.

The Re v George Brown , missionary and explorer,


.

refers to similar dragon beliefs among the people of N e w


Britain He tells of a spring connected with the woman
.

(goddess ) who caused th e delug e Th e natives say t h at .

an immense fish lives in it which will come out when they ,

cal l it ”
The belief O btains among t h e M e lanesians
.

“ ”
that the creator of all things was a woman She .

made all l ands and the natives prayed to her



when an eclipse o f the sun o r the moon took p lace .
2


The king of Samoan gods was a dragon This god .

Brown tells had th e body o f a man to the breast onl y,


,

and the body O f an e e l (m ar e na) b e low This eel s body t .


lies down in t h e ocean , and from the chest to the head lies
down in the house This is t h e god to w h om all things
.


are reported The inferior gods are his attendants
. .

Gods half h uman and half reptile, or half human and


half fish , are found in various countries I n t h e Britis h .

Museum are bronze reliefs o f the K ing o f B enin (as the


repres e ntative of his chief deity) half shark an d half man .

The kings of Dah omey were depicted as sharks wit h bodies


L ege nd s qf G od s and G h ost: (H aw ai i an My t h o l o gy , p 2 58.

d
.

2
Me la nesi a ns an d P oly ne si a n s (L o n o n, pp 3 3 4
.
-
5 .

3
Ibi d ,
.
70 MYTH S O F CHI NA AN D JAPAN

Japan Th e Nagas are also Lords o f the Earth an d
.

send drought and disease w h en o ffe nded or neglected Ea, .

the s e a go d of the early B abylonians , was known also as


-

Enki The Lord of th e Earth


,

In B u d dhist art the Naga is shown in t h ree forms


( )
1 as a human being with a snake on or poise d ov e r the

head reminding o n e of the Egyptian kings o r queens who


,

wear the urm us symbol o n their foreh e ads ; (2 ) as hal f



human and half snake (the mermai d and (3 ) as
ordina ry snakes Th e first form is found not only in
.

India but in Tib e t, C hina , and Japan Human S haped


,
.
-

Nagas are depicted wors h ipping Buddha, as they stan d in


water .

I n Tibet, the Naga is shown with t h e upper part o f


the body in human shape an d t h e lower in snake shape ;
there are horns o n the head and wings spreading out from
the shoul ders The sa m e form i s found i n Japan
. .

This Tibetan link between t h e I ndian Naga and the


Chinese D ragon is important T h e bird go d has been .
-

blended wit h th e snake go d I n India the bird gods


-
.

Garudas are enemies o f t h e Nagas (snakes , and Garudas


( ) )
in eagle shape are found d e pict e d in l o w relief ,

carrying o ff Nagas in snake shape This eternal conflict .

between eagle li k e birds and serpents is one O f t h e features


of Babylon ian mythology .

Th e story of Z u, the B abylonian Eagl e god, is found -

on tablets t h at were stored in the library o f the gr e at


Assyrian K ing Ashur bani pal Z u, it is related, stole
,
- —
.

from the gods the tablets of destiny and was pursu e d


and caught by Shamash the sun god I n one version O f
,

.

the myth Z u the e agl e is punished by the serpent which


, , ,

conceals its e lf in t h e body O f an o x When the eagle .

co m es to feast on th e flesh it is seized by the serpent and


slain.
BIRD AND SERPENT M YTHS 71

I n Polynesia the eterna l conflict between bird god and -

serpent go d is illustrated in wood carvings Th e Egyptian


— —
.

winged disk , as adopted by the is l anders , shows t h e bird


in t h e centre wit h a struggling snake in its beak T h e .

Central American peop l es h ad l ikewise t h is bird and -

serpent myth I ndeed , it figures prominently in their


.

mythologies In Mexico t h e winged disk was p l aced, as


.

in Egypt, above the entrances to the temples .

The bird and s e pe n t myt h is to be found even in the


— —

Il i a d
. Wh en Hector s e t fort h wit h h is heroes to break
throug h the wall of the A c h a an camp an eagle appeared ,

in t h e air, bearing in its talons a blood red monstrous


“ —

snake, a l ive and struggling still Th e writhing snake


manages to sting the eagle w h ich immediately drops i t 1
,
.

Iii ancient Egyptian myt h s t h e bird was the Horus


hawk and t h e serpent was Set Horus assumed, in h is .

great battle against t h e snake, crocodile, and ot h er enemies


of Ra , the winged disk form the winged sun , protected —

by the two snake goddesses o f Upper and Lower Egypt


-
.

This strange combination of deities i n t h e W in n


disk symbol was as distinctively an Egyptian cultura l


and politica l complex as the Union Jack is distinctivel y a


B ritis h complex As the Union Jack h as been carried to
.

many a distant l and , so was the Egyptian winged d isk ,


the flag of Egyptian culture I n t h ose areas in w h ich .

the winged disk is found , are found al so traces of Egyptia n


ideas w h ich O f course, were not necessarily introduced by
,

the Egyptians themselves .

How did this myth of t h e struggl e between bird and


serpent have origin ? T h e on l y country in the worl d in
w h ich a great bird h unts serpents is Africa The bird in .

question is t h e famous secretary bird (S erp enta ri us secre


ta ri us , w h ich is nowadays domesticated by South African
)
1 Il i ad, B o o k XII ( L an g s, L e af’s , an d

D r
ye

s
p . 2 3 6.
72 MYTHS OF CHI NA AN D JA P AN
farmers s o as to keep down snakes I t is found in East .

and West Africa In general appearance it looks like


.

” 1
a modified eagle mounte d on stilts The bird attacks .

a snake with wings outspread , and flaps them in front of


its body to prevent itself from being bitten during the
conflict Early Egyptian seafarers were no doubt greatly
.

impressed when , in the land o f Punt , they s aw t h e se


“ ”

strange birds , wit h h eads like eagles o r hawks , standing


over snakes they had clutched in their talons , and t h en
flying away with th e m dangling from t h eir beaks T h e .

mariners stories about t h e snake devouring bird appear



-

to h ave crept into the mythology o f Egypt, with the resu l t


that t h e Horus hawk became the hunter O f Set in his

h issing serpent form Above the hol e in t h e ground .

into w h ic h the Set serpent fled fo r concealment and safety


was s e t a pole surmounted by the head o f t h e Horus
h awk As Dr Budge puts it : Horus t h e s o n o f Isis,
. .
,

stood upon h im (S e t) in the form o f a pole o r sta ff, on t h e


top o f which was the h ead of a hawk But , o ne may ”
.
2

urge, it could not h ave been until after Egyptian v e ssels


visited the coasts haunted by the secretary bird t h at t h e
bird an d serpent variation of the Horus Set myth was -

form ul ated in the land o f Egypt, whence, apparently, it


was distribut e d far and wide Horus was not n ecessarily .

an enemy o f serpents , seeing t h at there are two in h is

disk .

I n Tibet , as has been stated t h e bird and serpent ,



were combined, and the composite beast was given a
human h ead wit h horns Th e horned and winged dragon .

of China is thus , in part, a combination of t h e origina l


secretary bird and t h e snake .

1 The N r
a tu a
y of A n i m a ls
l H t s tor (G r es h am )
, L o n do n , V o l . III, p
. 1 76 an d
pp 4 6
.

Ct 3 6
9
d
.

2 E gypti a ns, V o l I, p 48 1
B u ge , T h e G od s o f th e . . .
74 M YT H S OF CHIN A AN D JA P AN
stituted by the j ewel spitting mungoose w h ic h has d e-

v o ure d its attributes .

T h e god K ubera h as a heaven o f its o w n , and is a


form of Ya m a god o f death I n his form as D h arma,
, .

god of j ustice, Yama figures i n t h e Ma h a hh d ra ta as a ' 1

blue ey e d mungoose with one side o f his body changed


-


into gold his voice being loud and deep as thund e r
Here Yama links with I ndra god o f t h under, who , ,

having a heaven o f his own , is also a god of death .

” 2
Egypt had its blu e ey e d Horu s

Th e god Horus —
.

was the living form o f Osiris The l iving Pharaoh was .

a Horus , and the d ead Pharaoh an Osiris , as Dr Gardiner .

reminds us .

Th e combination o f bird and serpent is found in


Persia as well as in Tibet On an archaic cylinder seal .

from th e ancient Elamite capital o f Susa the dragon is a ,

lion with an eagle s hea d and wings ; the forelegs are


those O f the eagl e , and the hind legs those of a lion .

A form o f the god Tammuz n amely th e god Nin ,

C irsu Lord of G i rs u o f the Sumerian ci t y o f Lagash


( G i rs u appears to hav e been a suburb
) was a lion h eaded ,

eagle.
3
Th e god Ea had a dragon form T h e dragon .
4

of the I shtar gate of B abylon is a combination of eag l e ,


serpent and lion , and is horned
, .

There can remain little doubt that the C h inese dr agon


has an interesting history not only in China but outside ,

that country It cannot be held to have indep e ndent


.

or i g i n At a remote period dragon beliefs reached China


.
,

I n d ia and Polynesia and even A merica


, , .
5

I n each separated area the dragon took on a local

1
p a m ed h a Pa r ‘
v a S e c t i o n X C, S l o k a
5
d , .

2
B u ge , G od s of t h e E gypti a ns, V o l II, p . . 1 0 7 .

3
My th s of B a hy l ont a a nd A ssy ri a, p 1 2 0 4
Ibi d , p. 62
Dr
. . . .

5 The E l uti on of th e E l l i o t S m i t h, pp 8 3
v o
gon, G
a . . e t se
q .
BIRD AND SERP E N T MY T H S 75

colouri n g but the fundamental beliefs connected with


,

it remained the same It was closely connected wit h .

water (the water O f l ife



and also wit h trees (the

trees of Thus we find that in Chin a a d ragon
1 ”
might assume the shape o f a tree growing under water ;
a boat once co ll ided with drift wood which was found to -

be a dragon Crocodiles are sometimes m istaken for logs


.

o f wood .

In Hawa i i two noted dragons (mo O ) lived in a river -


.

They were called the moving boards whic h made a


‘ ’

”2
bri d ge across the river .

The Indian Nagas wer e not only water d e ities but


tree spirits, as Dr Rhys Davids has emphasized
. .
3

B ehind dragon worship is a comp l ex of beli e fs con


n e c t e d wit h what is usually called

tree and well wor

ship I n Gaelic stories the sacred tree is guarded by ,

the beast in the sacred well , and a form of the beast


(dragon ) is t h e salmon ; in the tree is the thund e r bird

.

Dragon , tree , and bird are connected wit h t h e god of


thunder who sends rain .

When Buddhism reac h ed China imported Naga ,

beliefs were superimposed o n earl ier Chinese beliefs con


n e cte d wit h the dragon god who controlled the rain -

supply , as Osiris in Egypt control l ed the Ni l e and t h e ,

Babylonian Ea the Euphrates .

I n the next c h apter various beliefs connect ed wit h t h e


dragon are brought out in representative legends .

1 De V ri ss e , T h e D ragon i n C h i na a nd
j apan, p . 1 30 .

2
We s t e rv e l t ’
s L ege n d s f
o G od s a nd G h osts, p . 2 5 8.
3 B udd h i s t Ind i a, pp . 2 2 4— 5 .
C HA PTE R VI I
D r ago n F o l k
s t o ri e s -

H ow Fi h b s Chi Dr
e c am e Fi h f r f T
n e se i d C l i
ago n s -
s o m s o e ut o n c an e t c

G o d s— Dr l y r Dr
ago n s a-
e s e atr T a go n sf i rd

H r
e a ts -
he L an guage o B s
"
— H ea t

as S e at f I o ll i n te by l i
ge n c e Dr K p P l i Dr
— Ba o n an ago n - u u— o y nes an ago n

K up n a— Dr M i l
ago n s a n d rb ry f C i
ed i c na rb l i d R d
H e s— S to o h ne se H e a st an

e

C l o ud H rbe
y l d
Bo R r
B ue
p F r f
an l k Dr ed i
Ca as o m s o B ac ago n — I gn s

F a t uus as Dr “
r
ago n L r Fr
an t e n s ry f P r d Dr
H ea t i e — S to o i e st an ago n

wom an— h
T Fi r i l i J p
e

e Na P ly

i T
n Fi C r i
a an an d o n e s a— he “
a th u e

n

Jp
a an — T M he R agi c Gr R us h - m ki
a t— d i Wr p
av e e e d — m a t s, S n s , an L ne n a

pi n gs — T ph d M l i
he E o u
e usry f W d T h d r
na i n F ar E as t— S to o u an th e un e

Dr ago n .

IN Chin e se and Japanese folk stories the dragons have -

fish forms o r avatars They m ay be eels , carps , or .

migratory fis h like t h e sal m on It i s believe d that t h ose .

fish that ascend a river s dragon gate become dragons ’

while those that remain behind continue to be fis h .

Dragons are closely associated with waterfalls They .

haunt in o n e or other o f their forms t h e deep poo l s below


th e m .

I n western European stories , dragons and gods of


fire and water assum e the forms o f fish , and hide them
s e lves in pools Loki of Icelandic legend has a salmon
.

form Wh en the gods p ursue h im he hides in F ran an g s


.
,


stream , or und e r the waters of a cascade called Fra
n an urfo rs After h e is caught and boun d , Loki is
g
tortured by a serpent Wh e n h e twists his body violently, .

earthquakes are caused He is closely associated with .

1 T e ut oni c My th an d L ege nd , p . 1 74 e t se
q.

76
7 8 MYTHS OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
slayer does not eat t h e heart of t h e reptile god , b ut
gets possession of a book of spells and , on reading these, ,

acquires knowledg e o f t h e languages o f all animals ,


1
including fish and birds .

When , however, we investigate t h e dragon beliefs


o f ancient B abylonia , we meet with a reference to the

K u pu as the source o f d ivin e power and wisdom



After .

Merodach ( Marduk) t h e dragon slayer kills Tiamat ,


the mother dragon a form of the mother goddess
“ -
,

he divides the flesh o f the K u pu,a n d devises a cunning -

plan As the l ate Mr Leonard W K ing pointed o ut, . .


2

K u pu is a word of uncertain meaning


- It did not .

signify the heart, because it had been previously stated


in the text that Merodach se v ered h er i nw a rd p a rts h e ,

i e rced h er h e art
p .


Jensen has suggested that K u pu signifies trunk , -


body I t is more probable that the K u pu was the
.

seat O f th e soul , mind , and magical power ; the power


that enable d the slain repti l e to come to life again in
another form ’
.

It may be t h at a c l ue is a fforded in this conn ection


by the Polynesian idea o f K upua Mr Westerve l t who . .
,

has carefully recorded what h e has found , writes regard


ing t h e Mo o (dragons) of the Hawaiians : -

Mi gh ty ls i m m s s a t u t l s l g fish o f t h e o e n
ee , en e e r e , ar e c a
,
fi c e sh k w r ll c lle d m o T h m o st n c i n t d go s
er ar s , e e a a o- . e a e ra n

o f th H w i i ns
e s p k n o f as li v i n g i
a a
po l
a l k e s T h se
are o e n o s or a . e

1
E gypti a n My th
d L ege nd , pp 3 4 1 , 3 42
an
2
S e v e n T a bl e ts of reat i on C
f f
. . .

3
T h e b e l i e t h at t h e c at h a s n i n e l i v e s m ay b e c i t e d, an d a l so t h e b e l i e t h at i f a n
r
e e l o r a s e pe n t i s c ut i n t w o i t w i l l c o m e t o l i e aga i n Ch i n e s e ago n m a f
y ev i v e A dr r
fr rd r J k
.

a te b e i n g c ut up an d b u i e T h e s t o y i s t o ld i n a pan o f a m an w h o k i l l e d a s n a e
dr r r r r r
.

a o n , c ut i t i n t o t h e e
g pi e c e s, a n d b u i e d t h e m , b ut t h i t e e n y e a s l at e , o n t h e s am e
r
d ay o f t h e y e a o n w h i c h h e s l e w t h e ago n , h e c i e o ut
“ dr
I d i n w at e , c h o e ,rd r k r kd
an d iedd d
H i s e at h w as c aus e by t h e d
ago n h e h ad e n d e av o u e to dr i ll (d e rd k V r
i ss e ,
Dr C D k
.


T he a
g on in h i na an d
f p a a n,
p T he e at h l e ss S n a e in an an c i e n t

r f rd r br r
.

E gypt i an st o to li un t i l t h e u ied at e l
y co m e s e se v e e
pa ts are se
pa y .
D RAGON FOL K STORIES -
79

d ra g o ns w e re kn ow n a so l as K upuas , or m yst e ri o us c h a rac t e s , r


who cou ld appe a r as n i m ls h um n a a ,o
r a be i n g s , a c c o rd in g to th e i r
w i sh . T he sayin g w as K upuas h ,
av e a s tra n g e d o ubl e

The Po l ynesia n beliefs connected with the K upuas


are high l y suggestiv e M r Westervelt continues . .


It w s s o m t i m es t h o ug h t t h t
a e t b irt h n o t h n t u al a a a er a r

f m w
or dd d s u h as
as a gg e of
,
f w l c r b i d o t
an eh s d of a o o a r , r e ee

a pl n ta t h
,o rem b y f s m e n i m l w h i c h w h n fully d
r o o o l o pe d
e a a , e eve ,

m d a e f m w h i c h c o ul d b us d s
a or d ily s t h h um n b o dy e e a re a a e a .

T h K upu s w e lw ys gi n so m g t m g i po w e r Th y
e se a er a a ve e re a a c . e

w e w n d fully s t n g n d w i s
er o er d s k i l ful
ro ,a e , an .

U su lly t h b i t h o f a K up
a el i k t h bi t h o f a h i gh c h i e f
r n a, e e r ,

w as t t e d d w i t h st
a n n g e d i st u b n c s i n t h h e a ns suc h as
e ra r a e e ve ,

e b
r v e r e ra t i g t h u d r fl s hi n g l i g h t n i g a d s
n n e , ast m s w h i ch n ,
n e v e re or

se nt th bu d n t
e a d i l f t h i l n ds d wn t h m u t i s i d s
n a re so o e s a o e o n a n- e

i bl d
n oo d t o r t s k n w n as k u ko ko (t h bl o o d rai n ) T h
-
re r en , o a— a— e . e

n am w as als g i e n t o m i s ty, fi
e o i n w h n s h o t t h o ug h by t h
v n e ra e r e

red w es of t h
av su e n.

All the dragons of Hawa i i were descended fi o m '

MO o i n an e a (t h e self re l iant dragon ) , a mot h er goddess


- - - -
.

She had a dual nature, sometimes appearing as a dragon ,


sometimes as a woman Hawaiian dragons a l so assumed
t h e forms of large stones , som e o f which were associated

with groves of hau trees ; on these stones ferns and flowers


” 1
were laid and referred to as k upuas
I n China the dragon s k upua (to use the Po l ynesian ’

term ) figures in various stori e s We meet with the .

Re d Cloud herb , or the Dragon Cloud herb , whic h


” ”

cures diseases It is the gift of the dragon , and apparentl y


.

a dragon k upua Other curative h erbs are the dragon .

’ ” ”
whisker s h erb and the dragon s liver , a species ’

o f gentian , whic h is in Japan a badge of the M inamoto

fami ly The dragon s spit tl e had curative q ualities ,



.

1 L egend s qf G od s an d G h os ts ( H aw ai i an My th ol ogy ), pp . 2 5 6— 7 .
80 MYTHS O F CHINA AND JAPAN
the essence of life being in t h e body moisture o f a deity .

The pearl , whic h t h e dragon spits out, h as or is , sou l ,



substance The plum tree was in China connected
.

with the dragon A story tells that once a dragon was


.

punished by having its ears cut o ff Its b l ood fell on .

the ground , and a plum tree sprang up ; it bore fleshy


fruit without kernels When in an ancient Egyptian
.
l

story the blood of the B ata bull falls to t h e ground two


trees containing his soul forms grow in a night -
.
2


A Chinese Boy B lue story deals with the search

m ade by Wang Shuh , a h erbalist , for the Red Cloud

h e rb He follow e d th e course of a mountain stream on


.

a hot summer d ay , and at noon sat down to rest and eat


rice below s hady trees beside the deep pool o f a waterfal l .

As he lay o n the bank gazing into the water h e was , ,

astonish e d to s e e i n i t s d epths a blue boy, about a foot in


height, with a blue rush in his hand , riding on the back
of a red carp without disturbing t h e fish which darted
, ,

h ither and th ith e r I n time the pair cam e to the surface,


.

and , rising into th e air, turned toward s the east Then .

they went swiftly in the direction o f a bank of cl oud


that was creeping across the blue sky, and vanished fro m
sight .

The herbalist continued to ascend the mountain , “

searching for the herb , and when he reached the summit


was surprised to find th at the sky had become completely
overcast Great m asses o f black and yellow clouds had
.

risen over the Eastern Sea , and a thunder storm was -

threatening W ang Shuh then realized that the bl ue


.
'

boy he h ad se e n riding on the back of t h e red carp


was no other than th e thunder d ragon He peered at -
.

1 T he Dr
gon i n
a C
h i n a a nd p
a a n,
pJ . 1 27. S ee a l so t he E gy pt i an B at a st o r
y
E gy pti a n My th a nd L ege nd , pp 49 — 5 6 . .

2
E gypti a n My th a n d L ege nd , p 5 5 . .
DRAGON FOLK STORIES -
81

the cl ouds , and perceived that the boy and the carp 1

h ad been transform e d into a black h i a o (scale d d ragon ) .

He was greatly alarmed, and concealed hims e lf in a


hollow tree .

Soon the storm burst forth in all its fury Th e .

herbalist trembled to hear the voice o f t h e black th under


dragon and to catch glimpses o f his fiery tongue as h e
spat o ut flashes o f lightning Rain fell in torrents , and .

the mountain stream was h eavily swollen and roared ,

down the steep valley Wang Shuh feared t h at each


.

moment would be his last .

I n time howev e r th e storm ceas e d and t h e sky


, ,

cleared Wang Shuh th e n cr e pt forth fro m his hiding


.

place thankful to be still alive a l tho ugh he had seen


, ,

the dragon He at once set o ut to return by t h e way


.

h e had come When he dre w n ear t o the waterfall


.

he was greatly astonis h ed to hear the sound o f sweet


humming music Peering through t h e branches o f the
.

trees , he b e held the littl e blue boy riding on the back


o f the re d carp r e turning from the east and settling
,

down on the surfac e o f th e pool Soon the boy was .

carried into the d epths and past the playful fish again .

Struck wit h fear, th e herbalist w as for a tim e unable


to move Wh e n at length he had summoned s ufli c i e n t
.

strength and courage to go forward h e found that the ,

b o y and the carp had vanishe d compl e tely Then he .

perceive d that the Red Cloud herb , for which he had


been searching had sprung up o n the very edge of the
,

swirling water Stooping he plucked it greedily As


.
, .

soo n as he had done so , h e went scampering down the


side o f t h e mountain On reaching the village , Wang
.

told his friends the wonderful story o f h i s adventure


and d iscovery .

1 T he Dr ago n s

K upuas .

( D 71 )
82 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JAPAN
Nit happened that the E m peror s daug h ter
ow

a very b e autiful girl w as lying ill in the royal palace —


.

The Court physicians had en d eavoured in vain to restore


her t o health Hearing of W ang S h uh s d iscovery o f
.

the Red Cloud herb the Emp e ror sent o ut tor him , .

On r e aching the palace the herbalist was addressed by ,



the E m peror himself w h o sai d : I s it t ru e as men , ,

tell , that you h ave s e en the black hi a o i n the form o f


a little blu e b o y riding on a re d carp ?
“ ”
I t is ind e e d tru e Wang Shuh made answer , .

And is it tru e that you have found the dragon herb


t h at sprang up during th e t h under storm ? -


I h ave brought the herb wit h me , Your Maj esty .

“ ”
Mayhap the Emperor said , it will give healing
,

to my daughter .

Wang Shuh at once made o ffer o f t h e herb and ,

t h e Emperor led him to the room in which the sick


princess lay The herb had a sweet O dour and W ang
.
,
1

Shu h plucked a l eaf and gav e it to the la d y to sme ll .

She at o n ce showed signs o f reviving and this was ,

regarded as a good omen Wang Shu h then made a .

m edicine from the herb and when the princess had ,

p artaken of it ,
she grew well an d strong again .

The Emperor rewarded Wang Shuh by appointing


h im his chief physician Thus the herbalist became a .

great and influential man .

To few mortals comes the privi l ege o f setting ey e s o n


a dragon , and to fewer is t h e vision fol l owe d by goo d
fortune .

I n this quaint story the Red C l oud herb is evidently


1 T he o d r
ou of r
h e b w as t h e b o y
th e d d r o ou of th e dr a
go n r r
It h e l pe d t o e s to e

r d fr d r r
.

v i t al i t y , as d i d i n c e n s e , w h e n bu n e be o e an E gy pt i an m um m y Go s we e sim i l a ly
r N r d
.

fe d by of
fe i n gs o f i n ce nse T h e B aby l o n i a n o ah bu ne d i n c e n s e, an d t h e go s s m e l t
r d rd k r rfi
.

th e sw e e t s av o u . T h e go sgat h e e li e fli e s ab o ut him t h at o ff e e d t h e s ac i c e .

-
K 1 n g, B a by l on i a n Re l i g i on
,p
1
3
. 6 .
84 M YTHS OF CH INA AND JAPAN
fire goddess It is to l d regarding a B uddhist priest w h o
-
.

l ived b e side a dragon hole o n Mount Murob u One .

d ay as he w as about to cross a river a lady w e aring rich


, ,

and dazzling attire came up to him and made re quest for


a magic charm he possessed She spo k e with averte d .

face telling who s h e w as T h e priest repeated t h e c h arm


, .

to her and then said : Permit me to look upon your fac e



Sai d the d ragon woman : It 1 8 very terrible t o behold .

No man d are gaze on my face B ut I cannot r e fuse your .


request .

Th e priest had his curiosity satisfied , but apparentl y


wit h out coming to harm Priestly prestige was main .

tamed b y stories of t h is kind .

As soon as t h e priest looked in her face the dragon


woman rose in the air, and stretched o ut th e small fing e r
o f her rig h t hand I t w as not, how e ver of h uman sha pe,
.
,

but a claw that su d d enly extended a gre at lengt h and


flas h ed l ights o f five colours The five colours

.

in d icate that the Woman was a d e ity K wan C h ung in .


,

his work Kw a ntsz e says : A dragon In t h e water covers


,

h imself with five colours T h erefore h e i s a god .


,

Th e fire nai l figures prominently in Polynesian
mythology I n the legend o f Mau i , t h at hero god goes
.
-

to the o l d woman (the goddess) , h is gra n dmother to ,

o b tain fire for mankind “


Then the age d woman pulled
.

o ut her nai l ; a n d as she pulled it out fire flowed from it ,

and she gave it to him And when M aui s aw she had .

d rawn out her nail to pro d uce fire for him , he thoug h t it
”2
a most wonderful thing .

The reference in the Japanese story to the averted


face of the dragon woman may be connected with t h e
ancient b e lief that t h e mortal who looked in t h e face o f;
1
De V r
i s se T he Dr C
gon i n h i n a a n d 7 apa n, p 6 3
a K w an C h un g d d
ie i n 64 5 B C
,
r r
. . . .

2
Poly nesi a n My t h ol ogy, S i r G e o ge G e y, p 3 3 . .
D RA G O N F OL K S T OR IE S -
s5

a deity w as either s h rivel l ed up o r transformed into stone ,

as happened in t h e case o f t h ose w h o fixed their eyes


upon th e face of Medusa Goddesses like the Egyptian .

N e it h wer e veiled

A Japanese legend tells of a ”
.

dragon woman who appeared as a woman with a malicious


Wh ite face She laughed loud ly, displaying black teeth
. .

S h e was often seen on a bridge binding up her hair ,


.
1

Apparent ly she was a variety o f the mermaid fami l y, and



this may explain the reference to her b e ing o n e legged .

T h e people scared h er away by form ing a torch light —

procession and advancing towards her Dragons were .

S ometimes expelled by means o f fire I n Europe bon .


,


fires were lit when certain ceremonies of riddance
were performed .

British mermaids are credited , in t h e folk tales , with —

providing cures for various dis e ases , and especially herbs , 2

and in this connection they link with the dragon wives o f


China and Japan Some dragon women lived for a time .

among human beings as do swan maidens , ner e ids , mer -

maids , and fairies in t h e stories o f various lands .

A Japanese lege n d tells of an elderly and mysterious


Woman w h o had the power to cure any i ll that flesh is
h eir to When a patient called, s h e list e ned attentively
.

t o w h at was told her T h en s h e retired to a secret .

chamber, sat down and placed a rush mat on h er head 3


.

1
gD e V r
i s se , T he Dr a C
gon i n h i na a n d j apan, p 1 7 4
r r r r r
. .

3
A G all o w ay h e b al i s t w h o w as s e a c h i n g fo r h e bs t o cu e -
a c o n s um pt i v e gi l,
n am e d M a r r
y , s aw a m e m ai d i si ng i n th e s e a. A c co rd i ng t o t he fk rol -s
to y , t h e
m e r r
m ai d dd r ( r d)
e co m m e n e m ugw o t so ut he nwoo as a cu er by s i n gi n g

W d M o ul y ou l e t bo nni e a
y d i e i n y o u h an r d
r r A n d t h e m ugw o t flo w e i n g i n t h e l an ? d ,

Jd d k d r
3 a e is r
s, r r
e c o at e d w i th th e us h pat t e n, we e i n Ch i n a i m age s o f H e av e n a n d
d r k
b a ge s o f an r dr f r rr
T he ai n — ago n i n h um an o m ca r
i e s i n h i s i gh t h an a b l ue ush d r
r r r r
. .

T h e us h w as co n n e c t e d w i t h w at e —
t h e w at e b e l o w t h e firm am e n t an d t h e w at e
a b o v e t h e firm d r k am e n t . Re e s we e li i
e w s e c o n ne ct e d w i th t h e d i
e i t es. In B aby l o n i a,
r r d
p i e s t s h ad v i s i o n s i nd d r ee h ut s an d th e ea l ay on eed m at s T he r d r r
ee an d ive
r M rd k r d r r d
.

m ud w e e use d by a u when he c e at e m an . A ppa e n t ly , th e ee w as an


80 MYT H S OF CHI NA AND JAP A N
After sitting alone for a time (apparently e ngag e d in
working a magic spell) s h e left the chamb e r and r e turned
“ ”
to the patient She recommended t h e faith cure
. .

Making t h e pretence that she was handing ov e r a medicine ,


s h e said : Believe that I have given y o u medicin e N o w, .

go away Each day you must S i t down and imagine that


.

you are taking my medicine Come back to me in seven .


days time ’
Those who faithful ly carried out her
.

instructions are said to have been cured Larg e numbers .

visite d h er daily .

I t was suspected that this woman was possessed by


t h e spirit of a water demon A watch was set upon her, -
.

and one night s h e was seen going from her house to a


well in which , during the day, s h e often was h ed her h ead
while being consulted by patients Those w h o watched .

her told that she remained in human shape for a little


time Then sh e transformed herself into a white mist
.

and enter e d the well Prot e ctive charms w e re recited, .

and she never returned F o r many years afterwards , .

however her house w as haunted


, .

D e Groot relates a story about o n e of the wives of an


Emp e ror o f China w h o practised magic by means of
reptiles and insects Her O bj ect was to h ave her son .

selected as crown prince S h e w as detected, and she and .

h er son were i mprisoned Both became dragons before .

they died .

Dragons sometimes appear in t h e stories in the rOl e


o f demon lovers A Japanese legend tel l s of t w o boys
.

who were the children of a man and a dragon woman .

I n time they C hanged into dragons and fle w away The .

av at a r of th e rdw at e e i ty : it c o n t ai n e d

s o ul b
s u s t an c e
n L i ne n d fr
m a e om flax
w as rd
s ac e an d ri n s pi i n g It w as w appe r dr d d d o un th e e a i n st e a d o f an i m al s k i n s, i n
D
,

d r k r
.

“ ”
y n as t i c T h e l i n e n e ph o w as i n spi i n g ; l i th e het it

pre
- E gy pt e
p op s m an t l e

rr r fr
.

gav e th e w e a e
po w e to o e te l l e v e nts.
88 MYTHS OF C HINA AND JAPAN
One day the king in his en d eavours to break the
,

spe l l o f sadness that bound h is beautiful que e n arranged ,

that his lords shoul d enter t h e palac e and d ecl are that
an enemy army was at hand and t h at the life o f t h e king
,

was in peril .

This they d i d The king was at t h e time making


.

merry when his lords entered sudd e nly and said : Your
Maj esty, t h e e nemy have co m e , whil e you s i t maki n g

merry and th ey are resolved to slay you
, .

The king s sudden chang e of countenance made t h e


dragon woman laugh His Maj e s ty w as well pleased


. .

Then , as it chanced t h e enemy came ind e ed B ut


, .

when the alarm was raised , the lords thought it was a


false one T h e army took possession of the ci t y, entered
.

the palace and slew the king


,
Pao Sze w as taken
.

prison e r, because of her fatal beauty ; but she brought no


j oy to her captor and transformed hers e lf into a dragon ,
departing suddenly and causing a thunder storm to -

ra e
g .

To thos e w h o win th e ir favour, the dragons are pre


serv e rs e ven when they come forth as d estroyers The .

story is told of h o w Wu the son of a farmer named Yin ,


,

won th e favour of a dragon and rose to be a great man in


China When he was a boy of thirteen , h e was sitting
.

o n e day at t h e garden gate , looking across the plai n whic h

is watered by a winding river that flows from t h e moun


tains . H e was a silent, dreamy boy, who had been
brought up by his grandmother , his mother having died
when he was very young an d it was his habit thus to s i t
,

in S ilence thinking an d obs e rving things


,
A long the
.

h ighway came a handsome yout h riding a white horse .

H e was clad in yellow garm ents and s e emed to be o f


high birt h Four man s e rvants accompanied him and
.
-
,

one he l d an umbrella t o shield h im from t h e sun s bright ’


C N E SE
H I P O RC E L A IN V S D O T D WT FV C W D
A E E C RA E I H I E -
LA E

D RA G ON N F OM W V S
S RIS I G R A E

( Vi ct ori a an d A l be r t M us e um )
9 0 MYTHS OF C HI NA AN D JAP A N
Said Wu : I watched them as t h ey went westward “
.

Rain clouds were gathering o n the horizon and when



,

th e y were a gr e at distance O ff they all rose in the air and


1 ”
vanished in the clouds .


Yin w as gr e atly alarmed to hear this and said : I ,

must ask your grandmother W h at she thinks o f this



strange happening .

The old woman w as fast asleep , and as s h e had grown


very d e af it w as d i fli c ul t to awaken her When at length .

S he w as thoroughly roused, and s at up with h ead an d


hands trembling with palsy Yin repeated to her in a ,
2

loud voice all that Wu h ad told h im .


Said the woman : The horse spotted with five ,

co l ours, and with scaly armour instead of hair, is a dragon


horse Wh en spirits appear before h uman beings they
.

wear magic garments That is why t h e clothing of your .

visitors had no seams Spirits tread o n air As these . .

spirits went westward , they rose higher and hig h er in t h e


air, going towards the rain clouds T h e youth was the -
.

Yellow Dragon H e is to raise a storm and as h e had .


,

four followers the storm will be a great one May no , .

evi l befall us .

Then Yin told t h e O l d woman that o n e of t h e


strangers had turned the umbrella upside d own before

passing through the garden gate That is a good .

omen , s h e said Th en s h e lay down and closed h er .

eyes “
I have need o f s l eep , she murmured ; I am
.
“ ”


very O l d 3
.

1 T he ppe a a n c e
a r off r r ou s e v an t s
(t h e go d s of th e f r r r)
ou
q ua t e s w i th t h e dr ago n

go d, i n d i c at e s t h at t h e com r i ng sto m i s to be o ne o f e x c e pt i o n al v i o l e n c e

d rr f k d rk
.

2 “
T he ee
p s l um be e in a ol -
t al e is us ual l y e n gage wo i ng a s
pe ll A s w i ll
b e ga t h e r d fr
e om th e st o r
y , t h e boyr e ce iv e dh i s k n o w l e ge d an d r fr
po w e om his g r d
an

m o th e r r
She es e m bl e s t h e Nr Vo se al a an d t h e W
i t ch o f E n dr
o

Nr V r Od k
. .
_

3
T he o se al a m ak e s si m ila com
pl ai n t w h e n a w ak e n e d b y in It l o o s

C r d r
.

i f th i s h i n e se “w ”
as s to y i s b as e o n o ne ab o ut c o n s ul t i n g a s pi i t o f a ise wo m an

who s l e e ps i n h e r tom b .
D RAGON F OL K STORIES —
9 1

Heavy masses of clouds were by this time gat h ering


in the sky, and Yin decid e d to S i t up all night Wu .

asked to be perm itted to do the same , and h is father


consented T h en the boy lit a yellow l anter n , put o n
.

a yellow robe that his grandmother had made for him ,


burned incense , and s at down reading charms from an old
1
yellow book .

Th e storm burst fort h in fury j ust when dawn was


breaking dim l y Wu then closed his yellow book and
.

went to a W indow T h e thunder bellowed the lightning


.
,

flamed and t h e rain fe ll in torrents , and swollen streams


,

poured down from t h e mountains Soon t h e river rose .

in flood and swept across t h e fields Cattle gat h ered in .

groups on shrinking mounds that h ad become islands


surrounded by raging water .

Yin feared great l y t h at t h e house would be swept


away, and wished h e h ad fled to the mountains .

At night t h e cottage was entirely surrounded by t h e


flood Trees were cast down and S wept away
.

We .

cannot escape now, groaned Yin .

Wu sat in si l ence, displayi n g no signs o f emotion .

What do you thin k of it al l ? h is father asked ”


.

Wu reminded him that o n e of the strangers h ad


turned the umbre l la upside down and added : Before“
,

the dragon yout h went away he spoke and said : I s h al l


come again to morrow -

He has come indeed , Yin groaned, and covered h is


face wit h his hands .

Said Wu : I h ave j ust seen the dragon As I l ooked



.

towards the sky he spread out h is great h ood above our


h ome He is protecting us n o w
. .


Alas ! my son you are dr e aming , .

1
A n i nt e r e sti ng gl i m pse of th e c o n n e c ti o n be tw e e n colou r s
y m bo l i s m an d m agi c .
r
E v e y t h i n g i s y e ll o w b e c aus e a
y e llo w d r ago n i s be i ng i n v o k e d.
9 2 MYTHS OF CHINA AND J AP A N
Listen father no rain falls o n t h e roof
, , .

Yin listened int e ntly Then h e said : Y o u speak



.

tru l y, my s o n This i s ind e e d a great marvel


. .

“ “
I t was well said Wu, that you w e lcome d the ,

dragon yest e rday .

H e spoke to you first my s o n ; and y o u answered , ,



Ent e r Ah , you have much wisdom Y o u will b e

. .


com e a great man .

The storm began to subside an d W u prevailed upon


his fath e r to lie down and S le e p .

M uch damage had been don e by storm and flood, and


large numbers O f h uman beings and domesticated animals
h ad perished In the village w h ich was situate d at the
.
,

mouth of th e valley, only a fe w houses were left stand


Ih
g
rain ceased to fall at midday T h en t h e s un
T he .

came out and shone brightly, whil e the wat e rs began to


retreat .

Wu went outsid e and s at at the garden gate , as was


h is custom I n time he s aw the ye llow youth returning
.

from t h e west accompanied by his four attendants , .

Wh en h e cam e nigh , Wu bowed and the youth drew


up his h orse and spoke, saying : I said I should return

to d ay
-
.

Wu bowed .


B ut this time I shal l n o t enter the courtyard , t h e
youth add e d .


As you will, Wu said reverently .

T h e dragon youth t h en handed the boy a S ingle scal e


wh ich he had taken from t h e horse s neck, and said : ’

“ ”
K eep this and I shall remember you .

Then he rode away and vanished from S ight .

The b o y re ent e red th e house He awoke his father


-
.

1 T h i s s l e e p a ppe a r s to be as n e ce ss a r y as th at of th e r d
g an m o th e r .
94 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JAPAN
the kingdom He found t h at great miracles co ul d be
.

work e d with the scale o f the dragon h orse I t cured


.

d is e ase , and it caused the Emperor s army to w i n vic


tori e s W ithal Wu was able to foretell events , and h e


.
,

became a renowned prophet and magician .

The farm er s s o n grew to be very rich and powerful



.

A great house was erected for h im close to t h e royal


palace , an d he took his grandmoth er and father to it, and
there they lived happily until the end o f their days .

Th us did W u son of Yin , b ecome a great man


, ,

beca us e of th e favour shown to h im by the t h under


dragon , who had wrought great destruction in t h e river
valley and taken toll o f many lives .

It will be gathered from this story that t h e C h inese



dragon is not always a b e n e fice n t deity as some
writers put it Lik e certain other gods , he is a destroyer
.

an d preserv er in one .
C HA P T E R VI I I
T h e K in gd o m u nde r th e Sea
T heV an i s h i n g I
sl an d o f F ar E as t e n -
r Dr
ago n go d — S t o y o f P i e s t w h o
-
r r
r
v i s i t e d U n d e rw o l d — F ar E as t e n - r Dr
ago n as

r r
P e a l P i n ce ss — H e r H um an
r I
L o v e — A h n d i a n Pa all e l— r ago n Dr I
s l an d i n A n c i e n t E gy t i an S t o ry — T h e
p
r r r
O si i a n U n d e w o l d — V
an i s h i n g I
s l an d i n S c o t l an d an d F
i j i — B ab y l o n i a n
G em t ee- r Gr r
a d e n — F ar E as t e n Q ue s t o f t h e
-
Magi c S w o d — P a al l els o f r r
T e ut o ni c an d C e l t i c L e ge n d — “
K usanagi S w o d th er a an ese
p

EJx c al i b u

r
— Ci t
y o f th e F r
ar E as t e n S e a go d —
-
a an e se
-
p J i V
si o n o f G e m t e e a d en -
r Gr
W ea o n
p D e m o ns — S ta S p r
i i t r
s o f M agi c S w o ds — S wr r
o d s t h at b e co m e

Dr ago n s— Dr ago n J
ew e ls — Dr
ago n T ran fo rm at i o n s .

T H E pal ace o f
the dragon king is situated in the Under
worl d , which can be entered throug h a deep mountain
cave o r a dragon g uarded we l l I n some of the C h inese
-
.

stories t h e dragon palace is l ocated rig h t below a remote


island in th e Eastern Sea This island i s not e asi l y .

approached for o n the calmest o f days great bil l ows das h


,

against its shelving crags Wh en the tide is h igh , it is .

entirely covered by water and h idden from sight Ju n ks .

may then pass it o r even sail over it without their crews ,

being aware that th ey are nigh to the palace of the sea


od
g .

Sometimes a red l ig h t burns above t h e is l and at night .

It is seen many miles distant, and its vivid rays may be


reflected in the h eavens .

I n a Japanese story the island is referred to as a


gl owing red mass resemb l ing t h e risin g sun No ”
.

mariner dares to approach it .

There was once a C h inese priest w h o , on a memorab l e


95
9 6 MYTHS OF CHINA A ND JAPAN
night reac h ed the dragon king s palace by entering a deep
,

cav e o n a mountain S ide I t was his pious desire to w o r


-
.

ship t h e dragon , and he went onward in the darkness ,

reciting religious texts that gave him protection T h e .

way was long and dark and di ffi cult, but at length , after
travell ing far, h e saw a light in front of him He walked .

towards this light and emerged from the cavern to find


that he was i n the Und e rworld Above him was a clear .

blue firm am e n t l it by the n ight sun H e beheld a beau .

tiful palace in the midst o f a garden that glittered wit h


gems and flowe rs , and d irected his steps towards it H e .

reached a window th e curtain o f whic h r ustled in the


wind He perceived that it was a mass O f gleaming
.

pearls Peering behind it as it moved he be h eld a table


.
, ,

formed of j ewels On t h is tab l e l ay a book o f B udd h ist


.

prayers (sutras) .

A s h e gazed wit h wonder and reverence the priest ,

heard a voice that spake and said : Who hat h come nigh
and why hat h he come ? ”

The priest answered in a l o w voice giving his name, ,

and expressing his desire to behold the dragon king,


whom h e desired to worship .

Then the voice made answer : Here no human eye


can l ook upon me Retur n by the way t h ou hast come,
.

and I shall appear before thee at a distance from th e


cavern mouth .

The priest made obeisance, and returned to the world


of men by the way he had come He went to the spot .

that the voice had indicated and there he waited , reading ,

sacred texts Soon the earth yawned and the dragon king
.

arose in human shape wearing a red hat and garment


, .

The priest worshipped him and then th e dragon vanished,

from sight On that sacred S pot a tem ple was afterwards


.

erected .
THE K INGDO M UNDER THE SEA 97
Once upon a time the daughter of t h e dragon king,
who was named Abundant Pear l Princess fel l in love

with a comely yout h of Japan He was sitting on a calm


.
,

summer day, beneath a h o l y tree an d h i s image was ,

reflected in a dragon well T h e princess appeared before


.

him and cast a love spell ove r h is heart The youth was .

enc h anted by h er beauty , and s h e led h im towards the


palace o f th e dragon king, the Abundant P e arl Prince
There she married h im , and th e y lived together for t h ree
years Then t h e youth was possessed by a d e sire to
.

return to the world of men I n vain the princess pleaded


.

wit h him to remain in the palace When , h owever, she .

found that his h eart was set on l eaving the kingdom of the
Underworld s h e reso l v e d to accompany him He w as
, .

convey e d across the sea on the back of a w a ni (a dragon


in crocodile shape) The princess accompanied him and
.
,

h e built a house for h er on the seas h ore .

The Abundant Pearl Princess was about to b e


“ ”

come a mother and s h e made t h e you t h promise not to


,

look upon her until after h e r chi l d was born But he .

broke h is v o w Overcome wit h curiosity he peered into


.
,

her chamber and s aw that h is wife had assumed t h e s h ape


o f a dragon As soon as the child was born the princess
.
,

departe d in a n ger and was never again beheld by h er


h usband .

T h is story, it will be noted is another Far Eastern


,
-

version o f t h e Melusina l e g e nd .

A n I ndian version o f th e ta l e re l ates that the h ero


was a sailor , th e s o l e survivor from a wreck , who swam
to a small island i n the m idst of the s e a W h en he .

reache d the shore, he s e t o ut to look for food, but found


t h at the trees and shrubs wh ich dazzled him with t h eir
,

beauty bore beautiful gems instead of fruit At le n gth


, .
,

however , he found a fruit bearing tree He ate and was



.

(D 71 ) 8
98 MYTHS OF CH I NA AN D JAPAN
we l l cont e nt Then h e sat down beside a w e ll A s he
. .

stooped to drink of its waters h e had a vision of the ,

Underworld in all its beauty At the bottom of the we l l .

s at a fair s e a maid who looked upwards with eyes o f



,

love and b e ckon e d him towards her He plunged into .

the well and found himself in the radiant K ingdom o f


Ocean T h e maid was the queen and sh e took h im as
.
,

h er consort She promised him great wealth , but forba d e


.

him to touch the statue o f an A ps ara , which was of gold l

and ador n ed with gems But o n e day h e placed his .

hand on the right foot of th e image Th e foot darted .

forth an d struck him with such force that he was driven


through t h e sea and wash ed ashore o n his native coast .
2

The oldest version o f this type of story comes fro m


Egypt . I t has been preserv e d i n a papyrus in th e
Hermitage collection at Petrograd , and is usua l ly referre d
to as O f Twelfth Dynasty origin (c 2 0 0 0 A sai l or .

relates that he was the sole survivor from a wreck He .

had seized a piece of wood and swam to an island After .

he recovered from exhaustion h e s e t o ut to search for ,

food .

I foun d there figs and grapes , all manner of
good h erbs berries and grain , melons of all kinds , fish es
,

and birds I n time, h e heard a nois e as o f thunder
.

while the trees shook and the earth was moved The
ruler of the island drew nigh H e was a human h eaded .

S erpent thirty cubits long and his beard greate r than



,

two cubits ; h i s body w as as overlaid with gol d and h is ,

colour as that o f tr ue lapis lazuli -

Th e story proceeds to tell that the sailor becomes the


guest o f the serpent who makes spe e ches to him an d,

introduces h im to h is family I t is stated that the island .

has risen from the wav e s and wil l sin k again A fter
1 d fr r T r
In i an a i y gi l he e are apsa a s r i n th e P a rd a ise of In dr a.

r ( d
.

1
Ind i a n F ai ry S to i es L on o n, pp 47
. e t se
q .
1 0 0 MYTHS O F CHI NA AND JAPAN
gamesh entered t h e cave of the Mountain o f Mas h i (Sun
s e t Hill , and after passing through its night black d ept h s
) -
,

reach e d the seaside garden in which , as o n th e island in


the I ndian story, the trees bore instead of fr uit and ,

flowers , clusters of precious stones He beheld in the .

midst o f this garden of d azzling splendour the palace o f


S abi t u the go d dess w h o instructed h im how to reach the
, ,

island on which lived h is ancestor Pir n aph i s h t um (U t -

n a i s h ti m
p ) Gilgamesh was .originally a god ,
the earlier
G i s h b il gam e s o f Sumerian texts .
1

Th e I ndian Hanuman (the m onkey god) simi l arly -

enters a d eep cave w h en he goes forth as a spy to Lanka ,

the dwelling place o f Ravana th e demon who carried


-
,

away Sita wife of Rama the hero of the Ra m dy a na A


, , .

similar story is told in the mythical h istory o f A lexander


the Great There are also western European legends o f
.

like character Hercules searches fo r the golden apples


.

that grow i n the Hesperian gardens I n some Far .


2

Eastern stori e s the hero searches for a sword instead o f



an h erb . Every weapon , d eclares an o l d Gaelic

saying has its demon
,
The same belief prevailed in.

China, where dragons sometimes appear e d in the form o f


weapons and in India where the spirits o f celestial weapons
, ,

appeared before heroes lik e Arj una an d Rama I n the .


3

Teutonic B alder story as related by Saxo G ram m at i cus


, ,
4

the hero is slain by a swor d taken from th e Underworld ,


where it was kept by Miming (Mimer) the go d in an , ,

Un d erworld cave H o t h e r who gains possession o f it,


.
,
“ ”
goes by a road har d for mortal man to travel
_
.

I n the Nors e version the sword becomes an herb the —

m istl etoe, a cure al l like the Chinese dragon h erb and


-

1 L W K i n g, L egen ds q a h l oni a a n d E
y gy pt ( L o n o n , d p 1 46
r fr
. . . .

e e n c e s i n M th s
2
S ee e
y of B a hy l on i a a nd fl ssy rt a, pp 1 8 4 e t s e q
. .

3
1 nd t a n My th a nd L ege nd, p 2 5 6 a nd p 3 8 1
. . .
4
B o o k III .
TH E K INGDO M UNDER THE SEA 1 0 1

t h e Babyl onian Plant of Life



E x ca l i hur th e swor d ,

o f K ing Arthur was obtained from t h e la k e goddess (a


,

B ritis h Naga and was flung back into the lake before
he died
S o fl as h d d f ll t h b n d E
e an al i bu
e e ra xc r

B ut e re h e d i ppe d t h e s urfac e , ro s e a n arm


C lo t h e d i n w h i t e s am i t e , m ys t i c , w o n d e rful ,
A n d c augh t h i m by t h e h il t , an d b ran d i s h e d h i m
T h re e t i m es, a d d w
n re h i m u n d e r i n t h e m e re 1 .

The Japanese story o f the famous K us an agi sword is


a Far Eastern link b e tween the Celestial h e rb and weapon

legends o f Asia and Europe It tells that this magic .

sword was o n e o f the three treasur e s possessed by the


imperial family of Japa n and that the warrior who wie l ded
,

it could put to flig h t an entire army At a naval battl e .

the sword was worn by the boy Emperor, A n t o k u Tenno —


.

He was unable to make us e o f it, and when the enemy


were seen to be victorious , the boy s grandmother, Nu ’

no ama clutched h i m in her ar m s and leapt into t h e



,

sea.

Many l ong years afterwards , when the Emperor Go


Shirakawa sat on the imperial throne, his barbarian
enemies declared war against him The Emperor arose .

in his wrath and called fo r the K us an agi sword Search .

was made fo r it in the temple of K amo where it was s up ,

posed to be in safe k e eping T h e Emperor was to l d ,



.

h owever that it had been lost, and h e gave orders that


,

cer e monies shou l d be performed wit h purpose to discover


wher e the sword was and h o w it might be restored One
, .

night, soon afterwards , the Emperor dreamed a dream , in


w h ich a roya l l ady , w h o had been dead for centuries ,

appeared before h im and told that t h e K us anagi sword


1 T

e n ny s o n s
fA
T h e P as si ng o r th ur.
1 0 2 MYTHS OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
was in the keeping o f the dragon king in h is pal ace at t h e
bottom o f the s e a .

Next m orning the Emperor re l ated h i s dream to his


c h ief minister, and bade him hasten to the t w o female
divers O i m at s u and her daughter Wakamatsu , who
,

resided at Dan no ura, s o that they migh t dive to t h e


— —

bottom of the s e a and obtain the sword .

The divers undertook the task , and were conveyed in


a boat to that part o f the ocean where t h e boy Emperor, -

A nto k u had been drowned A religious ceremony .


was performed , and the mother and daughter then dived


into t h e s e a A whole day passed before they appeared
.

again Th ey tol d , as soon as t h ey were taken into th e


.

boat, that they had visited a wonderful city at the bottom


o f t h e sea It s gates wer e guarded by silent sentinels who
.

drew flashing swords when they (the d ivers) attempt e d to


enter They were consequently compelled to wait for
.

several h ours , until a holy man appeared and asked them


what they sought ; When they had informed him that
they were searching for the K us anagi S word, he said that
the city could not b e entere d without the aid of Buddha .

Said the Emperor s chief minister : T h e city is t h a t


“ ’


of the go d o f th e s e a .


I t is very beautiful O i m at s u told him ; the wall s
,

are o f gold and the gates o f pearl A bove the ci t y walls


, .

are seen many coloured towers t h at gleam like to precious


-

stones . When one o f th e gates was opened , w e per


c e i v e d that t h e streets were of si l ver and th e houses of

moth e r o f pearl
— —
.

Said the Emperor s c h ief m inister : Fain woul d I


“ ’

visit that city .


He looked over the S ide of the boat and sighed , I

s e e naught but darkness .


When we dived and reac h ed t h e sea bottom , —
1 0 4 MYTHS OF CH INA AN D JAPA N
"
by a h e ro of Japan This hero carried O H the sword and
.
1

presented it to the Emp e ror Aft e r many years had gone .

past a s e a dragon took the form of a princess S h e became



.

the bride of a prince of Japan , and w as the gran d mot h er


of the boy Emperor with whom she leapt into the sea
-

during the battle of Dan no ura This boy n o w lies - -


.


asleep in my coils .

T h e Emperor o f Japan sorrowed greatl y when he w as


informed regarding the dragon king s m essage Alas I ’
.

he sai d , if the K usan agi sword cannot be obtained, the


barbarians will defeat my army in battle .

Then a magician told the Emperor that h e knew of a


powerful spell that wo ul d compel t h e dragon to give up
“ “ ”
the sword I f it is successful, the Emperor said I
.
,

shall elevate you to the rank o f a princ e .

The spell was worked and when next the female ,

divers went to the K ingdom under t h e Sea, they obtained


t h e sword , with w h ich th ey returned to the Emperor .

He used it in battle and won a gr e at victory .

T h e sword was afterwards placed in a b o x and de


posited i n the temple o f Atsuta, and there it remained for
many years , until a K orean priest carried it away Wh e n .
,

h owever, the K orean was crossing t h e ocean to h is own


l and, a great storm arose T h e captain of the vessel .

kn e w it w as no ordinary storm , but one that h ad been


raised by a go d , and he spoke and sai d , W ho on board


this ship has o ff ended the dragon king of Ocean ?
Then said t h e K orean priest “
I S hal l throw my ,

sword into the s e a as a peace o ffe ring —


.

He did as he said he would, and immediately the


s torm passed away .

1 L i k e t h e E gy pt i an h e r o who s l ay s th e r r r
iv e se rd
pe n t w h i c h gua s t h e b o x c o n
t ai n i n g m agi c s pe ll s S i gu rd fr d
S ieg i e an d r dr
o th e ago n s l a i n g h e o e s
-
y r
m ay b e

r r
,

r ,
.

c om p a ed w i t h t h i s F ar- E as t e n he o.
C H A P TE R IX

T h e Is l an d s o f t h e Ble s t
S o ul s on Il s an d s— W e ll s o f L i fe an d T r i n C h i n a,
ee s or P l an t s of Li f
e

I
A n c i e n t E gy pt, B ab y l o n i a, Sz e — H o w sl an d s w e e A n c h o e d — T h e O ce an r r
F F I
.

r
T o t o i se — A G
i a n t s i s h i n g— T h e My s t e y o f u—s an g—

rs l an d o f o m en W
r F I J
S e a c h fo r abl e d sl e s— C h i n e se an d apan e se S t o i e s - H o w N av i gat i o n w as r
S t i m ul at e d — C o l um b us an d E d e n — at e W r
o f L i fe i n C e l o n , P o l n e s i a,
y y
r
A m e i ca, an d S co tl an d — e l o s, a D F I
l o at i n g s l and — A t l a n t i s an d t h e o t unat e Fr
Il
s e s— Celti c Il
s an d Pa rd
a i se — A ppl es a n d N ut s as o o d o f L i fe — A m F e ri c a as

Pa r ad i s e — I
T h e n di an L o t us o f L i fe — B ud d hi s t P a ad i s e w i t h G e m r - r
t ee s
Di am o n d Val l e
y L e ge n d i n C h i n a an d Gr e e ce — L uc kG e m s an d I r
m m o t al i t
y .

The Chinese and Japanese , like the Egyptians,


Indians, Fij ians and others , believed, as has be e n shown ,
,
-

in the existence o f a floating and vanishing island as


s o c i at e d with the s e rpent god or d ragon od of ocean —
g
-
.

They believed , too that somew h ere in the Eastern Sea


,

lay a group o f islands that were d i fli c ul t to locate or '

reach ; which resemble d cl osely in essential partic ul ars , ,


“ ”
the Islands of the Bl e st , o r Fortunate Isles

of

ancient Gre e k writers Vague beliefs regarding fabulous .

countri e s far across the ocean were likewise prevalent .

I n som e native accounts these C h inese Islands o f t h e


Blest are said to be fiv e in nu m ber, and na m ed Tai Y u ,

Y i l an C hiao , Fang H u Ying Chou and P eng lai ; in , ,



-

ot h ers t h e number is nine , or ten or only thre e A , .

single island is sometimes re ferred to ; it may be l ocated


in the ocean or in the Y e l l ow River, or in t h e riv e r o f
,

the M ilky Way, the C elestial Ho .

1 O6
TH E I SLANDS O F THE BLE ST 1 9 7
T h e is l ands are, in Chinese legend, reputed to be
in h abited by those who have won immortal ity, or by
t h ose who hav e been transported to their Paradise to
dwe ll there in bliss for a prolo n ged period so that they
may be reborn o n earth , or pass to a higher state of
existence .

It is o f special i nterest to note in connection with


these islands that they have Wells of Life and Trees or
Herbs of Life The souls drink the wat e r and eat the
.

herb o r fruit o f the tree to prolong their existence One .

Chinese plant of l ife is li ch i h , the hangus of i m


“ “

m ortality It appears o n Chinese jade ornaments as a


symbol of l ongevity “
This fungus , writes Laufer,
.


is a sp e cies of Aga ri c and consi d ered a felicitous p l ant ,
because it absorbs the vapours of the earth I n the L i .

Ki (ed Couvreur , Vol I , p 643 ) it is mentione d as an


. . .

edible plant As a marve l lous p l ant foreboding good


.

l uck, it first appeared under the Han Dynasty, in 1 0 9 B C , . .

when it sprouted in the imp e rial palace K an ts uan The -



.

emperor issued an edict announcing this phenomenon ,


and proclaime d an amnesty i n t h e empire except for
relapsing criminals A hymn in honour of t h is divin e
.

” 1
plant was composed in the same year .

Lik e the Re d Cloud h erb the li ch i h had evidentl y


a clos e connection with the dragon god -
.

The question aris e s whet h er the idea of an island of


“ ”
paradise was of spontaneous origin in China , or
whether the ancient Chinese borrowed the belief from
intruders, o r from peoples with whom t h ey h ad constant
trading relations There is evidence that as far back as
.

the fourth century, B C , a C h inese e xp l orer set o ut on an


. .

expedition to search for the island or isla n ds of Paradise


1
Jd
a e : A S tudy i n

C h i n ese A r ch er ol o y
g a nd r
Re l igi on, B e t h o ld L au fr
e
(Ch i cago ,
pp . 20 9 1 0 .
1 0 8 M YTHS O F CHI NA AN D JAPAN
i n the East e rn Sea B ut it is n o t known at what precise
.

period b e lief in the island aros e and became pr e val ent .

T h e evidence a ff or d e d by t h e ancient Egyptian Pyra


mid T e xts is o f S p e cial inter e st and importance in con
n e c t i o n w ith the problem o f origin As far back as .


e. 2 50 0 B C . . t h e departed Pharaoh hoped to draw his
sust e nanc e in th e realm o f Re (Paradise ) from the “

tree o f life in t h e mysterious isl e in t h e midst of the


Field of O fferings Th e soul o f the Pharaoh , accord
ing to the Pyrami d Texts s e t out soon after death , in search , ,

o f this island

in company with t h e Morning Star The .

Morning Star is a gorgeous gr e en falcon a solar d ivini t y , ,



identified with Horus o f D ew at The Egyptian story .

O f the soul s quest goes o n to tell that this K ing Pepi


’ “

went to th e gr e at isle in the m idst o f t h e Fi e ld o f


O fferings over which the go d s make the swallows fly .

T h e swallows are the I m perishabl e Stars Th ey give to .

this K ing Pepi the tree o f life whereof they live that ye , ,

( Pepi and the Morning Star ) may at the sam e time l ive

thereof .
(Pyramid Texts 1 20
9 Sinister enemies
,

may contrive to depriv e the k ing o f the sustenance
provid e d fo r h im Charms were provided to pro
.

t e c t t h e fruit o f immortality The enemy against whic h .

these are most often directed in the Pyramid Te xts is


serpents . I n the Japanes e story o f the K us an agi sword ,
the gem trees o f the Otherworld are protected by dragons
-
.

T h e Pyramid Texts devoted to th e ancient E gyptian


K ing Unis tell that a divine voice cri e s to t h e gods Re
an d Thoth
( s un and moon
) saying ,

Ta k e ye this K ing
,

Unis with y o u that he may eat o f that which ye eat an d ,

t h at he m ay drink o f that which ye drink The magic .



well is r e fe rred t o as the pool o f K ing Unis T he
so ul O f the Pharaoh also sails with the unwearied stars in
1
B r e as t e d , Rel i gi on a nd T h ough t i n E gy pt, pp . 1
33 7

.
1 1 0 MYTH S OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
named P en g lai Fang Chang and Ying C h ou T h e y
’ '

-
, , .

are located i n t h e Gulf o f Chihli , but are d i ffi cult to


reach because contrary winds spring up and drive vessels
away i n the sam e manner as the vessel of Odysseus was
driven away from It h aca It is tol d , how e ver, that i n .

days o f o l d certain fortunate heroes contrived to reach


and visit the fabled isles They told that they s aw th e re .

palaces of gold and silver, that the white men and


women , the whit e beasts and the wh ite birds ate the
Herb o f Life and drank the waters o f the Fountain o f
Life On the island o f Ying Chou are great precipices
.

O f j ade A brook the waters o f which are as s t i m ul at


.
,

ing as wine flows out of a j ade rock T h ose who can


,
.

reach the island and drink of this water wil l increase t h e


length of their lives When t h e jade water is mixed .


with pounded fungus of immortality a food is provided
w h ich ensures a thousand years of existence in the body .

Chinese legends tell that the lucky mariners who .

come within view o f t h e Isles of the Blest behold them ,

but dimly, as they seem to be enve l oped in luminous


clo uds When vessels approach too closely, t h e islands
.

vanish by sinking below t h e waves , as do the fab l ed


islands of Gaelic stories .

Lieh Tze, alleged to be an earl y Taoist writer, but 1

whose writings, or those writings attributed to h im , were


forged in the first or second century A D , has l ocated the . .

islands to the east of the gulf of Chihli in that fathomless


abyss into which flo w all the streams o f the earth and t h e
riv e r o f t h e M ilky Way Apparently this abyss is the .

Myt h ical Sea which was located beyond the eastern hori
zon a part of the s e a that surrounds the world I nto

.

this sea o r lake , according to t h e anci e nt Egyptian texts ,


1
H e fi r r r(
gu e s as a c h a a c t e n ot a r e al o n e ) r
i n t h e w i t i n gs of K w an g t z
-
e, w h o w as
bo r n i n th e f r o u th c e nt ur y B C
. .
THE I SLANDS OF THE BLEST 1 1 1

pours the celestia l river, a l ong whic h sail s t h e barque o f


the sun god T h e Nile was supposed by the Ancient
-
.

Egyptians t o be fed by the waters above the firm am e n t


and the waters below the earth The Pyramid Texts .

w h en referring to the birth of Osiris as new water “

( t h e inundation ) ,
sa
y

T h w t s f l i f t h t r in t h sk y c m e ;
e a er o e a a e e o

T h w t s o f li f t h t
e a er in t h e rt h m e a are ea co e.

T h s k y b u n s fo t h
e r r ee,

m bl s f
1
T h th t
e e ar th e re e or e .

I n India the Ganges was likewise fed by the celestial


Ganges that poured down from the s k y .

Lieh T z e s I slands o f the Blest are five in number,


and are i n habited by th e wh ite souls of saintly sages who


have Wo n immortality by havi ng t h eir bodies rendered
transparent o r after casting O ff their bodies as snakes
,

cast O ff their skins All t h e anima l s on these islands are


.

likewise white and therefore pure and holy The spirit .

d wellings are o f gold and j ade , and in the groves and


gard ens the trees and plants bear pearls and precious
stones Those who eat o f the fungus or o f perfumed
.
,

fruit , renew their youth and acquire the power of floating


like down through t h e air from island to island .

At o n e time the islands drifted about on the tides of


ocean but the Lord o f Al l who controls the Universe ,
,

having been appealed to by the Taoist sages w h o dwelt


o n the isles , caused three great A tlas t urtles t o s upport -

each island wit h their heads S O that they might remain


steadfast Th ese turtles are relieve d by O th e rs at the
.

end of S ixty thousand years I n l ike manner, in India n .

mythology, t h e tortoise K urma an avatar of the god ,

Vishnu , supports Mount M eru when it is p l aced in the


1
B r e as t e d , Re li gi on a nd T h ough t in A nci e n t E gy pt, p . 1 45 .
1 1 2 MYTHS OF CHI NA AN D JAPAN
Sea of M ilk The Japanese Creator has a tortoise form
.

that supports t h e world tree , o n the summit o f w h ich -

sits a four armed go d I n China the tortoise h ad divine


-
.

attributes Tortoise shell is a symbol o f unc h angeability,


.

and a symbol of rank when used for court girdles The .

tortoise was also used fo r purposes of divination .


1

A gigantic mythical tortoise i s supposed in the Far ,

East, to live i n t h e depths o f ocean It has o n e eye .

situated in the m id dl e of its body Once every three :

t h ousand years it rises to the surface and turns over on


its back s o t h at it may see the sun .

Once upon a time , a legend tells the Atlas turt l es ,


-

that support the Islands of the B l est suff ered from a raid
by a wandering giant As the I ndian go d Vis h nu and .

the Greek Poseidon could cross the Un iverse at three


strides , so coul d this giant pass quickly from country to
country and ocean to ocean One or t w o strides were .

s ufl i ci e n t for him to reach the mythical ocean from the


Lung po mountains He s at on t h e mountain summit
-
.

o f o n e o f the Islands o f the B l est and cast his fis h i n line


g
-
,

into the deep waters T h e Atlas turtles were unab l e to .


2 —

resist the l ure O f his bait and, having hooked and cap
t ure d s i x o f them he threw them over his back and ,

returned h ome in triumph These turtles had been sup .

porting t h e t w o islan d s , Tai Y n and Y uan C h iao , w h ich ,


having been s e t free , were carried by powerful tides
towards the north , where they stranded among the ice
fie l d s The white beings that inhabited these islands
were thus separated from their fellow saints on the oth e r
three islands , Fang H u Ying Chou , and P eng lai W e ,


.

are left to imagine h o w lonely they felt in isolation No .

1
Dr J L e gge , C h i ne s e C r
lassi cs, V o l III, P a t I, p 2 40 , an d P a t II, p 5 5 4 r
r k r
. . . . . .

gi an t s s i t o n m o un t ai n s i n l i e m an n e an d fis h fo r w h al e s ,
9
In S c o t t i s h gi an t l o -
e

us m g t r e e s as fis h i ng- rd o s.
THE I SLAND S OF THE BLEST 1 1 3

doubt, they su ffe red from t h e evils associated with the


nort h the airt of drought an d darkness The giant

“ ”
.

and h is tribesmen were punished by the Lord O f the


Universe for this act by having t h eir stature and t h eir
kingdom greatly reduced .

On the fabled is l ands , the white saints cultivate and


gat h er t h e fungus o f immortality as the sou l s in t h e
“ ”
,

Para d ise o f Osiris cultivate and harvest crops of barley


and wheat and dat e s Like the Osirian corn the island
.
,

fungus sprouts in great profusion This fungus h as not .

only t h e power to renew youth but even to restore the



dead to life The Herodotus of China has recorded
.

that once upon a time leaves o f the fu n gus were carried


by rave n s to t h e mainland from o n e o f the islan d s , and
dropped on the faces o f warriors slain in battle T h e .

warriors immediately came to l ife, a l thoug h they had lain


dead for three days The water of life h ad simi l arl y

.

reanimating properties .

T h e famous magician Tung fang Shuo, who l ived in,


-

second century B C , tel l s t h at the sacred islands are ten i n


. .

number, t h ere being t w o distinct groups of five One o f .

the distant is l ands is named F u sang, and it has been -

identified by di fferent western writers with California,



M exico , Japan , and Formosa Its name signifies the .

Land o f the Leaning Mu l berry The mulberries are


said to grow in pairs and to be of gr e at height Once .

every nine thousand years th ey bear fruit which the


saints partake of T h is fruit adds to their saint l y
.

qualities and gives t h em power to soar S kywar d like


, .

celestia l birds .

Beyond F u sang is a country o f white women w h o


h ave hairy bodies I n t h e spring season t h ey e nter t h e


.

river to bathe and becom e pregnant, and their c h i l dren


are born in the autumn Th e hair of t h eir heads i s s o
.

( D 71 ) 9
1 1 4 MYTHS OF C HI NA A ND JAPAN
long that it trails on the ground behind them I nstead .

of breasts, they have white l ocks or hairy organs at the


back O f t h eir necks from which comes a liquor t h at
nourishes their children These women according to
.
,

so m e accounts , have no husbands , and ta k e flight when


they s e e a man A h istorian who, by t h e way gives
.
,

them husbands , has recorded that a Chinese vess e l was


once driven by a tempest to this wonderful island T h e .

crew landed and found that t h e women resembled t h ose


o f China, but that the m e n had h e ads like dogs and voices

t h at sounded like the barking of dogs Evidentl y the .

legends about th e fabled islands b e came mixed up with


accounts of t h e distant islands o f a bearded race reached
by seafarers .

Ther e are records of severa l attempts that were m ade


by pious Chinese Emperors to discover the Is l an d s o f
the Blest, with purpose to obtain t h e fungus o f i m m o r

tality One mariner named H s u F u, who was sent to
.

explore the E astern Sea s o that the fungus might be


brought to the royal palace, returne d with a wonderful
story He said that a god had risen out of the sea and
.


inquired if he was the Emperor s representative ’
I .


am, the mariner made answer .


Wh at seek ye ? asked the sea god —
.

I am searching for the plant that has the power to


prolong human life , Hsu F u answered .

The god then informed the Emperor s m essenger ’

that the o fferings he brought were not su ffi cient to be


regarded as payment for this magic plant H e was .

willing, however , that Hsu F u should s e e th e fungus


'

for himself so that, apparently, the Emperor might be


convinced it really existed .

The vessel w as then pilote d in a south easterly d i re c -

tion until the Islands o f t h e B l est were reache d H s u .


1 1 6 M YTHS OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
d
o
g , who had apparently come wit h the intention of
preventing t h e s hips going any farther A fierce battle .

ensue d Tho usan d s o f poisoned arrows were discharged


.

against the go d , who was S O grievously wounded that h is


bloo d tinged the s e a over an area o f miles But .

despit e this victory ac h ieved by mortals the famous ,

islan d o n which grew the h erb of immortality w as never


reache d On the same night the Emperor had to engag e
.

in single combat with the dragon go d w h o came against -


,

him in a dream This was a co m bat of souls , for in


.

sleep, as was beli e ved t h e soul leaves the body T h e


,
.

soul o f the Emperor fared badly On th e day that fol .

lowed his maj esty was unable to rise from his couch and ,

h e died withi n t h e space of seven days .

I n Japanes e stories the island of P eng lai is referred ’


-

to as H o rai z an It has thre e h igh mountains o n the


.
,

chief of which called Horai , grows the Tree of Life


,
.

This tre e has a trun k and branc h es of go l d, roots o f


S ilv e r, and gem l e av e s and fruit
-
I n some stories there
.

are thre e trees t h e peach , the plum , an d the pine T h e


,
.

fungus of immortality is also referred to It grows i n .

t h e shade o f one or another of the holy trees , usually


the pin e There is evidence , t o o o f the belief that a
.
,
“ ”
grass of immortality grew o n th e sacred island as well
as the famous fungus T h e life giving fountain was as
.

well known to the Japanese as it was to the Chinese and


others .

A story is told of a Japanese Gilgamesh , named S e n t aro ,


w h o , being afraid o f d e ath , summoned to h is aid an i m
mortal saint s o that he might be enabled to obtain the
“ ”
grass o f immortali t y The saint handed him a crane
.

mad e of paper which , when mounted came to life and ,

carried S e n t aro across the ocean to Mount Horai There .

h e found and ate t h e life giving grass -


W hen , however .
,
THE I SLAND S OF THE B L EST 1 1 7

he had lived for a time o n the island he becam e discon


tented The other in h abitants h ad already grown weary
.

o f immortality and wishe d they cou l d die S e n t aro him .

self began to pin e fo r Japan and , in the e n d , resolved to


mount his paper crane and fly ov e r t h e s e a B ut after h e .

l e ft t h e island h e d oubted the wisdom of h i s impulsive


resolution The resu l t was that the crane , which moved
.

according to his will , began to crumple up and drop


through th e air S e n t aro was greatly scared , and once
.

again y e arned s o deeply for h is native land that the cran e ,


straightene d and strengt h ened by his yearning rose into ,

the air an d continued its fligh t unt il Japan w as reach e d .

Another Japanese hero named W as o b i o y e the story


, ,

o f whose wanderings is retold by Professor Chamberlain ,


1

once s e t o ut in a boat to e scap e troublesome visitors .

T h e d ay w as t h e eighth O f the eight h month and t h e


moon was ful l Suddenly a storm came o n , w h ich tore the
.

sail to shreds and brought down t h e mast W as o b i o y e .

w as unable to return h ome , and his boat was driven about


o n the wide ocean for the space O f three months T h en .

he reached the Sea o f Mud , o n whic h he could n o t catch


any fish . He was soon reduced to sore straits and
fe ared h e would die o f hunger but, i n time, h e caught ,

sight o f land and was greatl y cheered His boat drift e d .

S l owly towards a beautifu l island o n which there were

three great mountains As he drew near to t h e shore,


.

he found to h is gr e at j oy that t h e air was laden with


, ,

most exquisite perfumes that came from the flow e rs and


tree blossoms of that wonderful isle He landed and
-
.

found a sparkling well W h e n he had drunk of th e


.

water his strength was revived and a feeling o f int e nse ,

pleasure tingled in his veins He rose up refres h ed and .

h appy and, walking in l and, soon m e t with Jo fuk u the


1 T r a nsacti ons o
f th e
f y apan
A s i a ti c S oci e g» o .
1 1 8 MYTH S OF CHI NA AN D JAPAN
sage known in China as H s u F it , who had been sent to
,

th e Island o f the B lest (P eng lai ) by the Emperor S h e ’


Wang T i to O btain the fungus o f immortality wit h the ”


,

youths and virgins but had never returned , .

W as o b i o y e w as ta k e n by the friendly sage to the C ity


o f the immortals w h o spent their lives in the pursuit of
,

pleasure He found however that thes e people had


.
, ,

grown to dislike their monotonous exist e nce , and w e re


constantly striving to discover some means whereby their
days would be shortened They re fused to partake o f .

mermaid flesh because this was a food that prolonged life ;


they favoure d instead goldfish and soot , a mixture which
was supposed to be poisonous The m anners o f t h e .

peop l e were curious Instead of wishing one another


.

good health and lo n g life they wished for sickness and ,

a speedy death Congratulations were showered on any


.

individual who seeme d to be indisposed, and h e was


sympathiz e d with when he showed S ig n s of recovering .

W as o b i o y e live d on t h e island fo r nearly a quarter of


a century Then having grown weary o f the monoto
.
,

nous life he endeavoured to commit suicide by partaking


,

of poisonous fr uit fis h and fl e sh But all his attempts


, ,
.

were i n vain I t w as impossibl e for anyone to die o n


.

that islan d I n ti m e he came to know that he could die


.

if he left it but h e h ad heard of other wonderful l ands


,

and wished to visit t h em before his days came to an end .

T h en , inst e a d o f eating poisonous food, he began to fe ast


on mermai d fl esh so that h is life mig h t be prolonged for
many years b e yond the allotte d span Ther e after h e .

visited the Lan d o f Shams , the Land of Plenty, Se c .

His last visit w as pai d to the Lan d of Giants Waso .


b i o y e is usually r e ferred to as th e Japanese Gulliver

Th e search for the mythical islands with their wells
” ”
o f life

and trees or plants of life is referred to i n the
1 20 MYTHS OF CHINA AN D J A PAN
the inhabitants enj oyed perpetual health an d y o ut h fial
beauty wh e re the w a i ora (life giving fountain ) removed
,
-

ev e ry internal malady and every external deformity o r ,

paralyse d d ecre pitud e from all those who were p l unged ,



ben e ath its salutary wat e rs Ellis anticipates the views .

o f modern ethnologists when dealing with the existence

o f the sam e b e liefs among widely separated p e oples He -


.

says : A tabular vi e w o f a number o f word s in th e


Malayan Asiatic, o r the Madagasse the A merican and


, , ,

the Polynesian languages would p robab l y S how that, ,

at some remote period , eith e r the inhabitants O f these


distant parts o f the world maintained frequent intercourse
with each ot h er or that colonies from some o n e of them
,

originally people d in part or altogether, the others
, .

He adds Either part o f the present inhabitants o f the



,

South Sea Islands cam e originally from A merica o r tribes ,

O f the Polynesians have, at some re m ote period, found


the i r way to the (A m e rican ) continent 1 ”
.

W D W e stervelt in his L ege nd s of Old H onol ulu


. .
, ,

h e ads his o l d Hawaiian story The Wat e r o f Life o f


Ka n e which he hi m self has collected with the follow



,

ing extract from t h e Maori legend o f N e w Z ealand :


Wh n t h e e m oo n di e s, s h e g o es t o th e li in g
v w at e r of Ka -
ne , to

the w at e r wh i ch c a n res t o e al l r li f e, ev e n th e m o o n to th e pat h i n


th e Sky .

I n the Hawaiian form o f the l e gend the h ero w h o found ,

the water s o that his sick father t h e king m ight be , ,

cure d met with a dwarf who instructed him wh ere to go


,

an d what to do .

A russet dwarf similarly figures in the Gaelic story of


D i arm ai d s s earch for th e cup and t h e water o f life so

that t h e daughter o f the K ing o f Land under W aves - -

1 W i ll i am E l l i s , P oly nesi a n Rese a r ch es ( 1 st e d i t i o n, L o n d o n, V o l II, pp 47


. . e t se
q
.
THE ISLANDS OF THE B LEST 1 21

might be cured of her sickness This dwarf takes the .

Gaelic hero across a ferry and instructs him h o w to find


the cup and the water .
1

The Polynesians ghosts went westward In their



.


Paradise w as a bread fruit tree This tree had t w o -
.

branc h es o n e towards t h e east and one towards the west,


,

both o f whic h were used by t h e ghosts One was for .

leaping into eternal d arkness into P o pau o l e the other — -


,

was a m e e ting place with th e h elpfu l gods


-
Turn e r .
” 2

tel l s that some of the South Sea Islanders have a tradi


tion of a river in their imaginary worl d of spirits , called



the water o f life It was suppos e d that if the aged ,

when they d ied w e nt and bathed there, they became


,

young and returned to eart h to live another li fe over


”3
again Y ud hi s h t h i ra, o n e o f the heroes of the A ry O Indian
.
-

epi c the Mah d hh d ra ta becomes immortal after bat h ing in ,

the celestial Ganges I n the E nei d the hero sees souls


.
4
,

in Paradise drinking of the water o f Lethe so that they


may forget the past and be reborn among m en .

Sir Jo h n de Mandeville, the fourteent h century -

traveller and compiler of trav e ller s stories , located the ’

fountain o f life at the base of a great mountain in Ceylon .

This fay r well



bat h e odour and savour o f all
spices ; and at every hour of the day he Ch aunge th e his ,

O dour and his savour d y v e rs e l y A nd whoso d ri n k e t h e .

times fasting o f that w at re of t h at wel l e , h e is hoo l


3
whole o f alle maner (of) s y k e n e s s e that he b athe And
( ) .

they that duel l en (dwell) there an d d ry n k e n often of that


welle, t h ei n e v e re h au (h ave) s y k e n e s s e , and thei semen
1
C am pb e l l, P opul ar T a l es of th e Wes t H igh land s, V o l III, al e L X V I T X X
r
. .

2 3
od s a nd G h os ts, p 2 46
L egen ds o f G N ly
i ne te en T ea s i n P o ne s i a,
p 3 53
r f
. . . .

S w a rga ro h a ni ha Pa rv a, S e c t i o n III (Ro y s t an s l at i o n ), p 9 T h e ch i e o f t h e



- '

r r r
. .


go d s s ay s t o Y ud h i sh th i ra : H e e i s th e c e l e s t i al ive P l un gi n g i n t o i t, t h o u
r rd d r
.

w i l t go t o t h i n e ow n e gi o n s (P a a i se ) H av m g bat h e ,th e he o c as t o ff h i s h um an

d fr
.

b o dy an d a ss um e a c e l e s t i al o m
1 22 MYTH S OF CH INA A ND J A PAN
( seem ) a ll e weys yonge
. John says that h e drank of
Sir
the water o n three o r four occasions and fared the better
for it Some men called it the Welle O f Y o ut h e
.
“ ”

T h ey had often d runk from it an d seemed alle weys y o n gl y



( youthful ) and lived without sickness And. men
s e n that that welle c o m e t h e out o f Para d ys , and ther e
y
fore i t is s o vertuous T h e tree oflife is always S i tuate d
.


near t h e well of life In me d i ae val literature At H e lio .

polis in Egypt a well an d tree are connected by Coptic


C h ristians and Mohamm e d ans with Christ When Joseph.

and Mary fled to Egypt they rested und e r this tree ,


according to Egyptian belief, and the cloth e s o f the h oly
C hi l d were washed in the well Heliopolis , the Biblical
.

On , is the C ity of t h e s un and the Arabs sti ll cal l t h e


wel l the spring o f t h e s un
“ ”
According to ancient
Egyptian belief the sun god Ra washed his face i n it
-

every morning The tree, a sycamore, was the mot h er


.

goddess .

That European ideas regarding a floating is l and or


islands were o f Egyptian origin and closely connecte d
with the solar cult, is suggeste d by the classical l egend
regarding De l os , o n e of the Cyclades I t was fabled to
.

have been raised to the surface of the sea at the command


of Posei d on, s o that t h e persecuted godd e ss Latona, who
was pursued from land to land by a python , as the
Egyptian I sis was pursued by Set, m ight give birth there
to Apollo On D elos t h e image of Apollo was in t h e
.

S hape of a dragon, and delive red oracles It was unlawful


.

for any person to die o n De l os , and those of its i n h abi


tants w h o fell sick were transported to anot h er island .

Delos was a fl oating is l and like the floating is l and o f


the N il e , the green bed o f Ho us on which t h at s o n

r

of Osiris and Isis hid from Set . The m ost ancient


Apollo w as th e s o n O f cripple Hephaistos Cripple .
1 24 MYTH S OF CH IN A AN D J A P A N
E m ai nAblac h (E m ai n rich in apples ) I n one de

.

scription a yout h named Con l a and h i s bride Ve n i us a are



referr e d t o N o w th e youth was s o that in h is hand
.

he held a fragrant apple having the hue o f gold ; a third


part o f it h e woul d eat, and still , fo r all he consume d ,

never a whit wo uld it be diminished T h e fruit it w as .

t h at supported t h e pair o f them and w h en once they had


partaken o f it nor age nor dim ness could a ffect t h em
,
.

A part o f this Paradise w as reserved for monarchs , “

T e i gue, a Ce l tic Gilgamesh



kings , and tribal chiefs .

w h o visited the island saw there a thickly furnished



,

wide spreading apple tree t h at bore blossom an d ripe


-

fruit at the same time He ask e d regarding the great .

tree an d was inform ed t h at its fruit was meat intended


“ ”
to serv e the congregation which was to inhabit the
mansion The rowan berry and hazel nut were also to
.
1

the Gaels fruits of immortality There once came to .

St Patrick from the sout h a youth w e aring a crimson


.

mantle fixed by a fibula o f gold over a yellow shirt H e .

broug h t a doub l e armful o f round yellow headed nuts


“ -

an d o f beautiful golden yellow apples T h e Gae l ic -


” ?

Islands of the B lest are pictured in gl owing colours

S pl e n d o urs o f e v e ry c o lo ur glis t e n
Th ro ugh o ut t h e e nt le v o ice d plai n s g -
.

k
Jo y i s n o w n , ran e d aro un d m usi c k
In t h e so ut h e rn S ilv e r c lo ud Plai n -
.

k
U n n o wn i s w ail i n o r t re ac h e ry g
Th e re i s n o t h in ro u h o r h o ars e g g
W i t h o ut gri e f, w i t h o ut so rro w, i t h o ut W
W k
i t h o ut s i c n e ss, w i t h o ut d e b ili ty
Al ov e ly lan d
On wh i ch the m a ny blo sso m s d ro p ?

1 S H O G rad y , S i l ‘v G ad el i ca, V o l II, pp 3 9 3 — 4



a

V r
. . . . .

9 3 T he
Ibi d .
,V ol. II, p . 1 1 3 . oy age o f B an .
S H OU SH A N (i . e.

H IL L S OF ON V TY L GE I T H E T O ST
A I P A RA DS
I E

Fl om a w as e n si l k pi c tur e i n th e Vi c t o r i a an d A l be r t l l f us e um
1 26 M YTH S O F CHI N A AND JAPAN
The Well of Life is referred to in the K oran Co m .

m e n t at o rs explain a reference to a vanis h ing fis h by tell

ing that Moses or Joshua carried a fried fish wh en they


reac h ed the Wel l of Life Some drops o f the water fel l .

on the fis h , which at once leapt out o f the basket into the


s e a and swam away .

In th e A ry o I ndian epic, the Mahd bh d ra ta, t h e hero


-

Bhima sets o ut in searc h o f th e Lake o f Life and the


Lotus o f Life He overcomes the Yaks h a guardians O f
.
-

the lak e , and when he bathes in the lake h is wounds


are healed .
1

There are glowing descriptions in Buddhist literature


o f the Para d ise reac h ed by those who are to qua l ify for

Bud d hahood A proportion o f the Ch inese Taoist in


.

h abitants of the Islands of t h e Blest similarly wait fo r t h e


time when they will pass into another stat e of existence .

A S im ilar beli e f prevailed in the West Certain Celtic .

heroes, like Arthur, Ossian Fionn (Finn ) Brian B o ro i m h e , , ,

and Tho m as the R h ymer, live in Paradise for long periods


awaiting the time when they are to return to the world
o f men , as do Charlemagne , Frederick O f Barbarossa ,

William Te l l, and others o n t h e Continent .

In the Buddhist Paradise the pure beings have faces



bright and yellowish yellow being the sacred colour ,

o f t h e Buddhist as it is the colour o f the chief dr agon

o f China .I n this Paradise is th e Ce l estial Ganges and


“ ”
the gr e at Bodhi tree , a hundred y o gan as in h eight
-

which prolongs life and increases t h eir stock o f merit


“ ”
Their merit may grow in the following shapes viz , .

either in gold , in silver in j ewels , in b e ryls , in S hells in


, ,

stones in corals in amber, in red pearls in diamonds & c ,


, , , , .

or in any o n e o f the other j ewels ; or in all kin d s o f per


fumes i n flowers , in garlands in O intment, in incense
, ,
1 “ V an s P a r va of Mah é bhé r a ta
, an d In d i a n My th and Le
g d , pp
en . 1 0 5 9

.
THE I SLANDS OF THE BLEST 1 27

powder, in cloaks , in umbre ll as in flags , in banners , ,

or in lamps ; or i n all kinds o f dancing, singing and ,

music 1

The gem trees abound in t h is Paradise


-

Of som e .

trees , one account runs , the trun k s are of coral the


” “
,

branches of red pearls , the smal l branch es of diamonds ,


t h e l eaves o f gold , the flowers of si lver, and the fruits
of beryl In the
.
”2
e astern quarter there are Buddha
countries equal t o the sand of the River Ganga (Ganges)
Th e purified beings in the l ands surpass the light of the
sun and moon , by the light of wisdom , and by the white
ness , bri ll iancy, purity, and beauty of their know l edge 3

There are references to the king of j ewels that fulfi l s


every wish It h as go l den coloured rays excessively


“ ”
.
-

b e autiful t h e radiance of whic h transforms itself into


,

birds possessing the colours o f a h undred j ewels, which


sing out harmonio us notes The purified may become
like Buddha w ith bodi e s bright as go l d and b l ue eyes
for t h e eyes o f Buddha are like the water of t h e four

great oceans ; the blue and the w h ite are quite distinct 5

The i maginations of the Bud d hists run riot in their


descriptions o f the Land of B liss, and the stream o f
glowing narrative carries with It many pre Buddhist beliefs —

about metals and precious stones , red pearl s , blue


pearl s and so on , and nets o f gold adorned wit h the


emb l ems of the do l phin , the svastika (s was h t i k a) , t h e


n an d av art a, and the moon
y I n t h eir Paradise even
the river mud is o f gold Th e religious ideas o f the .

“ ”
early searchers fo r soul substance in the form o f
metal s and gems are thus foun d to be quaintl y blended
with Buddhist conceptions of t h e Earth l y Paradise .

1 D r esc i pt i o n of S uk h av iz t i , t h e L an d
'
of B l i ss, i n B udd hi s t Mahay am a T ex ts (S a c r e d
B ooks
2 Ibi
f
o the E as t, V o l .
3
X X)
LI pp, . 1 6, 1 7
4 Ib
.

5 0
Ibi d , i d, Ibi d
d .
,p.
35 .
p 56. .
p . 1 74
. .
,p . 1 80 . Ibi d , p.
.
50 .
1 28 MYTHS OF C HI NA AND J A PAN
I n some Chinese and Japanese stories t h e sou l s of th e
dead are carried to Paradise by birds and especially by the ,

crane o r stork which ta k es the place of the I ndian man


,

eagle Garuda (Japanese Gario the woman bird with ,


-

crane s legs) and o f the Babylonian eagle that carried


the hero Etana to heaven The saints who reac h the


.

In d ian Paradise o f Uttara K uru situated at the sources


,

o f the River Indus among t h e Himalayan mountains and


, ,

originally the homeland o f the K uru tribe of Aryans , are


supposed to have their lives prolonged fo r centuries .

W h en they die their bodies are carried away by gigantic


birds and dropp e d into mountain r e c e sses The belief .

enshrined in stories O f this kind m ay be traced to the


wide spread legend of the Diamond Valley Laufer notes

.

that a version of it occurs in t h e L i a ng se h ung hi , one o f


the most curious books of Ch in e se literature A prince
is infor m ed by scholars r e garding the wonders of distant
“ ”
lands . In the west arriving at the Mediterranean
, ,

o n e Chi nese story runs , there is in th e s e a an island o f
two hundred square miles On this island is a large
.

forest, abun d ant in trees with precious stones , and i n


habit e d by over ten t h ousand families These men show .

great ability in cleverly working gems which are named ,

fo r the country F u lin (Syria) -


I n a north westerly
.

direction from t h e is land is a ravine , hollowe d o ut like


a bowl , more than a thousand fe et d eep T h ey throw .

flesh into this valley Birds take it up in their beaks


.
,

whereupon they d rop the pr e cious stones Here F u l in , .



-

in the Mediterranean area is referred to as early as the


,

beginning o f the S ixth ce n tury .

The Chin e s e Diamond Valley story is an abridged


form o f a well k nown W estern legend

I n a version ”
.

O f it in the writ i ngs o f E pi ph an i us B ishop o f Constantia


,

in Cyprus (e 3 1 5 . the vall e y is situat ed in a
1 3 0 M YTHS OF CHINA A ND JAPAN
Paradise was a land in which life giving water and
-

fruit, and innumerable gems were t o be found , and


those w h o reache d it became wise as magicians and
prophets , and live d for thousands of years free from
sickness and pain It was the land o f eternal youth and
.

unlimited happiness .
C HA P T E R X

M o t h e r go dd e ss O f C h i n a
T he —

an d Japan
F d f h D d Mi l k B r d d B r i P r d i T h W r
oo or t e ea —
, ea , an ee n a a se— e e ste n

T r f if i
ee o
yp L T r f i f i Gr
e n E g t— r i i d P ly i T h ee o L e n e e ce, B ta n, an o n e s a— e

Un d r rl P re wo T dW rf l R G rd C h i C l f
a ad i s e — he “
o nd e u o se a en — n e se ut o th e
W bl
e st — l T r BiP r bl C i
i ca P h r f L iy T
ee a a e — h n e se e ac T ee o o n ge v t — he

R y lM h r f W
o a otVi f C h E p r r F
e o th e r
e st

— si t o th e i n e se m e o — A ar- E as t e n

El Kh d r
-
i rd C y— T h e S ac h C i T r
e C l C l i l
hr s an t h e m um — T e ass a ee u t— e est a

Y ll R i r M
e ow My h ve — r l ir Ch I d d d
oon t s— L un a E i x in i n a, n i a, a n S can i n av i a
— C i S r M id
h ne s e T ta rq Il d f l i Cl i l
a e n— he S un B a ue s an o B e st

n e e st a

Ri r M ve i rl
— ry T h M k r i C h i d J p T C i
o o n —g S to — e a a a

n n a an a an — he h n es e

Ih r Dl
s ta —
g d T re S p ri
uge S ry
L f e i l P
en h li
— l ee i ts — to o L tt e e ac ng Sou
S b u i Dr B T r
s t an c e

n d P rl ago n o n e s, e e s, a n ea s .

T h e quest of the e l ixir f life the water O f life o



or the food o f life is as prominent a feature o f ancient

religious literature as is the quest of the Holy Grail in the


Arthurian romances As has been shown in the last .

c h apter , the belief that prompted t h e quest was widely


preval ent and o f great antiquity The Babyl onian hero
, .
,

Gilgamesh whose story is to l d in the oldest epic i n t h e


,

world , undertook his long and perilous j ourney to the


Otherworl d in quest o f the Plant of Life because the
, ,

t h ought o f deat h was sorrowful to him W hen his friend , .

E a bani , h ad expired,
-

Gilg am e s h w e pt b i t t ly
er ,an d h e l ay s t re t c h e d o ut upo n th e gro u nd .

H e c r e d, i L e t m e not di e li k e E a— b a ni .

”1
I fe ar d e at h .

1 L . W . K i ng, B a by l on i a n Re li gi on (L o n d o n, p . 1 71 .

1 31
1
3 2 M YTH S OF CH INA AND JAPAN
In the Babylonian myth O f A dapa reference is made
to t h e water of life and t h e food of life which give

wisdom and immortality to th e go d s and t o th e souls o f


those mortals w h o win their favour T h e sacre d tree in .

Babylonian art is evidently the Tr e e of Life .


1

W e see m to m e e t with the history o f the immemorial


quest in the Pyramid Texts o f Ancient Egypt The .

ancient pri e sts appear to h ave con cerned themselves greatl y


regar d ing the problem how th e dead were to be nourished

in the celestial Paradise The chief dread felt by the .


Egyptian fo r the hereafter, says Breaste d , was fear of
2 ”
hunger I n Egypt, as in other lands o fferings of food
.
,

were mad e at the tombs and these were supposed to be ,

conveyed to the souls by certain of the gods But those .

who hoped to liv e for e ver knew well that the time wo ul d
come when grave O ff erings would cease to be ma d e, and
-

their own names would be forgotten on earth Some .

Pharao h s endowed their chapel tombs fo r al l time, but -

revolutions ultimately caused endowments to be appro


ri at e d
p .

Th e Babylonians believed t h at if the dead were not


fed their ghosts woul d prowl through the str e ets and
,

enter houses searching for food and wat e r I n Polynesia


,
?

t h e homel e ss and desolate ghosts were those of poor



peopl e who d uring their residence in the body had
,
” 4
no friends and no property The custom of including .

food vessels and drinking cups in the funerary fiI rn i t ure


- -

o f pr e historic graves in di f
f erent countries was no doubt
conn e cte d with the fear o f hunger in the h e r e after The .

custom was widespread of giving the dead food o fferings


1

2
L . W . K i n g, L ege nd s q a by l on a nd E gy pt ( L on d o n,
p . 1 36 .

Re li gi on d Th ough t i n A ncre n t E gypt, p 1 3 0


an

r
. .

3 My th s of B a by lon i a a n d A ssy i a, p 7 1
W r
. .

1

e s t e v e l t , L e end s o
g f G od s a nd G h os ts (H a w ai i an My th ol ogy ), p . 2 45 .
1 34 MYTHS OF CH I NA AN D J A PAN
the idea that food such as is found in Egypt might , ,

be provided in the regions above o r beyond the s k y T h e .

sun go d was appeal e d to : Give thou bread to this K ing


” 1
Pepi from this thy eternal bread , thy everlasting beer
,
.

But the chief source o f nourishmen t in the celestial


Paradise was the Tree of Life (a form o f the mother
goddess) on the great isle in the mythical lake o r sea
?
beyond the East e rn horizon Egyptian artists depicted
this tree as a palm , o r sycamore , wit h a goddess rising
from insid e it, pouring water from a vessel on the hands
of the P h araoh s soul , whic h m ig h t appear in h uman

form , o r in the man bird form called the ba I n t h e -


.

funeral ritual the ceremony o f pouring out a l ibation


was performed wit h the obj ect O f r e storing the body
moistur e (the water o f life) to the mummy A Biblical ?

reference to the ceremony is found in 2 K ings , iii , 1 1 , in



which it is said o f Elisha that he poured water o n the
hands o f Elij ah No doubt the Egyp tian soul rec e ived
water as nourishment, as well as to ensure its immortality ,
from the tree goddess —
.

I n the B oo k of the Dead (Chapter LI X) , the Tree of



Life is referred to as th e sycamore of Nut (the sky
goddess) Ot h er texts call the tree the Western Tree
.

of Nut o r Hathor I t may be that the so l ar cul t o f.

the East took over t h e tree from the Osirian cult of


the W est .

This mythical tree figures in many ancient mytho l ogies .

T h e goddess Europa was worshipped at G o rty n a, in


Crete d uring the Hel l e nic period, as a sacred tree
,
The .
4

tree may be traced from th e B ritish Isles to I ndia and ,

there are numerous legends o f spirits entering o r leaving


1
B r e as t e d , Re l i gi on and T h ough t in A nci e n t E gypt, pp 1 2 0 e t se q
r
. .

1 3
Ibi d ,p 1 34 G E l l i o t S m i t h , T h e E v ol uti on of th e D g p
a
p 2 3 e t s eq
on,

Fr C k
. . . . . .

1 ul ts
of the G re eh S tates, V o l III, pp 4, 3 0 ; Co o

a n e l l, . . 1 , Ze us, V o l I, p 5 3 7
. . .
THE MOTHER GODDESS — 1 35

it The Po l ynesians h ave stories of this kind Their


.
.

Tree of Life was the l ocal bread fruit tree whic h became —

a god , or, as some h ad it a goddess


” “
Out of t h is
,
.

magic bread fruit tree a l egend says a great goddess



,

,
”1
was made .

I t may be that the is l and Paradise with its Tree of


Life was special l y favoured after maritime enterprise
made strong appeal to t h e imagination of the Egyptians .

N o doubt the Ol d sai l ors who searched fo r “


soul sub -

stance i n t h e S hap e o f pearls precious stones , and



,

metal s h ad much to do wit h disseminating the idea of


the Is l es o f t h e Blest At any rate , it became , as we
.

have seen , a tradition among seafarers to searc h for


the distant land in whic h was situated the water of “

life Th e home dw e l l ing O s i ri an s clung to their idea


-

o f an Underwor l d Paradise , and belief in it became fused

with that of t h e floating is l and o r Islands o f the Blest ,


.

Those who dwe l t in inland p l ains and val l eys , and t h ose
accustomed to cross th e great mysterious deserts o n
whic h the oasis mirage frequentl y appeared and vanis h ed
-

like the mythical floating island conceived of a Paradise ,

on eart h There are references in more than one land to


.

a Paradise among the mountains It figures in the fairy .

stori e s of Central Europe, for instance , as the wonderfu l


Rose Garden with its linden Tree o f Immorta l ity, the

h iding place o f a fairy l ady its dancing nymphs and


-

its dwarfs ; the king of dwarfs has a c l oak o f invisibility


whic h he wraps round those mortals h e carries away ?

At first only the souls o f kings entered Paradise .

But, in time , the belief became firmly estab l ished that


the souls o f others could reac h it t o o and be fed there , .

The quest of t h e food o f life then became a popular ”

1 W r L ege n d s of Ol d H on ol ul u, pp
e ste v e l t, . 2 2 e t se
q , an d p
. . 29 .
1
T e utoni c My th and L egend, pp 424— 3 2
. .
1 3 6 MYTHS OF CHI N A AND JAPAN
theme of th e story t e llers , and s o fa m i l iar grew t h e i d ea
-

o f the existence o f this fruit that people believed it could

be obtained during life , and that t h ose who partook of it


might have th e ir d ays prolonge d indefinitely For, as .

W Schooling has written , a fe w simp l e thoughts o n


.

a fe w simple subj e cts produce a fe w simple opinions


common to a whole tribe (and even a great part o f
an d are taught with but littl e modification

mankind) ,

to successive generations ; hence arises a rigidi t y that


imposes ready made opinions , w h ic h are seldom questio n ed,
-

while s uch questioning as d oes occur is usually met


with excessive severity, as Galileo and others have found

The appl e , as w e have s e e n was to t h e Celts the ,

fruit of immortali ty : the Chinese favoured the peac h


that is it was favoured by the Chinese cult of the
,

W est A S all animals were suppose d to be represented


.

in the Otherworld by gigantic proto types th e fat h ers —

o r mothers o f their kind s o were trees repr e sent e d by —

a gigantic tree This tree was t h e W orld Tre e that


?

supported the Univers e In Egypt the World Tree was .

the sycamore o f the S ky goddess w h o was the Great —


,

Mother o f d e iti e s and man k ind The sun dropped into .

the sycamore at eventide ; when darkness fell the swallows


( star gods ) —
p e rched in i t s branches In Norse mythology .

t h e tre e is th e ash , called Yg d rasi l and from the well ,

at its roots soul s receive the Hades dri n k o f immortality , -

drinking from a horn embell is h ed with s e rpent symbols .

The Tree figures prominently in Iranian mytholo gy : the


A ry o Indian I n d ra constructs the World ho use round
- -

1 W es tm i ns te r Re v i e w , N ov e m be r , 18 9 2, p 5 2 3
W r rd rd d
. .

2
h e n, s o m e
yea s ago , a n as s w as ac qui e by a t e n an t o n a H eb i e an i s l an ,a

n a t i v e, o n s e e i n g t hi s an i m al fo r t h e fir st ti m e , e x c l ai m e d ,

It i s t h e f r at he o f al l th e
ha r es
T H E MOTHER G O DD ESS -
1 37

it This Tre e is , no doubt , identica l with the sacred tree


.

in Assyrian art, which is sometimes t h e date , t h e vine , the


pomegranate, the fir, the c e d ar, and perhaps the o ak I t .

may be that the Biblical parab l e about the talking trees is a


memory o f the rivalries Of the various Assyrian tree cul ts :
T h t r s w e t f rt h o n t i m t
e ee n n i t a ki ng v r t h m ; d
o a e o a o n o e e an

t h y s id u t
e a th oli t e
n o R i gn t h o u o r us B ut t h e li
e ve r e, e ve . o ve

tre e s i d un t o t h m
a S h ul d I l v m y f t n ss w h
e ,
o w i t h by m ea e a e ,
e re e

t h y h o n o ur go d
e d m a d
g t
an b p r m ot d o v an , th e t
n es ? o o e o e er re

A d t h e t es s i d t o t h fi g t r
n re a C m th u d ei gn o r us e e, o e o ,a
n re ve .

B ut t h fi g t re s i d u t o t h m S h o ul d I fo s k m y sw e t n ss
e e a n e ,
d r a e e e ,a
n

m
y g o d f ui t
o d g rt b p r ,
man t d o r t h
o t r s
o ? T e h n so i d t ho e ve e ee e a e

t s unt t h v i n C o m t h o u, d i gn o us A d t h ine s i d
re e o e e, e an re ver . n e v a

un t o t h m S h o ul d I l
e , m
y i e wh i c h c h r t h
e av eG od d mv n
,
ee e an an ,

an d go t b pro m t d o e r t h t re ? Th n s i d l l t h t re s u t o
o e ov e e es e a a e e n

th eb am bl , C m t h u
r e d o i g n o v r us
e A d t h b r m bl s i d
o ,an re e . n e a e a

unt t h t r s If i
o e t ut h y e n o i t m
ee , Ki g o
n r
y o u t h na co m n e n ver ,
e e

a n d put y ur t ru t i om sh d w : s d i f not l t fi ma o ut f n
y c o an
,
e re o e o

t h e b m bl ra d d e o u th e
e , an d rs o f L e b n n v r ce a a o .

in Assyria, there was in C h ina quite a selection of


AS
life giving trees

.

T h e Chinese gigantic Peach Tree, whose f ruit was


partaken of by go d s an d men , grew in the Paradise among
the K wun l un mountains in Tibet and, like the I ndian

,

Mount Meru ( world supported the Unive rse .

Its fruit took three tho usand years to ripen The tree .

was surrounded by a beautiful garden and was under the ,

care of the fairy like lady Si W ang M u , t h e q ue e n of -

immortals the Mother of t h e Western K ing and



,

t h e Roya l Mot h e r o f the West S h e appears to have



.

originally been the mother goddess t h e Far Eastern - — -

form o f Hathor I n Japan s h e i s cal l ed S e i o b o Her


. .

Paradise w h ich is called the palace of exalted purity ,



,

and t h e metropolis of the pear l mountai n , or o f t h e


“ “ ”

j ade mountain , and is entered through t h e golden




1 38 MYTHS OF C HINA A ND J A PAN
door was originally that o f the cult o f the W est .

Sometimes Si Wang M u i s depicte d as quit e as weird a


deity as t h e Phigalian De m eter, with disordered hair,
tig e r s teeth , and a panther s tail Her voice i s harsh , and
’ ’
.

s h e sends and cures diseases Three blue birds bring food .

t o her .

Chinese emperors and magicians were as anxious to


obtain a p e ach from th e Royal Mother s tree in the ’

W estern Paradise, as they w e re to import the fungus “

O f i m mortality from the Islands o f t h e Blest in the


Eastern Sea .

There once live d in China a magician named Tung


Fang So w h o figures in Japanese legend as T o b o sak u,
,

and is represented in Japanese art as a j olly o l d man ,

Clasping a peac h to h i s breast and p e rforming a d ance or ,

as a dreamy sage carrying t w o o r three peaches and


, ,

accompanie d by a d e er ah ani m a l which symboliz e d —

longevity Various l e g e nds have gathered round h i s


.

name One is that he had several successive rebirths


.

in various reigns and that originally he was an avatar


,

o f the planet Venus He may therefore represent the


.

Far East e rn Tammuz, the s o n O f t h e mother goddess


- -
.

Another l e gen d tells that he fil c h e d three peaches from


the Tree O f Life which had b e en p l ucked by t h e Royal
,

Mother of the West
Tung Fang S o was a councillor in the court o f Wu
Ti , the fourt h emperor o f t h e Han Dynasty who reigned ,

for over half a century and die d aft e r fasting for seven ,

days in 8 7 B C I n Japanese stories W u Ti is called


. .

K an no B uti He w as gr e atly con cerned about finding


.

” ”
th e

wat e r o f life o r the fruit o f life , s o that h i s days
might be prolong e d I n h i s palac e gar d en h e caused to
.

be erected a tower over 1 0 0 feet high which appears to ,

1 Dr J . o s e ph E dk i n s , Re l i gi on i n C h i n a, p
. 1 51 .
1 49 MYTHS OF C H I NA A N D JAP A N
Cloud lan d followed by t h e white souls of good wo m en

,

o f the Taoist cult H e r atten d ants include t h e Blue


.

Stork t h e W hite Tiger t h e Stag and the gigantic


, , ,

Tortoise which are all gods an d sy m bols of longevity


,

in China .

A mong the many stori e s tol d about Tung Fang S o i s


o n e regarding a visit he once paid to the mythical Purpl e

Sea He returned after the absence o f a year , an d on


.

being remonstrat e d with by his brother for de s e rting his


home fo r s o long a period , he contended that he had been
away for only a single day His garm ents had b e en dis .

coloured by the waters o f the Purple Sea, and he had


gone to another sea to cleanse them I n like m anner .

heroes who visit Fairyland find that time slips past ve ry


quickly .

The Purple Sea id e a may hav e been d e riv e d from t h e


ancient Well of Life story about El K h idr, whose bo d y 1

and clothing turne d gr e en after h e had bathed in it .

Purple supplante d green and blue as the colour o f i m


mortality and royalty aft e r murex d y e beca m e t h e gr e at
commercial asset o f s e a trad e rs Tung Fang So may
-
.

have had attached to h i s memory a late and imported


version o f the El K hi d r story .

T h e r e fere nce to W u Ti s d e w d rinking habit recalls



-

the story O f t h e youthful K e u Tze Tung a court ,

favourite w h o unwittingly o ffended the emperor, Mu h


,

Wang and was banished As t h e Egyptian B ata, w h o


,
.

S imilarly fell into disgrace in consequence o f a false .


charge b e ing mad e against h im fled to t h e Valley of ,

the A cacia ”
K e u T z e Tung fle d to the
,

Vall e y of

the C hrysanthemum Th e re h e drank the d e w that
.

dropped fro m th e petals o f C hrysanthemums and became ,

an immortal The B ud d hists took over t h is story, and


.

1 My th s of B a by l oni a a nd A ssy ri a, pp . 1 85 e t se
q
.
1 42 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JAPAN
point is that the ancient texts maintain silence as to
cinnamon ; that is, t h e product from the bark of the tree .

Ci nna m oi n uin ca ssi a is a nativ e of K wan si , K wan


tun , and I ndo C hina ; and the C hinese made its first
-

acquaintance under t h e Han , when th e y began to colonize



an d to absorb southern C hina Th e first description .

of this tree goes no farther back than the third century .


It was not the C hinese , but non C h inese peoples of -

I ndo China who first broug h t the tree into civilization ,


-

which like all ot h er southern cultivations was simp l y


, ,

adopted by the conquering Chinese 1
I t has been .

suggested that the cinnamon bark was imported into


Egypt from C h ina as far back as the Empire period
(c .1
5 0 0 by Ph oe nician s e a traders
2
Laufer rej ects —
.

this theory Apparently the ancient Egyptians imported


?

a fragrant bark from their Pun t (Somaliland , or B ritish


East Africa) At a very much later period cinnamon
.

bark was carrie d across the Indian Ocean from Ceylon .

Th e Egyptians imported incense bearing trees from -


Punt to restore the odours of the body o f the d ead ,

and poured o ut libations to restore its lost moisture ?



When writes Professor Elliot Smit h , the be l ief

,

became we ll established that the burning of incense was


potent as an animating force , and e specially a giver of
life to t h e dead , it naturally came to be regarded as a
divine substance i n the sense t h at it had the power o f
resurrection As the grains o f inc e nse consisted o f the
.

exudation of trees, o r as th e ancient texts express it, ,



their sweat , t h e divin e power of animation in course

of time became transferred to trees They were no .

1 L au e fr S i no- I r a n i ca ,
p 5 43
r ,
XX
. .

11 P h i l A ss oci ati on, V o l III, 8 9 2, p


T ansa cti ons Am 1 1 1 5
r
. . . . .

3 C
I 54 2 —
no- an i ca, pp 3
Dr
. .

1
G . E ll i o t S m i t h , T he E v o l uti on of th e gon, pp 3 6
a . e t se
q .
T H E M OTHER GODDESS -
1 43

longer mere l y the source o f the life giving incense , but -

were t h emselves animate d by the deity, whose drops


of S we at were the means of conveying life to t h e
mummy . The s ap o f trees was bro ught into
relationship with life giving water T h e sap was
-
.

also regarde d as t h e blood of trees and t h e incense that



exuded as sweat As D e Groot reminds us , tales
o f trees t h at shed blood , and that cry o ut when h urt
are common in Chin e se literature (as also in Southern
Arabia notes Elliot Smith ) ; also o f trees that lodge
,

or can change into maidens o f transcendant beauty .

Apparently the ancient seafare rs w h o search e d for


incense bearing trees carrie d their beliefs to distant coun
-

tri e s T h e goddess tree o f t h e peach cult was evidently


.

the e arliest in China It bore the fruit of life The . .

influence that led to the foundation of this cult probably


came by an over l and route The cassia tr e e cult was .

later and beliefs connected wit h it came from So uthern


,

China ; these, too , bear the imprint o f id e as that were


well developed before they reached China .

Ther e are refe rences in Chinese lore to a gigantic


cassia tree which was feet high Those who ate .

o f its fruit became immortal The earlier beli e f con .

n e c t e d with t h e peach tree was that the soul w h o at e o n e

o f its peaches lived fo r 3 0 0 0 years .

T h is cassia world tree app e ars first to h ave tak e n-

the place of t h e peach tree o f the Roya l Mother o f


the West It w as reached by sailing up the ho l iest


river in China , the Hoang H o (Yellow River) , the -

sources o f which are in the K oko Nor territory to t h e —

north of Tibet I t wriggl es like a serpent between


.

mountain barriers before it flows northward ; then it


fC
1
Re l i gi ous Sy s tem E ll i o t S m i t h, T h e E l uti on f
6
o h i na, V o l IV , pp 2 7 2— : an d v o o

Dr
. .

th e
g , pp 3 8 9
a on -
. .
1 44 MY TH S OF C HINA AN D J A PAN
flows southward for 2 0 0 miles o n t h e eastern bord e r
o f Shensi province the hin e se homeland and th en
( C ) ,

eastward for 2 0 0 miles , afterward s d iverging in a north


easterly direction towards the Gulf o f C hihli in which ,

the Islan d s o f the B lest were supposed to be situate d .

It w as believed that t h e Hoang H o h ad like the


-
,

Ganges o f I ndia an d the Nil e o f Egypt a celestia l ,

origin . Those sages who desired to O btain a glimps e


of Paradis e sailed up the river to its fountain head .

Some reach e d the tree and the garden of Para d ise .

Oth e rs foun d themselves sailing across the heavens .

T h e West e rn Paradise w as evidently suppos e d by some


to be situated in the middle of the world , and by others
to h ave been S ituated beyond the horizon .

Chang K i en , one o f the famous men attached to


th e court of Wu Ti the r e viver of many anci e nt beli e fs


,

and m yths , was credit e d with havi n g followe d t h e course


o f the sacred river unti l he reached t h e spot where the

cassia tree gr e w . B eside the tree wer e the i m m ortal


animals that haunt t h e gar d en of the Royal Moth er o f
the West I n addition Chang K i e n s aw the moon rabbit
,

-

o r moon hare , which is adored as a rice giver


-
In the Far
-
.

East, as in the N ear East and in the West the moon is ,

supposed to ripen crops The lunar rabbit or hare is


.

associated with wat e r ; in the moon grow plants and


a tree of i m mortality Th ere is also accor d ing to C h inese
.
,

belief a frog in t h e moon I t was originally a woman ,


, .

the wife of a renowned archer, who rescu e d t h e moon


from imprisonm ent in mass e s o f black rain clou d s The -
.

Royal Mother O f the West was so grateful to the arch e r


for the service he h ad ren d ered that S he gave h i m a j a d e


cup filled with t h e d e w o f i m mortali ty His wife stole .

the cup and drank the d e w For this O ffence the Ro y al


.

Mother o f the W est transformed her into a frog and



,
1 46 MYTH S OF CHI NA AND JAP A N
some unknown plant T h ere are a l so references in Indian
.

“ ”
mythology to the Amrita , which was partaken o f by
the gods I t was the s ap of sacred trees that grew in
.

Paradise Trees and plants derived th e ir life and suste u


.

ance from water T h e Far Eastern beliefs in the


.
“ -

d e w o f immortality , t h e fungus of immortality



and


the fruit o f immortality have an intimate connection
with the belief that the mother goddess was conn e cted -

with the moon, which exercised an influence over


water T h e mother goddess w as also t h e love goddess ,
.
- -

the Is h tar of B abylonia , the H athor o f Egypt, the


Aphrodite O f Greece Her son , or husband, w as in one
.
,

o f his phases , the love god -


.

The sage of the Chinese Emperor Wu Ti , who


followed the co urse o f the Y e l l ow River so as to reach
the celestial Paradis e s aw in addition to t h e moon
, ,

rabbit, o r h are , the O l d Man o f the Moon , the


“ ”

C h inese Wu K ang and Japanese G e k k awo the go d ,

of love and marriage He i s supposed to unite lovers


.

by binding their feet with i nvisible red S ilk cords The .


Old Man in th e Moon i s , i n C hinese legend , engaged
in chopping branch e s from the cassia tree o f immortality .

N e w branches imme d iately sprout forth to replace those



thus remove d , b ut the Old Man has to go o n cutting
t i ll the end o f ti m e having committed a sin for which
,

his i ncr e asing labour IS the appropriate punishment .

A Bud d hist legen d makes Indra the O l d m an He .

asked fo r food from t h e hare, the ape and th e fo x The , .

hare lit a fire and l e apt into it so that the god might be
fed Indra w as s o much impressed by this supreme act
.

of friendship and charity that he placed the ex e mp l ary


hare in the moon A version o f t h is story is given in
.

t h e Ma hd bh d ra ta
.


I n European folk lore the Old Man is either a
-
THE M OTHER GODDESS — 1 47

t h ief who sto l e a bund l e o f faggots , or a '

broke t h e Sabbat h by cutting sticks on that


S e e t h e rust i c i n t h e Mo o n,
H o w h i s b un d le w e i gh s h i m d o wn ;
k
Th us h is st i c s t h e t rut h re v e al

It n e v e r pro t s m an t o s t e al .

Various versions o f the Man in the Moon myt h are


given by S Baring Gould, w h o draws attention to a
.

1

curious seal app e nded t o a deed preserved in the Record


O ffice , dated th e 9 t h year o f Edward the T h ird ( 1 3 3
I t s h ows the Man in the Moon carrying h is sticks
“ ”

and accompanied by his d o g Two stars are added . .

The inscription o n th e seal i s “


Te W al t e re d o ce b o cur
,

spinas ph e b o gero (I w i ll t e ach thee Walter, why I ,

carry thorns in the The deed is one of convey


ance o f property from a man whose Christian name was
Walter .

W u T i s sage travelled through t h e c e lestial region s


until he reached the Milky Way the source o f t h e Yellow ,

Riv e r . He s aw the Spinning Maiden , whose radiant


garment is adorned with silver stars She h ad a lover, .

from whom she was separated but once a year s h e was ,

allowe d to visit him and passe d across th e heavens as


,

a meteor This Spinning Maiden who weaves the n e t


.
,

o f th e constellations , is reminiscent of the Egyptian


sk
y
-
goddess Hathor (o r Nut
, ) whose body is covered ,

with stars and whose legs and arms as she bends over
, ,

t h e earth represent t h e four pillars o n which the sky



,

w as supposed to rest and mark the four cardinal points .

Her lover from whom she was separated , was S e b


,
?

I n China certain groups o f stars are referred to as the


1 Cr u i ous My th s of th e M i ddle A ges, pp 1 9 0 e t seq
d
. .

2 Bu ge , G od s if th e E gy pti a ns, V o l II, p 1 0 4


. . .
1 48 M YTHS OF CHI NA AND JAPAN

Celestial Door the H all of Heaven S ec Taoist .

saints dwell i n stellar abodes, as well as o n the Islands



of the B lest ; some were during their life on earth
, ,

incarnations o f star gods -


Th e lower ranks o f t h e
.

w e stern cult immortals remain in the garden of th e



Royal Mother ; those O f the highest ran k ascend

to the stars .

Wu Ti s sage, according to one form o f the legend


never returne d to earth His boat whic h sailed up


.
,
“ ”
the Yellow River and th e n along the M ilky Way ,
was believed to have reached the C e lestial River that
flows round the Universe , and along which sails the
s un barque o f th e Egyptian o d Ra or Re One day

g ( ) .

the Chinese sage s oar apparent l y his steering oar



was deposited in the Royal Palace grounds by a ce l estial


spirit, who d escend e d from the s k y Here we have, .

perhaps , a fai n t m emory o f the visits paid to earth


from the cel e stial barque by the Egyptian go d Thot h ,
i n his captivity as envoy o f the sun go d Ra -
.

There is evidence in Far Eastern folk tales that


- -

at a very remote period the beliefs of the cul t of the


Sk god d ess which placed the tree o f immortality in
y
-
,

the

m oon island and the b e liefs o f the peac h cu l t
of

th e W e sterners were fused , as were those of the
Osirian and solar cults in Egypt .

A curious story t e lls that once upon a time a man


went to fish on t h e Yellow River A storm arose, and .

his boat was driven into a tributary th e banks of which ,

were fringed wit h in n umerable peach trees i n ful l blossom .

He reac h ed an islan d , on which he landed There h e .

w as kindly treated by t h e inhabitants , who told that they


had fled from China because o f the oppressio n of t h e
e m peror This surprised the fisherman greatly
. He .

asked fo r particulars , and w as given the name o f an


1 50 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JA PAN
I n an Egyptian legend it is to l d that Osiris was th e
s o n of the Mother C o w who h ad conceived him wh en
,

a fertilizing ray o f light fell from the moon I n like .

manner a m o o n gi rl came into being in Japan


~
She .

was discovered by a wood cutter O n e d ay , when collect


-
.

ing bamboo, he foun d inside a cane a little baby whose ,

body shone as does a gem in darkness He took her .

home to his wife, and s h e grew up to be a very beautiful


“ ”
girl .She was calle d Moon Ray , and after living
for a time o n t h e e arth returned to the moon She .

had maintained her yout h ful appearan c e by drinking,


from a smal l vessel she possessed , the fluid o f i m
mortality .

As the dragon was connected with the moon , and


the moon with t h e ba m boo , it mig h t be e xpected that
t h e dragon and bamboo would be closely linked On e .

of the holy men is credit e d with having reached t h e


lunar heaven by cutting down a bamboo , w h ich he after


wards transformed into a d ragon He rode heavenwards .

o n the d ragon s back



.

Saintly women , as a rule rise t o heaven i n the form


,

of birds o r in th e ir o w n form without wings , o n account


, ,

of t h e soul like lightn e ss of their bodies which have


-
,

become purified by performing r e ligious rites and e n gag


ing in prayer and meditation T h eir husbands h ave
.

either to climb trees o r great mountains Some h oly .

women , aft e r reac h ing h eaven ride along the clouds on


,

t h e back of the K ilin , the bisexual monster that t h e


soul of Confucius is suppose d to ride It is a form .

of the d ragon but more like the m aha ra o f the Indian


,

god Varuna than t h e typical wonder beast o f China


and Japan Some o f these monsters resemble lions


.
,

dogs , deer walr uses , or unicorns They are all , however,


, .

varieties of the m aha ra .


THE M OTHER GODDESS —
I5 1

Sometimes we find that the attributes o f the Great


Mother who like Ap h rodite was a Postponer of Old
, , ,


Age (Am bol ogera ) , being the provider o f the fruit o f
immortality and 1 personification o f the World Tree,
h ave been attached to t h e memory o f some famous
l ady and especially an empress As t h e Egyptian
,
.

Pharaoh , according to t h e beliefs o f th e so l ar cult,


b e came Ra (t h e s un god) after deat h s o did t h e Chinese

,
“ ”
e mpress become the Roya l Lady of the West .

Nu K w a, a mythical empress of China, was reputed


t o have become a goddess after s h e h ad passed to the
celestial regions . She figures in the Chin e se Deluge
Myth Like the Babylonian Ishtar, S he was opposed
.

to the policy o f destroying man kind She did n o t


.
,

how e ver , lik e Ishtar, cont e nt h erself by expressing regret .

Wh en the demons o f water and fire, aided by rebe l


generals o f her empire , s e t out to destroy the world Nu ,

K w a waged war against them . Her campaign was success


ful but not until a gigantic warrior had partly destroyed
,

the h eavens by upsetting o n e of its pillars and the flood


had covered a great portion o f the earth The empress .

stemmed the rising waters by m eans o f charred reeds


( a Babylonian touch ) ,
and afterwards rebui l t the broken
pil l ar, under w h ich was placed an Atlas tortoise Like —
.

Marduk ( M e ro d ach) , s h e then s e t the Universe in or d er,


and formed t h e C hannel fo r the Celestial River There .

after s h e created the guardians o f the four quarters ,

p l acing th e Black Tortoise in the nort h and giving it ,

control over winter ; the B lue Dragon in the east w h o ,

w as given contro l over spring ; the White Tiger in the


west, who was given control over autumn ; and the Red
Bird in the south , w h o w as given control over summ e r,
with t h e Go l den Dragon whose special duty was to
,

guard t h e s un , t h e moon being protected by t h e White


1
5 2 MYTHS OF C HI NA AND J A PAN
D e ity o f the west The brok e n pillar o f h e av e n w as
.

built up with stones colour e d like the fiv e go d s .

Among t h e gifts conferr e d o n mankind by this


Empress Goddess w as j ad e which s h e create d s o that

,

they might be protect e d against e vil influence and decay .

In this D e luge Myth whic h i s e vid e ntly o f B abylonian


,

origin th e gods figure as reb e ls and d e m ons The


,
.

Moth e r God d e ss is the protector of t h e Unive rse an d ,

t h e friend O f m an Evid e ntl y the cult O f the Mother


.

Godd e ss was at o n e time very pow e rful in Ch ina I n .

Japan the Empr e ss Nu K w a i s rem e mbere d as Jokwa .

The Tr e e O f Immortality , as has be e n see n is closel y ,

associated with the Far Eastern Mother Goddess who ,

may appear before favour e d mortals either as a beautiful


woman as a d ragon , o r as a woman riding o n a dragon,
,

o r as half woman a n d half fish o r half woman and half ,

serp e nt It i s from the goddess that t h e tr e e r e ceives


.

its soul substance ; in a sens e s h e is t h e tree as s h e


“ ”
, ,

is t h e moon and the po t o f life wat e r o r the mead in -


,

t h e moon T h e fruits o f t h e tr e e are symbols o f her as


.

t h e mother and th e s ap o f the tre e is her blood


, .

Refe rence h as b e e n mad e t o Far Eastern stories about


dragons transforming th e mselves into tre e s and trees
“ ”
becoming d ragons The tr e e was a
. k upua o f the

dragon The mother o f Adonis was a tree Myrrha


.

the daughter o f K ing Cinyras of Cyprus who w as trans ,

for m e d i nto a m yrrh tre e A Japan e s e l e gend relates


.

that a hero named Manko once s aw a beautiful woman


, ,

sitting o n a tr e e trunk that floate d o n the s e a


-
Sh e .

vanish e d sudd e nly Manko h ad the tre e ta k e n into


.

his boat, and found that the wo m an w as hi d den insi d e


t h e trunk S h e w as a daught e r O f the Dragon K ing
.

o f Ocean .

A b e tter known Japanese tr e e hero is Mo m o t aro


-
THE M OTHE R GODDESS 1
53

(m om o, peac h ,
t a ro, eldest son
) w h ose
, name is usually

rendered in English as Little P e ac h l i n g H e is
known i n folk stories as a slayer of d emons a veritabl e
- —

Jack the Giant K iller —


.

T h e legend runs t h at o n e day an o l d wood c utt e r


-

we n t out to gather firewood , while his wife washe d


dirty clothes in a river A fter t h e woman had finis h ed
.

her work, s h e s aw a gigantic peach drifting past Seizing.

a po l e she brought it into shallow water, an d t h us secured


,

it The size of the peach astonished h e r great ly, and sh e


.

carried it home, and, having wash e d it , placed it before her


husband when h e returned h ome for his evening meal .

No sooner did the wood cutter b e gin to cut open t h e


-

peach than a baby boy em e rged from the kernel The .

couple, b e ing childless wer e gr e atly delight e d , and


,

looked upon the child as a gift from the Celestials and ,

they b e l ieved he had been sent so as to becom e t h eir


comfort and he l per when th ey grew too o l d to work .

Mo m o t ara, the elder son o f the peac h , as th e y


“ ”

called him , grew up to be a strong and valiant young


man , who performed feats o f strength that caused every
o n e to won d er at h im .

There came a day when , to the sorrow o f h is foster


parents , he announced that h e h ad reso l ved to leave
home and go to the Isle o f D e mons , wit h purpose to
S ecure a portion o f t h eir treasure This seemed to be
.

a perilous undertaking and the o l d couple attempt e d


,

to make him change his m ind Mo m o tara, however,


.

l aughed at th e ir fears, and said : Pl e ase m ake some


millet dump l ings for me I shal l need food for my


.

j ourney .

His foster mother prepared t h e d umpl ings and m uttered


-

good wish e s over them Th en Mo m o t ara bade the o l d


.

couple an affectionate farewell , and went o n h is way .


1
54 MYTHS OF CHI NA AN D J A PAN
The young hero had n o t travelled far wh e n h e m et
a d o g whic h barke d o ut
,

B o w w o w ! wher e are you
°
-

going Peach s o n
,
-


I am going to the Isle of Demons to obtain

treasure th e lad answered
,
.


B o w w o w ! what are y o u carrying ?

I am carrying millet dumplings that my mother


made for me N O one in Japa n can make better
.

dumplings t h an these .


B o w w o w ! give me one and I shall go with y o u to
-


the Isle o f D emons .

The lad gave the dog a d umpling, and it fol l owed at


h is heels .

Mo m o t ara had not gone much farther when a monkey,


perched o n a tree call e d out to him , saying : K i a ! K i a !
,

where are you going , S o n of a Peach ?


Mo m o t ara answer e d t h e monkey as he h ad answere d
the d o g The monkey aske d for a dumpling, pro m ising
.

to j oin the par ty and when h e received on e h e s e t o ff


,

with the lad and the d o g .

The next a n ima l that hailed the lad was a pheasant ,

who called o ut : K e n ! K e n ! w h ere are you going, Son



of a Peach ?
Mo m o t ara told h im , and the bird , having received t h e
dumpling he asked fo r accompanied the lad , the dog , ,

and t h e monkey o n the quest o f treasure .

When t h e Island of Demons w as reached t h ey all


went togeth e r to wards the fortress in which the d e mon
king resided The pheasant fle w insid e to act as a
.

s
py . Th en the monkey climbed over t h e wall and
opened the gate s o that Mo m o t ara and the d o g w e re abl e
,

to enter t h e fortress without d i fli cul t y The demons , .

however soon caught sight of the intruders , and att e m pt e d


,

to kill them Mo m o t ara fought fiercely, assisted by the


.
1
5 6 MYTHS OF CHINA AND J A PAN
and was afterwards raised to t h e kingship by the goddess
Ishtar K arna the A ry o Indian Hector , the s o n of
.
,
-

Surya, the s un go d , and the virgin princess P ri t h a, was


— -

similarly s e t adrift i n an ark , an d was rescued from t h e


Ganges by a chil d less woman whose husband w as a
c h arioteer T h e poor couple reared t h e futur e hero
.

1
as their o w n s o n .

Adonis t h e s o n o f t h e myrrh tree was a Syrian


, ,

form o f Tammuz Horus was the s o n o f Osiris whose


.
,

body was e nclosed by a tree aft e r Set caused h is death


by setting him adrift in a chest When Isis found the .

tre e which had been cut down for a pillar, the pos
,

t h um o us conc e ption o f t h e son o f Osiris took place


?

The Mo m o tara l e g e nd has thus a l ong h istory .

T h e friendly animals figure in t h e fo l k tales o f many -

lands Mo m o t ara s fight fo r the treasure inclu d ing the


.

c l oak of invisibi l ity bears a close rese m blance to Sieg


,

fried s fight for the treasure o f the Nibelungs



In ?

western European , as in Far Eastern lore the treasure ,

is guarded by dragons as well as by dwarfs and giants


and oth e r d e mons W h en the dragon slayer is not
.

accompanied by friendly animals , h e receives help and


advice from birds w h ose language he acquires by e ating
a part o f the dragon or, as in the Egyptian tale after , ,

getting possession o f the book of sp e lls , guarded by


the D e athless Snake

When the Egyptian h er o
r e ads the spells he understands the language o f birds ,
beasts an d fishes The treasur e guarding dragon appears ,
, .
-

as has been suggested , to have had origin i n the belief


that sharks were the guardians of pearl b e ds and preyed —

upon the divers who stole their treasure .

1 In d i anMy th a nd L egend, pp 1 .
73 et s e
q .
, an d 1 2
9 9 4.

2
E gypti a n My t h an d L ege nd , p . 1 9 e t se
q .

1
T e uton i c My th an d L egend, pp .
3 52 3 7 6, 3 8 3 , 3 8 9 , 39 1 , 446 .
TH E MOTHER GODDESS —
1
57
Th e beliefs connected with t h e life giving vi rtues o f -

the tree of the Moth er Goddess were attached to shells ,


pearls go l d , and j ad e The goddess was the sourc e of
, .

all life , and one of h er forms was the dragon As .

the dragon mother she created or gave birth to th e


-

dragon gods Dragon bones were gro und down fo r


-
.
-

medicinal purposes ; dragon h e rbs cured diseases ; the -

sa o f dragon trees like th e fruit promote d longevity


p
-
, , ,

as did the j ade whic h the god d ess had created for man
kind .

The beliefs connected with j ade were simi l ar to t h ose


conn e cted with p e arls which were at a remote period ,

emblems o f the moon in Egypt I n China the moon .

was the pearl o f heaven



One curious and wide
spread belief was that pearls were formed by rain
drops, O r by drops of dew from the moon , the source
of moisture and especially of nectar o r soma Pearls
,
.

and pearl shells wer e used for medicinal purposes They



.

were like the sap o f tr e es the very essence o f l ife


, ,

the so ul substance O f the Great Mother


-
.
1

That the complex ideas regarding shells , pearl s dew , ,

tre e s , the moon , the s un , the stars and the Great Moth e r ,
“ ”
were of spontaneous generation in m any separated
countries is di ffi cult to believe It is more probable that .

the culture complexes enshrined in folk tales and religious


— —

t e xts had a definite area o f origin i n wh ich their history


can be traced The searchers fo r precious stones and .

m e tals and incense bearing trees must have scatter e d —

their b e liefs far and wide when they exploite d l ocally


unappreciated forms of wealth .

1
F or be l i e f s c o n n e cte d r
w i t h pe a l s an d s h e l l s , s e e S h el l s as E v i d e nce qf th e Mig r a ti on s

qf E a rly C r
ul tu e, I . W fr J k ( d
il id ac son L on o n,
C HA P TE R X I

T re e H e rb an d St o ne -
l o re
S o ul S ub s t a n ce i n Me d i c i n al P l an t s— L i fe fire i n

at e a n d P l an t s -
W r

r r
T h e B l o o d w h i c h i s L i fe — C o l o u S y m b o l i s m i n E as t an d e s t— Ch a m W
G
S y m b o l i sm — Fr J
e m s as V
ui t — a d e an d r r
e ge t at i o n — F ar E as t e n E l i x i s o f L i fe

—Li k b n Pi s C pr M dr k
etw ee n d Mne, r ry f T r r
y e ss, an a e , an ugw o t— S to o e as u e

fin
di ng r r i H M r
D o g— T h e F ar E d Fr i
as t e n A t e m s— er ugw o t , L o t us, an ut
k rb d P rl h l l G d W rb C i ’
B as et — H e s an ea —s
e d
— o a ts an o m en s H e — h ne se an

T r r F h f M rk T
a ta

s ig t or li i r an d a r Ri p e— ea as an E x — F ar E as t e n V an
Wi kl P r bl
n e s— f h D T r
o T r
em To r t e T r
at e ee ee ea s an d

S to n e ea s

W pi D i i G
ee ng d h d r
e t es —d G o at s anS p b ST un e -
go s— o at s a n d h ee eco m e to ne s

G rb
e m s an d i HM e Gr d d rb D
s c o n n e ct e d d w th o on — a e H e s, e i t i e s, a n S t o n es
—F r Ido e i gn Chi e as in na .

I n the ancient medical l ore of China as i n the medica l ,

lores f
oth e r lands , there are laudatory references to
o


All heal -
plants an d plants r e puted to b e specific
remedi e s fo r various diseases N o t a fe w o f thes e medicina l .

plants have been found to be e ither quite useless or


positively harmful , but some are included in modern
pharmacop oe ias , after h aving be e n submitted to the closest
investigations o f physio l ogical sci e nce .

The O ld herbalists , witch doctors and hereditary —


,

curers who made som e genuine discoveries t h at h ave


since been elaborated , were certainly not scientists in

the modern sense o f the term “
Th eir cures were .

a quaint mixture o f magic and r e ligion They searched .

for those plants and substances that appeared, eit h er


by their S hape o r colour, to contain in more concentrat e d
form than others the essenc e o f life , th e
“ “
sou l ”


substance that restored health and promoted longevi t y .
1 60 MYTHS OF C HINA A ND JAPAN
during a t h un d e r storm , like the Re d C loud h erb
-
T he
l atter required a heavy d e luge to bring it into existence .


I t was a special gift o f the dragon go d o r an avatar “ — —

o f that deity and had concentrated in it the essence


o f much rain , and in addition t h e esse n ce o f lightning


, ,
“ ”
the fire o f heaven , ej ected by th e rain dragon .

The lightning was t h e dragon s to ngue , and had


“ ’ ”

there fore substanc e moisture and h e at as wel l as


, , ,

brilliance. To th e early t h inkers the life fluid was


not only bl ood but warm blood b l ood pulsating with
,

the vital spark t h e fire o f life These men would


hav e accept e d in t h e l iteral sense t h e imagery of the
modern Irish poet, who wrote
O , t h e re w as li gh ti g in m y b
n n l o o d,

Re d l i gh t n i n g Ii gh t e n d t h ro u h

g m
y b lo o d ,
My D ar kR l n
o sa e e .

T h e fire of life might be l ocked up in vegetation ,


i n stone, o r in re d e arth , and be made manifest by its


colour alone .

T h e genesis of this idea can be traced at a very early


period in the h istory o f modern man (H om o sap i ens) .

I n Aurignacian times in western Europe (that is from ,

ten till tw e nty thousand years ago ) blood was identified



with life and consciousness The red substance in the .


blood which is life w as apparently regarded as th e
V italizing agency and w as supposed to be the same as red
,

earth (red och re ) It is found from the evidence a fforded


.
,

by burial customs that the Aurignacian race originated


,

o r perpetuate d the habit o f sm e aring the bodies of th e ir

dead with red ochr e A fter the flesh had decayed , the
.

red ochre fell on and coloured the bon e s and the pebbl e s
aroun d t h e bones Wh e ther o r not the red ochre was
.

supposed to be impregnated with the essence o f fire ,


S Q U A RE B RI K C OF T H E H AN D Y N STY W T A , I H MYT O O C H L G I AL
F IG U R E S AN D N SC T ON S
I R IP I

T he r fi d r r p rr d d
e nclo s e r rd r
i n th er pr e c t a n g ul a anel S u by ge o m e t i ca l b o e s e nt

f r dr
o un
gu e

th e
W rr r T r
ou r
es

q ua
S p p a nt s

Nr
r
of

d th e C h i n e s e u
S a no sco e

f
. b e in g
e

: 1 .
a

T h e B l ue D a g o n
T h e Re d B i r
e

o f th e E as t .

T h e B la c k io to i s e a nd ent o th e th f th e o ut h

T r W
er o


o
2

r a

r r s, o

r .
3 .
. .

W T he h i te i ge f th e t T he gh t c h a ic Ch a a c te ll i n g t h e i n t e v a ls
r d C
es ei a
4
d o

r d r s i n
. .

' ' '


h ch z u wan S tu c h a ng lo w e t y a ng F o r a t h o us a n a ut um n s a n d a m
ea :

ri en .

e v e l a s t i n g Jo y W i t h o ut e n d
y ia
y ea s
1 62 M YTHS OF C HI NA AND J A PAN
as a shell , wholly or partly red , or as a red o r yel l ow
pearl inside a shell I t migh t likewise b e found c o n
.

c e n t rat e d in the red feathers o f a bird A bird with .

re d feathers was usually recognized as a thunder bird




Robin Red br e ast is a Europ e an thunder bird
— 1
and —


the red berry as a thunder berry a berry containing —

the

soul substance o f the god of lightning and fire .

Fire was obtain e d by friction from trees associated with


th e divine Thunderer ; h i s spirit dwelt in the tree One .


o f the

fire sticks was invariably taken from a red
berried tr e e .

The red V ital substance might likewise be disp l ayed


by a sacred fis h the thunder fish


In the Chin e se

Boy Blue story th e thunder dragon in h uman form —

rides o n the bac k of a re d carp .

Yellow is , like re d , rep ute d to be vital colour .

Lig h tning i s ye ll ow ; the flames of wood fires are yellow,


while th e embers are red Early man appears to have .

recognized the Close association o f yellow and red i n


fire Gol d is yellow, and it was connect e d, as a substitute
.

for red and yellow shells wit h the sun , which at morning
,

and evening sends fort h red and yel l ow rays The fire .

which is in t h e s un warms the blood and promotes


“ ”

th e growth of plants as does the moisture in t h e moon


,

th e moon which controls the flo w of s ap and b l ood .

The combination of s un fire , lunar fire and moisture - -


, ,

o r o f fire red earth and rain


-
constituted, according to ,

early man s way of thinking , the mystery call e d life



.

Yellow berries and yellow flowers were as sacr e d to him ,


and had as gre at life prolonging and curative qualities,

as red berries red flowers red feath e rs and th e S kins


, , ,

a n d scales of red fish Yellow gems and yellow metals


.

were consequently valued as highly as were re d gems


1
S om e d r rd
t h un e bi s are dr
a k as t h un dr
e -c lo u d s.
TREE HER B AND STONE LORE -
1 63

and red metal s I n C h ina yellow is the earth colour


. .

In Ceylon , B urmah Tibet, and Chin a it is the sacred


,

colour o f the B uddhists .

B lue the sky colour and ther e fore the colour of


, ,

the s k y deity w as likewis e holy T o rq uo i s e and lapis


-
, .

lazuli w e re connected with t h e Great Mother Th e .

sacre d ness o f green has a more complex history It .

w as n o t reverenced simply becaus e o f the gr e enness O f


vegetation T h e m yst e rious substance that ma k es plants
.

green w as derived from the supr e me source o f life


the green form o f the water godd e ss o r god and was — —

t o be found in concentrated form in green gems and


stones including gre e n j ade W h ite was the colour of
, .

day the stars , an d the moon and black t h e colo ur o f


, ,

night and o f d e ath and th erefore th e colour of deities


,

associated with darkn e ss and t h e Oth erworld I n China .

black is the colour of the north o f winter and o f drought , , .

T h e combination o f the fiv e colours (black , wh ite red , ,

yellow and blue o r green ) w as d isp l ayed by al l deities


, .

This conception is enshrined in th e religious text w h ic h


De Visser gives without comm e nt
Ad g ra o n in t h e w at e r c o v e rs
” 1
him se lf w i t h fiv e l
c o o urs ;

T h eriyb re h e i s a
god .

I n China, as in sev e ral oth e r countries the co l our ,

o f an animal , plant , o r stone was beli e v e d to reveal its

character and attributes A re d be rry was r e gard e d with .

favour b e cause it displayed the l ife colour A red stone


, .

was favoured fo r t h e sam e reason When it is nowadays .

foun d that some particular berry o r h e rb favoured of ,

old as an A ll heal i s really an e ffi cacio us medicine ,


“ —

,

an enthusiast may inclin e t o regard it as a won d erful


t h ing that modern me d ical sci e nc e h as n o t achiev e d , in
1 De V r i s se , The Dr a
gon in C hi na an d
y apan, p . 63 .
1 64 MYTHS OF CHINA AN D JAPAN
some lines , greater triumphs than w e re achi e ved by the

simple observers of ancient times . B ut it may be
that the real cur e s were o f accidental discovery, an d that
the e ffe ctive berry o r h e rb woul d , o n account of its colour
alone have continu ed in use whether it h ad cure d or not
,
.

I n C hina not only t h e berry with a good colour



was used by curers but even the stone with a

goo d colour Th e physicians , for instance , some
times prescribed ground j ade , and we read of men who
died, because, as it was thought, t h e quantities of j ade
m e dicine taken were much too large Some ancient .

writers assert, i n t h is connection , that alt h ough a dose


o f ground j ade may bring this life to a spee d y end , it

wi l l ensure pro l onged life in the next world .

The berries and stones wh ich were r e puted to be



All heals were not always d evour e d Th ey could be
-
.


used si m ply as charms .The vital e ssence or soul
substance in berry o r stone was supposed to be s o
powerful that it warded o ff the attacks of the d e mons
of d isease, or expelle d t h e demons aft e r they had taken
possession of a pati e nt M edicines might be pr e pared
.

by simply dipping the c h arms into pure well water .

Th e s e charms were O ften worn as body ornaments Al l


-
.

th e ancient personal ornaments were magic charms that


gave protection o r regulated the functions o f body
organs When symbols were carved o n j ade the orna
.
,

ments w e r e believed to acquire increas e d e ff ectiveness .

Gold ornaments were invariab l y given symbolic shape .

Like the horse sho e , which in western Europe is nailed


-

o n a d oor fo r

luck ”

that i s to ward o ff evil t h ese
,

symbolic ornaments were cr e dited with luck bringing —

virtues The most ancient gold ornaments in t h e world


.

are found in Egypt and these are models of shells ,


,

which had been worn as l uck brin gers l ong before


“ —
1 66 MYTHS OF C HIN A AN D JAPAN
water above and beyond the firm am e n t, as well as the
rivers and t h e s e a .

“ ”
Good health i n the Otherworld was immortality
o r great longevity A soul which ate o f a peach from
.

the Worl d Tree was assured o f 3 0 0 0 years o f good


h ealth H e r e newe d his youth , and never gre w o l d ,
.

s o long as the supply o f peaches was ass ured


?

I n C hina men l e ngth ene d their days by partaking


of

soul substance in various forms The pine tree .
-

cul t m ade decoctions of pin e ne e dles an d cones, o r o f



the fungus found at th e roots of pines The j uice .

o f the pine

says one C hines e sage when consumed ,

for a long time renders the body light preve nts man, ,

from growing O ld , and le n gthens h i s life I ts leaves .

preserve the int e rior o f t h e body ; th e y cause a man


never to feel hung e r an d increase t h e y e ars o f his
'
,

life T h e c y pre s s w as also favour e d Cypress seeds .
,

the same writer asserts , if consum ed for a long p e riod ,

render a man h al e and h e althy They endow h i m with .

a good colour S harpen h is ears and ey e s cause h im


, ,

never to e xp e ri e nce the feeling o f hunger n o r to grow ,



o ld .The ca m phor tree comes next to the pine and
cypress as “
a dispenser and depository of vita l
” ?
power
Apparen tl y the fact that pines and cypresses are
evergreens recommended t h em to the C h inese alth ough ,

it was n o t for that reason only the belief arose about


their richness o f soul substance

An ancient Chin e s e

sage h as decl ared : Pin e s and cypresses alone o n this
eart h are endowed with l ife, in the midst of winter as
1 T he N o se r go d r
s r
g e w o l d w h e n th e appl e s o f i m m o t al i t y , k e pt b y t h e go dd e s s I un ,d
we r rr d
e ca ie aw ay . fr r r r
A t e t h e appl e s w e e e s t o e d, t h e y at e o f t h e m an d g e w y o un g r
agai n —
T e uton i c My th d L ege n d, p 5 7
an

r C
. . .

2
De G o o t, Th e Re li gi ous Sy s tem of h i n a, V o l I, p 3 0 0
. . .
TRE E ,
HERB AN D STO N E -
LORE 1 67

w e ll as in summer th e y are e vergreen Pines 1 0 0 0 .

years Ol d resemble a blue o x , a blue d o g o r a blue ,

human b e ing Cypresses 1 0 0 0 y e ars o l d have deep


.

roots sh ap ed li he m en i n a si tti ng p ost ure W h en .

t h ey are cut they l ose blood Branches o f .

pines which are 3 0 0 0 years O ld h ave underneath the


bark accumulations o f resin in the shape of dragons ,

which , if pounded and consumed i n a quantity of full


ten pounds will e nab l e a man to live 5 0 0 years
,
.

H ere we have t h e tree con nected wit h the b l ue


dragon A S has been stated, anci e nt pines were trans
.

formed into dragons T h e assertion that the pines


.


and cypresses were the only trees possessed o f v i t al

pow e r does not accord with the evidence regarding
the peac h tree cult T h e peach , al though not an ever
-
.

green was credited with being possessed of m uc h sou l


,

substance
No doubt the ideas connected wit h evergreens h ad
a close association with t h e doctrines o f colour symbo l ism .

“ ”
The Chinese Tree o f H eaven (Ai la nth us gla nd ul osa)
appears to hav e attracted special attention , becaus e in
spring its leaves are coloured reddish vio l et o r reddish -

brown before they turn green The wal nut , cherry .


,

and p e ony similarly S how reddis h young leaves and ,

t h ese trees have m uc h l ore connected wit h t h em .

One seems to detect traces o f the beliefs connected


with the mandrake in the r e ference to t h e h uman shap e d .
-

roots o f th e 1 0 0 0 year o l d cypress tree The mandrake


- -
.

was the plant o f Aphrodit e , and its root, which res e mbles
t h e h uman form , w as used medicinally ; it h as narcotic
properti e s , and was b e lieved also to be a medicine w h ich
promoted fertility, assisted birth and caused youths and ,

girl s to fall in love with o n e another According to .

1 De G r o ot, T h e Rel i gi ous Sy stem qf C h i na, V o l I, p


. . 2
95 .
1 68 MYTHS OF CH INA AND JAP A N
mandrake l ore , the plant s h rieks when taken from the
-

eart h , and causes the death o f the o n e who p l ucks it ?

Dogs were consequently employed to drag it o ut o f


th e ground, and they expired immediately T h e man “
.

drake apple is b elieved by Dr Rende l Harris to h ave



.


been the original love apple ?
I n like manner the mugwort th e plant of Artemis , ,

was connected i n C h ina and Japan with the pin e whic h


had virtues S imilar to those of the herb Althoug h the .

mandrake dog is not associated with t h e cypress it is


-
,

found connected in a Japanese folk story with t h e pine —


.

The hero O f the tale, an O l d man called Hana Saka Jij i i ,


acquired the secret h o w to make withered trees b l ossom .

He possessed a wonderful dog, na m ed Shiro whic h o n e ,

day attracted his atten t ion by s n i fli ng, barking , and


wagging his t ai l at a certain spot in the cottage garden .

The old m an was puzzled to know what curious thing i n


the ground attracted the d o g and began to dig After , .

turning up a fe w S padefuls of earth he found a hoard o f


go l d and silver pieces .

A j ealous neighbour, having observed what had


happened, borrowed Shiro and set t h e animal to search
for treasure in his o wn garden The d o g began to sni ff .

and bark at a certain spot , but when the man turned over
the soil , h e found only dirt and o ffa l that emitted an
o ff ensive smell Angry at b e ing deceived by the d o g,
.

he killed it and buried the body be l ow the roots o f a


pine tree Hana Saka Jij i i was muc h distressed o n
.

account o f the loss of Shiro H e burned incense below .

t h e pine tree, laid flowers on the dog s grave, and shed ’

1 Sr k k
h ie s li rk r
e m an d a es to n o ut o f th e ea r th —
Rom eo a nd
7 ul z et, i v , 3 .

G iv e dr k
m e to in m an dr r ago a

T h at I m ay s l e e p o ut t h e r g e at gap of ti m e

2
My A n t h o ny i s a w ay . — A n th ony an d C l e opat r a.

The A scen t qf Oly mpus , pp . 1 0 7 e t se


q .
TREE HER E ,
AN D STONE LORE
-
1 69

tears That nig h t h e dreamed a wonderful dream Th e


. .

ghost of S h iro appeared before him , and, addressing him ,


said : Cut down t h e pine tree above my grave and make
a rice mortar of it W h en you us e the mortar think
.


of me .

T h e Ol d man did as the dog advised , and discovered


to his great j o y that w h en he used t h e pine tree mortar -

each grain o f rice was transformed into pure go l d He .

soon became rich .

The envious neighbour discovered what was going on


and borrowed t h e mortar In his h ands , h owever, it
.

turned rice into dirt T h is enraged him so greatly that


.

he broke t h e mortar and burned it .

That nig h t the ghost o f Sh iro appeared once again in


a dream , and advised Hana Saka Jij i i to col l ect t h e ashes
of the burnt mortar and scatter them on withered trees .

Next morning h e did as the d o g advised him To his .

aston ishment he found t h at th e as h es caused withered


trees to come to life and send forth fres h and beautiful
b l ossoms He then went about the country and employed
.

himse l f reviving dead p l um and c h erry trees , and soon


became so renowned that a prince s e nt for him , asking
that he Sh ould bring back to life t h e wit h ered trees in h is
garden The o l d man received a ric h reward w h en h e
.

accomplis h ed t h e feat .

Th e j e alous neig h bour came to know h ow Hani Saka


revived dead trees s o h e co l lected w h at remained of
Jji i i ,

the ashes of the pine tree mortar Then h e s e t forth to


-
.

proclai m to the in h abitants of a roya l town t h at h e coul d


work the sam e miracle as Hani Saka Jij ii T h e prince .

sent for h im and the man climbed into the branches


,

o f a withered tree .But when h e scattered the ashes


no bud o r blossom appeared, and th e wind b l ew the dust
into t h e ey es of t h e prince and nearl y blinded him The .
1 79 MYTH S O F CHIN A AND J APAN
impostor was seized and soundly beaten ; and the dog
Shiro was in this manner w e l l avenged
, , .

In this story t h e dog is a search e r fo r and giver o f


treas ure I t is o f S pecial interest therefore, to find that
.
,

A rtemis , the mugwort goddess o f the West , w as not “ -

only the opener o f tr e asure houses but s h e also possessed -


,

t h e s e cret of the Philosopher s Stone ; s h e could transmute



base substances into gold She could therefore grant .

rich e s to those whom Sh e favoured D r Rende l Harris , . .

quoting from an o l d English w riter records t h e belief ,



that upon St John s eve there are coals (whic h turn
.

to gold) to be found at midday under the roots of


mug wort, which aft e r or before that time are very smal l,
or none at al l ”
The gold cures S ickness ?
.

A similar belief was attached to the mandrake A .

French story te l ls o f a peasant wh o regularly fed a


man d rake that grew b e low a mistletoe bearing o ak The —
.


mandrake , when fed , would, it was believe d m ake you ,

rich by returning twic e as much as you spent upon it .

T h e plant had become an an ima l


”2
.

If S h iro s prototype was the mandrake dog w h ic h



-

sacrificed itself for the sake o f l overs , and was itself an



avatar of the deity, we S hould expect to find the pine

tree connect e d with the love goddess Joly, in his —


?

L ege nd i n Jap a ne se A rt (p tel l s that at Taka



.

sago there is a very old pin e tree, t h e trunk o f whic h


.

i s bifurcated ; in it dwells the spirit of the Maid e n o f


Takasago , w h o was seen once by the son of Izanagi who ,

fell in lov e and wedded her Both liv e d to a very great .

age, d ying at the same hour on the same day and since ,

1 E l l i o t S m i th , T h e E l uti on of th e
v o
2
Dr a
gon, p . 1 8 4 ; Re n d el H a rr i s, T h e A s cen t qf
Oly m pus, p 7 3 T h e A sce n t of Oly m p us, p 1 2 6
r r dfr r r
. . . .

3 A t e m i s as o dd e ss o f b i th w a s a s e c i al i z e
g p o m o f t h e G e at Mo t h e ,w h o w as
r f ,
dd ,
r r r
h e s e l t h e go e ss o f l o v e an d bi th , o f t e as u e , & c — th e A ll - m o t h e
. r .
1 72 MYTH S OF C HINA AN D JAPAN
basket of loquat fruits which s h e gathered for her S ick
mother She was a woman who h aving been promised
.
,

immortali ty in a dream fed on mother O f pearl and ,


- -
,

t h ereafter moved as swiftly as a bird The Mexican .


” 1

god Tlaloc s wife was similarly a mugwort goddess



.

I n the pine tree story the Japanese r e presentative


-

of the tree and lunar goddess of love appears with her -

S pouse on moonlig h t nights The moon was the .

Pearl o f Heaven I t will be noted t h at t h e mugwort



.

is connected with pearl Sh e ll the lady Ho Sien K u - —

having acquired the right to wear mugwort, in her


character as an immortal by eating mother o f pearl ,
- —
.

Th is con nection o f pear l shell with a medicinal plant i s -

a more arbitrary o n e than that O f the mugwort wit h


the pine , or the mandrake with the cypress .

The lotus was a form of the ancient l ove goddess -


,

as was also the cowry I n Egy pt the solar go d Horus .


-

emerges at birt h from t h e lotus form o f Hathor as i t -

floats o n t h e breast o f the Nile H o Sien K u s basket of .


“ ”
fruit is also symbolic A basket of sycamore figs .

was in Ancient Egypt originally the hierog l yp h ic sig n


for a woman a goddess , o r a mot h er


, I t had thus t h e ”
.

sam e significance as t h e P o t the lotus, t h e mandrake apple ,



,

and th e pomegranate The l atter symbo l supp l anted t h e .

?
Egyptian lotus in the IE ge an area
Mugwort as already stated was a medicine and
, , ,

ch iefly a woman s m edicine “


Th e p l ant

.

says Dr Rendel Harris , is Art e mis , and Artem is is the


.


plant Artemis is a woman s goddess and a maid s goddess
.

,

because s h e w as a woman s medicine and a mai d s ’

medicine ?
The mugwort promoted Ch i l d birth , and con -

1 J o ly , L egen d in
j a
pa nese A r t, p 1 65
Dr
. .

2 l uti on of t he 8 3, 1 99
E ll i o t S m i t h, T h e E v o a
gon, pp . 1 e t se
q .

3 Th e A s cen t qf ly p
O m us , 7 — 8 0
9 .
1 74 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JAPAN
Pliny, in his twenty eighth book, having as D r R e ndel
-

, .


Harris notes exhausted the herbals
, shows that a “
,

larg e r medicine is to be found in animal s and in


man
In C h ina the stag o r d e e r the stor k , and the tortoise
,

are associated with the Tr e e o f Life as emb l ems o f



longevity One is remind e d in this connection o f th e
.

Western , Eastern and Far Eastern legends about birds


,

that pluck and carry to hu m an beings l e aves o f th e “

” ”
plant o f life o r fungus o f immortality

and o f ,

My k e n m an and Ancient Egyptian repre sentations of


bulls , goats , deer Sz e , browsing o n vines and oth e r trees
, .

or bus h es that w e re suppos e d to contain the e l ixir o f


l ife , being sacred to the god d e ss an d shown as symbols
of her o r o f the god with whom she was associated
as mother o r spouse .

7 Another famous Far East e rn curative wort is the


i Like the fungus o f immortality , it grew o n
g ns en
g .

o n e o f the Islands of t h e B l e st Taken wit h m e r m aid s ’


.

flesh , it was supposed to l engthen the life o f man fo r


several centuries .

As described by F at h e rtJart o ux says t h e eighte e nth



century English wri t er , alre a d y quot e d , it has a white 2

root somewhat knotty, about half as thick as on e s little


,

fing e r ; and as it frequently parts into t w o branches n o t


,
,

unlike the forked parts o f a man , it is said from thence


to have O btained the name o f gi nse ng whic h implies a ,

resemblance of the human for m though indeed it has ,

no more o f such a lik e ness t h an is us ual among other


roots . From the root arises a perfectly smoot h and
roun d ish stem o f a pretty deep red colour , exc e pt towards
,

the surfac e o f the groun d wh e re it is so m e what w h iter


, .

A t the top of the stem is a sort o f j oint or knot, formed by


1
T h e A sce nt of Oly m pus, p 8 2
. .
2
T he C hi nese T r a v e l l e r, V o l . I, p . 2 39.
TRE E , HER E , AN D STONE LORE
-
1 75

t h e shooting o ut of four branches , sometimes more, some


times less which sprea d as from a centr e The colour o f
, .

the branches undern e ath is gree n , wit h a whitish mixture ,


and the upper part is of a deep red like the stem .

Each branc h has fiv e leaves and the leaves make ,


a circular figure nearly parallel to the surface o f the


earth ”
. The berries are O f a beautifu l red colour ”

Here we hav e hints of the mandrake wit h out a doubt .

As a matter o f fact, the gi nseng has been identified with


the mandrake The plant evid e ntly attracted attention
.

because o f its colours and form A S it has a red stem .


and re d berries it is not surprising to learn that it
,

strengthens t h e vital spirits , is good against dizziness


in t h e head and dimness o f S ight, and prolongs life to

extrem e o l d age an d that those who are in health
often us e it to render themselves mor e strong and
vigorous The four leaved gi nse ng like the four leaved
-
,
-

clov e r, was apparently a symbol of th e four car d inal


points Its fiv e leaves and t h e circular figure formed
.

by th e m must have attracted those who selected five


colours for their go d s and adore d the sun .

T h e gi nseng is found on th e declivities o f mountains


covered with thick forests , upon the banks O f torr e nts o r
about the roots of tr e es and amidst a t h ousand other
,

di fferent forms of veg e tables


Conflicts took plac e betwe e n Tartars and Chinese for
possession o f t h e gi nseng, and o n e Tartar king had th e

whol e province where the gi nseng grows encompassed by



wooden palisades Guards patrolled about to hinder
.

t h e C hinese from searching fo r it


Tea first came into us e in China as a l ife pro l onger -
.

The S hrub is an evergreen and appears to have attract e d


,

the att e ntion o f the C hinese herbalists on t h at account .

Our eighteent h century writer says : A S to the properties


-

1 76 MYTH S OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
o are very much controverted by o ur p h ysicians ;
f tea , they
b ut the C h inese reckon it an e xcellent di l uter and
purifi e r o f the bloo d a great strengthener o f the brain
,

and stomach a promoter o f digestion , perspiration , and


,

cleanser o f th e veins and urethra Large quantities of .


tea were in China given in fevers and some sorts o f
colics ”
Our author adds : That t h e gout an d stone
.

are unknown in C h ina is ascribed to the use of this


” ?
plant
Apparently we o we not only some valuab l e medicines ,
but even the familiar cup o f tea, to the ancient searchers
for the e l ixir o f l ife and curative herbs Intoxicating .

liquors (a qua v i ta , i e “
water o f life ) h ave a similar
. .

h istory They were supposed to impart vigour to the


.

body and prolong life Withal , like the intoxicating


.


soma , drunk by A ry O l n d i an priests , they had a -

religious value as t h ey produced prophetic states


“ ”
.

Even the opium habit had a religious origin A qua v i t e .



t

“ ”
was impregnated with soul substance , as was the j uice
o f grapes , o r, as the Hebr e ws put it,

t h e blood of ‘

” ?
grapes
A S Far Eastern be l iefs associated wit h curative p l ants
and curative stones (like j ade) have filtered westward , so
did Western beliefs fil ter eastward Dr Rende l Harris . .

has shown that myt h s and beliefs connected with the i v y


and mugwort, whic h were so prevalent in Ancient Greece,
can be traced across Siberia to K am s c h at k a The A inus .


of Japan regard the mistletoe as an All heal , as did the -


ancient Europeans T h e discovery of th e primitive
.

sanctity of i v y , mugwort, and mist l etoe , says Dr Harris , ”


.

mak e s a strong link between the early Gre e ks and other


early peoples both East and West, and it is probable
that we S hal l find many more contacts between peoples
1 2
T h e Ch i nes e T rav el l e r, V o l I, pp
. . 2 3 7 e t se
q . G e ne s i s , x l i x , 1 1 .
1 7 8 MYTHS OF CHI NA AN D JAPAN
sustained by the h ueh u herb I n this m anner, accor d in g
.

to Chinese tradition , the discovery was made that th e



herb prolongs life, cures baldn e ss , turns grey hair black
again and tends to renew one s yout h
,

Great quantities ”
.

of h uch u tea must be dru n k for a considerable time, and


no other food taken if t h e desired results are to be fully
,

achi e v e d .

Other Rip Van Winkl e stories te l l of men who have


lived for centuries while conversing with immortals met
by chance , o r while taking part i n t h eir amuseme n ts like
the men in W e stern E uropean stories who enter fairy ,

knol l s and dance with fairy women , and t h ink they have
danced for a S ingle hour, but find , when they come o ut ,
t hat a w h o l e year has gone past .

One day a Taoist priest, named Wang Ch ih entered ,

a mountain forest to gather firewood He came to a .

cave in which sat t w o aged m e n playing chess , while


O thers looked on .The game fascinated Wang Chih ,
s o h e entered the cav e laid asi d e his chopper , and l ooked
,

on When he began to fe el hungry and thirsty he moved


.

as if to rise up and go away, although th e game had not

come to an end One of the spectators however, divining


.
,

h is intention , h and e d him a kernel, which l ooked like




a date stone , saying, Suck that .

Wang Chi h put the kernel in his mout h and found


that it r e fres h ed him s o that he experienced no further
desire fo r food o r drink .

Th e chess playing continued in S ilence and severa l



,

h ours, as it seemed, fle w past Then o n e o f the O ld


.


men spok e to Wang Chih , saying : I t is n o w a long
ti m e S ince you came to j oin o ur company I t h ink you .

shoul d return home .

Wang Chih rose to h is feet When h e grasped h is.

ch o er he w as astonished to find that the handle crumbled


pp
TRE E , HER E , AN D STONE LORE -
1 79

to d ust On reac h ing h ome , h e discovered , like the


.

man who fe d o n the h uch u herb , t h at he had been missing


for one or tw o centuries Th e Ol d men with whom .

he h ad mingled in t h e cave were the immortals known ,

to t h e Chinese as S ten N ung, to the Japanese as S enni n,


and to t h e I ndians as Ri sh i s a class of demi gods who — -

once l ived on earth and achieved great merit, in the


spiritual sense by practising austerities in so l itude and
,

for l ong periods .

The reference to the d ate stone is O f special interest .

I n Babylonia and Assyria t h e date palm was one o f the


holy trees It w as cultivated in southern Persia and
.
,

may h ave been introduced into C h ina from t h at quarter .

A nother possibility is that the seeds we re go t from dates


carried by Arab traders to China, o r obtained from Arabs
by Chinese traders One O f the Chinese names for t h e
.

date resembles the Ancient Egyptian designation bunnu , .

Laufer, who discusses this problem , refe rs to ear l y


1

Chinese texts that mak e mention o f Mo l in , a distant -

country in which dark comp l exion e d natives subsist on-


dates Mo lin , earlier Mwa lin , is, Laufer thinks , i h
.
- -

tended for the Malindi o f Edri si o r Mulanda of Y aqi i t, ‘

now Malindi south of t h e Equator in S e y i d i e h Province


, ,

o f British East Africa The lore connected wit h other


Trees o f Life in China appears to h ave been transferred



t o t h e imported date palm One o f its names is j uj ube .

of a thousand years , o r j uj ube o f ten t h ousand years


“ ” ”
.

Laufer quotes a Chinese descriptio n o f the date pal m


whic h e mphasizes the fact that it remains ever green ,
“ ”

and te l ls that when t h e kerne l ripens the seeds are ,

black I n their appearance they resemb l e dried j uj ubes


. .

” 2
They are good to eat, and as sweet as candy .

Another Chinese Rip Van Winkle story re l ates t h a t


1
S i no I
-
r a ni ca
(Ch i cago, pp 3 8 5
. e t se
q
.
2
Ibi d .
, p. 3 8 6,
1 80 MYTHS OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
t wo men who wandered among the mountains met t w o
pretty girls They were entertained by t h em and fed
.
,

o n a concoction prepared from hemp Seven gen e rations .

went past while they enj oyed the company of the girls .

The hemp (o l d Persian and Sanskrit ba ngh a ) w as


cultivated at a re m ot e period in C hina and I ran A .

dr ug prepared from the seed is suppose d to prolong life


and to inspire those who partak e of it to proph e sy, aft e r

seeing visions and dreaming dreams The bang habit .

is as bad as the opium habit .

In the tree lore o f China there are interesting l inks


-

betwe e n tre e s and stones It has b e en S hown that j ade


.


was an avatar of the mother goddess w h o cre ated -
,

it for the benefit o f mankind ; that tre e foliage was i d e n t i


fie d with j ade ; that dragons were born from stones ;
“ ”
certain coloured stones wer e dragon e ggs , the eggs

of the Dragon Mother , t h e moth er goddess herself,
“ —

“ ”
who had many forms and many colours Sacred .

S tones were supposed to have dropped from the S k ,


y
or t o have grown in the earth Pliny refers to a stone .

that fell from the s un .

In Anci e nt Egypt it was believed that the creative


o r fertilizing t e ars o f the b e n e fic e n t deities , like those

of Osiris and Isis, caused good shrubs to spring up ,

and that th e tears o f a deity like Set, who became the


personification o f evil, produced poisonous plants T h e .

we e ping Praj apati o f the A e I n d ians resembl e s the -

weeping s un go d Ra o f Egypt
-
At the beginning .
,

Praj apati s tears fell into t h e water and became the air


an d the tears he wipe d away, upwar d s, became the
Sk
y
is evident that the idea o f the weeping deity
It
reached C h ina, fo r there are refer e nces to tree tears

1 In d i a n My th an d L egend , p . 1 00 .
1 82 MYTHS OF C HINA AND JAPAN
first plac e The l atter was employed as a remedy for
.

toothach e .

I n Babyl onia toothac h e was supposed to be caused


by the marsh worm d emon which devours the b l ood
-

o f the teet h
” ”
an d

destroys the strength o f the gums .

The go d Ea smites the worm , wh ich is a form of t h e


dragon Tiamat ?

The antique conception enshrined i n the weeping


tree is that the mother godd e ss o f the S k y S heds tears —
,

whic h cause the tree t o grow, and that as the tree , s h e ,

sh e ds tears that become stones , while t h e stones Sh ed


tears that p rovide soul substance to cure disease by
removing pain an d pro m oting h ealth In Egypt the .

stone specially sacre d to th e s k y god d ess Hathor was —

the turquoise in which w as apparently concentrate d


, , ,

the vital e ssence o r soul substance o f t h e S ky T h e


“ ”
.

goddess spra ng from water, and her tears were drops


of t h e primeval wat e r from which all things that are
issu e d forth Thos e stones that contained wat e r were
.

“ ”
in China dragon stones or dragon eggs I n various
countries there are legen d s about d e iti e s and men and ,

women have sprung from moisture S hedding stones -


.

The mother goddess o f Scotlan d , who presides over t h e


-

winter s e ason , transforms h ers e lf at the beginning of


summer into a ston e that is often s e en t o be cover e d
with moisture I n Nors e mythology the earliest gods
.

spring from stones that hav e been licked by the primeval


mother c o w -
Mithra o f Persia sprang from a rock
. .

I ndonesian beliefs regardi n g moist ston e s , fro m whic h


issue water and h uman beings , are fairly common ?

The K ayan o f Sumatra are familiar with the beliefs


that connect stones an d vegetables with the s k y and water .

1 r
S i no-I a n i ca, pp 3 39

42
2 My ths of B a by l oni a an d A ss
y ri a
pp 2 34- 5
rr C r
. .
, . .

y , M ega l i th i c
3
ul t u e
Pe of nd ones i a, p 6 8
I . .
TRE E , HER E , AN D STONE LORE -
1 83

They say that in the beginning t h ere was a rock On



.

this rain fell and gave rise to moss , and th e worms , aided
by the dung beetl e s , made soi l by their castings Then .

a S word h andle came down from the s un and became


a large tree From the moon came a creeper which ,
.

h anging from the tree, mated through the action o f the


wind .

From t h is union of tree and creeper, i e sun . .

“ ” 1
and moon, the fir st men were produced
The connection between sky, plant, and ani m al s is
found in th e l ore regarding t h e C h inese sa nt si mountain
herb which is eaten by goats This herb, like other .

h erbs, is produced from t h e body moisture o f th e goddess ; -

it is the goddess herself t h e goddess who sprang from


water The plant is guarded by the mountain goat as


.

the pearls are guard e d by the s hark and the goat, w h ich ,

browses on the plant, is , like the shark, an avatar o f the


goddess Goat s b l ood is therefore as e ffi cacious as t h e
.

sa
p of the herb .

Th e goat or ram is t h e ve h icle o f t h e Indian fire


and lightning god Agni ; the Norse god T h or has a car
drawn by goats Dionysos , as Bromios (t h e Thunderer) ,
.

“ ”
has a goat avatar , too, and he is the god o f w ine

( Bacchus ) the

wine , the “
blood o f grapes , being th e
elixir of life Osiris , w h o h ad a ram form was to th e
.
,

Ancient Egyptians Lord o f t h e O v e rflo w i ng Wine


“ ”
.

European witc h es ride naked on goats o r on brooms ;


the devi l had a goat form .

I n C h ina, as has been S hown , t h e dragon h erb peach -


, ,

vine, pine, fungus o f immortality, gi nseng, SI C , received



their sap o r blood, or soul substance from rai n
,

released by dragon gods , who thundered l ike Bromios


Dionysos T h e inexhaustible po t from which life giving
.
-

water came was in the moon T h is Pot was t h e mot h er .

1 Megal i th i c r
Cul tu e
qf Ind on esi a ,.
p 92 .
1 84 MYTHS OF CH INA AND JAPAN
go d dess w h o h ad a star form A fertilizing tear from
, .


the godd e ss star, which falls o n the Night o f the Drop ,
-

is still suppose d i n Egypt t o caus e t h e Nile to rise in


flood .

We should exp e ct to find the Chinese mythological


cycle complete d by an arbitrary connection betw e en the
goat o r ram and sacred stones .

There are t o begin with c e lestial goats Some of


, , .

t h e Far Eastern dem i gods , already referred to , ride



throug h Cloud land o n the backs of goats o r sheep


“ —

.

One of th e eight d emi gods w h o personify the eight—


,

points o f the compass , is called b y the Chinese Hwang


C h u P ing and by the Japanese K o s h o h e i He is said
’ ’

, .


t o be an incarnation o f the

rain priest , Ch ih Sung -

Tze , who has fo r his wife a daught e r o f the Royal Mother


of the West, th e mother goddess of t h e Peach Tree -

o f Life .

The Japanese version o f the l eg e nd o f t h e famous



K o s h o h e i is given by Joly as follows : K o s h o h e i when ,

fifteen years o ld l ed his herd of goats to the K i n H w a


,

mountains , an d , having found a grotto , stayed there for


forty years in meditation His broth er, Shoki , was a
.

priest and he vowed to find the missing shepherd Once


,
.

he walked n e ar the mountain and he was told o f the


recluse by a sage named Z e nj u, and s e t o ut to find him .

He recognized h is brother, but expressed his astonishment


at t h e absence o f sh eep o r goats K o s h o h e i t h ereupon .

touched with his sta ff the white stones with which the
ground w as strewn , an d as h e touched th em they became
alive in the shape o f goats .

Goats might becom e ston es The Great Mother was .

a stone rock o r mountain , having the power t o assume


, ,

ma ny forms, because s h e was the life of all things and the


1 L egend i n Jp
a anese A rt, p . 1 95 .
TRE E ,
HERB AN D STONE LORE -
1 85

substanc e of all things The godd e ss was t h e Mountain


.

of Dawn in labour that brought forth the mous e form —

o f the s un Sminth eus Apollo the ant e lop e form o f


( ), o r

the s un , o r th e hawk o r eagle form , o r the human


form o r the egg containing t h e s un go d She was also
,

.

the s un boat the dragon ship o f th e s un


- —
The five
-
.

holy mountains o f China appear to have b e en originally


connected with the goddess and h e r sons the gods o f —

the four quart e rs .

I n C h ina deities might o n occasion take t h e form o f


stones o r reptiles D uring the C hou Dynasty (7 5 6
.

“ “
one o f the feudal dukes says Giles s aw a vision ,

o f a yellow serp e nt w h ich descended from heaven , and

laid its head o n the s l o pe o f a mountain The duke ,


.

spoke of this to his astrologer, w h o said It is a manifesta ,

tion o f God ; sacrifice to it In B C another duke ’


. . .

found o n a mountain a being in the se m blance of a stone .

Sacrifices were at once o ffe re d , and the stone w as deifi e d


1 ”
and received regular worship from that time forward .

Gil e s states further in connection with Chinese god


stones : Under 5 3 2 B C we have t h e record o f a stone

. .

speaking Th e Marquis Lu inquired o f h is chi e f


.

m usician if t h is was a fact, and received the following


answer : “
Stones cannot speak Perhaps t h is o n e was .

poss e ssed by a spirit If not, the people m ust have h eard


.

wrong And yet it is said that when things are don e


.

o ut o f season and discontents and complaints are stirring


”2
among the people, then speechl e ss things do speak .

Precious stones were, like boul ders or mountains ,

l inked wit h the Great Mother I n Egypt the red j aspar .

amulet , cal l ed the girdle o f Isis , was suppos e d to be


“ ”

a precious d rop of the life blood o f that goddess Herbs -


.

were con nected wit h precious stones, and were credited


1 2
Rel i gi ons qf A nci en t Obi na, pp . 2 4- 5 . Ibi d , pp 3 8 — 9
. .
1 86 MYTHS OF C HI NA A ND JAPAN
with the attributes and characteristics o f these stones .

There are many refe rences in Chinese , I n d ian , and other


texts and folk lores t o gems that gleam in darkness No
-
.

gems d o The man d rake w as similarly beli e ved t o shine


.

at night B oth gem and herb were associated with th e


.

moon a form of the mother goddess and wer e supposed


,
-
,

t o give forth lig h t like the moon j ust as ston e s associated


1
,

with t h e rain mother were supposed to become moist



,

o r to send forth a stream of water o r to sh e d tears li k e ,



the weeping tre e s , and lik e the s k y from whic h drop

rain an d d e w The attributes o f the goddess were shared


.

by h er avatars
The amount o r str e ngth o f t h e soul substance in
“ -

tre e s h e rbs well water ston e s and animals vari e d greatl y


, ,
-

, ,
.


Some elixirs derived from o n e or other o f these avatars
might prolo n g life by a fe w years ; other elixirs might
ensur e m any years o f health .

The di ff er e nce b e t we e n a m edicinal herb and the herb


of immortali t y w as o n e o f degre e in pot e ncy T h e .


form er w as imbue d with su ffi cient soul substance to —

cure a patient s ufie ri n g from a d isease or to give good ,

health fo r months o r eve n years ; t h e latter gave ex t re m e ly


,

good health and those w h o partook of it lived for l ong


,

periods in the Ot h erworld .

Even the spiritual b e ings (Zing) o f C h ina were


graded Th e four Zing, as De Visser states, are th e


.


unicorn the ph oe nix the tortoise and the dragon
, ,
The , .

dragon is credit e d wit h being possessed of most ! i ng of


” 2
all cr e atures
Stones were likewise graded Precious stones had .

more Zing than ordinary stones Precious stones are .

sometimes referred to as p i si One Chin e se writer says -


.

1
S e e Ch a pt e rX III re s h i n i n g ge m s, ja d e, co r al , &c
Dr Jp
.

2 l e
gon i n Clz i na
a a nd a a n,
pp 3 9
. an d 64 .
1 88 MYTHS OF C H INA AND JAPA N
may be found the history of complex beliefs that travelled
far and wide Even those peopl e s who did n o t adopt
.
1
,

or at any rate perp e t uate the custom o f m um m i fic at i o n


, , ,

adopte d the belief that it was necessary t o preserve th e


corpse This belief is still prevalent in China , as will
.

b e shown , but magic takes th e place o f surgery .

In t h e next chapter evi d e nce will be provide d to



in d icat e h o w the overland drift o f culture towards
China was impelled by th e forces at work in B abylonia
and Egypt .

1
E l l i o t S m i t h , T he M i grati on of E ar ly C ul ture (L o n d o n, an d T he E l uti on
v o

of th e Dr a
gon (L o n d o n,
C HA P TE R XI I
H ow C o ppe r l r r e a c h e d C h ina

c u tu e

Me t al s c o n n e c te d i h D i i
w t I r d i f C pp r S r g l
e t e s— nt o uc t on o o e — t u g es fo r
th e Fi r st

Mi n e -
L an d

E rly M
— l ark i g i C A i
e ta -
wo n n auc as us , rm e n a, an d

Pe r s i a— C i v i l i z at i o ns o f T r C pi C
ans - B by l
asi Ifl ian ase s— a o n an n ue n c e n Mi d
A s i a— r
B o n z e a n d ad e J ca rr i ed i n to E u rp
o e— A n ci e n t “
G ld o Ru h s es to

r r
S i b e i a— D i s co v e i e s i n C h i n e se T u rk e s t an — J ad e ca rri d e to B ab y l o n i a— L i n k s

b e t w e e n C h i n a, an , an Ir d S i b ri Bre a— o nz e - l k
b e t w e e n h i n a an d E u o pe
in s C r
r
E v i d e n ce o f O n am e n t s a n d r
My t h s— E a ly Me t al w o n g— F ar E as t e n an d
-
rki r
E u rp o e an F r u n ace s I d e n t i c al— C h i n e s e C i v i l i z a t i o n d at e s om 1 70 0 B C fr . .

l r
C u tu e- m i xi ng i n A n ci e n t T im es .

The persistent and enterprising searc h for wealt h


in ancient times , w h ich , as will be shown in t h is chapter ,

had s o muc h to do with t h e spread o f civilization , may


seem quite a natural thing to mod e rn man But it is .

really as remarkable when we consider the circumstances , ,

to find the early peoples possessed o f th e greed of gold


as it woul d be to find hungry men w h o have been ship
wrec k e d on a lonely island more conc e rned about its
mi n eral resourc e s than the food and water t h ey were
absolutel y in ne e d o f What was t h e good o f gol d in .

an ancient civilizatio n that had n o coinage ? What


attraction coul d it possibly hold fo r desert nomads ?
Th e value attache d to gold which is a comparative l y ,

usel ess metal , has always be e n a fictitious value As .

we have seen , it became precious in ancient times n o t ,

b e cause o f its purchasing power , but fo r t h e reason that


it had religious associations The early peoples regarded .

the
precious m eta l as an “
avatar o f the l ife giving and —

1 89
1 9 0 MYTHS OF CHINA AND JAPAN
life sustaining Great Mother go d dess th e Go l den
- — “

Hat h or , th e Golden Aphro d ite


“ ” ”
.

I n Egypt Baby l onia , Greece I ndia and C h ina t h e


, , ,

c o w an d s k
y goddess the source of

fertilizing water , was , ,

in the literal sense a goddess o f gold I n India o n e , .

of the five Sanskrit nam e s for gol d is C h andra ( the “ 1


moon and the Indus was called Golden Stream
not merely because gold was found in its sand but
because o f its connection with the ce l estials Gold .

is th e obj ect of the wishes of the Vedic singer and golden ,

treasures are mentioned as given by patrons along with ,

cows and horses Gol d was used for ornaments for neck
.

and breast , for ear rings and even for cups Gold is —
,
.

always associated with the go d s All that is connected .


with them is o f gold ; the horses o f the s un are gold
skinned and so on ’

,
This summary by t w o dis .

t i n gui s h e d Sanskrit scholars emphasizes the close connec


tion that exist e d in I ndia between gold and gold ornaments
and religious beliefs .
2



Gold , a reader may contend , is , o f course , a

beautiful metal , and th e ancients may wel l have been


attracted by its beau ty when they b e gan to utilize it
fo r ornaments But is there any proof t h at ornaments
.

were adopt e d because, in the first place they made


, ,

appeal to the ae sthetic sense which , after all is a cultivated , ,

sense , and not to be entirely d ivorced from certain m ental


leanings produce d by the e xperiences and customs
of many g e n e rations ? Do ornaments really beautify
those w h o wear them ? Was it the aesthetic sense t h at
prompted the early peop l es to pierce their noses and
ears ; and to extend th e lobes o f their ears s o as to
1 T he o th e r n am e s are J at a- rfi pa, S u-v a r n a, H at i t a, an d H i ran y a
d d
.

2 Mac o n e l l an d K e i t h, Ve d i c In d ex q anz es a nd S ubj ec ts


(L o n o n, V o l II,
d
.

p 50 4
. . S ee al s o fo r m o o n an d go l , V o l I, 2 5 4
. .
1
9 2 MYTH S OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
these as Washington Irving says t h e natives woul d ,
1 “

skilfully separate and give to the Spaniards, without


expect i ng a recompense
No doubt the ear l y searchers for gold in Africa and
Asia met with m any peop l es w h o were as much amused
and interested, and as h e lpfu l, as w e re t h e natives of the
N e w W or l d , who welcomed the Spaniards as visitors
from t h e s k y .

Gold w as the earliest metal worked by man I t was .

first used in Egypt to fashion imitation s e a shells, and the -

magical and r e ligious value attached to the shells was


transferr e d to the gold which , in consequence, became
“ “ ”
precious or holy
Copp e r was the next meta l to be worked It was .

similarly used for the manufactur e of personal ornaments


and other sacred obj ects being regarded apparent l y,,

to begin with as a variety o f gold But in time some


, .

centuries it would appear, after copper was first extracted


,

from malac h ite some pioneer o f a n e w era began to


util ize it as a substitute for flint and copper knives and ,

oth e r impl e m ents were introduced This d iscovery o f .

the usefulness of copp e r had far reaching e ffects , and —

greatly increased the demand for t h e magical metal .

Increasing numbers o f miners were employed , and search


was mad e for new copper mines by enterprising prosp e ctors
-

who , in Egypt, were employed, or, at any rate protected , ,

by the Stat e This s e arch had much to do with pro m o t


.

ing race movements, an d introducing not only n e w modes


o f life but n e w modes of t h ought into lands situated

at great distanc e s from the areas i n which these m odes


o f life and thought had origin Th e m etal workers wer e
.
-

the missionaries o f a New Age I n this chapter it will be .

shown h o w they reached China .

1
s e and
y g of
Vo a es Ch r i s t o h e r Col um bus
p ( L o n d o n, 1 70 3 E d i t i o n ), p . 24
3 .
COPPER CULTURE REACHES C H I NA

1
93

Arch aeo l ogists are not agreed as to w h ere copper was


first used for the man ufacture of weapons and implements .

Some favour Egypt, and oth ers M esopotamia I n th e .

former country t h e useful metal was worked in pre


Dynastic times t h at is, before 3 5 0 0 B C or 4 5 0 0 B C
,
. . . .

Copper ornaments and obj ects , fo und in graves earlier


than the middle pre Dynastic period wrote the l ate -

Mr Leonard W K ing, are small and o f littl e practical


.

.

utility as compared with the beautifully flaked flint knives,


daggers , and lances At a rather l ater stage i n the
.

pre Dynastic period, copper dagger blades and adzes were


— —

produced in imitation of flint and stone forms , and t h ese


mark the transition to the h eavy weapons and tools of
copper which , i n the early Dynastic period , largely ousted
flint and stone implements fo r practical use The gradua l .

attainment of skill in the working of copper ore on


the part of t h e early Egyptians had a marked e ffect
o n the whole status of their culture Their improved .

weapons enab l ed them by conquest t o draw their raw


material s from a far more extended area 1
.

Copper was found in the wadis o f Upper Egypt and


o n t h e Red Sea coast i n those very areas i n whic h go l d

was worked for generations before copper was extracted


from malachite At a l at e r period t h e Pharaohs sent
.

gangs of min e rs to work the copper m ines in the Sinaitic —

peninsu l a K ing S e m e rk e t, o f th e early Dynastic age,


.

had men extracting copper i n the Wadi Maghara His .

expedition was exposed to the depredations o f the wild


tribes of Beduin and he recorded h i s punishment
o f them i n a re l ief on t h e rocks of t h e Wadi

There .

is evidence that at th is remote period the P h araohs


.


maintained foreign relations with far remote peop l es 2 ”
.

A record of a l ater age (e 2 0 0 0 R C ) aflo rd s us a vivid


. .

1 H i s to r
y f
o S um e r and A kkad , pp 3 2 6— 7
. .
2
B r e as t e d ,A H i s t o y on r ypt, p 4 8
. .

( D 71 ) 1 4
1 94 MYTH S OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
glimpse o f life in t h e Mine Land “
An o fli ci al re -

corded i n an inscription that he had been sent t h ere in



what he calls the Evil summer season He comp l ained ,

I t is not the season for going t o this M ine Land -
.

The h ighlands are hot in summer , and the mountains


brand the skin Yet h e could boast that h e extracted
.

:

more copper than h e had been ordered to obtain 1 ”

Th e transition from stone to copper cannot be traced


in ancient Babylonia Sum e rian history begins at the
.

seaport Eridu , when that centre of civilization was situated


at the head o f the P ersian Gulf a fact that suggests the —

settlement there of seafaring colonists At the dawn of .

Sumerian culture, copper too l s and weapons had come


into use No metals cou l d be found i n t h e al l uvia l
.

“ ”
plain o f Shinar
Th e early B abylonians (Sumerians) had to obtain their
suppli e s o f copper from Sinai , Armenia, the Caucasus
area , and Persia It may be that their earliest supplies
.


ca m e from Sinai , and that t h e battles in that M ine
Land record e d in early Egyptian inscriptions, were
foug h t betwe e n riva l claimants of the ore from t h e Nile
valley and the valley o f the Tigris and Euphrates One .


ancient Pharaoh refers in an inscription to his first
occurrenc e of smiting t h e Easter n ers in Sinai “
This ”
.


designation , comments Breasted, o f the event as th e

first occurr e nce would in d icate t h at it was a customary


‘ ’

thing for the kings of th e time (First Dynas t y, 5 3 5 0 0 .

to c h astise the barbarians But were they really .


” 2

“ ”
barbarians ? Is it lik e ly that barbarians woul d be
found in such a region , especially in summer ? I t is
“ ”
more probable that the Easterners came from an area
in which the demand for copper was as great as it was in
Egypt
1
B r e as t e d , A H i s to y
r
n
o y p t, p. 1 90 .
3 Ibi d, p 43
. .
1
9 6 M YTHS OF CHI N A AND JAPAN
t h e Bull o f Heaven the s k y god , whose moth e r or
“ -

spouse was the C o w o f Heaven


“ “
are inlaid wit h ”

mother o f pearl an d lapis lazuli


- —
A very similar method —

is met with in the copper head of a goat which was found


” 1
at Fara Here we find fused in early Sumerian religious
.

o bj ects complex re l igious beliefs connected with d o m e s t i

c a t e d animals s e a shells and metals ,


-
, .

The opinion , suggested here by t h e writer, that the


battles between rival miners in Sinai compe ll ed the
Sumerians to search for copper elsew h ere and to discover
means whereby the softer copper coul d be hardened ,
appears to accord with the V iew that bronze was first
manufactured in Babylonia, or in some area co l onized by
Babylonia I n his able summary of the arch aeological evi
.

dence regarding the introduction of bronze, Sir Hercules


Read shows that the attribution o f the discovery to

” 2
Babylonia is preferred as o ff ering fewest d i fficul t i e s .

Recent arch ae ological finds make o ut a goo d case



for Russian Turkestan as the cradle of the bronze

industry .

I n Troy and Crete bronze supplanted flint and o b


sidian There w as no Copper Age in eit h er o f these
.

culture centres T h e copper art i fract s found in Crete are


.

simply smal l and useless votive axes and ot h er re l igious


obj ects .

Whence did the Babylonians receive , after the dis


c o v e r was made h o w to manufacture bronze , the necessary
y

supplies of tin ? Armenia and the Caucasus appear , as

Read says to be devoid of stanniferous ores


,
A ppar ”
.

ently the early m e tal searchers had gone as far as K h o ras


-

san i n Persia before their fellows had ceased to wage


“ ”
battles with Egyptians in the Sinaitic Mine Land Tin —
.

1
L W r
K i n g, A H i s t o y q am e r andA hka d, pp 74, 7 5
r r
. . . .

2
B i ti s h Muse um G ui d e t o t he A n ti qui ti e s of th e B on z e A ge, p . 1 0 .
COPPER CULTURE REACHES CHI NA -
1 97

h as been located at K horassan and in other parts of “

Persia, near Ast e rabad and Tabriz From such areas .


1

as these Reid says , t h e tin used in casting the earliest


bronze may have been derived We are n o w fairly on
our way al ong the highway l eading to China “
I n Eastern .

Asia, beyond the radius of t h e ancient civi l izations of



Mesopotamia Read continues , there woul d seem to
be no region likely to have witnessed t h e discovery (of
h o w to work bronze) nearer t h an Sout h ern China ; for
India whic h has copper imp l ements of a very primitive
,

typ e is poor i n tin


, w h i l e the Malay penins ul a, an e x
t re m e l y rich stanniferous r e gion does not appear to h ave ,

been mined in v e ry ancient times I t is unlikely that .
2

bronze was first man ufactured in C h ina considering the ,

period o f its introduction into Babylonia w h ich antedates ,

by several centuries the earliest traces o f civilization i n the


Far East .

T h e history of the deve l opment of the industries and


commerce of early Babylonia is t h e h istory of the growt h
and dissemination of civi l ization , not on l y in western
Asia, but in the Mid East and the Far East
Babylonia, t h e Asiatic granary o f the ancient worl d ,
lay across th e trade routes Bo t h its si t uation and its .

agricultural resources gave it great commercial importance .

It h ad abundant supplies of s urp l u s food to stimul ate


trade and its industria l activity created a demand for
,

materials t h at cou l d not be obtained i n t h e ric h al l uvia l


plain .

Over the Persian Gu l f , says Professor Good ”

3 “ ”
speed, teak wood found in Eridu (the seaside cradle
-
,

o f Sumerian c ulture as broug h t from India Cotton


) w , .

al so made its way from the same source to t h e sout h ern


cities Over Arabia, by way o f Ur, wh ich stood at the
.

1
r
B i ti sh M use um G ui d e r
A nt i qui ti es of th e B on z e A ge, p 9
to the

r
. .

y i a ns, p 74~
2 Ibi d 3
.
,p
.
9 .
y of th e B a by l on i ans a nd A ss
A H i stor .
1
9 8 M YTHS OF CHIN A AND JAPAN
foot of a natural op e ning from t h e desert were led the
caravans l aden with stone, spices , copper, and go l d from 1

Sinai , Yemen and Egypt Door sockets o f Sinaitic stone


, .
-


found at Nippur attest this t rafli c C edar wood was i m .

ported from the Syrian mountains for the adornment of


pal aces and temples From the east, down the pass of .

H o l wan, came the marble and precious metal of the moun


tains Muc h o f t h is raw material was worked over by
.

Babyl onian artisans and s h ipped back to less favoured -

l ands, al ong with the grain , dates and fish , t h e rugs and ,

cl oths of native production Al l this traffi c was in th e .

hands of Babylonian traders, who fearl essly ventured into


t h e borders of distant countries , and m ust h a v e ca rri ed w i th
th em th i th er th e now l ed e of th e c i v i l i z a ti on a nd w ea l th o
k g f
th ei r ow n h om e, for only th us ca n th e w i d esp re a d i nfluence f
o

B a by l oni a n cult ure i n th e e arl i est p eri od s be ex
p l a i n ed .

It was evidently d ue to the influence o f the searchers


fo r metals and the trad e rs that the culture o f early Sumeria
spread across t h e Iranian plateau As Laufer has shown .
,
2

the Iranians were the great mediators between th e W est



and the East The Chinese were positive utilitarians,
and always interested in matters of reality ; they have
beq ueat h ed to us a great amount of useful information on
Irania n p l ants , products , anima l s , m inerals , customs and ,

institutions Not only plants but also Western ideas
.

were conveyed to C h ina by th e Iranians 3


.

T h e discoveries o f arch aeological relics made by the


De Morgan Expedition in Elam (western Persia) and ,

by th e P um pe l ly Expedition in Russian Turkestan have ,

provid e d further evidence that Sumero Babylonian civiliza -

1 In t h e T r
e l l- e l - A m a n a l e t te r W r
s, e s t e n — A s i an r
m o n a ch s are el o
que n t i n t h e i r
r e
que s ts fo r go l d fr om E gy pt In o n e a B ab y l o n i an k i ng “
as k s fo r m uch go l d an d

r
.


c om pl ai ns t h at t h e l as t s uppl y w as b a s e, an d t h at t h e e w as m uc h l o ss i n m e l t i ng

r C C r
.

i buti ons y of Ci v i li z
2 H i s tor i i n A nci e n t Iran
S i no I a ni ca :
-
hi nese on t to th e a t on .

3 Ibi d
C h i cago , 1
9 9 1 . .
, p. 1 85 .
20 0 MYTH S OF C HINA AND JAPAN
N e w trad e routes were opened up and connections estab
only with Elam and B abylonia in t h e sout h ,
l i s h e d , not
but with Egypt, through Palestine , and with Crete and
with the whol e JE ge an area Troy became the c l earing “
.

house o f this earl y trade flowing from western Asia


into Europe The enterprising sea kings of Crete appear
.
-

to have penetrated the Dardanelles and reached the


eastern s h ores of t h e B l ack Sea, w h ere they tapped the
overland trade routes 1
Dr Hubert Sc h midt who ac . .
,

companied the P um pe ll y expedition to Russian Turk


estan in 1 9 0 3 4, found Cretan Vasi l iki pottery in one

o f the excavated mounds , and , in another,



t h ree sid e d —

s eal stones o f Mid d le Minoan type


-

(c 20 0 0 eu .

graved with Minoan designs T h ere is evidence which 2

suggests that this trade in metals between western Asia


and t h e n ean area was in existence l ong before 2 5 0 0
B C , and not long after 3 0 0 0 B C
. . . .

One o f t h e great c e ntres of Mesopotamian culture in


t h e sout h eastern Caspian area was Anau, near Askabad , on
-

the M erve Caspian railway route Another was Meshed ,



.

which l ies to the south east of Anau i n a ric h meta ll iferous -

“ ”
mountain region One of th e K urgans
.
(mounds )
excavated at Anau yielded arch wo l o gi cal relics that indi
c at e d an early con nection bet w een Turkestan and E l am i n

south western Persia I n anot h er K urgan were found


-
.

traces o f a copper cu l ture The ear l y searchers for metal s


-
.

were evidently the originators or introducers o f this cu l


ture, and as t h e stratum contained baked clay figurines
o f the Sumerian mother goddess , the protot pe o f Is h tar,
y
-

l ittle doubt can remain whence came the earli e st miners .

This r e gion o f deso l ate sand dunes was in ancient times -

irrigate d by the Mesopotamian colonists who sowed not


only th e seeds of barley, wheat , and millet, but al so t h e
1
Mrs . H aw e s, G ou r ni a,
p 33
. .
2 The D aw n
of Med i te r r a ne an Ci v i l i z a ti on, pp. 62 - 3 .
C o py ri gh t H G F o urm e , F R G S

AN O FF NG
E RI TO T HE G ODS , NG
PE K I
20 2 MYTH S OF C HINA AND JAPAN
wards the east Gold can still b e easi l y found ev e ry
.

where and in every form in Siberia The Al tai m e ans .

“ ”
gold mountains , and these yield silver and copper as
well as gold Indeed , eastern Siberia is a much richer
.

m etal l iferous area than western Siberia, and this fact


appears to have been ascertained at a very remote period .

The searchers for metals not only col l ected go l d , copper,


and silver on the Altai Mountains and the area of the
upper reac h es o f the Y e n e s e i River but a l so penetrated ,

into Chinese Turkestan , where , as i n Russian Turkestan ,


trading colonies were founded , the metal s were worked ,

and the agric ultural mode of life , including the system o f


irrigation , adopted with undoubted success Important .
1

arch aeological excavations , conducted by Dr Stein in .


Chinese Turkestan , on b e half o f the I ndian Govern

ment , have revealed trac e s o f the far reaching influences -

exercised by Mesopotamian culture in a region n o w


covered by the vast an d confusing sand dunes o f the —

Taklamakan Desert At K h otan the discoveries made .

were of similar character to those at Anau .

K hotan is the ancient trading centre whic h connected


central Asia and India, and India and C h ina One of .

the m ost important products of K hotan is j ade that is , —

important from the historical point o f V iew It is un .

certain at what period the importation of j ade into China


from the K hotan area was inaugurated But there can .

be no doubt about the antiquity of t h e j ade trade between


Chinese Turkestan and Babylonia Some of the Baby .


lonian cylinder seals were o f j ade, others being of marbl e
-
,

j asper rock crystal, emerald amethyst, topaz chalcedony,


,
-
, ,

onyx, agate, lapis lazuli , h ae matite, and steatite


-
all ” 2

1 It se e m s rd
i i c ul o us t o s ugge s t th at i rr i gat i o n h ad o r i gi n i n m i d -A s i a an d not in
r
a e as lik e the de l t as of E gy pt an d S um e r ia
r r
.

9
B i ti s h Museum G ui d e to th e B a by l oni a n an d A ssy i an A n ti qui ti es, p . 1 57 .
COPPER CU LTURE REA C HES C H I NA -
20 3

rel ics o f ancient trade and mining activity Turquoise .

was imported into B abyl onia from K h otan and K ashgar .

The arch ae ological finds made o n t h e site o f the anci e nt


Sumerian city at N i ppur include cobal t, presumably from
” 1
China At Nippur was found too, Persian marbl e ,
.
,

lapis lazu l i from B actria, and cedar and cypress from


-

Z agro s .

When it is borne in mind that t h e c h ief incentive


behind the search for precious metals and precious stones
was a religious one we s h ou l d not express surprise to
,

find that not only the products of centre s o f ancient c ivi


l i z at i o n were carried across Asia to outlying parts , but
a l so myths , legends , and religious beliefs o f comp l ex
c h aracter These were given a local colouring in dif
.

fe re n t areas In northern Siberia, for instance, the l oca l


.

fauna displaced the fauna of t h e southern re l igious cu l ts ,


t h e reindeer or the goat taking the place of the gazel l e or
the antelope Mythological monsters received n e w parts ,
.

j ust as the dolp h in god of Cretan and other seafaring


-

peoples received an e l ep h ant s head in northern India ’

and became the m aha ra ; and the seafarers shark god ’


received i n China the h ead o f a lion , althoug h t h e lion


is not found i n China No doubt the lion was intro .

d uce d into China as a religious art m otif by some intr a d


ing cu l t Touch ing on this phase o f the problem o f
.

early cultural contact, El l is H M inns suggests a number .


2

o f possibilities to account for t h e similarities between


Sib e rian and C h inese art One is t h at t h e resemb l ance .

may be due to both (Siberians and Chinese) having b o r


rowed from Iranian o r som e other Central Asian art .

In each case, h e a d ds , w e seem to h ave an intrusion


“ ”

of monsters ultimately derived from M esopotamia the ,

g reat breeding ground of monsters -


The data sum .

1 P ete r
, N ippur II, p . 1 34
.
2
S cy th i ans an d G r eeks p
. 2 80 .
20 4 MYTHS OF C HIN A AN D J A PAN
m ari z e d in a previous chapt e r dealing with the Chinese 1

dragon a ffords confirmation of this view .

Dr Josep h Edkins writing i n the seventies o f l ast


.
,

century as a C hristian missionary who made an intensive


study o f Chinese rel igious be l iefs at first han d had muc h ,

to s ay about th e grafting process o r culture mixing -
.


Every impartial investigator he wrote will prob ,

ably admit that the ceremonies and i d e as o f t h e Chin e se


sacrifices link th em with W est e rn antiquity The infer .

e nce to be d rawn is this that the Chinese primeval ,

religion was of common origin with the religions o f the


W e st But if the religion was o n e , then t h e po l itical
.

ideas the m enta l habits the sociology t h e early arts and


, ,
-

knowle d ge o f nature s h o uld have been o f common , ,

origin also with t h ose of the West .


”2

No doubt the stories broug h t from Sib e ria by the


early e xplorers tended to stimulate the imaginations o f
the myth makers o f M esopotamia, I ndia and China
-
, .

The m ineral and h o t springs in the col d regions may


have be e n regar d ed as proof that the wel l s o f life had
real existence Some o f these wells are so greatly sat u
.

rated wit h carbonic acid gas that they burst skin and
stone bottl es Here is l iving water in d eed ! the early
.

exp l orer may have exc l aimed when he att e mpted to carry

away a sample The fe athers i n the air
. as Her o
d o t us puts it when referring to the snow and t h e aurora ,

borealis must have greatly impressed t h e early miners


i n the mysterious Altai region a region poss e ssing —

so much mineral wealth that it must have been re


garded as a veritable won d er l and of the gods by the ear l y
prospectors Who knows b ut that the story o f G ilga
.

mesh s pilgrimage through the dark mountain to the land


in which trees bore gems instead of fruit owes somet h ing


1 Ch apt e rV .
2
Re li gi on i n C h i na (L o n d on 1 8 7 8, 2 n d p 38
. .
20 6 MYTH S OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
obj ects may indeed be simpler in design than ot h ers ,
but cannot be described as q uite primitive ; nor as yet

within the limits of China 1
.

The evidence a fforded by ancient re l igious beliefs and


customs tends to show that the cultural centre in Asia,
which stimulated the growth o f civilization , was B abylonia,
while Egyptian influence flowed northwar d through
Palestine and into Syria I n time t h e influence of Cretan .

civilization made itself felt on the eastern shores o f the


Black Sea The ebb and flo w of cultural infl uences along
.

t h e trade routes at various periods renders the problem


of highly complex character But one leading fact appears .

to emerge The demand for metals and precious stones


.

in the earliest seats of civilization that is in Babylonia —


,

and Egy pt stimulat e d exploration and the spread o f


a culture based o n th e agricult ural mode o f l ife Not .

only was the system of irrigation first introduced in the ,

Nilotic and Ti gro Euphratean vall e ys adopted by colonies



,

o f miners and traders who settled in mid Asia and -

founded sub cu l tural centres that radiated westward and


eastward ; the re l igious ideas and customs that had grown


up with the agricultural mode o f life in t h e cradles of
ancient civilization were adopted too N e w experiences .

and n e w inventions imparted l ocal colour to colonial


“ ”

culture, but the l eading religious principles that vei ned


that cultur e underwent l ittl e cha n ge T h e immemorial .

quest for the elixir of l ife was never forgotten It was


. .

not to purchase their daily bread alone that men l ived


laborious days wash ing gold dust from river sands crush ,

ing quartz among the Al tai Mountains , o r quarrying and


fishing j ade in Chinese Turkestan ; th e y were ch iefly
concerned about purchasing t h e foo d o f life s o as
“ “

to secure immortality The fe ar o f death , whic h sent


.

1 B r i ti s h Muse um G ui d e to t h e A n ti qui ti es of th e B r onz e A ge, p . 1 0


7 .
COPPER CULTURE REACHES CHI NA
-
20 7
Gilgames h on his long j ourney, caused many a man
i n ancient times to wander far and wide in searc h of
life giving metals , precious stones pearl s , and p l ants

, .

And so we find i n China as in Egypt, in Baby l onia


as in western Europe , that t h e quest of immortality
w as the chief i ncentive t h at stimulated research dis ,

co v e r
y and
,
the spread of civilization T h e dema n d for .

the wood o f sacred trees, incens e bearing trees and p l ants, -

precious metals and precious stones in t h e temples of


Egypt and Baby l onia, h ad muc h to do wit h t h e develop
ment o f early trade The P h araohs of Egypt and
.

the P at e s i e s of Sumeria fitted out expeditions to obtain


tre asure for their holy places and to keep open the trade
,

routes along which the treasure w as carried .

That the system o f metal working had anciently an -

area of origin is emphasized by t h e inve stigations con


ducted by Professor Gowland 1
H e dea l s first with th e
.

Japanese evidence .

T h e met h od which was practise d ,
and t h e furnace emp l oyed by t h e early workers , stil l
he writes , survive i n use at severa l m ines in Japan

at t h e presen t time A h o l e in the ground forms the


.

furnace , and a bellows is used to introduce the blast from


the top After the copper is sme l ted it is all owed to coo l
.

o ff
,
and when it is n early so l i d ified it is take n out and
broken up .

T h e copper thus produced in Japan is
never cast direct from t h e smelting furn ac e s into usefu l
forms, but is a l ways resmelted in crucib l es, a mode
o f proc e dure which undoubtedly prevailed i n Europe
during the early Metal and the B ronze Ages Th e .

Japanese c l ay crucibles are anal ogous to those found


in t h e pi l e dwel l ings of t h e Swiss and Upper Austrian


l akes ”
.

D ea l in g wit h iron furnaces the Professor shows that



,

1
A rch a ol ogi a, p

. 2 7 6.
20 8 MYTH S OF CHI N A AND JAPAN

the Ancient Egyptian furnac e resembled the Japanese

furnace fo r copp e r tin and lead , Th e Etruscan furnace
, .

also resembled the Egyptian o n e “


From metallurgical .

consi d erations only Gowland adds , we would certainly


be led to the infe rence that the Etruscans had obtain ed
their knowledge of th e m e thod o f extracting metal from
that (t h e Egyptian ) source B ritis h evi d enc e sugg e sts
.

that the methods obtaining in ancient times were intro



d uc e d from the Me d it e rranean region o f Europe .

The actual process for t h e extraction o f iron from its


ores in Europe, i n fa ct i n a ll countri es i n ea rly ti m es was ,

practically t h e sam e .

Elsewhere, Professor Gowl and has written : “


I t is
important to note that t h e type of furnace w h ich
survives in India among th e hill tribes o f the G h ats
is closely analogous to the prehistoric furnace o f the

Danube and of th e Jura district in Europe
,
1
.

Culture drifts can thus b e fo l lowed in their results


-
.

Bac k ward communities that adopted inventions in early


tim e s continue to us e th em in precisely the same mann e r
as did those ancient peoples by whom they were first
introduced In li k e manner are early beliefs and customs
.

still p e rpetuated in isolated areas B ut it does not follow .

that all these beliefs had origin among the peoples who
“ ”
still cling to them Some s o called primitive beliefs
.
-

are really o f h ighly complex character, with as long a


history o f development as has t h e primitive type of
fis rn ace utilized by the hil l tribes o f India .

I n the next chapter it will be shown that in the


j ad e beli e fs o f China traces survive o f ideas not n e cessarily
o f C hinese origin i d e as that in fact, grew up and passed

,

t h rough process e s o f d evelopm e nt in countries in whic h


j ade w as never foun d F o r, as the Chinese bronze
.

1 J r
ou n a l o
f th e
q a l A n th rp
o ol o
gi cal In s ti tute , V o l . X L II, p . 27 9.
COPPER CULTURE REACHES CH I NA
- 20 9

imp l ements are n o t of primitive forms and therefore


not indigenous neit h er are all Chinese bel iefs and customs
,

primitive in t h e same sense , or, in the real sense ,

indigeno us eit h er A s the stimu l us to work metals i n


.

C h ina came from an outside source , so apparently did


, ,

the stimulus to search for such a life giving and -


luck conferring materia l as j ade com e from other
-

countries , an d from races unrelated to t h ose that occupied


Ch ina in early times .

The beliefs associated with j ade were deve l oped in


China, a l though they did not originate t h ere ; and these
b e li e fs were similar to those attached to the pearl s , t h e
precious stones , and t h e precious metals searched for by
the ancient prosp e ctors who discovered and first worked
j ade in Chinese Turkestan and on the borders of China .

To sum up , it wou l d appear that the elements o f


a rel igious culture, closely associated wit h the agricu l tura l
mode o f life, and common to Sumeria and Egypt, passed
across Asia towards China, reaching t h e Shensi province
about 1 7 0 0 B C At a much l ater period the comp l ex
. .

culture of the Egyptian Empire period gradually drifted


along t h e s e a route and l eft its impress on the C h inese
coast . Iranian cu l ture, wh ich was impregnated with
Baby l onian and Egyptian ideas , l ikewise exercised a per
sisting influence and w as renewed again and again
, .

On e of t h e u l timate results of the rise o f Persia as a


world power, and o f t h e invasion of Asia by A l exander,

w as to bring China into direct touch with the He ll enistic


worl d .

Indian influence is represented chiefly by Budd h ism .

I n nort h ern I ndia Budd h ism had been b l ended wit h Naga
(serpent ) worship and when , it reac h ed China ,
t h e l oca l
beliefs regarding dragons were given a Budd h istic colour
ing Th e C h inese Buddhists mixed t h e newly imported
.
-

( D 71 ) 1 5
21 0 MYTHS OF CHI NA AND JAPAN
religious culture wit h their o w n T h e Islands o f the .

B lest were retained by the cult of the East, and the


Western Paradise by t h e cult o f the West Th e latter .

para d ise is unknown to t h e B uddhists in Burmah and


C e ylon , but h as never been forgotten by the B uddhists o f
northern China A Buddha cal led B ound l e ss Age
.
“ ”

w as place d in the garden o f the Royal Lady o f the West,


but that goddess still ling e red beside t h e Peac h Tree o f
Immortali ty, while th e s k y godd e ss continued to weave

the web of the constellations and t h e pio us men and ,

women of the Taoist faith w e re supposed to reac h h er


stel l ar Paradise by sai l i n g along the Ce l estial River in
dragon boats or riding o n the back o f d ragons The
-
.

C h inese Budd h ists found ideas regarding Nirvana less


satisfying than those associated with the Paradise of t h e
P e aceful Land o f the West and th e higher Paradise of

th e Palaces o f the Stars , in which dwelt the gods and
the d e mi gods of t h e older faiths
-
.

Writing in this connection , Dr Josep h Edkins says .

A mighty branch o f foreign origin h as been grafted in


the o l d stock The m e taphysical religion o f Shakyamuni
.

was added to the moral doctrines of Confucius Another .

process may then be witness e d A native twig was grafted


.

in the I ndian branc h Modern Taoism has grown up on


.

the model supplied by B uddhism That it is possible to .

observe t h e m od us op e ra nd i of this repeated grafting, and to


estimate the amount o f gain and loss to the people o f
China resulting from the varied religious teaching whic h
,

th e y have thus r e ceiv e d is a circumstanc e o f the greates t


,
1 ”
interest to t h e investigator of the world s religions ’
.

1 Re li gi on i n C
h i na, P' 6 .
21 2 MYTH S OF C HI NA AND JAPAN
o rank , and even fo r musical instruments possessing, as
f ,

it does , wonderful resonant qualities T h e latter include .

“ ”
j ade flutes and j ade luck gongs which have religious ,

as so m at 1 0 n s .

Native artisans acquired great skil l in working this


tenacious mineral , and the finest art products in C hina are
those exquisite j ade ornaments , symbols , and vessels that
survive from various periods of its history Not only did .

the accomplis h ed and patient workers , especially of the


Han period (2 0 0 B C 2 0 0 achieve a high degree of . .

excellence in carving and engraving j ade, and in producing


beautifu l forms ; they also dealt with their hard mineral
s o as to utilize its various colours and shades and thus ,

increase t h e ae sthetic qualities of t h eir art products The .

artistic genius , as well as the religious beliefs , of the


Chines e has been ens h rined in n e phrite .

When t h e prehistoric C hinese settled in Shensi , they



found j ade in that area All the Chinese questioned by .

m e, experts in antiquaria n matters agree Laufer writes, ,



in stating that t h e j ades o f the Chou and Han Dynasties
are made o f indigenous material once dug on the very soi l
o f Shensi Province , that t h ese quarries h ave been l ong ago

exhausted , no j ade w h atever being found t h ere nowadays .

My i nformant pointed to Lan t ien and F é n g siang fu as -



- —

1 ”
the chief ancient min e s .

But although t h e early C h inese made use of indigenous


j ade, it does not follow, as h as been noted, t h at t h e earl y
beliefs connected with this famous mineral were of indigen
o us origin It cannot be overlooked that the symbolism
.

r
n o s u v i v i n g s pe c i m e n s . In I r d r
e l an b r r
o n z e sh o e s we e r wo n in an c i e n t ti m es— pe h aps
in c on n e c t i o n w i th r e l i gi o us r
ce e m o n i e s. O d rr r r d M
bs i i an m i o s we e us e in e x i c o fo r

r
pu po se s of d i v i n at i o n , a n d t h e r r
e we e sto n e m rr r r
i o s in Pe u .

1
Jd a e : A S tudy i n C h i nese A rch a’ o o r d f r (F d M
l gy an d Re l i gi on, B e th o l L au e iel use um
of N at u a lr r
H i s t o y , P ub l i c at i o n 1 r r X
5 4, A n t h o po l o gi c al S e i e s, V o l , C h i cago , 1 9 1 2 ,
.

p 23 )
OT M R U AR Y FS I H IN J D OF
A E ,
H AN P E RI OD
L frr f r r d
au e e e s to th is as a m a rv e l l o u s

fi rd
c a rv m dg
d o f e xc e e i ng l y fin e w o rk m
r
fo r
p a ns

ain
hi In t h e

H an Pe io sacr i ces e re o ff e e to a fis h i n j a e i n p ra ) e rs

F IG U RE OF BU TT F YE R L IN W T H I E AN D BR OWN S Y OW I H -
E LL
J D T
A E ,

S I N OR H AN P E RI OD
A p p
A un i q ue s ecim e n a m o n

l um -b l o s s o m
r r
g m o
p r dp d r t ua y o dr
ff e i n g s o f c o n s i e a b l e a g e a n d un us ua l w o k m
r p r p ans hi .

a t te n is e i c te b e t w e e n t h e a n t e n n a: o f t h e b ut t e fly ( s e e a g e

B o th pi c tu r es by cour te s y f
a B L . a
f
u er u h r
, a t o of

? a de F M C
ie ld us e um , h i cago
21 4 MYTHS O F CHINA AN D JAPA N
consider it necessary t o practise the science o f m um m i fica
tion In the L i K i (chapter 5 6) th e orthodox treatment
.

of the bodies o f the Emperor and oth e rs i s s e t forth as


fo l lows
The mout h o f the S o n o f Heaven is stu ffe d with nine
cowries that o f a feudal lord w ith seven that o f a great
, ,

o ffi cer with fiv e , and that o f an ordinary o ffi cial with


” 1
three .

Gold and j ade were used in lik e manner Laufer .


quot e s from K o Hung the significant statement : I f there
is gold and j ade in the nin e apertures o f the corpse it wi l l ,

preserve the body from putrefaction A fift h century .

Chines e writer says : W h en o n O p e n ing an ancient grave


the corpse looks li k e alive then th e re i s inside and o utside
,

of the body a large quantity o f gold and j ad e According .

to the r e gulations o f the Han Dynas ty, princes and lords


were buri e d in clothes adorned with pearls and with boxes
of j ade for the purpose o f preserving the body from
” 2
decay .

A ccording to D e Groot pearls were introduced into ,

the mouth o f th e d e ad during the Han Dynasty “


At .

least he says it is stated that th eir mouths were fill ed



,

with rice and pear l s and j ade stone were put therein i n
, ,

accor d ance with the establish e d ceremonial usages And .

P oh h u th ung i , a well known work , professedly written i n


-

the first century, says : On s t ufli n g the mouth o f the


Son o f Heaven with rice they put j ade ther e in ; in the ,

case o f a feudal lord they introduce pearls ; in that o f a


great o ffi cer and s o downwards as also in that o f ordinary ,

o ffi cials cowries are used to this end


,

De Groot commenting o n t h e evidence writes : Th e
, ,

same r e asons why gold and j ade were used fo r s t ufli n g the
mouth o f th e d e ad hold good for the us e o f pearls in this
1 De G r o o t, Th e Rel i gi ous Sy s te m qf C
h i na, B o o k I, pp
. 2 7 5 e t se
q
.
2
j ad e,
p
. 2 99 .
THE SYMBOLI SM OF JAD E 21 5
connection He notes t h at i n Chinese literature pearls
were regarded as depositori e s o f Yang matter that

medical works declar e they can further and faci l itate the
procreation of C hi l dren and can be useful for recalling
to life t h ose wh o h ave expired, o r are at the point of
” 1
dyi n g .

I n India as a Bengal i friend M r Ji m ut Ba h an Sen ,


, , .

M A , informs me a native medicine administered to t h ose


. .
,

w h o are believed to be at th e point o f deat h is a mixture


o f pound e d gold and mercury It is named Ma ha ra .

d h w aj a Th e m a ha ra is in India depicted in a variety o f


.
2

forms As a composite l ion legged and fis h tailed


.
- -

wonder beast resembling t h e Chines e dragon , it is the


vehicle of the god Varuna as the Babylonian s e a goat ,

or ant e lope fis h is t h e vehicle o f t h e god Ea o r o f t h e


o d Marduk Merodach Th e a ha ra of the northern
g ( ) m .

Buddhists is likewise a combination of land and s e a animals


o r reptiles , including the dolp h in wit h t h e head of an

elephant , goat ram , lion , d o g or alligator


,
3
,
.

I n C h ina th e lion h eaded s h ark a form of t h e s e a go d


-
,

,

is likewis e a m a ha ra or s e a dragon Go l d and nig h t -


.

shining pearls are connected with the m a h a ra as with the


dragon The C h inese dragon , as we h ave seen , is born
.

from gold, while curative h e rbs like the Red Cloud h erb ”

and the dragon s wh iskers h e rb are emanations of the


“ ’ ”

“ ”
dragon Gold lik e the herb , contains soul substance
.
,

in concentrated form Pounded gold, t h e chief ingredient .

in the m aha ra d h w aj a m e dicin e , is believed in I ndia to


-

renew yout h and promote l ongevity l ike pounded j ade


and gold in C h ina .


I n Yung cheu , whic h is situated in t h e Eastern
-

Ocean , rocks exist , wrote a C h inese sage in the earl y ”

1 T h e Re l i gi ous Sy s tem of Ch i n a, B o o k I, pp 2 7 4 e t seq 2 r


P o n o un c e m uh a a d ''
r
r rf r D
. . .

3 S e e i l l us t at i o n s i n P o e s s o E l l i o t S m i t h s T h e E v ol uti on of th e g , pp 8 8 , 8 9

r a on . .
21 6 MYTHS OF C HI NA A N D JAPAN
part o f the Christian era From t h ese rocks t h ere .

issues a brook like sw e et wine ; it is call e d th e Brook


o f Jade Must I f after drinking some pints o ut o f it,
.
,

o n e su d denly feels intoxicated , it will prolong li e


f .

Gr e ase o f j ade , we are further to l d , is forme d inside


t h e mountains whic h contain j ade It is always to be .

found in st e e p and dangerous spots T h e j ade j uice , .


1

aft e r issuing from t h ose mountains , coagulates into such


grease after more than ten thousand years T h is grease .

is fresh and limpid , like c rystal I f you find it, pulverize .

it and m i x it with th e j uice o f herbs that h ave no pith ; it


immediately l i que fie s ; drink o n e pint of it then and you
will live a thousand years He who swal l ows go l d .

wil l exist as long as gold ; h e who swallows j ade wi l l exist


as l ong as j ade Those who swallow the rea l essence
.

o f the dark s phere heavens will enj oy an everlasting


( )
existence ; t h e r e al essence o f t h e dark sphere i s anot h e r
name fo r j ad e B its o f j ade when swallowed or taken wit h
.
,
”2
water, can in both these cas e s render man immortal .

A S we have seen , t h e beli e f prevailed in China t h at


pearls shon e by night T h e mandrak e root was believed .

elsewhere to shine in like manner The view is co n se .

quently urged by the writ e r that t h e myths regarding


precious stones , j ade , pearls , and herbs o f nocturn al
luminosi t y o w e their origin to t h e arbitrary connection of
these obj ects wit h the moon , and the lunar goddess or s k y -

“ “ ” ”
goddess In China 1 e K ua ng ( light of the night ) is ,
.

” 3
Laufer notes , an ancient t e rm t o d esignat e the moon .

The intimate connection between the Mother deity


and precious metals and stones is brought out by Lucian
i n h is D e D ea Sy ri a He refers to the go d dess Hera
.

1
L i k e t h e gi nse ng (m an dr ak e ) i n t h e K an g—ge m o un t ai n s in no r r
t h e n K o e a.r (S e e
C h apt e r XV
II )
r C k
.

2
De G o o t, T h e Re l i gi ous Sy s te m qf h i n a, B o o I, V o l I, pp 2 7 2- 3
D
. . .

3 T he i a m on d ,
pp 5 5 , 5 6, n
. .
21 8 MYTHS OF C HI N A A ND J A PAN
o scientific e ffort, but as folk lore connecting t h e Orient
f -

with the Occi d ent, Ch ines e society with t h e Hellenistic


world As Laufer shows, the Chinese imported legends
.

r e gard ing magical gems from E u lin the forest o f —

an island in the M editerranean Sea which was known to ,


“ ”
them as the Western Sea (S i h a i ) At a very much .
1

earlier period they imported other legends an d beliefs


regarding metal s and min e ral s .

Pearls and go l d having been connected with th e


m a ha ra or dragon , it is n o t surprising to find that their

lunar attribut e s were imparted to j ade Laufe r quotes .


Chinese references to the moonlight pearl and th e
m oon re fle c t i n
g gem
-
while De Groot deals wit h
Chinese legends about e ff ulgent pearls about pearl s “ ”
,

shining during the night , flam i n g o r fiery pearls and w


pearls lighting like the moon D e Groot adds,
Similar legends have always been current in th e empire
o f China about j ade stone and he notes in this regard
( )
that at the time o f the Emperor Shen nung (twenty
“ -


fifth century B C ) there existed , according to Chinese. .


records , j ade which was obtained from agate rocks ,
under t h e name of Light shining at nig h t

If cast ’
.

into t h e waters in the dark it floated o n the surface, with


out its light being extinguis h ed