Chinese history is a rich mixture of myths, folklore, and legends. The first mythologies are known to date back to 220AD in the Wei and Jin dynasty. Writers and philosophers continued to create great stories with their unusual imagination. Ancient Chinese mythology is closely interwoven with history. Ancient heroes such as Fuxi, Shennong, Huangdi, and Yu are historical figures that made legends as well as prime characters in mythology.
These myths and stories focused on human emotions, values, self-sacrifice and warning against evil. They showed the importance of true love, balanced and pure life and the need to fear God.
Gods, foxes, spirits, and ghosts were the main characters. They were depicted in human form, having human feelings and nature. They were additionally given some special powers. All these stories are extremely concise.
Ancient Chinese Mythology on Creation of Life:
Pangu is the principal character of ancient Chinese mythology. Chinese fantasies say that initially sky and earth were like an egg. Then Pangu was born inside it. The earth and the sky started to slowly separate. It took eighteen thousand years for the sky and the earth to separate.
The yang i.e. the sky continued to become lighter and purer, while the earth, the yin became heavier and murkier. Pangu became taller with days and grew ten feet each day.
His wisdom became greater than that of the sky and wisdom stronger than the earth. Then arrived the three emperors viz. emperor of the sky, emperor of earth and emperor of man.
Some Ancient Chinese Legends:
The most important legends the names of which were repeated in much ancient Chinese work is that of Three August Ones and Five Emperors. This was a name given to some eight great Chinese rulers of the time. These virtuous rulers set examples for the future kings. Their names are elaborated below:
The Three August Ones:
Fuxi – The companion of Nuwa, Shennong, “Divine Farmer” is believed to have educated the people on agriculture and medicine and Huangdi, the first sovereign of the ancient China.
The Five Emperors:
Shaohao – Leader of the “Eastern Barbarians”, Zhuanxu – Grandson of the Huang Emperor, Emperor Ku – Great-grandson of the Huang Emperor, Yao – The son of Ku and Shun- Yao made Shun his successor because of Shun’s ability and morality.
Legend of Dragon in ancient China:
The dragon is the most important creature if ancient Chinese mythology. The Chinese considered the dragon as divine and most powerful. They believed that the dragon controlled the rains and its breath was capable of forming clouds in the sky. People worshipped the dragon for rains. The dragon is believed to strengthen the heroes and gods. Yingling was the most famous Chinese dragon.
Mythology and legends formed an inseparable part of ancient China. Ancient Chinese mythology served as a source of inspiration and knowledge. It inspired people to lead a good life. These myths and legends continue to survive in the form of theatre and novels.