Wuzhiqi

water deity of the rivers Huai and Guo

Wuzhiqi or (Chinese: 巫支祁) is a thing from Chinese stories about strange things. Stories can say Wuzhiqi is a water monkey spirit. People started writing about it in the 9th century. According to a legend, it came out of the water when Emperor Yu was fighting floods. It looks like a monkey with a white head and blue body, and it can stretch its neck very far. Some stories say it is as strong as many elephants and can move very fast.[1][2]

Sculpture of Wuzhiqi on exhibit in the Ethnological Museum, Berlin, Germany.

The earliest story about Wuzhiqi is from a book written in the Tang dynasty. It talks about a fisherman meeting a monkey demon with a black body and white head in the Huai River. Another old book from the Song dynasty says Wuzhiqi lived in the Huai River and Emperor Yu fought it and won. The Wuzhiqi was trapped under Turtle Mountain to stop floods. Sometimes Wuzhiqi looks like a woman and has other names, for example Guishan Shuimu and Sizhou Virgin.[3][4]

Mythology

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The first full story about Wuzhiqi was in a book called Li Tang from the Tang Dynasty. It said Wuzhi Qi looked like an ape with a long neck, strength like nine elephants, and fast speed. Legend says that, when King Yu tried to stop floods, he met Wuzhiqi, who caused trouble in the Huaihe River. After a big fight, King Yu used an iron rope to capture Wuzhiqi. Another book, Supplement to the History of the Tang Dynasty, also talked about Wuzhiqi. Some scholars think Wuzhiqi's story might be connected to a tale called "Xia Yao" from Yu Town. People in the mountains near Taihu Lake still tell the story. Over time, the legend of Wuzhiqi changed. In the Southern Song Dynasty, a Buddhist Wuzhiqi story appeared, and Wuzhiqi started to be in stories with the Jellyfish Empress. Later, the story changed into dramas and operas, like The Great Sage of Sizhou Drops the Jellyfish. When the Huaisi River Basin flooded, more people wanted to hear stories about like these, and different stories spread to many places.[3][5]

Sun Wukong

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In some ways, Wuzhiqi is like Sun Wukong (Monkey King), the main character in Journey to the West. Some think he might be one of Sun Wukong's early forms. Eiichiro Ishida says this is because monkeys and water are connected and that Wuzhiqi's story involves being tied up and sealed away, which relates to water legends.[6]

In the 1920s, Lu Xun said Sun Wukong's appearance was taken from Wuzhiqi. He believed that storytellers gave Wuzhiqi's powers, like being very fast and strong, to Sun Wukong. Lu Xun also said there was a old drama where Wuzhiqi is called Sun Wukong's sister. Hu Shi did not agree. He said Sun Wukong came from Hanuman, a monkey god from the South Asian epic Ramayana. Scholars argues about who was right. Later, some scholars said that Sun Wukong's character is a mix of different influences, including Wuzhiqi and Hanuman.[7]

References

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  1. Andersen, Poul (2001). The demon chained under turtle mountain: the history and mythology of the Chinese river spirit Wuzhiqi. Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst. Berlin: G-und-H-Verl. ISBN 978-3-931768-55-3.
  2. Lagerwey, John; Goossaert, Vincent, eds. (2015). Modern Chinese religion. Handbook of oriental studies Section 4, China. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-27164-7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Saso, Michael R (2004). "The Demon Chained under Turtle Mountain: The History and Mythology of the Chinese River Spirit Wuzhiqi (review)". China Review International. 11 (1): 23–24. doi:10.1353/cri.2005.0034. ISSN 1527-9367.
  4. Uschan, Michael V. (2014-05-09). Chinese Mythology. Greenhaven Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-1-4205-1146-8.
  5. FU, ZHU HENG (2013-01-01). Into the Chinese classic legend with the world of the novel(Chinese Edition) (in Chinese). Shanghai University Press. ISBN 978-7-5671-0573-7.
  6. Wu, Cheng'en (2012). The journey to the West (3rd ed.). Chicago: The Univ. of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-97137-7.
  7. Wu, Cheng'en (2012-12-21). The Journey to the West, Revised Edition, Volume 1. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-97131-5.