Chinese Myth Tuesdays: Fuxi


Yes, yes, I know it's Wednesday/Thursday, but I've been out in the boondocks and just got back online. Then again, Chinese Tuesdays has always been more than a day of the week, it's a state of mind.

Anyway, here is the continuation of our early Chinese myths season, courtesy of Fuck Yeah Chinese Myths!:

We talked about Nüwa last time, so now we’re going to talk about her husband. Fu Xi (伏羲 Fúxī) was the first of the Three Sovereigns, Five Emperors (三皇五帝 sānhuáng wǔdì) who ruled during the mythical dynasty before the Xia Dynasty, on the banks of the Yellow River.

The myth goes there was a utopian village full of people with no desires whatsoever, who lived very long lives and didn’t know the difference between life and death. One lady called Huaxushi was travelling to the east, and on the way she saw a huge-ass footprint. She stepped in it – and tada! She was pregnant with Fu Xi. The footprint was that of a god who had a human head and dragon body, so when Fu Xi was born, he looked like that too, with a snake's body from the waist down.

In one version of the story, Fu Xi was Nüwa’s brother. One day, Fu Xi was fishing in a lake, minding his own business, when a turtle showed up. The turtle said there’s an epic flood coming in a hundred days – the earth will sink and everywhere will be water (sound familiar?). I can totally help you out, the turtle said, but you have to catch me fish every day. The deal was pretty reasonable, so Fu Xi agreed, and Nüwa did the same. On the day of the flood, the turtle swallowed them up and brought them to his palace underwater.

When the flood was over, the turtle brought them back to land and they saw they were the last people on earth. They needed the human race to continue, right? But they couldn’t get married to each other, because it would be incest - gross. What they did was they went to Mount Kunlun, and each of them made a bonfire. Then they asked the Jade Emperor, if we can marry, let the smoke of the two fires mingle. The smoke from the fires got together, and so did they.

It's even said that Fu Xi instituted marriage, which created the patriarchal system, whereas before society was meant to be matriarchal and primitive. As mythical Emperor he did a lot of awesome stuff. He came up with the eight trigrams (八卦 bāguà) used in I Ching divination. He invented fishing nets, hunting with iron weapons, the lute and the guqin instrument, and also writing, although another guy called Cangjie is also credited with that. In some tellings he even gave humanity the gift of fire.

Fu Xi is said to have lived for 197 years, and is supposedly buried in Huaiyang, Henan province, so you can go to his tomb to say hey to the first ancestor of human beings. Some people say that after his death, Fu Xi became God of the East Heaven, in charge of the season of spring, governing from Jieshi mountain in Hebei Province, all the way to Korea and where the sun rises.

Fuck Yeah Chinese Myths! is a tumblr of Chinese myth, history and culture written by Min Xie