For more than 4,000 years, the Chinese worshiped an extensive array of gods and goddesses. It wasn’t until the start of Chinese communism in the 20th century that the practice trailed off. Today, some people still pay homage to the gods , oftentimes in secret. In this article, you will learn about some of the deities associated with the ancient Chinese culture, such as the god of war and god of arts.
In Chinese mythology, there were four divine rules of the four seas , with each god corresponding to one of the cardinal directions. Called the Dragon Kings, they were said to appear in their true form of a dragon and possessed the ability to shift into the shape of a human. The four kings were called Ao Guang (Dragon of the East), Ao Qin (Dragon of the South), Ao Run (Dragon of the West), and Ao Shun (Dragon of the North). Out of all the Kings, it was the king of the Eastern Sea that was in charge of the largest territory.
The Dragon Kings were said to live in palaces made out of crystal that were guarded by shrimp soldiers and crab generals. Being rulers over marine life, the Dragon Kings also played a role in the clouds and rain. For example, when they were angered, cities would become flooded. Chinese literature often referred to the Dragon Kings , appearing in novels and mythical accounts. Many temples were also dedicated to the Dragon Kings in China. There is even one found the United States in the state of Oregon.
The Chinese god of the arts and creativity was Fu-xi , who was known as one of the first of the Three Sovereigns (also known as the Three August Ones) in ancient Chinese times. He was considered a cultural hero that is connected to various inventions, such as fishing, writing and trapping. Fu Xi is included in a legend associated with the creation myth. The land was supposedly swept by a great flood and only Fu Xi and his sister Nuwa survived. They went to Kunlun Mountains where they prayed for a sign to come from the Emperor of Heaven. The siblings were approved to join together to become responsible for procreating the human race. Fu Xi and Nuwa used clay to create human figures as a way to speed up the process. They were equipped with the divine power to make the clay figures come alive. Fu Xi became the ruler over the descendants. It is said that he reigned for around 115 years.
The other two figures that made up the “Three August Ones” are Shennong (called the “Divine Farmer”) who is believed to have taught the ancients about agriculture and medicine, and Huangdi, who is often seen as the first sovereign of the Chinese nation.