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Chimei

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Chimi-mōryō 魑魅魍魎 illustration from the 1802 CE Japanese Hyakkiyako-Bakemonogatari 百鬼夜講化物語

Chimei (螭魅) are mountains or hills demons in Chine


Etymology

Chimei 螭魅 is joined with wangliang in the expression chimei-wangliang 魑魅魍魎 "demons and monsters; evil spirits". Since some commentators differentiate between chimei "demons of the mountains and forests" and wangliang "demons of the rivers and marshes", notes Carr (1990:137), chimei-wangliang can mean either "'demons, monsters' generally or 'mountain and water demons' separately". Groot (1910:5:505) describes chimei as "another demon-tribe" because the "Chinese place in their great class of hill-spirits certain quadrumana, besides actual human beings, mountaineers alien to Chinese culture, perhaps a dying race of aborigines."


Origins

The (ca. 389 BCE) Zuozhuan commentary to the Chunqiu has the earliest textual usages of both chimei 螭魅 and chimei-wangliang 螭魅罔兩.

The former (文公18; tr. Legge 1872:283) refers to the Sixiong 四凶 "Four Fiends" (Hundun 渾敦, Qiongqi 窮奇, Taowu 檮杌, and Taotie 饕餮); the legendary ruler Shun, "banished these four wicked ones, Chaos, Monster, Block, and Glutton, casting them out into the four distant regions, to meet the spite of the sprites and evil things".

Du Yu's commentary glosses chimei demons as "born in the strange qi of mountains and forests, harmful to humans". The latter context (昭公 9, tr. Legge 1872:625) only mentions the villainous Taowu; "The ancient kings located T'aou-wuh in [one of] the four distant regions, to encounter the sprites and other evil things."


References