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Xingtian from the Qing Edition Shanhaijing

Xing Tian (Chinese: 刑天; pinyin: Xíng Tiān) is a Pre-Qin Dynasty mythological headless giant appearing in the Shan Hai Jing, Oracle Bones and also mentioned in the Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era.

Etymology

刑天 means "punished one" or "he who was punished by heaven"


Myth

According to oracle bones, during ancient times the giant Xíng Tiān was originally a follower of the Emperor Yán. After the victory of the Yellow Emperor over Yán at the Battle of Banquan, Xíng Tiān followed his master to exile in the south. At this time, the giant had no name.

After the Yellow Emperor defeated and executed Chi You, Xíng Tiān went forth with an axe and shield (some description gave a blade instead) against the Yellow Emperor. He forced his way to the southern Gate of the Celestial Court and issued a challenge to the Yellow Emperor for a duel.

The Yellow Emperor came forth and the two engaged in a ferocious combat, sword (昆吾剑) against axe, all the way down to earth to ChángYáng Mountain (常羊之山). In a final blow, the Yellow Emperor distracted his opponent with a trick and lunged ... and in a flash decapitated Xíng Tiān, whose head rolled all the way to the foot of the mountain and created a thunderous roar.

The dance of arms, fierce would last to the end; replaced the head by the abdomen, the emperor’s punishment for me does nothing to be possible to be afraid!

Instead of dying, Xíng Tiān was able to continue moving and began groping about for his head. The Yellow Emperor raised his sword to strike the mountain. The mountain split open, the head rolled within and the mountain closed again.

Xíng Tiān gave up looking for his head, and instead used his nipples as eyes that could not see, and navel as a mouth that could not open. He began striking about wildly, giving rise to the saying "刑天舞干戚,猛志固常在" (undying resolution). Thereafter, the headless giant got his name, which meant "He whose head was chopped off".


Art/Fiction

  • Xing Tian has appeared through China's recent online gaming boom as a monster the player must defeat. In Shura Online, Xing Tian is a leader of its own demon tribe.
  • Xing Tian was played by Nicky Wu in the TV series based on another Chinese Myth Jingwei tries to refill the Sea (精卫填海 )