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Zhuyin from the Shan Hai Jing

Zhuyin (Chinese: 燭陰; pinyin: zhúyīn; Wade-Giles: chu-yin; literally "illuminating darkness") or Zhulong (Chinese: 燭龍; pinyin: zhúlóng; Wade-Giles: chu-lung; literally "torch dragon") is a dragon with a human head worshipped as a Sun God in Chinese mythology.


Description

Zhuyin is supposed to have a human's face and snake's body, created day and night by opening and closing its eyes, and created seasonal winds by breathing.


Shanhaijing

The (ca. 3rd century BCE-1st century CE ) Shanhaijing "Classic of the Mountains and Seas" records parallel myths about Zhuyin and Zhulong.

"The Classic of Regions Beyond the Seas: The North" section describes Zhuyin 燭陰 on Mount Zhong 鍾山.

The deity of Mount Bell is named Torch Shade. When this deity's eyes look out there is daylight, and when he shuts his eyes there is night. When he blows it is winter, and when the calls out it is summer. He neither drinks, nor eats, nor breathes. If this god does breathe, there are gales. His body is a thousand leagues long. Torch Shade is east of the country of Nolegcalf. He has a human face and a snake's body, and he is scarlet in colour. The god lives on the lower slopes of Mount Bell. (tr. Birrell 2000:121)

Visser (1913:62-3) renders Zhuyin as "Enlightener of the Darkness" and translates the commentary of Guo Pu (276-324 CE).

'Enlightener' is a dragon; he enlightens the nine yin (darknesses, i.e. the nine points of the compass at the opposite, dark side of the earth, which is a flat disk; these nine points are North, South, East, West, North-east, North-west, South-east, South-west, and the Centre)". (tr. Visser 1913:62)

"The Classic of the Great Wilderness: The North" section (17) describes Zhulong 燭龍 living on Mount Zhangwei 章尾山.

Beyond the northwest seas, north of the River Scarlet there is Mount Brillianttail. There is a god-human here with a human face and a snake's body, and he is scarlet. He has vertical eyes that are in a straight seam. When this deity closes his eyes, there is darkness. When the deity look with his eyes, there is light. He neither eats, nor sleeps, nor breathes. The wind and the rain are at his beck and call. This deity shines his torch over the ninefold darkness. This deity is Torch Dragon. (tr. Birrell 2000:188)

The yin in this jiuyin 九陰 "ninefold darkness" context explains using the "dragon" name Zhulong instead of "darkeness" name Zhuyin. Guo Pu quotes a legend from a no longer extant Shijing commentary (tr. Major 1993:204), "The sky is insufficient to cover the northwest, so there is no ebb and flow of yang and yin. Therefore a dragon carries a torch in its mouth to light up the sky."


References

  • Birrell, Anne, tr. 2000. The Classic of Mountains and Seas. Penguin.
  • Carr, Michael. 1990. Chinese Dragon Names", Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 13.2:87-189.
  • Eberhard, Wolfram. 1968. The Local Cultures of South and East China. E. J. Brill.
  • Field, Stephen, tr. 1986. Tian Wen, A Chinese Book of Origins. New Directions.
  • Groot, J.J.M. de. 1910. The Religious System of China 6. E. J. Brill.
  • Hawkes, David, tr. 1985. The Songs of the South: An Anthology of Ancient Chinese Poems by Qu Yuan and Other Poets. Penguin.
  • Major, John S. 1993. Heaven and Earth in Early Han Thought: Chapters Three, Four, and Five of the Huainanzi. SUNY Press.
  • Smith, Thomas E. 2008. Dongming ji 洞冥記 Records of Penetration into the Mysteries, in The Encyclopedia of Taoism, ed. Fabrizio Pregadio, Routledge, 367-368.
  • Visser, Marinus Willern de. 1913. The Dragon in China and Japan. J. Müller.