Immerse yourself in the world of Chinese legends! Tracing back to the 12th century BC, Chinese mythology concerns mainly the foundations of Chinese culture and state, as well as the creation myths and tales about Emperors and their achievements. Travel with China Tours and China Flights to the places when those legends were born. Meanwhile, familiarise yourself with the 3 most important Chinese legends.

The myths and legends were passed down in oral form for over a thousand years, before being written down books, imperial historical documents and philosophical canons. Many myths continued to be passed down through theatre and songs.

Many legends are based on the belief systems of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism and inform people of their culture and values.


The Chinese dragon is one of the most important Chinese mythical creatures. It is considered the most powerful, divine creature and is believed to control all waters, hurricanes and floods. The dragon is a symbol of great power, strength and good luck and was very supportive of heroes and gods. Yellow or golden dragons with five claws on each foot symbolised the Emperor in many Chinese dynasties. The imperial throne used to be called the Dragon Throne.

One of the most famous dragons in Chinese mythology is Yinglong “Responding Dragon”, the god of rain. Many people all over China pray to Yinglong in order to receive rain. In Chinese mythology, dragons are believed to create clouds with their breath.

The significance of dragon to the Chinese is reflected in the term “Descendants of the Dragon” as a description of Chinese ethnic identity. In contrast to Europe, where dragons are considered evil, Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize auspicious powers.


The Jade Emperor

In Chinese folk culture the Jade Emperor is the ruler of Heaven, Earth and Hell. He is one of the most important gods of the Chinese traditional religion pantheon.

The Jade Emperor is known by many names, including Heavenly Grandfather, the Pure August Jade Emperor; the Xuanling High Sovereign. His full title, rarely used, is Peace Absolving, Central August Spirit Exalted, Ancient Buddha, Most Pious and Honorable, His Highness the Jade-Emperor, Xuanling High Sovereign.

The figure of Jade Emperor gave foundations to the legend and origin of Chinese Zodiac. The Jade Emperor decided that there should be a way of measuring time. On his birthday, he organised a swimming race for animals of Earth. The first twelve animals to cross the fast flowing river would be the winners and they would each have a year of the zodiac named after them.

Pan Gu

Pan Gu is believed to be a first sentient being and the creator of universe. He is usually depicted as a primitive, hairy giant with horns on his head. According to the legend, in the beginning there was nothing in the universe except a formless chaos, which later evolved into cosmic egg.. Within it, the perfectly opposed principles of Yin and Yang became balanced and Pangu emerged from the egg. He separated Yin from Yang with a swing of his giant axe, creating the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). To keep them separated Pangu stood between them and pushed up the Sky. After 18,000 years, Pangu was laid to rest. His breath became the wind; his voice the thunder; left eye the sun and right eye the moon; his body became the mountains; his blood formed rivers; his muscles the fertile lands; his facial hair the stars and milky way; his fur the bushes and forests; his bones the valuable minerals; his sweat fell as rain; and the fleas on his fur carried by the wind became the fish and animals.


To get the most of China, consult our experts at China Travel.

Jack Li
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