What is the implication of Xuanwu in Chinese culture? Why is Xuanwu a combination of turtle and snake?

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What is the moral of Xuanwu? Why is Xuanwu a combination of turtle and snake? China story network will introduce you:

Introduction to Xuanwu

Basaltic, one of the four spirits of heaven in ancient Chinese mythology, originated from the ancient star worship, which refers to the northern basaltic seven constellations of the twenty-eight constellations divided into four elephants according to the southeast, northwest and northwest.


In Chinese traditional culture, the four symbols refer to the green dragon, the white tiger, the rosefinch, and the basalt, representing the four directions of East, West, north, South, respectively. The northern basalt is the ridge of the eight trigrams and the main water of the five elements, which symbolizes the old Yin in the four symbols and the winter in the four seasons.

In the Han Dynasty, the theory of divination rose, and its symbolic meanings were Youming, Rengui, and Zhide. After the Han Dynasty, Taoism absorbed it as a Dharma protector God, called Zhuming God King, and later as Zhenwu emperor.

One of the five beasts in Huainanzi is Qinglong, Baihu, Zhuque, Xuanwu and Huanglong, also known as Tianguan five beasts.

Legend of Xuanwu

In ancient Chinese mythology, the four most demonic beasts with boundless magic power are the green dragon, white tiger, rosefinch and basalt. Xuanwu is also called xuanming, the combination of turtle and snake. It is the God of water. It lives in the North Sea. Turtles live a long life. Xuanming has become a symbol of immortality. Mingjian is also in the north, so it is the God of the north.

It is the God of the North who represents Zhuanxu and the northern Qisu. Xuanwu can also ask for divination through the underworld. Therefore, Xuanwu is different from other three spirits. It is called Xuantian God, “Zhenwu emperor”, and is the god worshipped by Taoism.

Xuanwu was upgraded by later Taoists to be the great emperor of the north, “Zhenwu Great emperor”. It is different from the other three spirits. Other green dragons and white tigers only became the door gods of the temple, while zhuniao became another Xuannv.

Later generations often say that when Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty came into being, the Jade Emperor incarnated one of his three souls into the queen of the state of music, hated the world, gave up his position to practice on Wudang Mountain, successfully soared and guarded the north, with the name: Xuanwu.

The life experience of Zhenwu emperor is often said to be that when Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty, the Jade Emperor incarnated one of his three souls into the queen of zhuanglo and became the prince after birth.

According to legend, the crown prince of King gujingle was born powerful. He traveled across the East China Sea and was awarded a sword by the gods. He entered Wudang Mountain in Hubei Province to practice. After 42 years, he achieved success. He rose in the daytime and was named Xuanwu Jun in the north of Weizhen.

Why is Xuanwu a combination of turtle and snake?

Xuanwu is a kind of spiritual object composed of tortoise and snake. The original meaning of Xuanwu is xuanming, and the ancient sounds of Wu and Ming are interlinked. Xuan means black; Ming means Yin.

At first, xuanming described the tortoise divination: the tortoise’s back is black, and the tortoise divination is to ask the tortoise to go to the nether world and bring back the answer to the world in the form of divination. Therefore, the earliest basalt was tortoise.

Source 1

The father of Yu, the founder of China’s Xia Dynasty, was called “Qian”, with the word xuanming, which can also be called Xuanwu. He helped Shun control the flood before the famous Dayu. Because it only uses plugging rather than dredging, although it has the help of gods, it is still unsuccessful.

Usually, he is regarded as the incarnation of the spirit turtle, and Tu Shan, a branch of the Xia nationality, believes that snakes are their ancestors. Later, Xuanwu was regarded as a God by Taoism, and there was a saying that turtles and snakes combined.

Source 2

Basaltic is black, and the image is a snake wrapped around a turtle. In the journey to the west, it is mentioned that it later evolved into the second general of tortoise and snake under the seat of the northern basaltic emperor. The Taoist field of the basaltic emperor is in Wudang Mountain in Hubei Province, so there are tortoise mountain and Snake Mountain in Wuhan across the river (also named according to their shape).


Tortoise and snake were regarded as spirit beasts in ancient China, symbolizing longevity. Before the Han Dynasty, aristocrats were equipped with jade tortoise pendants. Now in Japan, influenced by ancient China, they are named and made with tortoise patterns.

The moral of Xuanwu

I. northern water god

“Songs of Chu: a long journey” notes: “Xuanwu, the northern God name”. “Shiji Tianguan book” said: “Beigong Xuanwu, empty, dangerous.”. “Rebuilding Weishu integration” Volume VI “River map”: “the black emperor in the north, whose God name is Ye Guangji, is refined into basalt”.

According to the theory of Yin Yang and five elements, the North belongs to water, so the northern God is the God of water.

“Biography of King Liang in the later Han Dynasty”: “Xuanwu, the name of the God of water”. “Rebuilding Weishu integration” Volume VI “River map”: “the residence of the seven gods in the North actually starts from fighting, towns the north, and dominates the wind and rain”. Rain is needed for the growth of all things, and water can extinguish fire, so the water god attribute of basalt is quite valued and believed by the people.

Qu Dajun’s “Guangdong Xinyu” contains: the more Zhenwu palace in Wuyue, with the temple of Foshan in the South China Sea as the largest, is called the rizu temple. It looks like a black flag, with a golden sword standing in front, a turtle and a snake coiled around. According to the official book of Gai Tian, the black emperor in the North Palace is also the one with the essence of basalt, or the first temple of Han Gao.

The Cantonese worshipped the Red Emperor and the black emperor, who was named as the black emperor in the north pole and commanded Nanming. Nanming’s water is born in the Arctic, with the Arctic as the source and Nanming as the Committee. Those who worship the Red Emperor use the Commission of smelting water, while those who worship the black emperor use the source of water.

Our Guangdong Province has a solid water country. People’s livelihood is in the brine tide, and they are good at the light tide. What they do not change with the Yanfeng jiaowu is known as the work of the Red Emperor, but not the virtue of the black emperor. Although the ceremony is inconsistent, it is also the reason why Cantonese people report to this.

II. God of reproduction

Ancient Chinese people compared the great divine power with the phenomenon of Yin-Yang interaction and evolution of all things, and worshipped the divine power of reproduction. The snake itself is a symbol of reproduction and reproduction. Basalt appears in the shape of a turtle snake combination, which is more regarded by the ancients as a symbol of male female mating and reproduction.

Wei Bo 9 Yang in the Eastern Han Dynasty (born around 121 A.D.). The book of changes also uses the example of tortoise and snake correction to illustrate that yin and Yang must cooperate: “the tortoise and snake in the Guan pass are on the continent of the river. The fair lady, the gentleman likes to die. The male is not alone, and the female is not alone. The basalt tortoise and snake, correct the plate and help each other. With the female and the peony in the Ming Dynasty, after all, they are Xu”.

III. God of command

In ancient times, tortoise was a symbol of longevity and immortality, and could guide Qi. According to historical records, tortoise strategy biography, “the old man in the South used tortoise to support his bed feet, and walked for more than 20 years. The old man died, moved his bed, and the tortoise was not dead. Tortoise could guide Qi”.

According to baopuzi: Chengyang Yingjian hunted when he was young, fell into the empty tomb, and was hungry. When he saw that there was a big turtle in the tomb first, he counted and turned around, and his direction was impermanent. He opened his mouth and swallowed his breath, or looked up. Jian also heard that the tortoise could guide, but he tried to follow the tortoise, so he stopped hungry. “. Moreover, Dousu, the first of Beigong Xuanwu Qisu, is also known as the South dipper.

“Star Sutra” says: “the six stars of the southern dipper, the Lord of the life of the son of heaven, and also the position of prime minister Juelu”. Jin Ganbao (who lived around 316) quoted Guan Yun as saying, “the South dipper notes life, and the North dipper notes death”. Beinandou can increase longevity. This has great attraction for emperors, bureaucrats and ordinary people who pursue immortality.


IV. one of the four spirits

In ancient China, the stars in the sky were divided into seven star regions of “three walls” and “four images”. The so-called “wall” means “city wall”. “Three walls” are “purple walls”, which symbolize the imperial palace; “Taiweiyuan” symbolizes the administrative organization; “Tian Shi Yuan” symbolizes a prosperous street market. The three walls are arranged in a triangle around the north star.

“Four elephants” are distributed around the “three walls”: “East Canglong, West Baihu, South rosefinch, North Xuanwu”. In other words, the stars in the East are like a dragon, the stars in the West are like a tiger, the stars in the south are like a big bird, and the stars in the north are like turtles and snakes.

As the earth revolves around the sun, the stars in the sky also change with the seasons. Every evening at the turn of winter and spring, the black dragon appears; At the turn of spring and summer, basalt rises; At the turn of summer and autumn, white tigers appear; At the turn of autumn and winter, rosefinch rises.

Like other three spirits, Xuanwu is also transformed from the 28 stars in the world: Dou, Niu, NV, Xu, Wei, Shi, and Bi. In ancient times, people interpreted Xuanwu in the following ways, “Xuanwu” is a turtle. “.

Volume 44 of the supreme Huang Lizhai instrument calls the northern Xuanwu Xingjun as: “Dou Su Tianmiao Xingjun, Niu Su Tianji Xingjun, nu Su tiannv Xingjun, Xu Su Tianqing Xingjun, Wei Su Tianqian Xingjun, Shi Su Tianli Xingjun, Bi Su Tianshi Xingjun.”

As for its image, Volume 7 of the collection of daomen Tongjiao must use: “northern basalt, Taiyin metaplasia, virtual danger, surface quality, turtle snake platform shape, pan you nine places, dominate all souls, come from my right.”

At the same time, Taoism also uses it in alchemy terms. For example, volume 72 of the cloud collection seven Xi quotes the Dan of the four gods in the ancient Sutra, saying: “the Xuanwu, the northern Ren GUI water, black mercury, can be soft and hard.”

The Sutra says: the best is like water. It’s not lead, tin or stones. Water is the divine water in the east of the river. It was born before heaven and earth. Even medicine can’t be given up temporarily. It can nourish all things, so it’s called Xuanwu. Xuanwu was cultivated and personified in the Song Dynasty, which was inseparable from the emperors of the Song Dynasty. In the early Song Dynasty, there was a legend that Zhenwu and Tianpeng were the great generals of heaven.

In the first year of emperor weizhenzong’s heavenly Jubilee, something happened in the military camp. In the seventh volume of “things Ji Yuan”: “soldiers who saw snakes built Zhenwu hall because of them. In the leap April of the second year, the spring surged to the side of the hall, and the people with diseases drank more. ” When Zhenzong heard about this, he issued an imperial edict to build the temple on the spot and gave it the name ‘Xiangyuan’. This is about the earliest Zhenwu temple in China. Disclaimer: the above content originates from the network, and the copyright belongs to the original author. Please inform us if your original copyright is infringed, and we will delete the relevant content as soon as possible.

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