Episode 71 : The Creature That Knows Creatures

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There are countless mythical creatures in Chinese mythology. Today we will talk about a mythical creature who is an expert of mythical creatures.

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Before we start, I want to introduce a book first called BaiZeJingGuaiTu 白泽 精 怪图or BaiZeTu 白泽图. It is a guide of 11520 types of supernatural creatures in the world. It is a pity that he book doesn’t exist today except some fragments in other texts. The mythical creature we talk about today is in the name of the book BaiZe 白泽, literally means white marsh. It is popular in Japanese mythology as well and is called hakutaku.

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In the book YunJiQiQian 云笈七签from the Song Dynasty 宋朝, it says, one day when the Yellow Emperor 黄帝, one of the legendary Chinese sovereigns from 5000 years ago , encountered BaiZe at the East Sea 东海 , who told him about forms, habits and how to overcome the attacks of 11520 supernatural creatures in the world. The Yellow Emperor had all the information written down in the book BaiZeJingGuaiTu 白泽 精怪图. The book was super popular 2000 years ago and almost every family has one. People would follow the instructions in the book as needed to defeat some evil creatures. There are some hand draw pictures from the Tang Dynasty around 1000 years ago exists today.

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Actually we mentioned this book before in our previous episodes when we talked about some mythical creatures for example episode 27 about the ghost bird 姑获鸟. I am sure we will mention this book more in the future since it is an encyclopedia of the supernatural creatures.

Like I said, ancient Chinese people looked up the book when they met some supernatural creatures, they also hang up the pictures from the book on walls or doors to ward off evil spirits. People use the pattern of BaiZe on pillows and on flags in the army. Some people even changed their names to BaiZe. So the mythical creature BaiZe is a symbol of good omen. It is believed that BaiZe knows human languages and is knowledgeable of the nature. In the book SanCaiTuHui 三才图 会from the Ming Dynasty 明朝, it says BaiZe has a lion body, two horns and chin hair of a goat or goatee if you want to call it. Some of the pictures of BaiZe definitely remind people of goats.

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In Japanese mythology, BaiZe know as hakutaku is depicted as a bovine or monstrous feline creature, which is similar to the Chinese image I just mentioned. The creatures had multiple eyes and horns which varies depending on interpretation.

 

Mentioned:

白泽 精 怪图BaiZeJingGuaiTu / 白泽图BaiZeTu

云笈七签 YunJiQiQian

三才图 会SanCaiTuHui

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