Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chi You

In Chinese mythology, Chi You is a war deity who fought the Yellow Emperor. For s, Chi You is a sagacious mythical king. Chi You, "txiv yawg" in Hmong, means grandfather.
Chi You is also the god of rain, and a descendant of Shennong, the inventor of agriculture. His appearance is half giant, half bull, with the front of his head covered with iron.


Along with and , Chi You is a deity in Hmong mythology, Chi You was the mythical leader of the , king of , and once a follower of Yan Di. When Huang Di subdued Yan Di, Chi You was weary of the suppression and conspired with Yan Liang, another deity. Soon, Huang Di and Chi You clashed in the Battle of Zhuolu.

According to Chinese legends, Chi You and his people rebelled against Yellow Emperor at Zhuolu plains. Both sides used magical powers, but Chi You had the advantage because his troops were armed with forged swords and halberds. Using his power , Chi You covered the battle field in thick fog. Only with the help of a magical compass chariot could Huang Di's troops could find their way through the mist. He also used his daughter Nü Ba, the Goddess of Drought, to harm Chi You's troops. Later on, Chi You suffered more defeats and was captured. Only Ying Long, the winged dragon, being a brave servant of Huang Di, dared to slay him. Chi You's chains were transformed into acorn trees, while Ying Long was cursed to remain on earth forever.

According to Chinese legend, the people under Chiyou were defeated at Zhuolu by the military unification of Huang Di and Yandi, leaders of the Huaxia tribe as they struggled for supremacy of the Yellow River valley. The compass was believed to be the crucial reason of Huaxia's victory. The battle, believed to be taken place in the 27th century BC, was fought under heavy fog as Huaxia was able to match against Miao with the compass. After the loss, the original tribe split into two smaller splinter tribes, the Miao and the . Miao continuously moving southwest and Li southeast as the Huaxia race, now known as Han Chinese race, expanding southwards. During the course of Chinese history, they were regarded as "barbarians" by the increasingly technologically and culturally advanced Han Chinese. Some fragments of the races were assimilated into the Chinese during .

Yet, in other versions, the people of Jiuli fragmented in 3 different directions. It is said Chiyou had 3 sons, and after the fall of Jiuli, his oldest son led some people south, his middle son led some people north, and his youngest son remained in Zhuolu and assimilated into the Huaxia culture. Those who were led to the south established the San-Miao nation. Perhaps due to this splitting into multiple groups, many Far Eastern people regard Chiyou as their ancestors, and by the same token, many question the ethnicity of Chiyou as exclusively Hmong or otherwise. In some circles of thought, the Koreans also regard Chiyou as an ethnic ancestor. Chiyou is also regarded as one of China's forefathers alongside the ethnic Han ancestors, Huangdi and Yandi.

Other mythology states that Chi You had 81 brothers, and was a grotesque looking creature: he had six arms, four eyes, the head and hooves resembled an ox and his head was made of metal . He only ate stones and pebbles; therefore his teeth were almost unbreakable. One of his achievements was the first use of metal weapons in warfare. He is said to have forged the first swords from bronze or copper. He was violent and no one could defeat him.

Historical records

Across the Eastern Asia, many people had worshipped Chi You as the war guardian deity. According to Chinese history record ''Records of the Grand Historian'', at Chi You's shrine before the last battle against Xiang Yu and won. Joseon Navy Admiral Yi Sun-sin also worshipped Chi Woo, and he has never lost a battle, and thus deemed a hero in the war against Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army during
the during 1592-1598.

Figure in Hwandan Gogi

According to the controversial Korean mythology book ''Hwandan Gogi'' which was first published in 1979 and which says it was compiled and edited by Gye Yeonsoo in 1911 , 'Chiwoo' was 14th Emperor, named Jaoji-Hwanwoong, of the Empire of Baedal, which was to be succeeded by Go-Joseon, as the book says. He ruled the Empire during 109 years. According to these accounts, Emperor Chi-Woo succeeded Emperor Sawara of Baedalguk, the 13th ruler of Baedalguk, at around 41 years of age and is seen today as a great hero who expanded the territory of his empire tremendously, which was said to have reached the Shandong Peninsula area at its greatest extent. During his reign, he was said to have highly advanced the technology of his empire as well. Baedal was said to have possessed catapults, flaming arrows, and bronze swords starting from the reign of Emperor Chi-Woo, while its neighbors were still in the stone age. Chi-Woo was said to have reigned for 109 years, and died at the age of 151. He was good at making weapons such as an arrow, a bow, a spear, an amor and a helmet, and he also could deal with copper and iron. In addition, he united 12 feudal states, and was not defeated for about 70 wars. The books claims that Chiwoo's grave was in present Shandong province of China, and that in every July, the red flag, the symbol of Chi You's army appeared on top of his grave.

According to the same accounts, when Chiwoo became an emperor of Baedalguk, Yoomang , who was a descendant of Shennong, was a king in the nation of Shennong. At that time, the nation of Shennong became powerful because the population had increased so much. Emperor Chiwoo felt surrounded by threats and decided to attack the nation of Shennong, and prepared bows, arrows, spears and swords. Emperor Chiwoo assembled his army of nine grand generals and 81 adjunt generals in , and conquered the troops of Yoomang at Kuhon. Thereafter, Emperor Huangdi heard that Emperor Chiwoo was governing the land of Shennong. Huangdi assembled his troops, and waged war on Emperor Chiwoo and Baedal more than 70 times during ten years. It is said that Emperor Chiwoo defeated Emperor Huangdi in all of the battles except one.

Chiwoo, also called "Chiwoo Cheonwang" in Korea, is the mascot of the Red Devils, the supporters' group to the South Korea national football team. The manhwa ''Heavenly Executioner Chi Woo'' is partly based on the legends about Emperor Chi Woo.


Chang'e, Ch'ang-O or Chang-Ngo , also known as Heng-E or Heng-O , is the goddess of the moon. Unlike many in other cultures who personify the moon, Chang'e only lives on the moon. As the "woman on the Moon", Chang'e could be considered the Chinese complement to the Western notion of a man in the moon. The lunar crater is named after her.

Chang'e is the subject of several legends in Chinese mythology, most of which incorporate several of the following elements: Houyi the Archer, a benevolent or malevolent , an elixir of life, and the moon.


Chang'e and Houyi the Archer

According to legend, Chang'e and her husband Houyi were immortals living in heaven. One day, the ten sons of the Jade Emperor transformed into ten suns, causing the earth to scorch. Having failed to order his sons to stop ruining the earth, the Jade Emperor summoned Houyi for help. Houyi, using his legendary archery skills, shot down nine of the sons, but spared one son to be the sun. The Jade Emperor was obviously not pleased with Houyi's solution to save the earth: nine of his sons were dead. As punishment, the Jade Emperor banished Houyi and Chang'e to live as mere mortals on earth.

Seeing that Chang'e felt extremely miserable over her loss of immortality, Houyi decided to journey on a long, perilous quest to find the pill of immortality so that the couple could be immortals again. At the end of his quest he met the Queen Mother of the West who agreed to give him the pill, but warned him that each person would only need half the pill to become immortal.

Houyi brought the pill home and stored it in a case. He warned Chang'e not to open the case and then left home for a while. Like Pandora in Greek mythology, Chang'e became too curious: she opened up the case and found the pill just as Houyi was returning home. Nervous that Houyi would catch her discovering the contents of the case, she accidentally swallowed the entire pill. She started to float into the sky because of the overdose. Although Houyi wanted to shoot her in order to prevent her from floating further, he could not bear to aim the arrow at her. Chang'e kept on floating until she landed on the moon.

While she became lonely on the moon without her husband, she did have company. A jade rabbit, who manufactured elixirs, also lived on the moon. The mythologies of Japan and Korea also feature references about rabbits living on the moon.

Another companion is the woodcutter Wu Gang. The woodcutter offended the gods in his attempt to achieve immortality and was therefore banished on the moon. Wu Gang was allowed to leave the moon if he could cut down a tree that grew there. The problem was that each time he chopped the tree, the tree would instantly grow back, effectively condemning him to live on the moon for eternity.

Chang'e and Houyi the Archer

Chang'e was a beautiful young girl working in the Jade Emperor's palace in heaven, where immortals, good people and fairies lived. One day, she accidentally broke a precious porcelain jar. Angered, the Jade Emperor banished her to live on earth, where ordinary people lived. She could return to the Heaven, if she contributed a valuable service on earth.

Chang'e was transformed into a member of a poor farming family. When she was 18, a young hunter named Houyi from another village spotted her, now a beautiful young woman. They became friends.

One day, a strange phenomenon occurred -- 10 suns arose in the sky instead of one, blazing the earth. Houyi, an expert archer, stepped forward to try to save the earth. He successfully shot down nine of the suns, becoming an instant hero. He eventually became king and married Chang'e.

But Houyi grew to become a tyrant. He sought immortality by ordering an elixir be created to prolong his life. The elixir in the form of a single pill was almost ready when Chang'e came upon it. She either accidentally or purposely swallowed the pill. This angered King Houyi, who went after his wife. Trying to flee, she jumped out the window of a chamber at the top of palace -- and, instead of falling, she floated into the sky toward the moon.

King Houyi tried to shoot her down with arrows, but without success. Her companion, a rabbit, is constantly pounding the elixir of immortality in a large mortar.

The moon is also inhabited by a woodcutter who tries to cut down the cassia tree, giver of life. But as fast as he cuts into the tree, it heals itself, and he never makes any progress. The Chinese use this image of the cassia tree to explain mortal life on earth -- the limbs are constantly being cut away by death, but new buds continually appear.

Meanwhile, King Houyi ascended to the sun and built a palace. So Chang'e and Houyi came to represent the yin and yang, the moon and the sun.

Chang'e and the Cruel Emperor

Many years after she was already the moon goddess, Chang'e looked down upon Earth and saw that a terribly cruel emperor sat on the throne. To help the people, she allowed herself to be reborn into the mortal world. The other members of her mortal family were either killed or enslaved by the emperor, but Chang'e managed to escape to the countryside.

Meanwhile, the emperor was aging and obsessed with discovering the elixir of life. He had people all over the land brought to him and demanded of them how to find the elixir of life; nobody knew, of course, but the emperor would not accept ignorance for an answer and executed all those who could not answer.

In the countryside, Chang'e met the Buddhist goddess of compassion, Guan Yin, who proceeded to give Chang'e a small elixir. Chang'e brought the elixir to the emperor. The suspicious emperor worried that it was poison and demanded that Chang'e taste the elixir first. She did, showing no ill effects, so then the emperor took the elixir and promptly died. Then, Chang'e also left the mortal world; the effects of the elixir had only been delayed for her. However, instead of dying, she ascended to the moon to retake her place as a goddess.

Chang'e and Houyi the Archer

This version is very similar to Version 1, although in this instance Chang'e is bitter and abusive towards Yi for their exile from heaven. When Houyi obtains the Elixir of Immortality from the Queen Mother of the West, he is told that, if both he and his wife take half of it each, they will avoid death but remain on Earth. He informs Chang'e of this arrangement and trusts her with the knowledge of the Elixir's hiding place and goes out hunting to prepare a feast when they will both take the Elixir. Chang'e, however, is not content to simply avoid death so she swallows the entire Elixir herself and immediately begins to float up to Heaven. En route, she fears the wrath of the other gods for her selfishness in taking the Elixir and floats to the moon instead. Yet another variant of the story ends with Chang'e imprisoned on the moon in the form of a frog by the Queen Mother of the West as punishment for her selfishness.

Worship of Chang'e

On , the fullmoon night of the 8th lunar month, an altar is set up on the open air facing the moon to worship her. New toiletries are put on the altar for Her to bless. She endows her worshippers with beauty.

Literature and adaptation

This story was adapted in 2003 into a Chinese TV period drama titled Moon Fairy, starring Singapore actors Fann Wong and .

Chang'e appears in Wu Cheng'en's novel Journey to the West and also TV adaptions of the novel. Her story slightly changed from her going to the moon on her first try to going to the heavens, and would later be rewarded to live in the moon after an incident which involved her and Zhu Bajie.

The legend of Lady Chang-O plays a prominent role in Amy Tan's children's book, ''The Moon Lady'', retold from her more adult novel The Joy Luck Club.


The moon goddess was mentioned in the conversation between Houston Capcom and Apollo 11 crew just before the first moon landing:
: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning there's one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called ''Chang-o'' has been living there for 4000 years. It seems she was banished to the moon because she stole the pill for immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is only standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not recorded.

: Okay, we'll keep a close eye for the bunny girl.

In 2007, China launched its first lunar probe, named Chang'e 1 in the goddess's honour.

In Mother's Agenda The Mother tells that Chinese are originally from the moon, which they had to leave when the planet started to die. One may suggest that there are links between this and Chang'e legend.


Cangjie is a legendary figure in ancient China , claimed to be an official historian of the Yellow Emperor and the inventor of Chinese characters. Legend has it that he had four eyes and , and that when he invented the characters, the deities and ghosts cried and the sky rained millet. He is considered a legendary figure rather than a historical figure, or at least, not considered to be sole inventor of Chinese characters. The Cangjie method, a Chinese character input method, is named after him. A rock on Mars, visited by the Mars rover , was named after him by the rover team.

Legend of character creation

Shortly after unifying China, the Yellow Emperor, being terribly dissatisfied with his "rope knot tying" method of recording information, charges Cangjie with the task of creating characters for writing. Cangjie then settles down on the bank of a river, and devotes himself to the completion of the task at hand. After devoting much time and effort, however, he's unable to create even one character. One day, Cangjie suddenly sees a phoenix flying in the sky above, carrying an object in its beak. The object falls to the ground directly in front of Cangjie, and he discovers it to be an impression of a hoof-print. Not being able to recognize which animal the print belonged to, he asked for the help of a local hunter passing by on the road. The hunter told him that this was, without a doubt, the hoof-print of a , being different from the hoof-print of any other beast alive. His conversation with the hunter greatly inspired Cangjie, leading him to believe that if he could capture in a drawing the special characteristics that set apart each and every thing on the earth, this would truly be the perfect kind of character for writing. From that day forward, Cangjie paid close attention to the characteristics of all things, including the sun, moon, stars, clouds, lakes, oceans, as well as all manner of bird and beast. He began to create characters according to the special characteristics he found, and before long, had compiled a long list of characters for writing. To the delight of the Yellow Emperor, Cangjie presented him with the complete set of characters. The emperor then called the premiers of each of the nine provinces together in order for Cangjie to teach them this new writing system. Monuments and temples were erected in Cangjie's honor on the bank of the river where he created these characters.

Cai Shen

Cai Shen is the Chinese god of prosperity. He can be referred to as Zhao Gongming or Bi Gan. Though Cai Shen started as a Chinese folk hero, later deified and venerated by local followers and admirers, Taoism and Pure Land Buddhism also came to venerate him as a god.

Cai Shen's name is often invoked during the Chinese New Year celebrations. He is often depicted riding a black Tiger and holding a golden rod. He may also be depicted armed with any one of several iron weapons.

Several versions of Cai Shen's political affiliation and subsequent deification are circulated. It is unclear whether he is a genuine historical figure, though the vast majority of stories agree that Cai Shen lived during the early Qin Dynasty. It is believed that Bi Gan had a wife with the surname Chen , or Chan in Cantonese. His son is Quan . After Bi Gan was assassinated, his wife and son escaped into the woods. His death eventually marked the collapse of the Shang Dynasty. Later on, Quan was honoured as the ancestor of all by Zhou Wu Wang.


Budai or Budai Luohan, pronounced Hotei in , also known as the ''Laughing Buddha'', is an interpretation of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, the predicted Buddha to succeed Gautama Buddha in the future.

He has become incorporated into Buddhist, and Shinto culture and is based on an eccentric Chinese Zen monk who lived in the time of the Liang Dynasty. His image graces many temples, restaurants, amulets, and businesses. Budai has become a deity of contentment and abundance, when adopted by religious and Buddhists. In Japan, Hotei persists in folklore as one of the Seven Lucky Gods . He is almost always shown smiling or laughing, hence his nickname in Chinese, the "Laughing Buddha" .


As Angida Arhat

Budai derives from the time of Sakyamuni Buddha, where there was a monk named ''Angida'', whose name also meant ''calico bag''. Angida was one of the original eighteen Arhats of Buddhism. According to legend, Angida was a talented Indian snake catcher whose aim was to catch venomous snakes to prevent them from biting passers-by. Angida would also remove the snake's venomous fangs and release them. Due to his kindness, he was able to attain bodhi. Both Budai and Angida have similar resemblances, as they both are rotund, seen laughing and carrying a bag, However, in Chinese art, Angida is portrayed as Budai, so it may be unclear whether the imagery between the two are similar in any way.

As a Chinese Buddhist monk

In the Chinese tradition, Budai was a monk who lived during the Later Liang Dynasty of China. He was a native of Fenghua, and his Buddhist name was Qieci . He was considered a man of good and loving character. Apart from his character, his identification with the Maitreya Bodhisattva is also attributed to a Buddhist hymn he uttered before his death:


::''Maitreya, the true Maitreya
::''has billions of incarnations.
::''Often he is shown to people at the time;
::''other times they do not recognize him.


Budai is almost always represented as carrying a cloth or linen sack, which never empties, and is filled with many precious items, including rice plants , sweets for children, food, small mammals, and the woes of the world. Sometimes it can be filled with children, as they are seen as some of those precious items of this world. His duty is patron of the weak, the poor and children. In some Japanese representations, Budai may be found sitting on a cart drawn by boys, or wielding a fan called an ''ōgi'' .

In Chinese Buddhist temples of the Chán sect, Budai's statue is traditionally placed in the front part of the entrance hall. He is depicted in the familiar likeness of the above described Laughing Buddha; a stout, smiling or laughing shaved man in robes with a largely exposed pot belly stomach symbolic for happiness, good luck, and plenitude.

Some sculptures have small children at his feet. Another item that is usually seen with the Budai figure, is a begging bowl; to represent his Buddhist nature. All of these images display Budai as a wandering monk who goes around and takes the sadness from people of this world. Because he represents prosperity and happiness, statuettes are often found in homes and businesses in China and Japan.

Faiths that revere Budai

Zen Buddhism

The primary story that concerns Budai in Zen is a short kōan. In it, Budai is said to travel giving candy to poor children, only asking a penny from Zen monks or lay practitioners he meets. One day a monk walks up to him and asks, "What is the meaning of Zen?" Budai drops his bag. "How does one realize Zen?" he continued. Budai then took up his bag and continued on his way.

I Kuan Tao

Statues of Budai form a central part of shrines in the I Kuan Tao. He is usually referred to by his Sanskrit name, Maitreya, and is taken to represent many important teachings and messages, including contentment, generosity, wisdom and open kindheartedness. He is predicted to succeed Gautama Buddha, as the next . He helps people realize the essence within, which connects with all beings. and he fosters the realization of tolerance, generosity and contentment; thus, he helps to bring heaven to earth.

Phra Sangkadchai/ Phra Sangkachai

In Thailand Budai is sometimes confused with another similar monk widely respected in Thailand, Phra Sangkadchai or Sangkachai . ''Phra Sangkadchai'', a Thai spelling of Mahakaccayanathera , was a Buddhist Arhat or Arahant during the time of the Lord . Lord Buddha praised ''Phra Sangkadchai'' for his excellence in explaining sophisticated dharma in an easily and correctly understandable manner. ''Phra Sangkadchai'' also composed the Madhupinadika Sutra.

One tale relates that he was so handsome that once even a man wanted him for a wife. To avoid a similar situation, ''Phra Sangkadchai'' decided to transform himself into a fat monk. Another tale says he was so attractive that angels and men often compared him with the . He considered this inappropriate, so disguised himself in an unpleasantly fat body.

Although both Budai and Phra Sangkadchai may be found in both Thai and Chinese temples, Phra Sangkadchai is found more often in Thai temples, and Budai in Chinese temples. Two points to distinguish them from one another are:

1. Phra Sangkadchai has a trace of hair on his head while Budai is clearly bald.

2. Phra Sangkadchai wears the robes in Theravadin Buddhist fashion with the robes folded across one shoulder, leaving the other uncovered. Budai wears the robes in Chinese style, covering both arms but leaving the front part of the upper body uncovered.


Budai in folklore is admired for his happiness, plenitude, and wisdom of contentment. One belief, popular in folklore not Buddhist doctrine, maintains that rubbing his belly brings forth wealth, good luck, and prosperity.

Black Tortoise

The Black Tortoise is one of the of the Chinese constellations. The word for "tortoise" was taboo; and the entire entity is not just the tortoise itself, but both the tortoise and the snake. It is sometimes called the Black Warrior of the North , and it represents the north and the winter season. Although its name in , ''Xuánwǔ'', is often translated as ''Black Tortoise'' in , it is usually depicted as both a tortoise and a snake, specifically with the snake coiling around the tortoise.

The Seven Mansions of the Black Tortoise

Like the other Four Symbols, the Black Tortoise corresponds to seven "mansions", or positions, of the moon.


In ancient China, the tortoise and the snake were thought to be spiritual creatures symbolising longevity. During the Han Dynasty, people often wore jade pendants that were in the shape of tortoises. Because of ancient Chinese influence on Japan, honorific titles and badges in Japan often referred to the tortoise or images of tortoises.

Historic Reference

In the classic novel, Journey to the West, '''' was a king of the north who had two generals serving under him, a "Tortoise General" and a "Snake General." This king had a temple at Wudang Mountains in Hubei, thus there is a "Tortoise Mountain" and a "Snake Mountain" on the opposite sides of a river in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei.

In legend it was said that ''Xuánwǔ'' was the prince of a Chinese Emperor. However, he was not interested in taking the throne, but decided to study in Tao's way. At age 15, he left his parents to search for enlightenment in Tao's way. It was said that he eventually achieved god status and was worshipped as a god of northern sky.

Other Chinese legends also speak of how the "Tortoise General" and a "Snake General" came to be. During ''Xuánwǔ's '' study to achieve enlightenment and god status he was told that in order to fully achieve god status, he must purge all ''humanly'' flesh from his body. Since he was born he had been eating the food of the world, humanly food, therefore his stomach and intestines were still human. Legend told of an event that a god came and ''changed'' out his human stomach and intestines for a godly body so he could fully achieve god status. The stomach and intestines taken out by the god whom did the surgery on ''Xuánwǔ'' were said to have taken on the shape of a tortoise and a snake . As many Chinese legends speak of certain animals becoming demons over time as they gain knowledge, that's what the tortoise and snake became, and terrorized people. As ''Xuánwǔ'', now in his god status, heard of this, he came and slayed ''the demons from his past''. However, he did not kill them, as the snake and tortoise demons showed remorse. He let them train under him and atone for their wrong doings, and they became the "Tortoise General" and "Snake General", and they assisted ''Xuánwǔ'' with his quests.


Bashe was a python-like giant snake that ate elephants.


The term ''bashe'' ''ba'' "a proper name; tip, tail; crust; greatly desire; cling to; be near" and ''she'' "snake; serpent".

The Chinese character 巴 for ''ba'' was graphically simplified from ancient Oracle bone script and Seal script pictograms of a long-tailed snake. In early Written Chinese usage, ''ba'' 巴 frequently referred to the Zhou Dynasty state of , which was located in present-day eastern Sichuan. In modern Standard Mandarin usage, ''ba'' 巴 often transcribes foreign loanwords such as ''ba'' 巴 "bar ", ''Bali'' 巴黎 "Paris", or ''Guba'' 古巴 "Cuba". ''Ba'' 巴 is a variant Chinese character for ''ba'' 把 "grasp; handle", ''ba'' 笆 "bamboo; fence", or ''ba'' 芭 in ''bajiao'' 芭蕉 "banana" .

''Bashe'' not only names this mythical giant reptile or Chinese dragon but is also a variant Chinese name for the South Asian ''ran'' or ''mang'' "" . "Mythical draconyms often derive from names of larger reptilians", says Carr and, "Since pythons usually crush their prey and swallow them whole, one can imagine Chinese tales about southern ''ran'' 蚺 'pythons' being exaggerated into legendarily-constipated ''bashe'' 'giant snakes' that ate an elephant every three years." In literary usage, ''bashe'' is found in the four-character idiom ''bashetuxiang'' 巴蛇吞象 meaning "inordinately greedy; extremely insatiable".

Early textual occurrences

The earliest references to the legendary ''bashe'' 巴蛇 are in the ''Chuci'' and ''Shanhaijing'', two Chinese classic texts containing Warring States period materials compiled during the Han Dynasty .

The ''Chuci'' is an anthology of Chinese poems from the southern state of , and it mentions ''bashe'' in the ''Tianwen'' 天問 "Heavenly Questions" section. The preeminent ''Chuci'' translator describes the ''Tianwen'' as a "somewhat odd combination of archaic riddles with questions of a speculative or philosophical nature" and believes "it started as an ancient, priestly riddle-text which was rewritten and greatly enlarged by a secular poet". This mythological questionnaire asks.
Where are the hornless dragons which carry bears on their backs for sport? Where is the great serpent with nine heads and where is the Shu Hu? Where is it that people do not age? Where do giants live? Where is the nine-branched weed? Where is the flower of the Great Hemp? How does the snake that can swallow an elephant digest its bones?

The ''Shanhaijing'' is an ancient Chinese mytho-geography. Chapter 10, the "''Haineinan jing''" 海內南經 "Classic of Regions within the Seas: South" describes a legendary land where ''bashe'' lived.
The Big Snake eats elephants and after three years it disgorges their bones. Gentlemen take a dose of this snake so that they will never have heart disease or illnesses of the belly. The snakes of Bigsnake country are green, or yellow, or scarlet, or black. One author says the black snakes have a green head. The land of Bigsnake lies west of Rhinoceros country.

The ''Shanhaijing'' commentary by Guo Pu compares the ''ba'' snake with the southern ''ran'' 蚺 "python", which after eating a large animal can wind around a tree trunk and expel the bones from between its scales, and notes they could grow up to a length of 100 ''xun'' . Guo's commentary likewise notes this exaggerated length for the ''changshe'' 長蛇 "long snake" that the ''Shanhaijing'' locates on Daxian 大咸 Mountain "Mount Bigwhole" ; "There is a snake here named the long-snake; its hair is like pig bristles. It makes a noise like a nightwatchman banging his rattle."

The 1578 CE ''Bencao Gangmu'' entry for ''ranshe'' 蚺蛇 "python" mentions the ''bashe''.
The ''Shan-Hai-Ching'' says that pythons can eat elephants, the bones of which they emit every three years. Gentlemen who take these bones as medicine never suffer from heart or visceral ailments. They are referred to as ''Pa She'', that is the great snake.

Compare how the ''Shanhaijing'' description of the ''ba''-snake's sympathetic magic is interpereted as eating the snake or eating the undigested elephant bones . This materia medica lists uses for python bile, flesh, fat, teeth, and oil. The ''Bencao Gangmu'' says pythons can reach lengths of 50-60 ''chi'' ; but Python molurus grow up to 5.8 meters and Python reticulatus 9.2 meters.

The Chinese folklore scholar Wolfram Eberhard links ''bashe'' with the legendary archer Houyi 后翌 who descended from heaven to destroy evildoers. One of Houyi's victims was a monstrous serpent in Lake Dongting, the ''xiushe'' 修蛇 "adorned/long snake" . Eberhard concludes giant snakes such as the ''xiushe'', ''bashe'', and ''ranshe'' "were typical for the South", but were not part of a snake cult like those among the ancient Yue .