Nezha is often depicted flying in the sky with a wheel of fire under each foot, a golden hoop, the "cosmic ring", around his shoulder and a spear in his hands. Sometimes he is given multiple arms. Nezha is usually depicted as a youth and rarely as an adult.
As the third son of a military commander called , a military leader in Chentangguan Fortress, his birth was peculiar. When his mother Lady Yin got pregnant, she waited for three years and six months to deliver the boy, but unfortunately a ball of flesh was born. His father got so angry that he split it with a sword, which caused Nezha to jump out and grow fully, even though his mind and temperament were that of a child.
After he killed , a yaksha, and Ao Bing, the third son of Dragon King Ao Guang, Nezha flayed and disemboweled himself in order to save his parents that were taken hostage by Ao Guang, but was brought back to life by his master, Taiyi Zhenren, a Taoist immortal sage who used lotus blossoms to reconstruct a body for his soul to inhabit.
Nezha's two elder brothers are also powerful warriors. The eldest is Jinzha , who is a disciple of Manjusri Bodhisattva, and the second eldest is , a disciple of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.
Some traced his origins to the god Nalakuvara, and legend goes that he was born in the Shang dynasty.
Appearance in ancient Chinese mythology and literature
Nezha has frequently appeared in Chinese Mythology and ancient Chinese Literature such as the ''Fengshen Yanyi'' , although the story of ''Nezha conquering the sea'' is the most famous among Chinese households. In ''Journey to the West'', Nezha was a general under the leadership of his father Li Jing. He entered into combat against Sun Wukong when the latter rebelled against the Jade Emperor, ruler of Heaven, but Nezha was beaten by Sun Wukong and had to retreat.
The story of Nezha has been made into several animated films. One of the most well-known is the 1979 production of ''Nezha Nao Hai'' , translated into English on the recent DVD release as ''Nezha Conquers the Dragon King'', which won international award and recognition in the former USSR.
In the Chinese VCD, Nezha is shown with fire wheels, a red ribbon, and a golden ring.
Also, Nezha appears in the popular Japanese manga/anime series '''' as Nataku, a half-mortal war god who won the then-divine Son Goku 's friendship. Unfortunately, Nataku falls into a catactonic state and sits in the divine garden of heaven with only the Goddess of Mercy to keep him company staring blankly ahead for all time. In the series, Nataku is decidedly more somber than Goku and is resigned to being a puppet to the Gods. Furthermore, Nataku goes by a different title, but his background is still very much the same--right down to a Commander father and spear weapon. Nataku's father however, is then lectured by the past reincarnation of and further mis-treatment of his son is then yet to be seen in the series.
In the anime series Gundam Wing, Meilan Long, Chang Wufei's wife, insists on calling herself Nataku . After her death, Wufei would give his mobile suits, the and Gundams the nickname Nataku in her honor.
In the manga/anime series '''', one of the is named Nataku after the god. A genderless clone with the body of an adult and a childlike mentality, Nataku is presumed by its creators to be soulless and without emotions, though its actions prove otherwise.
Nezha, renamed Nata, appeared in the animated version of Monkey Magic as the main character's first major opponent. In this version Nezha was defeated more by trickery than power or skill.