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Myths and Legends of China

Page: 79

t’ien kan, indicating the cardinal points and the intermediate points, north-east, north-west, south-east, and south-west. The four cardinal points are further verified with the aid of the Five Elements, the Five Colours, and the Eight Trigrams. By using this device, it is possible to find the geographical position of T’ai Sui during the current year, the position of threatened districts, and the methods to be employed to provide against danger. Wên Chung, Minister of Thunder

Wên Chung, Minister of Thunder

His origin is ascribed to a man named Wên Chung, generally known as Wên Chung T’ai-shih, ‘the Great Page 199Teacher Wên Chung,’ He was a minister of the tyrant king Chou (1154–1122 B.C.), and fought against the armies of the Chou dynasty. Being defeated, he fled to the mountains of Yen, Yen Shan, where he met Ch’ih Ching-tzu, one of the alleged discoverers of fire, and joined battle with him; the latter, however, flashed his yin-yang mirror at the unicorn, and put it out of action. Lei Chên-tzu, one of Wu Wang’s marshals, then struck the animal with his staff, and severed it in twain.

Wên Chung escaped in the direction of the mountains of Chüeh-lung Ling, where another marshal, Yün Chung-tzu, barred his way. Yün’s hands had the power of producing lightning, and eight columns of mysterious fire suddenly came out of the earth, completely enveloping Wên Chung. They were thirty feet high and ten feet in circumference. Ninety fiery dragons came out of each and flew away up into the air. The sky was like a furnace, and the earth shook with the awful claps of thunder. In this fiery prison Wên Chung died.

When the new dynasty finally proved victorious, Chiang Tzu-ya, by order of Yüan-shih T’ien-tsun, conferred on Wên Chung the supreme direction of the Ministry of Thunder, appointing him celestial prince and plenipotentiary defender of the laws governing the distribution of clouds and rain. His full title was Celestial and Highly-honoured Head of the Nine Orbits of the Heavens, Voice of the Thunder, and Regulator of the Universe. His birthday is celebrated on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth moon.

The Duke of Thunder

The Spirit of Thunder, for whom Lei Tsu is often mistaken, is represented as an ugly, black, bat-winged Page 200demon, with clawed feet, monkey’s head, and eagle’s beak, who holds in one hand a steel chisel, and in the other a spiritual hammer, with which he beats numerous drums strung about him, thus producing the terrific noise of thunder. According to Chinese reasoning it is the sound of these drums, and not the lightning, which causes death.


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