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Myths and Legends of China

Page: 82

Fei Lien is elsewhere described as a dragon who was originally one of the wicked ministers of the tyrant Chou, and could walk with unheard-of swiftness. Both he and his son Ô Lai, who was so strong that he could tear a tiger or rhinoceros to pieces with his hands, were killed when in the service of Chou Wang. Fei Lien is also said to have the body of a stag, about the size of a leopard, with a bird’s head, horns, and a serpent’s tail, and to be able to make the wind blow whenever he wishes.

The Master of Rain

Yü Shih, the Master of Rain, clad in yellow scale-armour, with a blue hat and yellow busby, stands on a cloud and from a watering-can pours rain upon the earth. Like many other gods, however, he is represented in various forms. Sometimes he holds a plate, on which is a small dragon, in his left hand, while with his right he pours down the rain. He is obviously the Parjanya of Vedism.

According to a native account, the God of Rain is one Ch’ih Sung-tzŭ, who appeared during a terrible drought in the reign of Shên Nung (2838–2698 B.C.), and owing to his reputed magical power was requested by the latter to bring rain from the sky. “Nothing is easier,” he replied; “pour a bottleful of water into an earthen bowl and give it to me.” This being done, he plucked from a neighbouring mountain a branch of a tree, soaked it in the water, and with it sprinkled the earth. Immediately clouds gathered and rain fell in torrents, filling the rivers to overflowing. Ch’ih Sung-tzŭ was then honoured as the God of Rain, and his images show him holding the Page 206mystic bowl. He resides in the K’un-lun Mountains, and has many extraordinary peculiarities, such as the power to go through water without getting wet, to pass through fire without being burned, and to float in space.

This Rain-god also assumes the form of a silkworm chrysalis in another account. He is there believed to possess a concubine who has a black face, holds a serpent in each hand, and has other serpents, red and green, reposing on her right and left ears respectively; also a mysterious bird, with only one leg, the


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