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Myths and Legends of China

Page: 98

The Ministry of Fire

The celestial organization of Fire is the fifth Ministry, and is presided over by a President, Lo Hsüan, whose titular designation is Huo-tê Hsing-chün, ‘Stellar Sovereign of the Fire-virtue,’ with five subordinate ministers, four of whom are star-gods, and the fifth a “celestial prince who receives fire”: Chieh-huo T’ien-chün. Like so many other Chinese deities, the five were all ministers of the tyrant emperor Chou.

It is related that Lo Hsüan was originally a Taoist priest known as Yen-chung Hsien, of the island Huo-lung, ‘Fire-dragon.’ His face was the colour of ripe fruit of the jujube-tree, his hair and beard red, the former done up in the shape of a fish-tail, and he had three eyes. He wore a red cloak ornamented with the pa kua; his horse snorted flames from its nostrils and fire darted from its hoofs.

While fighting in the service of the son of the tyrant emperor, Lo Hsüan suddenly changed himself into a giant with three heads and six arms. In each of his hands he held a magic weapon. These were a seal which reflected the heavens and the earth, a wheel of the five fire-dragons, a gourd containing ten thousand fire-crows, and, in the other hands, two swords which floated like smoke, and a column of smoke several thousands of li long enclosing swords of fire.


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