The Classic of Mountains and Oceans – Chinese Mythology

Celestial Dog and Sun Eclipse

Beijing sun eclipse 2017

Beijing Sunday morning January 6: the first sun eclipse in 2019

In Chinese mythology, solar eclipse is caused by a vicious and hungry celestial dog who swallows the sun.

A celestial dog

A celestial dog in Chinese mythology

Below is a description about the celestial dog and its eating habit in The Classic of Mountains and Oceans (山海经), an encyclopedia of ancient Chinese mythology about natural landscape compiled during Warring States Era 2,500 years ago: In Yin Mountain, there is a celestial dog with a white head and ferocious nature. (阴山。其中多文贝,有兽焉,曰天狗,其状如狸而白首,其音如榴榴,可以御凶).

Thus in Chinese tradition, the lunar, especially the solar, eclipses are viewed as a sign foreshadowing ill-fated events.

Chinese also discovered the natural cause of solar/lunar eclipses 2,500 years ago, with the earliest Chinese record on solar eclipse dating back to 2,000 BC.

Shi Shen, a Chinese astronomer lived during the Warring States Era and compiled the star catalogues, explained the eclipses were the results of the shadows cast by either the moon or Earth. For commemorating his contribution, crater Shi Shen on the Moon is named after him.

Human Fish Deep in Water

Are there fish with a human head in the deep ocean? According to Danishes, yes. And according to ancient Chinese, the answer is also yes.

The illustration is from the Book of Mountain and Sea (山海经), in which we see a pair of half-human half fish creatures, male and female.

This is an image of a mythical human fish warrior from an artwork produced by an artist of the Han Dynasty (206 bc – 220 ad).

These illustrations of strange ocean creatures appear in Book of Mountain and Sea, compiled between 4th century BC and 2nd century BC.

Strange Creature on Mountains

These images of strange mountain creatures are illustrated in the Book of Mountain and Sea.

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