Chouyu

Variations: Jiuyu, Jiyu

The slopes of Exceedingly Lofty Mountain in China are home to the Chouyu. It is like a rabbit but has a bird’s beak, owl’s eyes, and the tail of a snake. It falls asleep (i.e. plays dead) when it sees people. If a chouyu is seen it is an omen of a locust plague.

Mathieu identifies this animal as the armadillo, but admits with impressive understatement that China is a bit far from the neotropics…

References

Mathieu, R. (1983) Étude sur la mythologie et l’ethnologie de la Chine ancienne. Collège de France, Paris.

Strassberg, R. E. (2002) A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas. University of California Press.

7 Comments

  1. The Guangyun Dictionary states that the Chou-yu: “Resembles a fish, with a snake’s tail and pig’s eyes, fakes death when encountering humans.” No wonder by the late Qing Dynasty, when China opened up contact with foreign nations, translators were identifying the Armadillo with the Chou-yu. Fish scales? Long tail? Long ears? Curls up when in danger? Fellahs, we have ourselves a Chou-yu!

    Liked by 1 person

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