Bingfeng

Variations: Ping-feng, Pingpeng, Chuti/Ch’ou-t’i

Bingfeng final

The Bingfeng is an odd creature from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas. It looks like a black pig with an elongate, tubular body, and it has two heads, one at each end. It may be found in the land of Shaman Xian. Borges, who referred to it as the Ping-feng and sourced it from the T’ai Kuang Chi, located it in the land of Magical Water.

Guo Pu speculated that the presence of two heads would have made the bingfeng extremely stubborn. Wen Yiduo, on the other hand, believed the heads were symbolic of hermaphroditism, representing the separate sexes.

A number of other two-headed Chinese animals have been recorded, but they have not been described in much detail. Their symbolism is assumed to be the same.

The Pingpeng, found on the mountain of Aoaoju in the Great Wilds to the West, is very similar but has two heads left and right, instead of front and back. It is probably the same animal as the Bingfeng.

The Chuti, or Ch’ou-t’i according to Borges, is found in the Great Wilds to the South between the Red River and the Desert of Shifting Sands. It also has two heads left and right, and is depicted with doglike features.

References

Borges, J. L.; trans. Hurley, A. (2005) The Book of Imaginary Beings. Viking.

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

Dijiang

Variations: Ti-chiang

Dijiang

The divine bird known as Dijiang, the “Thearch Long River”, was like a yellow sack with an aura of cinnabar; Borges, calling it the Ti-chiang, described it as bright red. It had six legs and four wings, but no eyes or facial features of any kind, living in a perpetual state of confusion. It was also fond of singing and dancing.

This “state of confusion” led to the association of Dijiang with Hundun, a being of cosmic chaos. The undifferentiated Hundun had no eyes, ears, mouth, or orifices of any sort, and died when his guests tried to drill openings in his body.

Dijiang’s description can be found in the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas, where it is located in the Celestial Mountain along with large quantities of metal and jade. Borges attributes it to the T’ai Kuang Chi.

The four wings and six legs, as well as the lack of apparent head, suggest a magnified insect of some sort.

References

Borges, J. L.; trans. Hurley, A. (2005) The Book of Imaginary Beings. Viking.

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.