On our second meeting we talked about history of ancient China, dynasties, leaders and myths. Yu told me fascinating stories about dragons and other mythical creatures. It is a fact that Chinese myths are a way cooler than our stories about Väinämöinen or elves…
I learned that in the ancient Chinese astronomy the sky was divided into four section. Each of these four sections is assigned to a mythological creature also known as Four Symbols. The mythological creature in the East is The Azure Dragon. It is the head of the Four Symbols and its element is wood (usually Chinese dragons are associated with water). Dragons are not only fearsome and mighty animals but they are also believed to be just, benevolent and bringers of good fortune and wealth. The White Tiger is a protector and a defender. Its element is metal and it corresponds to the season of autumn whereas The Azure Dragon corresponds to the spring. The White Tiger is the mythological creature in the West.
In the North the mythical creature is The Black Tortoise and in the South it is The Vermillion Bird. The Black tortoise corresponds to winter and its element is water whereas The Vermillion Bird corresponds to summer and fire. The Red Vermillion is quite similar with the phoenix, they are look-a-like and both are considered as a symbol of fire. The Black Tortoise is a symbol of longevity and wisdom. One interesting thing in The Black Tortoise is that its tail is actually a snake.
Yin yang is a world widely known symbol, a circle which is divided into two sections. The black section is called yin and the white is yang. The really short explanation what yin yang symbolises is following: everything in universe is constant and cyclical. One force dominates for a while until the opposing force replaces it. This activity repeats itself over and over again. Yin and yang are opposing forces and represents different things but when put together they symbolises harmony and balance in the universe. Those two forces are constantly interacting and they exist everywhere being the basis of life.
So I learned quite a lot about Chinese myths and philosophies. A lot more than I manage to write here. It was so intriguing to hear these stories from Yu. Mostly because in our culture this kind of myths hardly exists. Also knowledge about ones past is the key to understanding the current functioning of society and human behaviour.