Chi You 蚩尤.jpg

The deity Chi You was the leader of the Jiu Li Tribe (九黎部落 jiǔ lí bù luò) in ancient times, he was a skilled weapon smith and master of war.

There are many different accounts of what Chi You actually looked like. In some versions he has eight bull-like legs, three heads and six arms, a copper head and an iron forehead. In other versions he only has two legs, one head, four eyes, and four arms. Some also describe him as having the head of a bull and a pair of wings. All accounts, however, agree that he had horns on his head and that he was virtually invulnerable (刀枪不入 dāo qiāng bù rù – neither sword or spear could penetrate him).

As a master weapon smith, Chi You was an expert with the sword, axe, and Ge (戈 gē) – an ancient Chinese weapon, similar to a halberd, but better described as a dagger-axe. He was renowned for his bravery and unwillingness to give up without a fight.  

Chi You, Yan Di and the Yellow Emperor

According to legend, after Chi You defeated Yan Di (炎帝 yán dì) in the battle of Ban Quan (阪泉之战 bǎn quán zhī zhàn), Yan Di formed an alliance with the Yellow Emperor (黄帝 huáng dì) to take Chi You down together. After an epic battle in Zhou Lu (涿鹿 zhuō lù) where Chi You lead 81 of his brethren to fight, Chi You was finally defeated.

“81 brethren” is said to represent 81 different factions or tribes, or, 81 brethren that were all extraordinary, brave and powerful fighters - each with a copper head and iron forehead.

Chi You 蚩尤 (chī yóu)
Status: Deity
Gender: Male
Pronunciation: (audio file coming soon)
Best known for: Master of war

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As the battle raged the skies grew dark, no light came from the Sun or Moon, and the rivers filled with the blood of the fallen. The Yellow Emperor cut off Chi You’s head and buried it with the body out of respect for his worthy adversary. He bestowed the title of “Master Soldier,” or “God of War” to Chi You, and placed Chi You’s image on his army’s banners to remind his soldiers to be brave in battle. The area around Chi You’s burial site is said to have grown into a blood-maple forest.  

In another version of the story, the Yellow Emperor painted Chi You’s likeness on his banners to make other would-be enemies believe that Chi You had surrendered to him and was now leading his armies.

In another version, the Yellow Emperor performs numerous unspeakable acts on the corpse of Chi You after he has been slain.  

And in another version, the Yellow Emperor ordered Ying Long (应龙 yīng lóng) to fight alongside them, and it was Ying Long that finally defeated Chi You.


Chi You and His Fallen Brethren

According to legend, thousands of years ago, Chi You led his troops to fight with so many hostile tribes that the fields were covered in corpses and the rivers flowed blood-red. After one particular battle, Chi You and his troops were forced to retreat. As his soldiers carried away the wounded, Chi You decided he could not leave his fallen brethren on the battlefield. He commanded his troops to use their magic to reanimate the dead and send them back to their hometowns for proper burial.

After performing a ritual on the battlefield, all the corpses stood up - Jiang Shi (僵尸 jiāng shī) - and began making their way southward in unison. They used magic (五更大雾 wǔ gēng dà wù) to fog the minds of oncoming enemies, giving the dead and the living a chance to escape.