Fu Xi 伏羲.jpg

Fu Xi, or Qing Di (青帝 qīng dì) as he is oftened referred to, is one of the most powerful and ancient deities in Chinese mythology. He is "the Father," and his twin sister, and wife, Nü Wa (女娲 nǚ wā), is "the Mother." Together they created mankind from the clay, and after Nü Wa saved mankind - their children - from extinction by repairing the whole in the sky created by Gong Gong (共工 gòng gōng) after he was defeated by Zhu Rong (祝融 zhù róng), Nü Wa returned to Heaven (a nice way to say she died) leaving Fu Xi to care for their children alone.  

Like his sister, Fu Xi is said to be half human, half serpant, however, unlike his sister who is always depicted as such, Fu Xi is often portrayed as a wise old man wearing animal skin or long yellow robes. And more often than not, Fu Xi is shown holding the Eight Trigrams (八卦 bā guà):


The Eight Trigrams and Long Ma

Fu Xi led his people to the Yellow River (黄河 huáng hé) where they lived a simple life, not worrying about (or even aware of) time, hunting when hungry, and drinking when thirsty. However, when times were hard and food was scarce, he couldn't help but pity his children as they suffered from hunger. He longed to find a way to ensure they would never go hungry again. 

For the next part of this story, there are two widely accepted versions:

Fu Xi 伏羲 (fú xī)
Status: God/Deity
Gender: Male
Pronunciation: (audio file coming soon)
Best known for: Father of Mankind

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1. Every now and again, a large beast would rise out of the river and fly away, creating huge waves that would harm Fu Xi's people. After a few occurences, Fu Xi decided if it appeared again, he would subdue the beast and make sure it never harmed them again. The next time it rose from the river Fu Xi attacked. They fought in the river for seven days and seven nights until Fu Xi was finally able to overcome the beast. As he held it down he noticed that the beast had the body of a horse, and the head, scales and claws of a dragon. After further inspection he noticed there was a pattern on it's back unlike anything he had ever seen. The beast became known as a Long Ma (龙马 lóng mǎ) - literally a "dragon-horse" - and the pattern would soon become known as a Bagua.

2. One day, when Fu Xi was fishing in the river, the water began to rise in an unnatural manner. There, in the middle of the river, Fu Xi noticed a beast appearing from beneath the water with the body of a horse, the head of a dragon, and a large pair of wings. The beast stood on the water and walked slowly towards Fu Xi. It raised its head as if out of respect for him then turned to one side. Fu Xi examined the beast and noticed a pattern on its side, unlike anything he had ever seen. He memorised the patterns, and when he was finished, the beast raised it's two front legs in the air, threw back its head, and flew off into the sky. 

Fu Xi picked up a twig and drew the pattern into the clay on the riverbed. He stared at the pattern for days on end trying desparately to understand their meaning. Then, one day, it came to him. The lines in the pattern started to make sense. What he saw was patterns of changes in the universe, from which he could predict the future. He named the pattern Bagua.

These days the Bagua, or Eight Trigrams, is used as an ancient divination tool in Feng Shui (风水 fēng shuǐ) - the art of placement to balance the elements in a given space - and is also used in many other disiplines such as astronomy, astrology, geography, geomancy, anatomy (Chinese Medicine), and elsewhere. It is said to be able to tell the future of everything and holds the key to the secrets of the universe.


Fu Xi Teaches His People to Fish

As Fu Xi's children multiplied, the world became a more lively and vibrant place. Other encampments started to form along the river, his people were thriving. However, without a sustainable food source, Fu Xi came to realise that they would always be facing hardship. He saw his children and grandchildren suffering, he worried that some would starve to death.

Fu Xi felt very sad. He thought about it for three days and three nights, but he could not think of a way to solve the problem. Then, on the fourth day, he walked aimlessly into the river and started wandering around, trying desparately to think of a solution. As he walked, he lifted his head and saw a carp jumping up from the water. After a while, another carp jumped up; and another a moment later. He thought to himself, "these carps are big and fat, wouldn't they be good to eat?" And with that, he made up his mind and dove down into the river to catch a fish, and without much effort at all, he caught a carp. Fu Xi was overjoyed and took the fish home.

When Fu Xi's children and grandchildren saw that he had caught a fish, they ran happily over to him and began asking all sorts of questions. Fu Xi ripped the fish into pieces and handed them out, everyone thought it tasted good. Fu Xi said to them, "Since the fish is edible, we will start catching fish in the future, so as to help nourish our lives." Of course, the children and grandchildren agreed, and they all ran into the river to catch fish. After an entire afternoon of trying, almost everyone caught one, some caught three or four. Everyone was overjoyed and took the fish back home to enjoy a good meal. Everyone slept on a full stomach that night. Fu Xi sent word to people living in other places, telling them all to catch fish to eat.

After only three days, all of Fu Xi's children had learned how to catch fish.

But the road to happiness is strewn with setbacks. On the third day, the Dragon King (龙王 lóng wáng) suddenly appeared with his Prime Minister, a tortoise, to intervene. He said to Fu Xi in a vicious voice, "Who told you you could catch fish? How dare so many of you feast upon my children and grandchildren? Return them to me now!"

Fu Xi was not frightened by the Dragon King. He asked the Dragon King confidently, "If you tell us we cannot catch fish, what are we supposed to eat?"

The Dragon King replied angrily: "What you eat instead is none of my concern. I will not allow you to catch anymore fish!"

Fu Xi said, "Okay, if you won't allow us to catch fish, we will stop. And when we get hungry, we will have no choice but to drink your water. We will drink all the water in all the rivers and oceans until there is none left for you and your kin to survive!"

The Dragon King was shocked to hear someone stand up to him. He was a bully that picks on the weak and was afraid of the strong. Hearing Fu Xi's words frightened him. He feared that Fu Xi and his people would really drink all the water. He found himself in a dilemma; on the one hand he didn't want to go back on what he already said and sound weak, on the other hand, he truly feared for his and his kin's lives. Seeing the Dragon King stall, his Prime Minister reached to his ear and whispered, "These people catch fish with their hands. I know what kind of deal you can strike with them....," he continued.

When the tortoise was finished, the Dragon King laughed in agreement and turned to Fu Xi: "As long as you don't drink up all the water, you can catch as many fish as you want. But...I will not permit you to use your hands! If you agree to my terms, neither side is allowed to go back on their word!"

Fu Xi thought for a while and finally agreed. The Dragon King, confident he had just pulled one over Fu Xi, turned and left with his Prime Minister, then Fu Xi led his people back home.

When everyone was back home safe, Fu Xi returned to the river and tried, in vain, to catch fish without using his hands. He thought long and hard but couldn't figure out a solution. The next day, in the afternoon, he laid under the shade of the trees, staring at the sky, still thinking.

In that moment he noticed a spider forming a web between two branches. He watched curiously as the spider spun its web then ran into one of the corners to hide. After a while, mosquitoes and flies that came from a distance were caught by the web. The spider crawled out of the corner without any hassle and enjoyed a full meal.

Observing this, Fu Xi had an idea. He ran to the mountain to find some kudzu (a type of root plant) to be used as ropes, and weaved them into a pattern that resembled the spiders web as best he could. Then he cut two wooden sticks and tied them to the net in a cross shape, and tied them with a long stick through the middle. His net was ready. He took the net to the river and put it in the water, waiting quietly on the bank with a long stick in his hand. After a while, he pulled the net upwards and found that he had caught some fish! Immediately he realised that not only did this new method of catching fish work, it was actually better than relying on hands alone. This way, with minimum effort, and without having to get very wet, they could catch more fish in a shorter period of time.

Fu Xi returned home and taught his people how to make a net. From that day forth, his children and grandchildren never went hungry again. 

When the Dragon Kind learned that the humans were now using nets to fish, he was furious. However, he had given his word to Fu Xi, and if he went back on that word, he was afraid they would drink all the water until there was none left. The Dragon King sat in his Dragon Palace (龙官 lóng guān) anxiously. So anxious, in fact, that his eyes began to bulge out of his head - this is the reason why people drew or created statues of the Dragon King with big bulging eyes.

Seeing the Dragon King like this, the toroise attempted to reason with him and offer some more advice. He climbed onto the Dragon Kings shoulder and leaned towards his ear but the Dragon King slapped him off before he could say anything. The tortoise fell into a plate of ink and squirmed around before he was able to get out. His shell was stained ink-black. And this is why, to this day, tortoises shells have black markings on them.


Hunting Land Animals, the Domestication of Livestock, and More

In addition to catching fish, Fu Xi realised that his invention could be used to catch land animals, too. Together with his people, they made the net even bigger, took it into the forest and laid their trap. They placed the net on one side, and another group went to the other side making loud noises to scare the animals and birds in the direction of the net. The attempt was so successful that they actually caught too much pray. Fu Xi then realised that by keeping the smaller ones and breading them, his people could have a constant food supply and wouldn't need to rely so much on hunting. And so that's what they did. 

Soon his people learned the difference between all the animals they caught and what they could provide. Some could be milked, some could be used to create strong, thick clothing, and others could be domesticated. 

Apart from all these, Fu Xi is also accredited with:

1. Reforming marriage customs to what they are today. 

2. The invention of writing.

3. The invention of a few musical instruments such as the Clay Xun (陶埙 táo xūn) and a zither-like instrument called a Qin Se (琴瑟 qín sè).

4. Creating governance structures in order to govern land and its inhabitants.

In some versions he is also accredited with the creation of currency, smelting, and preserving meat.