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 Shishin 四神 or Sì Shòu 四獸

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Kira
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PostSubject: Shishin 四神 or Sì Shòu 四獸   Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:15 pm

The Tortoise (Black Warrior) of the North, Winter, Black and Water.
White Tiger (Kirin) = West, Fall, White, Metal
Red Bird (Phoenix) = South, Summer, Red, Fire
Dragon = East, Spring, Blue/Green, Wood

"The four directions, east, south, west and north, represent the four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. Together with the Center, which in Chinese is synonymous with China itself, they form the five cardinal points. The Four Directions have been represented at least since the second century BC by four celestial animals, the Dragon for the East, the Bird for the South, the Tiger for the West, and the Tortoise for the North. Each animal has its own color: the Dragon is the Green of Spring, the Bird the red of Fire, the Tiger of Autumn the glittering white of metal (of ploughshares or swords), and the Tortoise Black, for night, or water.

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PostSubject: Re: Shishin 四神 or Sì Shòu 四獸   Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:22 pm

NORTH - The Tortoise / Turtle / Snake
Genbu 玄武 in Japanese; in Chinese Gui Xian, Kuei Hsien, Zuan Wu, Zheng Wu, Xuanwu. Genbu is always listening, and is thus portrayed as completely versed in Buddha's teachings; corresponds to winter, cold, water, black, earth, and faith. The tortoise is a symbol of long life and happiness. When it becomes one thousand years old, it is able to speak the language of humans. Able to foretell the future. In artwork, often shown together with the snake. Tamonten is also known as the Black Warrior and is also called Bishamonten; like the tortoise, his imagery corresponds to north, winter, black, and the element water.

One of the Celestial Emblems, the symbol of longevity and wisdom. It is said that its shell represents the vault of the universe. A common symbol for longevity is the Tortoise and Snake, whose union was thought to have engendered the universe. The reason why tortoise symbolism has been superseded by the Black Warrior as the emblem of the North, is probably due to the fact that 'tortoise' is a term of abuse.

Tortoise shell is a symbol of un-changeability, and a symbol or rank when used for court girdles. The tortoise was also used for purposes of divination. A gigantic mythical tortoise is supposed, in the Far East, to live in the depths of the ocean. It has one eye situated in the middle of its body. Once every three thousand years it rises to the surface and turns over on its back so that it may see the sun

A turtle's shell (plastron) also symbolizes a suit of armor, hence the turtle is also called the Black Warrior or Dark Warrior. The Dark Warrior represents the Northern Palace or northern constellations. Genbu's seven seishuku 星宿 are:

Hikistu Boshi (Chn. = Tou 斗)
Inami Boshi (Chn. = Niu 牛)
Uruki Boshi (Chn. = Nü 女)
Tomite Boshi (Chn. = Xū 虚)
Umiyame Boshi (Chn. = Wei 危)
Hatsui Boshi (Chn. = Shih 室)
Namame Boshi (Chn. = Pi 璧)

Tortoise and Snake 亀と蛇
The tortoise is the symbol of heaven and earth, its shell compared to the vaulted heaven and the underside to the flat disc of the earth. The tortoise was the hero of many ancient legends. It helped the First Chinese Emperor to tame the Yellow River, so Shang-di rewarded the animal with a life span of Ten Thousand Years. Thus the tortoise became a symbol for Long Life. It also stands for immutability and steadfastness.

We often see stone grave steles on a stone tortoise or reliquaries standing on it. The tortoise is also regarded as an immortal creature. As there are no male tortoise -- as the ancient believed -- the female had to mate with a snake. Thus the tortoise embracing a snake became the protector symbol of the north, but since the word "tortoise" was taboo in Chinese, it was referred to as the "dark warrior" (genbu 玄武 ) and finally became Zhenwu (in Chinese Taoism), one of the four protector gods of the four directions. The symbol of Zhenwu, the Protector God of the North, as tortoise and snake (or tortoise entwined by a snake) dates back to the third century BC.

The Dark Lord of the North (Xuan Wu Da Di) is a deity that comes from the pre-history of shamanic times (c. 6000 BC). In relatively modern Chinese prehistory (c. 1200 BC) the Dark Lord has become the human figure of a warrior with wild, unruly black hair, dressed in the primitive clothing of the tribal peoples of Neolithic times. He is powerful and strong deity capable of powerful punishments and redemptive deliverance. He is frequently depicted as the black tortoise who rules over the direction North in Chinese cosmology. He is called " Xuan" for the color black and " Wu" meaning "tortoise.

The Dark Lord speaks to a more ancient myth, that of the snake and the tortoise, in religious prehistory. Very ancient drawings of a black snake and tortoise together symbolize the Dark Lord. These reptilian creatures, the snake and tortoise, were probably themselves worshipped or were powerful medicine to help in overcoming one's enemies. From Shang times onward, the flag bearing this symbol (snake and tortoise) was part of the king's color guard. In Neolithic prehistory the tortoise -- also known as the somber warrior -- and snake together are the symbols or totems of a powerful shaman who fights evil against the demons of the Invisible World.

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PostSubject: Re: Shishin 四神 or Sì Shòu 四獸   Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:22 pm

WEST - THE WHITE TIGER
Byakko 白虎, Baihu. Guards Buddha's teachings and mankind; observes world with clairvoyance; corresponds to the season fall, the color white, wind, the element metal, and the virtue righteousness. "The White Tiger of the West, for instance, is associated with metal. When, therefore, metal is placed in a grave, a ceremonial connection with the tiger god is effected. According to the Chinese Annals of Wu and Yueh, three days after the burial of the king, the essence of the element metal assumed the shape of a white tiger and crouched down on the top of the grave. Here the tiger is a protector - a preserver. As we have seen, white jade was used when the Tiger god of the West was worshipped; it is known as 'tiger jade;' a tiger was depicted on the jade symbol. The tiger was the king of all animals and lord of the mountains, and the tiger-jade ornament was specially reserved for commanders of armies. The male tiger was, among other things, the god of war, and in this capacity it not only assisted the armies of the emperors, but fought the demons that threatened the dead in their graves."

The Tiger's seven seishuku 星宿 are:

Tokaki Boshi (Chn. = K'uei 奎)
Tatara Boshi (Chn. = Lou 婁)
Ekie Boshi (Chn. = Wei 胃)
Subaru Boshi (Chn. = Mao 昴)
Amefuri Boshi (Chn. = Pi 畢)
Toroki Boshi (Chn. = Tsui 觜)
Kagasuki Boshi (Chn. = Shen 參)
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PostSubject: Re: Shishin 四神 or Sì Shòu 四獸   Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:31 pm

SOUTH -- THE SUZAKU (aka THE PHOENIX)

In Japan, the term "Suzaku" is translated as "Red Bird" or "Vermillion Chinese Phoenix." In both Japan and China, the symbolism of the red bird seems nearly identical to or merged with that of the mythological Phoenix.

Corresponds to summer, red, fire, and knowledge; makes small seeds grow into giant trees. Often paired with the dragon, for the two represent both conflict and wedded bliss; dragon (emperor) and phoenix (empress). Portrayed with radiant feathers, and an enchanting song; only appears in times of good fortune. Within the ancient Imperial Palace in Japan, there was a gate known as Suzakumon 朱雀門 (Red Bird Gate)

The phoenix represented power sent from the heavens Or alternatively, phoenix only stays when the ruler is without darkness and corruption. Their feathers were of the five fundamental colors: black, white, red, green, and yellow.

It is described as a bird with a colorful plumage and a tail of gold and scarlet (or purple, blue, and green according to some legends). It has a 500 to 1000 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of twigs that then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix or phoenix egg arises, reborn anew to live again. The new phoenix is destined to live as long as its old self. In some stories, the new phoenix embalms the ashes of its old self in an egg made of myrrh and deposits it in the Egyptian city of Heliopolis (literally "sun-city" in Greek). It is said that the bird's cry is that of a beautiful song. The Phoenix's ability to be reborn from its own ashes implies that it is immortal, though in some stories the new Phoenix is merely the offspring of the older one. In very few stories they are able to change into people. The feminine counterpart to the dragon.[7] Its rare appearance is said to foreshadow a great event or bear testimony to the greatness of a ruler. The phoenix has long been presented as a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and renewal.


Suzaku's seven seishuku 星宿 are:

Chichiri Boshi (Chn. = Ching 井)
Tamahome Boshi (Chn. = Kuei 鬼)
Nuriko Boshi (Chn. = Liu 柳)
Hotohori Boshi (Chn. = Hsing 星)
Chiriko Boshi (Chn. = Chang 張)
Tasuki Boshi (Chn. = Yi 翼)
Mitsukake Boshi (Chn. = Chen 軫)

The phoenix is the symbol of High virtue and grace, of power and prosperity. It represents the union of Yin and Yang. The phoenix was thought of as to be a gentle creature alighting so gently that it crushed nothing and eating only dewdrops. Often depicted in paintings as battling a snake within it's great talons.

Keeper of the Fires of Creation
Protector of all Fire
Death and Rebirth Regeneration......

And there has only ever been one in existence...........


Last edited by Kira on Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:04 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Shishin 四神 or Sì Shòu 四獸   Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:34 pm

EAST - THE DRAGON

Dragon; Ryū (Ryu) 龍 or Seiryū (Seiryu) 青龍 in Japan, Qinglong in China. A mythological animal of Chinese origin, and a member of the NAGA (Sanskrit) family of serpentine creatures who protect Buddhism.

The dragon corresponds to the season spring, the color green/blue, the element wood, and the virtue propriety; supports and maintains the country (controls rain, symbol of the Emperor's power). Often paired with the Phoenix, for the two represent both conflict and wedded bliss. In both China and Japan, Dragon and Phoenix symbolism is associated closely with the imperial family -- the emperor (dragon) and the empress (phoenix).

Represents the yang principle; often portrayed surrounded by water or clouds.

The Dragon's seven constellations (seishuku 星宿; also read shōshuku or sukuyō 宿曜) are shown below. The Chinese term is Xīngsù 星宿 or Sù 宿, also written as Hsiu.

Su Boshi
Ami Boshi
Tomo Boshi
Soi Boshi
Nakago Boshi
Ashitare Boshi
Mi Boshi

The dragon is a divine, mythical creature that brings good fortune, prosperity and bounty. It is the symbol of emperors and imperial rule, and its legends have shaped a good portion of modern Chinese culture.

The dragon is a positive force, and represents power, excellence, and striving for goals, as well as being a benevolent force, which radiates goodwill, good luck, and blessings. Shrines to them can be found in many places in China, usually near the sea, since Eastern dragons tended to be water creatures.

In Eastern culture, the dragon represents the essential forces of Nature. While Emperors consulted them as revered advisors, they did not always follow that advice, and consequently the dragons' anger would either produce storms and floods though the clouds they breathed out, or such things as water shortages, when they beat their tails about, and emptied lakes and rivers. A dragon's celestial breath, known as sheng chi, bestows warmth from the sun, wind from the ocean, soil from the Earth, and water from rain.
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