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June 8, 2015, 3:22 am

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Bad Omen Chinese Mythical Lifeforms


A collection of Chinese mythical lifeforms representing Bad Omens or associated with the onset of Disasters

Table of Contents

    Below is a collection of Chinese mythical lifeforms representing Bad Omens or associated with the onset of disasters. The author wishes to re-emphasise that that this is basically a translation and compiling exercise, not a creative one.

    Each life from entry below would contain the following sections:

    Physical Description

    Special Properties: traits from which interactions with PCs could arise (optional depending on whether the original source details them or not)

    Lore: Mythical origins/how they are incorporated into Chinese culture (optional depending on whether the original source details them or not)

    Translation Quirks (optional): alternative ways of translating/interpreting particular sections and other things I want to provide notes about including particular Chinese terms, other bits about Chinese culture and potential translation inaccuracies (feel free to skip this section if uninterested).

    Zhu Yan

    Physical Description:

    An ape-like creature but with a head that is white and red feet


    Its spotting is associated with the onset of large scale wars

    Two Headed Snakes (aka Split Head Snakes/Snake of the Lord of Yue/Bowstring Snake)

    Physical Description:

    A snake with an additional head growing out of the tail end of a normal snake. It has black scales and white patterns on its body with the patterns on its two heads being identical. However, it is said that the scales on one of its eyes grow in the reverse direction to the rest of its body.


    Seeing a two headed snake is seen as a big omen, some even say that it results in the death of whoever sees it. There is a story in circulation that in the Spring and Autumn period, someone had killed a two headed snake and buried it upon seeing it himself, so that others after him would not have the same misfortune. This was praised as a major deed of charity and the person did not die himself.

    In the Yue area, it was said that this type of snake evolved from the bowstring of the crossbow possessed by the Lord of Yue. This is where its name of Bowstring Snake comes from.


    Physical Description:

    A cow-like creature with the tail of a snake and the skin of its head being completely white. In addition, it only has one eye.


    It is the harbinger of drought and possibly famine as it will dry up all water sources in its vicinity as well causing plants to wither.

    Bi Yi Birds (aka Jian Jian or Man Man)

    Physical Description:

    A black and red (or indigo and red) bird akin to wild ducks but each bird only has one eye and one wing. Therefore, to be able to fly, a male and female of the species has to cooperate with each other.


    These birds are spotted immediately before a flood. In the modern era, it is more common for these birds to symbolise a couple with deep love for each other.

    Translation Quirks:

    The modern Chinese character for the colour indigo can actually refer to the colour of black in ancient Chinese texts

    Qi Zhong

    Physical Description:

    An owl-like bird that has only one foot and has a tail like that of a pig’s.


    Spotting of such birds are associated with the onset of a large scale plague

    Suan Yu

    Physical Description:

    A bird with a serpentine head and body as well as two pair of wings, six years and three legs.


    Its call sounds like it is calling itself by name. It is a herald of horrific events.

    Yong He

    Physical Description:

    An ape covered in yellow fur with red eyes and a red mouth


    Its sighting is associated with natural disasters.

    Nine Headed Bird (aka Ghost Car or Ghost Bird)

    Physical Description:

    A bird originally with ten heads but now has nine left, one supposedly bitten off by a dog


    It was said that its neck still drips blood and that if its blood touches the land on which one’s house is built, it will bring bad luck. It was said that it is afraid of dogs’ barking.

    Originally a totem worshipped by residents of the Chu Kingdom during the Warring Kingdoms period in China (see the Nine Headed Bird entry in Good Omen Chinese Mythical Lifeforms">Good Omen Chinese Mythical Lifeforms, it was said that the Nine Headed Bird was subsequently monsterised by the dominant Zhou culture (Zhou is probably another kingdom in China’s long history of internal strife)

    Fei Yi

    Physical Description:

    A snake with one head but two bodies. Alternatively, it is a snake with two pairs of wings and six legs.


    Its sighting is associated with a large drought.

    Zhu Bird

    Physical Description:

    An eagle with human visage and feet that end in a pair of human hands.


    Whenever this type of birds appears, capable and virtuous people will be exiled.

    It was said that the Zhu Bird is what Dan Zhu, the son of Emperor of Yao, became after his death. When the Emperor Yao abdicated the throne to Emperor Shun, Dan Zhu rebelled but the uprising was quickly crashed. In shame, Dan Zhu drowned himself in the South Sea. It was further said that the descendants of Dan Zhu had built a kingdom called the Kingdom of Dan Zhu in South Sea and that its residents all have human visages but bird wings.

    Fu Zhu

    Physical Description:

    Like a white deer but have four antlers instead of two.


    It is a herald of floods.

    Bi Fang

    Physical Description:

    Like a crane but its body is indigo with red stripes, its feet are red while its beak is white. It has only one foot (or some say only one wing).


    It is a herald of fires. It often holds balls of flame in its beak.

    Its name comes from the sound made when timber or bamboo are burning. It is said to be the God of both Fire and Wood, who lives amongst trees. In the legends, Bi Fang waits on Huang Ti besides his chariot when he calls a gathering of all deities and beings from the nether realm at Mount Tai.

    Ju Ru

    Physical Description:

    Like a field mouse but with white ears and a white beak.


    It is a herald of war

    Hua Snake (where Hua means “to become”)

    Physical Description:

    A creature that has human visage, the body of a jackal, a pair of bird wings and moves like snakes. The sound it makes is akin to humans shouting.


    Its appearance will cause flooding in the surrounding area

    Mountain Hui

    Physical Description:

    A dog with a human visage


    It will laugh when it sees humans. It moves like the wind and is a herald of cyclones and disasters related to winds.

    Huo Dou

    Physical Description:

    A black dog-like creature


    These creatures consume feces from dogs (some also say they can consume fire) and can spit out fire, making them a danger. They are considered bad omens.

    The physical description of Huo Dou came from a folklore story- the White Conch Fairy. The story goes as follows: once upon a time, there was an orphan named Wu Kan who came upon a white conch. After bringing it home, the conch turned into a beautiful woman who became his wife. The local Lord of town wanted to take Wu Kan’s wife and had asked of him a quite impossible task- to get some toad hairs and the arm of a ghost. With the help of his wife, Wu Kan got those two items and gave them to the local Lord. But then the local Lord asked again of him to get Huo Dou for him. This time his wife brought a black dog-like beast out. It was said that the Huo Dou had burned down the local Lord’s house and that Wu Kan and his wife had never been seen again.

    Alternatively, it is said that these are fire-consuming beasts local to a foreign country whose residents can eat charcoal.

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    Comments ( 5 )
    Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

    Voted Gossamer
    June 30, 2013, 7:50
    I'll be revisiting later, when more is added.
    July 16, 2013, 1:41
    Update: Now complete!
    July 16, 2013, 6:15
    There's not enough new content for me to change my vote. I know this is actual mythology, but maybe you should consider filling some of them in yourself, just so there's a little more meat on the bones? That or do more research (if possible).


    and can spit out fire, making them a danger. They are considered bag omens.
    July 16, 2013, 22:01
    Thanks for the typo alert. I might add more from further research after I finish the Wiki page (there's some 130+ entries in total). I was just trying to clear one of these scrolls in my Chinese Mythical Lifeform Codex so I don't have that many released incomplete subs in addition to my pile of in-work subs.
    Voted valadaar
    August 22, 2014, 9:14
    I think these are a neat resource - at the very least they can spawn ideas. I wonder what these folk were smoking when they thought of these creatures. Almost seem like they used a random animal body part generator.
    Voted Aramax
    February 16, 2015, 10:07
    3.5/5 IMHO you shouls reconsider your approach, adding a small amount of your own toto this one would really get you something here!

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