A to Z: Fuxi

Published April 6, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

“F” wasn’t as cooperative as I’d have liked, either.  Not if I wanted to avoid going Norse again.  (Which is not a bad thing, per se, only I’d like to go a little longer before Loki pops up again.  What is it with that guy lately?  He’s like all over my blog for some reason…)

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

This is the demon bird Fuxi.  The art was drawn as a character design for the original Shin Megami Tensei on the SNES (which is available on IOS in English now…only they have to update it so it’ll run on the current version of the operating system…) but it’s also the art they use for his appearance in the modern games.

This is what Shin Megami Tensei IV and Shin Megami Tensei IV Apocalypse have to say about Fuxi:

An ominous bird of Chinese lore.  Its name is derived from the sound it makes when it cries.  Note it has no relation to Fu Xi the emperor/god, which is spelled differently in Chinese.

It appears in the Xishan Jing chapter of the book Shan Hai Jing.  It has the body of a rooster and the head of a human with a cockscomb and pointed ears.  The appearance of a Fuxi is a bad omen, a sign that war is about to break out.

Funny thing about that legendary emperor Fu Xi and internet searches…”Fuxi” always turns up hits for “Fu Xi” even when you specify you’re looking for a bird.  (Though at least then they also include hits for MegaTen‘s Fuxi.  The actual bird…not so much.)  That “Shan Hai Jing” book (which, according to Wikipedia, translates to “Classic of Mountains and Seas”) sounds really interesting, being a description of all China’s lands and especially of all the mythical beasts that dwell therein, and apparently it’s available in English, so I may be looking into getting a copy…  (I wonder if that would count for the Read Harder challenge “A book set in one of the five BRICS countries”?  It should, I’d think…)

Anyway, I was able to come up with some information on the actual myth.

According to A Chinese Bestiary:  Strange Creatures from the Guideways through Mountains and Seas” by Richard E. Strassberg, the bird’s habitat is the jade and silver-rich Deer-Terrace Mountain:

There is a bird dwelling here whose form resembles a rooster with a human face.  It is called the Fuxi-Bird and makes a sound like its name.  If seen by people, it is an omen of war.

And he provides an illustration:

Said illustration presumably being right out of the “Guideways through Mountains and Seas”…which is obviously the “Shan Hai Jing” with a slightly different translation of the name.

I might actually get this Chinese Bestiary book instead of the direct translation of the ancient original, as it sounds like he’s distilled it a bit to get right at the mythic beasts without as much of the other material.  Or I might still go for the original.  I need to look into that.  But I’m totally getting one of them.  This is exactly my type of book.

Anyway, given the dearth of information on the Fuxi-bird, I suspect that “Shan Hai Jing” is probably the only significant mention of it.  I’d suspect that means it was a local myth that never got much traction away from the mountain on which the bird was supposed to live.  That just makes it all the cooler that we can still know about it now, more than two thousand years after the earliest versions of the original text.

And, before I sign off on this post, let me present you with something I’ve seen a lot of…

That’s Fuxi’s original SNES sprite.  He appears very early on in the game, so I ran into him a lot before I wrecked up my alignment right before a boss battle and made myself unable to summon any of my demons, giving me the choice of grinding to make new ones, going back waaaaaay too far, or just plain starting over…

One comment on “A to Z: Fuxi

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