Four Benevolent Animals

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The Four Benevolent Animals (simplified Chinese: 四灵; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Sì Líng) are figures from Chinese mythology that took abodes within the gardens of the palace of the Yellow Emperor.[1] They included:

They were juxtaposed with the "Four Perils" (, Si Xiong), which were ambiguously described in the classics as monsters, barbarians, or circumstances.

In Chinese culture, animal imagery is closely related to the four or five[2] cardinal directions. However, the relationship of the present Four Symbols was not stable until the Han period. Thus, the Rong Cheng Shi, a text from the 4th century BC found in an archaeological excavation, refers to the snake as a symbol of the south; the bird, of the north; and the bear of the center. East and west were symbolized by the sun and the moon, rather than by any animal.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Joseph Campbell.[clarification needed]
  2. ^ Including the center as a direction, as part of the concept of Wu Xing developed during the late Zhou.
  3. ^ Rong Cheng Shi.