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Zhang Xian shooting at a tiangou to protect his children clustered about him.

The tiangou (Chinese: 天狗; pinyin: tiāngǒu; Wade–Giles: t'ien1-kou3; literally: 'Heavenly Dog') is a legendary creature from China. The tiangou resembles a black dog or meteor, which is thought to eat the sun or moon during an eclipse.[clarification needed : See talk page.]

Tales explain that you must beat dogs and drive them away in order to ward off the tiangou. The heavenly dog would then spit out the sun or moon and flee back into the heavens, ending the eclipse.[citation needed]

Tiangou Eating the Moon[edit]

According to the legends, as an interpretation of a lunar eclipse, after Houyi shot down the 9 suns in the sky, he was awarded with a pill that is said to make you immortal by Wangmu Niang Niang. Before he could eat it, however, his wife, Chang Er ate it hoping that she could maintain her youth. Chang Er felt her body getting lighter and flew away. Seeing this, a black dog that Hou Yi was rearing went inside her room and licked the remains of the pill. He then chased after Chang Er, getting bigger and bigger. Chang Er, terrified, hid on the moon. The black dog ate the moon, along with Chang Er.

After knowing this, Wangmu Niang Niang captured the dog. She was surprised to see that the dog was actually Hou Yi's and assigned him to guard the gates of heavens, henceforth becoming Tiangou. The moon and Chang Er was spit back out, and Chang Er continued living on the moon.

Battle with Zhang Xian[edit]

Zhang Xian (Chinese: 張仙; pinyin: Zhāng Xiān) is the enemy of the tiangou. It is said that he protects his children from the dog god with his bow and arrows. He is often depicted aiming at the sky, waiting for the beast to appear.

He is the god of birth and the protector of male children. Many sought[when?] for him to give them male offspring and to protect their living sons.


The tengu of Japanese folklore was derived from the tiangou. The tengu is usually depicted as a bird, or man with a long nose and other bird-like characteristics, while the tiangou is a dog.

See also[edit]


  • de Visser, M. W. (1908). "The Tengu". Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan 34 (2): pp. 25-99. Z. P. Maruya & Co.