From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Xirang (Chinese: 息壤; pinyin: xīrǎng), also known as Swelling Earth, is a magical substance in Chinese mythology, according to which it had an a self-expanding ability to continuously grow, which made it particularly effective for use by Gun and Yu the Great in fighting the rising waters of the Great Flood.[1] This Chinese word compounds "breathe; cease; rest; grow; multiply" and rǎng "soil; earth". Noting similarities with earth-diver creation myths, Anne Birrell translates xirang as "self-renewing soil", and compares other translations of "breathing earth" (Wolfram Eberhard), "swelling mold" (Derk Bodde), "idle soil" (Roger Greatrex), and "living earth" or "breathing earth" (Rémi Mathieu).[2]

In some versions of the myths, Gun stole the xirang from the Shangdi, who sent Zhu Rong to execute him in punishment, on Feather Mountain.[3] According to some accounts, Yu, on the other hand, went up to Heaven. After begging Shangdi, he received from him a gift of as much xirang as his magical black tortoise could carry on its back, thus allowing Yu to successfully block up the 233,559 springs, the sources of the flood waters.[4] In other versions of these myths, xirang was stolen or obtained from the Primordial Divinity, or Gun's executioner was other than Zhu Rong.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yang, Lihui; An, Deming (2008). Handbook of Chinese Mythology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-533263-6.  218
  2. ^ Birrell, Anne (1993). Chinese mythology : an introduction (Johns Hopkins paperbacks ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0801845956. , p. 80
  3. ^ Christie, Anthony (1975). Chinese mythology (3rd impression. ed.). London: Hamlyn. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-600-00637-4. 
  4. ^ Christie, Anthony (1975). Chinese mythology (3rd impression. ed.). London: Hamlyn. pp. 87–88. ISBN 978-0-600-00637-4. 
  5. ^ Yang, Lihui; Turner, Deming An, with Jessica Anderson (2008). Handbook of Chinese mythology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 127, 237. ISBN 0-19-533263-6.