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Yaoguai (妖怪 pinyin yāoguài), yaogui (妖鬼 yāoguǐ, lit. "strange ghost"), yaomo (妖魔 yāomó, lit. "strange devil") or yaojing (妖精 yāojīng, lit. "sprite" or "seductive") is a Chinese term that generally means "monster". The term is usually used in Chinese mythology and folklore.
Yaoguai are mostly malevolent animal or plant spirits that have acquired magical powers through the practice of Taoism. The evil ones are usually referred to as guài (literally, "weird") or mó (literally, "demon" or "magic") in Chinese. Their greatest goal is achieving immortality and thus deification. But monsters are not usually thought of in a religious sense.
Not all yaojing are actually demons; some others are of quite unusual origins. In the case of Baigujing, she was a skeleton that became such a demon. Many yaojing are fox spirits, or according to the Journey to the West, pets of the deities. There are also yaoguai kings (mówáng) that command a number of lesser demon minions.
In Chinese folklore, the Chinese hell (Diyu) is a place that is populated by various demonic spawns. Most of these demons[specify] are influenced by the Indian rakshasa or yaksha[clarification needed] and therefore bear some similarity with the Japanese oni.
In Chinese folklore, living creatures and inorganic substances other than humans will also gain mana, wisdom, or look completely similar to humans through years of cultivation. Such a situation has always been called "成精 (Chengjing)", "Yaoguai" and "Yaojing" are most often called such creatures, and only a few are called "仙 (Xian)"
Many stories believe that only humans can cultivate. Animals and objects do not have the characteristics of humans. They should wait for the next reincarnation to become humans before they can cultivate. Therefore, the spiritual energy of non-human objects and the cultivation of human form are against the sky. "魔 (Mo)", harms mankind. Therefore, things are often oppressed after cultivation. They are either captured by Taoists or priests, or immortals, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas want them to go on the right path, and they are hardly tolerated by the right way and human beings.
In addition, there is a saying that "Dharma cannot be rectified for a thousand years, and you do not learn the wild fox Zen for a day. (千年不得正法，不學一日野狐禪)" Therefore, some gong sects clearly state that the energy and skill created by the cultivation of species and the set of practice methods they teach will also be regarded as evil. Gong, those who learn it will also be harmed by it.
In the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West, some gods were relegated to the mortal world and became Yaoguai because they violated the laws of heaven. The most representative ones are Zhu Bajie and Sha Wujing.
In addition, in the Journey to the West in the heavenly court, there are also some people who violate the laws and derogate to the mortal, but privately descend. Many of them are waiters and mounts around the gods, such as the Golden and Silver Horned Kings of the Taishang Laojun, Yellow Robe Demon that was originally Kui Mulang, Maitreya Bodhisattva's Yellow Brows Great King, Manjushri's Azure Lion and so on.
Famous yaoguai in Chinese mythology:
- Baigujing – literally, "skeleton spirit"
- Niumowang – literally, "bull demon king"
- Pipa Jing and Jiutou Zhiji Jing – in Fengshen Yanyi
Note: Sun Wukong uses this term often to insult his (demonic) adversaries.
In popular culture
- The Fallout series features mutated bears identified as Yao Guai. These creatures roam many parts of post-War America, appearing in Fallout 3, the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts, Fallout 4, and Fallout 76. They attack both the player and various non-player characters. In Fallout 3, one of the in-game radio stations broadcasts an occasional public service announcement reminding listeners "don't feed the Yao Guai". In Fallout lore, the Yao Guai were named by descendants of Chinese internment camp prisoners.
- The Taiwanese black metal band Chthonic has a drummer who wears a metal mask of a black demon mouth.
- In the DLC "Nightmare in North Point" of Sleeping Dogs, players fight demonic creatures called "Yaoguai".
- Once Upon a Time featured a creature called a Yaoguai in the second season episode "The Outsider". Here, it was depicted as a large lion-like creature with a mane of fire. Maleficent transformed Prince Phillip into a Yaoguai until it was undone by Belle.
- The Yaoguai's Yaomo alias was used in AdventureQuest Worlds during its 2014 Akiba's New Year celebration on Yokai Island. It is depicted as a horned half-demon half-horse creature (with the build being similar to a centaur) with additional eyes on its chest and parts of the horse body. It was responsible for corrupting Akiba's Jingshen Forest causing the Qilin Senlin-Ma (who was the guardian of the Jingshen Forest) to enlist the player for help. The players were able to defeat the Yaomo.
- An episode of the television series Sleepy Hollow features the Yaoguai as a demon who is attracted to aggression and gunpowder from a gun.
- In the 2017 movie Wish Upon, a Yaoguai is the spirit of the music box. If the seventh wish is granted, the Yaoguai will claim the soul of the owner.
- Yaojing and Yaoguai appear in popular TV series produced in China such as Love and Redemption, Three Lives, Three Loves, Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms, and Ashes of Love. Aside from the typical fox spirits who appear in these series, other examples of yao* include arowana (fish), monkey, Garuda (bird), grape vine, and tree. All three of these series are based on Chinese e-novels in the Chinese Fantasy genre. In this genre, various types of yao* are distinguished by whether they have celestial or demonic spiritual roots, but characters with either root may be good, evil, or neutral.
- The mobile game, "Gems of War", features a legendary troop called Yao Guai.