Handbook of Chinese Mythology

by Lihui Yang and Deming An, with Jessica Anderson Turner


Every year, at the Wa Huang Gong temple in Hebei Province, China, people gather to worship the great mother, Nuwa, the oldest deity in Chinese myth, praising her for bringing them a happy life. It is a vivid demonstration of both the ancient reach and the continuing relevance of mythology in the lives of the Chinese people.

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Cover image for Handbook of Chinese Mythology

September 2005


Pages 293
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Mythology/General
  • Hardcover



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    Hardcover: £64.00/70,00€/A$107.00

An informative work of historical and contemporary Chinese myths, including a useful collection of historical documents, detailing myths as they live and change in China today.

Compiled from ancient and scattered texts and based on revelatory new research, Handbook of Chinese Mythology is the most comprehensive English-language work on the subject ever written from an exclusively Chinese perspective.

This work focuses on the Han Chinese people but ranges across the full ethnic spectrum of ancient and modern China, showing how key myths endured and evolved over time. A quick reference section covers all major deities, spirits, and demigods, as well as important places (Kunlun Mountain), mythical animals and plants (the crow with three feet; Fusang tree), and appurtenances (Xirang—a kind of mythical soil; Bu Si Yao—mythical medicine for long life). No other work captures so well what Chinese mythology means to the people who lived and continue to live their lives by it.


  • Primary source documents include translations of important historical records on Chinese myths, excerpts from national sources collected since the 1980s (unique to an English-language book), plus contemporary research from the authors' field research and the research of other Chinese scholars
  • 30–40 illustrations from the Ming dynasty edition of Shan Hai Jing (The Classic of Mountains and Seas), plus 10–15 photos from the authors' personal collections and field research, including the new statue built in honor of Nuwa in northern China, people gathered at a contemporary temple fair, women dancers at the Renzu Temple, and more


  • The first comprehensive compendium of Chinese mythology that examines the myths from a purely Chinese perspective, as opposed to looking at China through Western eyes
  • Written by expert Chinese scholars of mythology and folklore from top social science institutions, trained in both China and the United States
  • Written with the support of the Chinese government, which allowed unprecedented access to historical documents and artifacts
Author Info

Lihui Yang, Ph.D., is associate professor of folklore and mythology at the College of Chinese Language and Literature at Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China. Her published works include The Cult of Nüwa: Myths and Beliefs in China. She has won some of the most prestigious research and teaching awards in her discipline given in China.

Deming An, Ph.D., is associate professor of folklore at the Institute of Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China. His published works include Averting Natural Disaster: A Study of Agricultural Rituals from Farming Villages in Tianshui, Gansu Province and Going Back to Hometown: A Folklorist's Field Experiences in Familiar Place.

Jessica Anderson Turner is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. She was a 2003–2004 Fulbright Fellow and conducted research on revivals of tradition and music in China's developing tourism industry.



"Information about Chinese mythology has been limited by language and access to primary sources. This volume attempts to fill a gap by providing a resource written in English by Chinese mythologists. . . . The authors' credibility and in-depth scholarship offer a rare opportunity to experience Chinese mythology through Chinese eyes."Booklist

"ABC-CLIO's wonderful handbooks on world mythology offer in-depth explorations linking traditional cultural myths to insights on behavior and ideals. . . . Handbook of Chinese Mythology is an essential reference for any high school to college-level collection with a Chinese studies program."Midwest Book Review

"Overall, The Handbook of Chinese Mythology is an important and interesting work that will appeal to popular audiences. . . . [I]t is a significant contribution to the study of mythology, folklore, and East Asia."Journal of Folklore Research

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