Are you ready to be transported to a world of wonder and intrigue? Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Hong Kong mythology and discover the mythical Lo Ting, a creature beyond your wildest imagination! Get ready to be captivated by the beauty and richness of this unique mythology as we explore the stories, legends, and Cantonese words related to this topic. Let’s begin!
While the city is known for its breathtaking skyline and towering skyscrapers, there’s much more to explore beyond its modern exterior. When I visited the country, I did not only focus on touristy things and experiences that many people are usually keen to try out. Instead, I spoke with the locals and discovered the colorful side of Hong Kong myths.
As I delved deeper into Hong Kong mythology, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the rich history and enchanting tales surrounding me. I was amazed to learn about the various mythical creatures and legendary heroes that have been a part of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage for centuries. From the mighty dragon that rules the skies to the gentle phoenix that symbolizes rebirth, each character was more fascinating than the last.
Let’s dive deeper into this topic in the sections below!
Hong Kong Mythology
One of the points of pride for Hong Kongers is their mythology (神話 san4 waa2). Since there aren’t many written records of Hong Kong before the British took over, the history of the city’s humble beginnings as a small fishing village has always been partly clouded by time. Most of what the locals know about it comes from preserved customs and oral traditions passed down from generation to generation.
Mythical Lo Ting (Lou4 Ting4 盧亭)
One legend that dates back to Hong Kong’s early days is that of Lo Ting, a supposed half-human, half-fish hybrid species that lived in the Lantau Island region and is credited as the “ancestor” of the Hong Kong people. His most well-known image shows him as a tall, skinny man who goes around with his arms balanced on his hips. He looks distant and careless. He has big eyes, a fish’s head and torso, and long arms and legs, culminating in rounded palms that are neither hands nor feet.
A Lo Ting was first mentioned in writing during the Tang Dynasty (618–907). It was in a book called Records of the Unusualness in Lingnan, with Lingnan referring to the geography and culture of what are now the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan. Liu Xun, a Tang official sent to the south towards the end of the ninth century, wrote it. He put together this book to tell about the location. He says, “Lo Ting, who ran away to the islands and lives wild there, eats mussels and builds walls out of shells.”
According to anthropological scholars, Lo Ting’s first mentions date back to the Qing Dynasty, when local gazettes detailed the creature’s notable appearances and locations. Though reminders of this mythical creature may be scarce in the city today, the rich history and fascinating tales surrounding Lo Ting are a testament to the enduring power of storytelling and cultural heritage.
3 Chinese Mythical Creatures
From the Han Chinese culture to the Manchurian and Tibetan faiths, Chinese mythology is a fusion of many neighboring cultures throughout history. Filled with heroes, villains, gods, and otherworldly beings, Chinese folklore and legends are meant to teach religious and cultural beliefs that continue to inspire and captivate people worldwide.
While characters like the Monkey King and Chang’e are well-known even in western cultures, many other creatures are just as important to Chinese mythology but may not be as well-known outside of East Asian cultural circles. To help you, we rounded up the three most popular mythical creatures in Chinese mythology below.
Chinese Guardian Lion (石獅子 Sek6 Si1 Zi2)
In line with the yin-yang idea, guardian lions always come in pairs, with a male on the left pressing on a Japanese Temari and a female on the right holding a cub. People think that when they are together, they safeguard the building. Today, the Chinese guardian lions have always been essential to good feng shui, from royal tombs and palaces to high-end homes.
Dragon (龍 Lung4)
The dragon, maybe the most common Chinese legendary creature, has long been regarded as a sign of power and good fortune. While European dragons are often portrayed as powerful but also aggressive and evil, Chinese and East Asian dragons are seen as exceedingly auspicious, bringing good luck, riches, and harmony. Today, the dragon continues to be associated with royal families.
Dragon Turtle (龍龜 Lung4 Gwai1)
The dragon turtle is mighty since it is a mix of two of the most potent celestial guardians. It is a popular mythological creature because it combines the dragon’s luck and power and the turtle’s long life, guardianship, and health.
Other Chinese Mythical Creatures
- Phoenix (鳳凰 fung6 wong4)
- Nian (年獸 nin4 sau3)
- Qilin (麒麟 kei4 leon4)
- Pixiu (貔貅 pei4 jau1)
- Nine-tailed fox (狐狸精 wu4 lei4 zing1)
- Vampires (殭屍 goeng1 si1)
- Zouyu (騶虞 zau1 jyu4)
- Baize (白澤 baak6 zaak6)
- Xiezhi (獬豸haai5 zaai6)
- Four-eyed bird (重明鳥 cung4 ming4 niu5)
Hong Kong Urban Myths
Hong Kong is a city full of history and unique culture, having grown from a modest fishing village to the bustling metropolis it is today. The people of Hong Kong’s history and ideals are preserved via local stories, which can also evoke widespread anxiety. Here is some urban myth that originated from their history.
- Fox Demon at Windsor House – In the 1980s, one of the most famous urban legends in Hong Kong was about the Fox Demon at Windsor House in Causeway Bay.
- Ghostly tales at Jumbo Kingdom – After a fire in 1971 that killed 34 people, children have said they have seen ghosts without ankles walking through the dark hallways of the restaurant. This makes Jumbo Kingdom a site full of sad ghosts and mystery.
- The Forbidden Song – It got the name “The Forbidden Song” after late-night radio DJs reported strange things happening when the song was played:
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