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Doubts about Chinese culture


Goe
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Hello, I have the following doubts:

 

1) Japanese legend of the demon Shuten Dōji is really similar to the story of Zhu Bajie/Pigsy in Journey to the West. In both stories the villain is has the power of transforminh in several things/beings, and both kidnap women and eat human meat. I guess both stories are based in an older tale/legend. Could you help me?

2) I think in ancient China, people were religious and believe in an afterlife, heaven and hell. Chinese spirituality was a mix of chinese traditions (Jade Emperor, for example) and Buddhism (King Yama, for example). However, chinese philosophers didn't usually talk about spirits or afterlife, even when people in their eras believe in that kind of things. Am I right?

 

I hope my English is good enought.

 

best regards

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Hello and welcome to the forums!

 

Regarding your first point, being familiar with both characters’ backstories, I don’t see too much similarities between Zhu Bajie and Shuten Doji, and I’m fairly confident that they are not related. There are plenty of demons that exist in both the Chinese and Japanese folklore, which was a result of the extensive relations between China and Japan in the pre-Heian era - this is how Buddhism was introduced to Japan. The attributes you mentioned about Zhu Bajie and Shuten Doji are not unique to them (a lot of demons are supposed to be shapeshifter and a drunkard).

 

Your second question can be sourced back to Confucius, he himself told that the afterlife is beyond the comprehension of humans, therefore they should focus on the everydays and not what comes after. Given that Chinese philosophy is heavily influenced by Confucius, the afterlife thus was not a center of attention in philosophical works. 

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Thanks a lot for your reply, ZhangKaI.

 

About the first point, and as I have already said, both Shuten Dōgi and Zhu Bajie kidnap women, eat human meat and can transform themselves. Moreover, both are fictional characters from related cultures (Japan and China). So there are several reason to think both are related.

 

When I say that, I am not affirming that Zhu Bajie is a copy of Shuten Dōgi or viceversa. As you say:

 

The attributes you mentioned about Zhu Bajie and Shuten Doji are not unique to them (a lot of demons are supposed to be shapeshifter and a drunkard).

 

So they are probably related because both share tropes that are older than themselves and were created in similar cultures.

 

I'd like to know who were the first characters that had that characteristics, because then we could know more about the making-of of that old stories.

 

Best regards

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9 hours ago, Goe said:

About the first point, and as I have already said, both Shuten Dōgi and Zhu Bajie kidnap women, eat human meat and can transform themselves. Moreover, both are fictional characters from related cultures (Japan and China). So there are several reason to think both are related.

These similarities could also be explained as coincidence. The kidnapping of women happened in both societies and was considered a very bad thing. Eating meat is also a big taboo in both societies, though it probably occasionally happened in times of famine. It's not strange that a demon would do things that are highly taboo. As to the shape-shifting, that is not unique to Zhu Bajie (Sun Wukong is a good shapeshifter himself!), so also not a unique trait.

 

Of course it's possible that the two are related, or that one is inspired by the other, but they could also easily have emerged completely separate from each other.

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Lu, you are right about the fact that both in Japan and China women's kidnap existed and was considered a very bad thing, so that point may be a coincidence. Same as eating human meat.

 

However, the transforming power may be a common trope in japanese/chinese culture, so both may have a common origin in that point.

 

In my opinion, the fact that in both stories the same tropes are present is a strong reason to think one of that 2 options:

 

1) Both were inspired by an older story

2) One of the story is based in the other

 

However, it may be that similarities are due to similar circumstances (human meat as taboo, kidnapping women as a common crime...) but despite of that, I think the 3 tropes joined in the villain of both stories, and in similar cultures... is a great casuality.

 

In any case, thank you for your opinion, Lu

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27 minutes ago, roddy said:

If it helps, Scotland has water-horses which shape-shift, eat human meat (except the liver, they don't like liver) and kidnap poor Scottish lassies

And good old Zeus: he ate his first wife Metis, he kidnaped Europa, and he used his shape shifting skills to seduce Leda. 

Seems, it was common courtesy in these times and spheres.

As @Lu explained, these stories may have  emerged independently. Maybe most mythologies have such stories.

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  • 7 months later...

酒吞童子:

大江山伝説に登場する鬼神。酒吞は酒天・酒伝・酒顛なども書く。源頼光と渡辺綱・坂田金時ら四天王が、大江山に住む酒呑童子という鬼を退治する話は、14世紀後半成立の《大江山絵詞》にみえることから、これ以前に原型が成立したと考えられる。その後室町時代の制作にかかる謡曲《大江山》、《酒伝童子絵巻》を経、御伽草子の《酒吞童子》や近世初頭成立の古浄瑠璃《酒天童子》などによって人々になじみ深いものとなった。酒吞童子の名称は、《大江山絵詞》では〈酒を深く愛する者〉ゆえの名となっているが、そのストーリーが中国の白猿伝説の影響を受けているとみて、〈斉天大聖(チイーテイエンダーシヨン)〉の名を借りたのでは、と説も出されている。大江山は元来は都のあたりにほど近い老ノ坂であったらしいが、《大江山絵詞》では丹波・丹後の千丈ケ嶽の大江山、《酒伝童子絵巻》では近江伊吹山となっている。大江山に鬼神がこもるとする観念は、老ノ坂が都(山城国)と外界を隔てる境界の性格をもった場所であったこと、疫神の侵入をさえぎり都の安寧と清浄を確保する四境祭の舞台であったこと、多くの盗賊・強盗が出没し、そのすみかとなったこと、などを背景として分析されるべきであろう。

――《世界大百科事典》


Translation: There's also the theory that the story had been influenced by the White Monkey legends of China, and the name was borrowed from Qitian Dasheng.

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