Xuan Wu: The Black Tortois in Chinese Mythology

Xuan Wu | The Black Tortois

Xuan Wu Myth

Xuanwu, one of the Four Symbols in ancient Chinese Mythology, also known as the Tortoise-Snake, is a spiritual entity composed of a combination of a tortoise and a snake. Representing the north, in the Bagua it corresponds to 'Kan(坎)' and in the Five Elements, it governs water. Symbolizing the old yin among the Four Symbols & winter among the four seasons, it is also the northern land of heaven. Its name 'Xuan' means black, while the pictogram 'Wu' signifies 'martial' or 'warrior,' hence it is sometimes referred to as the Black Warrior of the North. Legend has it that the Xuanwu is both long-lived and knowledgeable in yin and yang, capable of freely traversing the underworld, earning great reverence in Daoism.


What does Xuan Wu Represent

  • Represent The Behind: There is a well-known Chinese saying "前朱雀后玄武" which means "The Vermilion Bird in front and the Black Tortoise behind." It is used to describe a well-balanced and harmonious arrangement.
  • Represent The North: Xuanwu is the god of the north, and he is often associated with the winter season. He is also associated with the color black and the element of water.
  • Represent The Warrior: Xuanwu is a powerful warrior, and he is often depicted as a symbol of military might. He is also associated with justice and righteousness.
  • Represent The Protection: The turtle and the snake are both symbols of longevity and wisdom. The turtle is also a symbol of protection, while the snake is a symbol of power.