Saturday, September 7, 2013

Why Niuzao is an Ox, anyhow.

Clara posted a great picture of Niuzao and said he was her favorite Celestial in the game, he was the god of tanking.  I wanted to follow up on that a little.

The Pandaria Celestials don't quite match the Chinese ones.  Yes, there's a Vermilion Bird in the south, and the Azure Dragon in the East, but White Tiger is in the West, and in the North, is the Black Tortoise.  For a while we puzzled over how Blizzard came up with a Black Ox to replace the Tortoise, although doing so made sense since there were already turtles all over the continent and it would be boring.

But I figured it out last month, after quite a bit of websurfing*.  the Black Tortoise Celestial is Xuan Wu, or Pak Tai - the god of martial arts - yes, yes, those are all wikipedia links - and the legend is conflated, or possibly the same (as an cultural outsider I am not sure really) as that of Xuan Tian Shang Di.  and I tripped across this reference to how he came to be a god, citing an analysis ofthe 1602 "folk novel" Beiyouji (Journey to the North) by Yu Xiangdou and summarizing the novel:

The novel describes Xuan Tian Shang Di as going through four mortal reincarnations in the course of the story, at least three of which are as princes of nations (9-10). He is shown, through the use of a mirror, that his original identity was the Jade Emperor, and told that he can either work towards becoming an Immortal or become an ox in his next reincarnation.

so.  Kudos to Blizzard for actually not being totally random in replacing the Tortoise with an Ox.  Makes me really wonder just how much they are paying their research people though.  English references to the work Beiyouji outside of scholarly work are hard to get.  I haven't found an English translation of it either, and while I haven't looked hard, I did poke around more than just searching

*as to why I did all this websurfing, at first it was not becuase of wow, but becuase I also got sucked into the Journey to Wudang novels and I like to get my mythology from closer to the source.  but I quickly realized what reading tied into Pandaria and wanted to share.

somewhat related:  here are some pictures of the temple to Xuan Wu at Wudang - what a great comparison to the Pandaria art in the game.

No comments: