The Old Windbag

Since there’s supposed to be a hurricane hitting this area, I suppose it would appropriate to talk about a wind god. I already wrote about the Greco-Roman personifications of the winds, so let’s move on to China and their wind god, Fei Lian (which literally means “wind lord”). This deity is sometimes portrayed as a dragon, and sometimes as an even more bizarre creature, with the head of a sparrow, the horns of a bull, the body of a stag, and the tail of a snake.

Picture source
The Chinese tended to pull out all the stops when it came to their composite creatures.

Picture by Blended
Fei Lian was also known to take human form, in which he was called Feng Bo. He carried the wind around in a bag made of goatskin, perhaps something like the one Aeolus gave to Odysseus. The deity once teamed up with the rain god in an attempt to overthrow the legendary Yellow Emperor Huangdi, but was defeated by the Emperor’s daughter and banished to a cave in the mountains.

He still caused trouble, however, and it took another mythical figure to conquer him. This was the celestial archer Hu-yi or Shen-yi, often simply called Yi, who had earlier distinguished himself by shooting down nine of the ten suns that once overheated the world.

Yi pierced the wind lord’s bag with an arrow, forcing Fei Lian to surrender to him. I’m not sure whether Fei Lian ever had his bag repaired, but since there’s still wind, I guess he did. It’s probably one of those mythical mythical stories that, while it does have a specific setting (Huangdi is said to have ruled China in the twenty-sixth century BC), is more or less supposed to be going on all the time. So, with this storm coming up, let’s hope Yi has enough arrows on hand! Or does he only work in China?

By the way, this hurricane is called Irene, a name derived from Eirene, who was the goddess of peace and harmony in Greek mythology. Not exactly an appropriate name for a destructive storm, perhaps, but the people who name these storms have that whole alphabetical order thing going on.

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2 Responses to The Old Windbag

  1. Do you have a reference where I can actually find the story. I’m looking for it for reference and can’t seem to find a copy or a reference to the book I can find it in.

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