Tortoise/ Snake Pearl (Black
Warrior , Chn: Xuan Wu) The Guardians of North = North, Winter, Black,
Turtle is associated with the element
Genbu ( in Japanese
) is always listening, and is thus portrayed as completely versed in Buddha’s
; corresponds to winter, cold, water, black , earth, and faith. The
tortoise is a symbol of long life and happiness.
When it becomes one thousand years old, it is able to speak the language
of humans. Able to foretell the future.
In artwork, often shown together with the snake.
In Chinese culture,
especially under the influence of Taoism the tortoise is the symbol of
heaven and earth,
its shell compared to the vaulted heaven and the underside to the flat
disc of the earth. The tortoise was the hero
of many ancient legends. It helped the First Chinese Emperor to tame the
Yellow River, so Shang-di rewarded
the animal with a life span of Ten Thousand Years. Thus the tortoise became
a symbol for Long Life.
It also stands for immutability and steadfastness.
it was referred to as the "dark
warrior" (genbu) and finally became
Zhenwu (in Chinese Taoism),
one of the four protector gods of the four directions. The symbol of Zhenwu,
the Protector God of the North, as tortoise and snake (or tortoise entwined
by a snake) dates back to the third century BC
At the heart of Chinese mythology are four spiritual
creatures (Sì Shòu )
The Han Dynasty Chinese cosmologists distinguished Four Creatures of the
and since then have become deeply rooted in Chinese mythology.
These animals are the Green Dragon,
White Tiger, Phoenix ,
Tortoise & Snakeskin
Each creature represents one of the four world directions, seasons, and
Sometimes there are five animals because every once in a while
the snake will be depicted with the Black Tortoise.
(The Phoenix- S , The Green Dragon- E , The Tortoise- N , The
White Tiger- W)