Official Name: Xian
Nicknames: Chinese Gods, Taoist Gods, The Gods of China, et al
Former Aliases: No known former aliases
Other Current Aliases: No other known current aliases
First Appearance: Thor I #301
Origin: Thor I Annual 8
Dimension of Origin: Ta-Lo
Population: 200-300 range (estimated)
Other Associated Dimensions: Ta-Lo is the other-dimensional realm of the Chinese gods, the highest of the thirty-six heavens in the Chinese cosmology. The other names of these realms are as yet unknown, but Ta-Lo is known to include Yu Ch'ing, ruled by the sky-god, Yu-Huang, who succeeded Yuan Shih Tian-Long. The second heaven of Shan Ch'ing is ruled by Ling Pao, the god of time, and the third heaven is ruled by Lao Tzu, the god of immortality. Ta-Lo also includes the realm of Feng-Tu, reserved for the shades ("astral spirits") of mortals who have died.
History: The Xian or Gods of China are a race of superhumanly powerful humanoid beings who were once worshipped as gods in the Ancient Chinese Empire from around 2000 BC when the empire first came to power to 1911 when the Empire was dissolved in favor of a new Communist regime. They still have worshippers today, but some of the Chinese gods are worshipped from behind new roles under Buddhism and modern Taoism.
The Xian dwell in the other-dimensional realm of Ta-Lo, a collective series of inter-connected worlds in inter-dimensional space adjacent to Earth; Ta-lo is connected to Earth by means of Chien Mu, a celestial ladder connected to an interdimensional nexus somewhere on or near Mount K'un L'un in Western China. Mount K'un L'un is also the home of a small colony of humanoid aliens of extra-terrestrial origin who crashed on Earth in prehistoric times and who live in a city out of phase with the Earth's dimension. Several of the Xian and the K'un L'uns share common names, suggesting that they might have served as representatives of the gods or that the Ancient Chinese merely confused then with their gods. The exact relationship and connection between the Xian and the K'un L'uns is as yet unrevealed.
The precise origin of the Chinese gods, like that of all of Earth's pantheons of gods, is unrevealed and often contradictory with the numerous stories developed by their worshippers existing separately in several regions on earth isolated by topographic boundaries. According to ancient myths, the Xian are descended from the primordial giant Pan-Ku, who was born from a great cosmic egg conceived by Yin and Yang, the female and male principles of the universe. It is believed that Yin, the female principle, was actually Gaea, the primordial earth mother who had survived the destruction of the Elder Gods, the first sentient beings to coalesce out of the rich biosphere of the planet. Many of the Elder Gods were destroyed by Atum, who had been born from Gaea after mating with the Demiurge, the sentient biosphere of the planet. As the Demogorge, Atum slew many of the Elder Gods although many of them escaped into other dimensions. Hou-Tu, the primordial earth-mother who mated with Pan-Ku to give birth to the gods of China, is also credited with being another form of Gaea.
According to ancient Chinese myths, Pan-Ku was assisted by a number of divine creatures in forming the land that would be modern-day China. These creatures resembled normal animals but had divine functions; taking the appearance of a tortoise, a phoenix, a dragon and and unicorn, later becoming images of symbolic importance to the Chinese people. It is also conceivable that these creatures became the symbols for the four ruling Xian families from whom the Chinese gods are descended. Pan-Ku meanwhile grew so massive after several years that he could no longer hold a human form and became a being of pure energy and departed his physical body, dying as a result. In his more advanced form, his body became one with earth, and the land of China while his head became one with the heavens, his eyes represented by the sun and the moon.
Before his departure from earth, Pan-Ku had divided the heavens evenly between his progeny, but they soon began to envy the attributes of domains of their siblings and developed the art of war to try and seize power from one another. Hu, Emperor of the North, and Shu, Emperor of the South, after years of senseless conflict trying to gain dominion over the other eventually met each other on the neutral property of Hundun, their brother, Emperor of the Center. Hundun was most hospitable as he arbitrated a truce between his brothers and brought a truce to their war. According to legend, Hundun lacked any of the traditional orifices in his body for hearing, eating and breathing and existed solely by mystical means. Shu and Hu out of gratitude to their brother for his hospitality tried to bore the correct holes into him, but accidentally killed him as a result.
Gong-Gung, Emperor of the ocean to the East, meanwhile sought to overthrow all his brothers and went to war with Ju-Rong, the god of fire and Emperor of the West. Their war lasted for several centuries with neither brother gaining an advantage over the other. During the conflagration, Gong Gung shattered Mount Buzhou which supported the heavens. The destruction of the mountain tipped the cosmic axis and resulted in a flood that devastated China during the reign of Emperor Yao, a possible descendant of Hundun, Emperor of Central China.
Of the first rulers of China, the original Emperors were all immortal and descended from Pan-Ku, but their exact ancestry is undefined. The first recorded Emperors were the San Huang, or "Three August Ones," beginning with Fu-Xi or Fu-Hsing, an earth-god, who was also one of the San Hsing, three gods of fortune. His brothers were Lu-Hsing and Shou-Hsing, other gods of fortune and good luck. Fu-Xi was possibly a descendant of Shu, Emperor of the South, but this is unconfirmed. Ruling around 2950 BC, Fu-Xi united all of China under his reign, but instead of leaving his throne to one of his progeny, he was succeeded by Shen-Nung, the Chinese god of farming, who brought great prosperity to China, but as Shen-Nong's son, Chi-Yu, the war-god, tried to seize the throne, he was challenged by Yu Huang, the god of sky. Yu Huang had been raised as a mortal, but after defeating Chi-Yu, Yu-Huang placed his mortal brother, Yen-Ti, on the throne of China and went into self-imposed exile to achieve mental and physical perfection. Yen-Ti was the last of the San Huang, and after his death, he was possibly allowed dominance of the underworld as Yen-Lo Wang, the god of the dead, but this is unconfirmed.
Yu Huang was the ancestor of the following dynasty of China, and became sovereign of the Gods of China afterward. He chose the hero, Chuan Hsiun, to briefly rule China when he eventually departed earth. Chuan-Hsiun was followed by Gun (Kun), the grandson of Yu-Huang. (Some sources erroneously claim Gun was the son instead of the grandson of Yu-Huang.) Chuan-Hsiun was also the brother-in-law of Gun, and Yao, who followed Gun, was his nephew. It is during the reign of Yao that the flood Gong-Gung created had occurred, and Gun saved China by stealing a spell from heaven to fortify the canals and dams he created to protect China. He was later slain by Ju-Rong over the theft. Shun, the adopted mortal son of Yao ruled China afterward. Having married Yao's daughters, he had several sons with godly attributes who descended to earth to dry the earth. Each son had the powers of the sun, but their power was so great that they scorched the earth and withered the crops of China. Yi, one of Shun's sons, slew his brothers to save the earth, but was stripped of his immortality as penance for their deaths. His wife, Cheng-O, the moon-goddess, also suffered his punishment. All the later Emperors of China were mortal as a result, although Yi and Cheng-O regained partial immortality afterward.
The mortal descendants of the Xian revered their ancestors as gods centuries afterward, and a few chosen mortals such as Guan Ti and Guan-Yin (who was also worshipped in Japan as the goddess Kwannon) were deified into gods as well. Several mortals were accepted by the Xian into the pantheon as gods, including the Ba Xian or "Eight Immortals." Although an edict by the Third Host of the Celestials forbade the Chinese Gods with trafficking with mortals, worship of the Chinese gods or Taoism, continued well into modern times. During the encounter with the Celestials, Yu Huang had met with the rulers of the other pantheons of earth and became a member of the Council of Godheads. As per a pact with Odin, Chieftain of the Asgardian gods, Yu Huang donated the necessary life-energies to Thor to restore the Gods of Asgard to life after the Fourth Host of the Celestials. Gradually, Taoism and worship of the Chinese Gods was overwhelmed by other local religions in China such as Buddhism and Confucianism. The multitude of the Chinese gods have remained outwardly unaffected by the change, embracing the few worshippers they have. Yu Huang still visits earth from time to time, and Yi still presides on earth, living a mortal life as a farmer.
Relationships to Other Pantheons: The Xian or Chinese Gods share Buddhist ties with both the Kami (Japanese Gods) and the Devas, or Hindu gods of India. In fact, several Hindu gods such as Ganehsa and Lakshmi have been revered in China and Japan under alternate names. Through the Council of Godheads, Yu Huang has strengthened several ties with the gods of the west first established by Marco Polo's exploration of Mongolia in the 13th Century. Chinese sailors carried Taoism through much of the Pacific of the Oceanic Gods, and archaeologically, Chinese traders might have had an influence on the tribes of North and Central America, most notably the Mayans and Aztecs who worshipped the Gods of Mexico, but this is unconfirmed.
Body Type: Humanoid
Average Height: 6' 0"
Average Weight: 450 lbs
Fingers: Five with opposable thumb
Special Adaptations: The Chinese Gods are exceptionally long-lived, but they are not immortal like the Olympian Gods, and like the Asgardians rely on drinks from the p'an-t'ao to sustain their youth and vitality. They are physically more durable than human beings; their skin, bone and tissue being three times more durable and dense than similar tissue in human beings.
Strength Level: The average male Chinese god possesses superhuman strength enabling him to lift (press) about 30 tons under optimal conditions; the average female Chinese goddess can lift (press) about 25 tons under optimal conditions.
Known Powers: The Chinese Gods possess superhuman strength, stamina, longevity and resistance to harm. They are also inclined to tap and manipulate mystical energies for feats of magic, mostly for altering their appearance, communicating over long distances, teleporting through dimension barriers and casting spells. The scope of their powers mostly limited to one object, idea or field, usually tied into their personality. For example, as the Chinese god of farms, Shen Nong has dominance over the earth, harvest and implements of farming, whereas, Yi, the Chinese god of the sun can generate intense light and heat equal to a small sun.
Known Abilities: The Chinese Gods are versed in a full range of martial arts superior to most forms of unarmed combat on earth, such as ninjitsu, tae kwan do, judo or karate. They also have skills equal to their fields of expertise, Chi-Yu, the war-god is well-versed in weapons, and Yu-Qiang the sea-god is an expert boatman in sailing and maneuvering on the ocean.
Type of Government: Imperial
Level of Technology: Magic
Cultural Traits: The Xian were worshipped as gods by the people of Ancient China which at its zenith included parts of Thailand, Mongolia, Burma, Indochina and even Korea. Their civilization greatly resembles the Imperial-style of China without any of the influence of Western Civilization. Their government though Imperial consists of a large bureaucracy of gods divided into several ministries controlling certain subjects, such as storm, medicine, water, time, mountains, exorcisms, war, literature, finances, public works and the underworld to prevent any one deity to gain too much power over any one area of worship.
Names of Representatives: Chang Mu, Cheng Hsian, Cheng-O, Chih-Nu, Chi-Yu, Er Lang, Gan Jiang, Guan Ti, Guan-Yin, Lei Kung, Shen-Nong, Shou-Hsing, Sien Tsian, Xi Wang Mu, Yen-Lo Wang, Yi the Sun-God, Yu-Ti, Yu Huang, Yu Qiang, Zhu Rong, et al.