XIAN (CHINESE GODS)
Classification: Gods (Extra-Dimensionals/Immortals)
Location/Base of Operations: Ta-Lo
Known Members: Guan Yu (god of war), Hou-Tou (Gaea), Kui Xing (god of paperwork & examinations), Lei Gong (god of thunder), Nezha (god of mischief), Shou-Hsing (god of health & longevity), Tian-Mu (goddess of lightning), Xi Wangmu (goddess of immortality), Yen-Lo Wang (god of death), Yu Huang (god of heaven), Zhu Rong (god of fire)
Affiliations: other races of Gods
Aliases: Taoist gods
First Appearance: Thor I#300 (October, 1980)
Powers/Abilities/Traits: The Xian all possess certain superhuman physical attributes. Although many Xian begin existence as mortals, upon eating the Peaches of Immortality ("P'an-t'ao") and achieving apotheosis, they are transformed into true immortals who cease to age and cannot die by conventional means. The Xian are immune to all terrestrial diseases and are resistant to conventional injury. If a Xian is wounded, his or her godly life force will enable him or her to recover at a superhuman rate. It would take an injury of such magnitude that it incinerates a Xian or disperses a major portion of his or her bodily molecules to cause him or her to die. Even then, it may be possible for a god of greater or equal power, or several gods acting together, to revive the deceased god before the god's life essence is beyond resurrection. Xian flesh and bone are about two times denser than similar human tissue, contributing to the gods' superhuman strength and weight. An average male god can lift about 20 tons; an average goddess can lift about 10 tons. Though generally weaker than Asgardian and Olympian deities, the Xian have proportionately faster reflexes. The gods' metabolism gives them superhuman endurance in all physical activities. Many Xian also possess additional superhuman powers derived from properly balancing the positive and negative "chi" energy within their physical forms. For instance, the thunder god Lei Gong possesses a drum and mallet that he uses to produce destructive blasts of thunder. Whereas most other Earth-based pantheons are akin to familial clans, the Xian are analogous to a vast government bureaucracy with a strict hierarchy of clearly defined roles and powers.
History: (Thor & Hercules: Encyclopedia Mythologica) - The Xian (also known as the Taoist gods) are a race of superhumanly powerful humanoid beings who have been worshipped by the Chinese and other East Asian cultures from 2000 BC into modern times. Most of the Xian dwell in Ta-Lo (also known as "Daluo Tian," the Great Canopy Heaven) and its 35 lesser heavens as well as Fengdu (the Taoist underworld), a small "pocket" dimension adjacent to Earth; interdimensional nexuses between Ta-Lo and Earth exist at each of the Five Great Mountains: Tai Shan in the East, Hua Shan in the West, Bei Heng Shan in the North, Nan Heng Shan in the South, and Song Shan in the Center. Ta-Lo and its associated heavens are also inhabited by beings other than the Xian, such as phoenix-like fenghuang, celestial dragons, the canine-like haetae, and the hooved qilin beasts. The Xian are called different names by their human worshippers; for example, the trickster god is known as "Nezha" by the Mandarin Chinese, as "Nataku" by the Japanese, and as "Zhongtan Yuanshuai" in Taoist texts.
The Xian's precise origin, like that of all Earth's pantheons, is shrouded in legend. According to ancient myths, Yuanshi Tianzun, the Primeval Lord of Heaven, emerged from "wuji," the primordial nothingness, as a result of the merging of the pure breaths of the Earth Mother Gaea (known as "Yin" to the Xian) and the Demiurge (known as "Yang" to the Xian). By preserving the universal balance of Yin and Yang, Yuanshi Tianzun reigned as the supreme administrator of Ta-Lo, and eventually began bestowing P'an-t'ao, the Peaches of Immortality, to mortals whom he deemed worthy of godhood. These newly apotheosized Xian began to assist Yuanshi Tianzun in administrating the heavens and Earth, and the Xian known as Yu Huang (the Jade Emperor) was personally selected by Yuanshi Tianzun to serve as his successor.
In approximately 1000 AD, Yu Huang met with his fellow Godheads from other Earth-based pantheons to discuss the threat posed by the Third Host of the extraterrestrial Celestials. The Godheads confronted the Celestials, who threatened to sever the dimensional passages connecting their respective realms to Earth unless they promised not to interfere with the Celestials' plans to judge humanity's worthiness. In modern times, after nearly all of the Asgardian gods were killed in a subsequent Celestial invasion, Thor traveled to Ta-Lo to obtain the life energies needed to resurrect the Norse pantheon, which Yu Huang readily gave him. However, upon the the Asgardian Sky Father Odin's death, Yu Huang was among the Council Elite members who deemed Thor unworthy to serve as Odin's replacement. Later, when the mad Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) was rendered nearly omnipotent and omniscient by the "Heart of the Infinite," Shou-Hsing was among the gods summoned to the Council of Godheads to address the threat. The Egyptian god Horus, who was most familiar with Akhenaten, used the Eye of Ra to spy on him, but Akhenaten detected them and destroyed Shou-Hsing as well as several other Godheads. However, the mad Titan Thanos later obtained the Heart of the Infinite and altered the timeline so that Akhenaten was never imbued with its power, thus diverging Shou-Hsing's death to an alternate reality. Most recently, Yu Huang attended the Council convened by Athena of the Olympian gods, where it was decided to send a team of Earth gods led by Hercules on a preemptive strike against the extradimensional Skrull gods who threatened Earth.
The Xian and the 36 Taoist heavens share many characteristics with the extradimensional Eight Capital Cities of Heaven and their inhabitants, who hold a tournament among their designated "Immortal Weapons" every 88 years to determine which city will manifest in the Earth realm most frequently. However, any connection between the Xian and the Eight Capital Cities of Heaven has yet to be revealed. Some scholars theorize that the inhabitants of the Eight Capital Cities have posed as the Xian at various points throughout history.
In his second appearance Marvel's Ho-Ti was curiously allied with the Chinese (rather than Japanese) government, in spite of his mythology (as member of the Kami, or Japanese Gods). The reason's for his defection to one of Japan's traditional enemies is unknown. Possibly, he also had worshippers in China and became an honorary member of the Xian (Gods of China).
The main image in this profile is by Gus Vasquez.
Thor & Hercules: Encyclopedia Mythologica, p62
Last updated: 08/25/03
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