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Zhu Bird: Mythical Chinese Bird From Shanhaijing

The Classic of Mountains and Seas records that on the Willow Mountain there is a bird whose form resembles an owl but with human hands instead of feet. It makes a sound similar to a female quail. It is called the Zhu (鴸) and makes a sound like its name.

Legend has it that this bird was metamorphosed from Yao's Son Danzhu. After Emperor Yao abdicated his throne to Shun, Danzhu revolted with the joint forces of Three Miao, Yao sent his forces to defeat the insurgence, Prince Danzhu was ashamed, and jumped into the South-sea, and metamorphosed in to a bird.

The descendants of Prince Danzhu set up a country near the territory of the South Sea, These people have a human face but with two wings.

It it said that the appearance of Zhu Bird is an omen that many officials in the district will be exiled by the ruler.


Danzhu (丹朱) was the son of the legendary Chinese Emperor Yao (Tang Yao). His mother was a concubine, San Yi.

He was described as vicious and a playboy, and his father Yao is said to have invented the game of Weiqi to favorably influence him. Various stories have him either banished, executed, or attempting (and failing) to kill his father. It was said that "those who had to try a lawsuit did not go to Danzhu, but to Shun."

Sima Qian wrote that "Yao's son Danzhu and Shun's son Shangjun were allowed to have their own territories in order to offer sacrifices to their ancestors", while Qiao Zhou wrote that "Yao's son was given benefice at Tang 唐."

The Bamboo Annals represent Yao as having banished prince Danzhu to Danshui in his 58th year of reign. They add that following Yao's abdication, Danzhu kept away from Shun, and that after the death of Yao, "Shun tried to yield the throne to him, but in vain." It was at this point that Shun invested Danzhu with T'ang. However, an alternative account elsewhere in the Annals holds that Shun dethroned and imprisoned Yao, raising Danzhu to the throne for a short time before seizing it himself.

Despite the fact that Danzhu did not succeed his father in most historical accounts, Danzhu is referred to with the title 帝 Di (Emperor) in Zhou writings.


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