An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Ru Shou 蓐收

Jul 14, 2012 © Ulrich Theobald

Ru Shou 蓐收 was in Chinese mythology an assistant spirit (shen 神) or "official" (si 司) of the mythical Emperor Shao Hao 少皞 (Di Zhi 帝摯). He is also said to have been one of the four uncles or a son of Shao Hao.

The history books Zuozhuan 左傳 and Guoyu 國語 call him Gai 該. The Shanhaijing 山海經 says that in his left ear a snake was living and that he used to ride on two dragons. He was the god of punishment (xingshen 刑神) and as a such he had the face of a human, but white hair and the claws of a tiger, an animal symbolizing death. Ru Shou's paraphernalium was an axe as a symbol of his jurisdictional power. Emperor Shao Hao and his assistant Ru Shou controlled the regions of the west, along the Kunlun Range 崑崙 and the area of the flowing sand (liusha 流沙).

The commentary Zhouli zhushu 周禮注疏 says that Ru Shou had the personal name Gai 該, and ruled the process metal.

Yuan Ke 袁珂, ed. (1985). Zhongguo shenhua chuanshuo cidian 中國神話傳說詞典 (Shanghai: Shanghai cishu chubanshe), 398.