A list of miscellaneous terms from Wuxia, Xianxia & Xuanhuan novels which weren’t included in the main glossary.
9 (九 jiǔ) – the number Nine is an auspicious number in China. It sounds just like 久 (jiǔ), which means “everlasting”. Perhaps because of this, Nine is strongly associated with Dragons and the Emperor. There are also Nine Heavens (九天), along with a lot of other symbolism.
81 (八十一) – the number Eighty-One is an auspicious and “complete” number in China, particularly because 9×9 = 81 (with 9 already being very auspicious). In several novels, cultivators must resist 81 lightning bolts while undergoing a Heavenly Tribulation. This might be a reference to Journey to the West, where the monk Xuanzang faces 81 tribulations along his journey. When he completes his journey and successfully transcends the tribulations, he attains Buddhahood.
100 (百 bǎi) – the number One Hundred can be used figuratively to mean “numerous” or “all kinds of”. So for example, if there’s a “Hundred Herbs Shop” in a novel, it probably means that the shop sells a wide variety of herbs, rather than literally 100 types.
10000 / Myriad (万 wàn) – the number Ten Thousand can be used figuratively to mean “myriad” or “innumerable”. This is actually the same as in English or Greek, where the word Myriad can mean either the number 10000 or an indefinitely large number. So if something in a novel is said to be “ten thousand years old”, that might actually mean it’s unfathomably ancient, rather than literally age 10000.
Amitabha / Amitābha (阿弥陀佛 ēmítuó fó) – a Buddha. He is known as the Buddha of Boundless Light. It is believed that people who sincerely call out his name will be welcomed into his Pure Land after they die. Because of this, Buddhist monks will often chant “Namo Amitabha” (a salutation to Amitabha) or say his name as a greeting or blessing for others.
Arhat (阿罗汉 āluóhàn) (罗汉 luóhàn) – sometimes written as Lohan or Luohan. A Buddhist title meaning “one who is worthy”. Arhats are basically Buddhist sages, often with magical powers.
- Buddhists disagree on what exactly an Arhat is. The Mahayana branch claims Arhats to be far advanced on the path to Enlightenment (but ultimately beneath Buddhas and Bodhisattvas), while the Theravada branch claims Arhats to be little different from a Buddha (both having attained nirvana).
Auspicious Clouds (祥云 xiángyún) (彩云 cǎiyún) (瑞霞 ruìxiá) – represent the Heavens and good fortune. Cloud (云 yún) sounds similar to Luck (运 yùn), and clouds float up in the sky – close to the Heavens. Auspicious Clouds are often red (a lucky color) and shaped like a Lingzhi Mushroom (the “mushroom of immortality”).
- Transcendent figures (Gods, Buddhas, Immortals, etc…) are sometimes said to ride on Auspicious Clouds.
Beggar Sect (丐帮 gàibāng) – also known as the Beggar Clan. A fictional martial arts sect which appears in many Wuxia novels. The sect is mostly made up of beggars and is renowned for its incredible information gathering skills. It’s commonly portrayed as the largest and one of the most powerful sects.
- 丐帮 would be more accurately translated as the Beggars Union or Beggars Association.
- Dog-Beating Staff (打狗棒) – also known as the Dog Beating Stick. The famous weapon carried by the Chief of the Beggar Sect. Only the Chief can wield the staff and learn the fearsome Dog-Beating Staff technique (打狗棒法) which complements it.
- Eighteen Dragon-Subduing Palms (降龙十八掌) – a very famous martial art of the Beggar Sect. Often called the most powerful ‘external‘ martial art in the world. Many novels (even non-Wuxia) make references to it.
Bodhi (菩提 pútí) (觉 jué) – a Buddhist term meaning “awakening” or “enlightenment“. The understanding of the true nature of things and the universe. A person who attains Bodhi becomes a Buddha and is freed from the cycle of reincarnation (samsara).
- The Bodhi Tree (菩提树 pútíshù) is the tree under which Siddhārtha Gautama meditated and attained enlightenment. Sacred Fig trees are often called Bodhi Trees because of this.
Bodhisattva (菩萨 púsà) – roughly means “one who is set upon enlightenment”. A Buddhist title for a person of great compassion who wishes to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings. They often have magical powers and are sometimes venerated as gods (or god-like beings). The Bodhisattva and “Goddess of Mercy” Guanyin is an example of this.
Buddha (佛 fó) (佛陀 fótuó) – means “awakened/enlightened one”. A Buddhist title for a person who has achieved perfect enlightenment and has escaped from the cycle of reincarnation (samsara). “Buddha” often refers to a particular person (Gautama Buddha / Siddhārtha Gautama), although it’s important to remember that there are actually multiple Buddhas in Buddhism.
- The title Tathagata / Tathāgata (如来 rúlái) roughly means “one who has thus come” or “one who has thus gone”. It refers to Buddhas and their transcendent nature (being part of the world and yet also being beyond it).
Buddha Palm (如来神掌 rúlái shénzhǎng) – also known as Buddha’s Palm. An iconic martial art technique seen in Wuxia novels, movies, and tv series. It’s a palm strike – usually a supernaturally powerful one.
Calabash (葫芦 húlú) – also called a Gourd or Bottle Gourd. It’s a fruit that, after being hollowed-out and dried, can be used as a container. In these novels, calabashes or gourds of wine are often mentioned. They’re also commonly seen as Storage Treasures or medicine containers. The association with medicine might come from Iron-Crutch Li of the Eight Immortals, who has a magical gourd containing miraculous medicine.
Cinnabar (丹 dān) (朱 zhū) (朱砂 zhūshā) – a red-colored ore (Mercury sulfide). Commonly used in ancient China to make bright red ink, lacquer and cosmetics. It was also highly valued in Chinese alchemy, particularly because liquid mercury (quicksilver) could be produced by burning it. Alchemists were fascinated by this and considered cinnabar/quicksilver to be a vital ingredient in making the Elixir of Life.
Confucius (孔子 / 孔夫子) – also known as Master Kong or the Great Sage. A very famous teacher/philosopher and the founder of Confucianism. He emphasized the importance of strict social etiquette and filial piety. Many wise sayings are attributed to Confucius.
Congee (粥 zhōu) (糊 hú) – a type of food. It’s a rice porridge or gruel.
Coolie (苦力 kǔlì) (苦工 kǔgōng) – unskilled workers or indentured servants who perform (often harsh) manual labor.
Dao-heart (道心 dàoxīn) – the heart’s path. Dao (道) can mean “path/road”, and Heart (心) can also mean “mind/core”. So a person’s Dao Heart is the direction they want to move in and what they truly desire from life, deep down in the core of their being.
- In cultivation novels, pure and resolute Dao Hearts are valued highly by cultivators. Cultivators who have weak Dao Hearts or who deny/betray their feelings won’t easily progress on the path of cultivation, and they may even face a deadly backlash.
Dragon Pearl (龙珠 lóng zhū) (如意珠 rúyì zhū) (宝珠 bǎo zhū) – also known as a Flaming Pearl. A symbol of spirituality, wisdom, truth, enlightenment, prosperity, good fortune, and the Sun & Moon. Dragons are commonly depicted holding or chasing after these flaming pearls. They’re also said to have great magical powers and to be capable of granting wishes.
- Human Cauldron (炉鼎 / 鼎炉) – also known as a Cauldron or Furnace. A person who is drained of their vital energies during Dual Cultivation.
Dugu 9 Swords (独孤九剑 dúgū jiǔjiàn) – also known as the Nine Swords of Dugu. A famous martial art created by the mythical Dugu Qiubai. The “Nine Swords” are nine sword stances, and each stance was designed to counter and defeat a particular type of weapon / martial arts. “Dugu 9 Swords” is referenced in several novels as a supreme martial art.
Earthfire / Earth Fire (地火 dìhuǒ) – in ancient China, natural gas fires and coal seam fires were sometimes called Earthfire. The fearsome and mysterious sight of fire suddenly flaring up from underground caused Earthfire to gain mystique, making it seem magical and more dangerous than “mundane” fire. In cultivation novels, Earthfire is typically a magical and powerful type of flame which cultivators use to do things like forging magical items or concocting medicinal pills.
Earthly Branches (地支 dìzhī) – a Chinese system for reckoning time, among other things. There are twelve Earthly Branches, each of which represents a particular double-hour, an animal in the Chinese Zodiac, a direction (in degrees), and more.
- The Chinese 60-Year Cycle (六十干支) makes use of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches.
Emei Sect (峨嵋派 éméi pài) – a fictional martial arts sect which appears in many Wuxia novels. It’s located on and takes its name from Mount Emei. It’s sometimes portrayed as an entirely female sect, perhaps because “Emei” (峨嵋 éméi) sounds just like “Beautiful Women” (蛾眉 éméi).
Essence of the Sun and Moon (日月精华 rìyuè jīnghuá) – the energy of the great celestial bodies. Practically the same thing as the Spiritual Energy of Heaven and Earth (天地之气), which is the natural energy of the world. Magical beasts are often said to cultivate by absorbing or swallowing the Essence of the Sun and Moon. If an ordinary plant or animal absorbs enough natural energy, then they can gain magical powers or even eventually transform into a Demon (妖).
Fellow Daoist (道友 dàoyǒu) – a title meaning “friend of the Dao”. Daoists commonly address each other as “Fellow Daoist”.
Five Grains (五谷 wǔgǔ) – a grouping of vital crops in ancient China. This includes rice, wheat, beans, and two types of millet. In cultivation novels, “Five Grains” is sometimes used to refer to the food of mortals in general (which Immortals and cultivators might refrain from eating).
Granny Meng (孟婆) – also known as Meng Po or Old Lady Meng. The Goddess of Forgetfulness in Chinese mythology. She resides in the Chinese Underworld, near the Bridge of Helplessness. Prior to reincarnation, the souls of the dead are made to drink Granny Meng’s soup, which erases their memories of their previous lives.
- Granny Meng’s Soup (孟婆汤 / 迷魂汤) – also known as the Waters of Oblivion or the Five Flavored Tea of Forgetfulness. Varying sources refer to it as a soup, broth, tea, brew, or elixir.
- Bridge of Helplessness (奈何桥) – also known as the Naihe Bridge or the Bridge of Despair. A bridge which spans the River of Forgetfulness. The souls of the dead must drink Granny Meng’s soup and cross the bridge before they can reincarnate.
- River of Forgetfulness (忘川) – also known as the Wangchuan River or the River of Oblivion. A river in the Chinese Underworld, analogous to the River Lethe of Greek mythology.
Gu Poison (蛊 gǔ) – a demonic poison produced through sorcery / black magic. The basic method of producing it involved sealing several different poisonous or venomous creatures in a container and waiting until there was a single survivor. It was believed that the poison from all the other creatures would be concentrated in the survivor as Gu poison.
- Gu (蛊) can also refer to any sorcery that harms humans.
Guanyin (观音) – a Bodhisattva and the Goddess of Mercy. A very popular goddess. Her name roughly means “Perceiver of the World’s Sounds”. She is sometimes depicted with a thousand arms, which she uses to reach out to and comfort all of the suffering people in the world.
Heavenly Stems (天干 tiāngān) – also known as the Celestial Stems. A set of ordinal numbers, originally used for the days of the week in ancient China. There are ten Heavenly Stems, and each of them also symbolizes either a Yin or Yang aspect of one of the Five Elements.
- The Chinese 60-Year Cycle (六十干支) makes use of the Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches.
Horse Stance (马步 mǎbù) – an important, fundamental posture in Chinese martial arts. It’s commonly used to practice punching or to strengthen the legs and back. The Horse Stance takes its name from the posture used while riding a horse.
Hun and Po (魂魄 húnpò) – the dualistic components of a soul. Hun is the spiritual, intelligent, and Yang component of the soul. Po is the physical/corporeal, animalistic, and Yin component of the soul. Upon death, the Hun component goes to the afterlife, while the Po component remains and rots away in the corpse. In Daoism, the soul is said to consist of three Hun and seven Po (三魂七魄).
Kalpa (劫波 jiébō) – a Hindu/Buddhist term for an “Aeon”. A very very long period of time, or the period of time between the creation and recreation of a world or universe.
Kasaya (袈裟 jiāshā) – the robes worn by Buddhist monks and nuns.
King Yama (阎王 / 阎罗王) – also known as King Yan. The Ruler of the Underworld, the Judge of the Dead, and the Overseer of the Cycle of Reincarnation. He is assisted by (or is one of) 10 Yama-Kings who hold court in the Underworld and judge the souls of the dead based on records of their past deeds. The Yama-Kings administer punishments and determine how the souls will be reborn in their next lives.
- The Underworld (地狱 diyu) – also known as Hell, the Netherworld (冥界), or the Yellow Springs (黄泉). There are said to be eighteen levels of the Underworld, where sinners are punished prior to reincarnation.
- Ox-Head and Horse-Face (牛头马面) – two guardians who meet with the newly dead and escort them through the Underworld.
- The Black and White Guards of Impermanence (黑白无常) – two deities who serve as subordinates to King Yama and guardians of the Underworld.
Ksitigarbha / Kṣitigarbha (地藏 dìzàng) – a great Bodhisattva who resides in the Underworld and vowed to forego Buddhahood until all souls are saved (achieve enlightenment). His name can mean “Earth Treasury”, “Earth Store”, “Earth Womb”, or “the one who encompasses the earth”.
Kunlun (昆仑 / 昆仑山) – a mystical mountain in Chinese mythology. A dwelling place of Gods, Immortals, and mythical creatures. Somewhat analogous to Hinduism’s/Buddhism’s Sumeru. Not to be confused with the real-world Kunlun Mountains.
Laughing Buddha (布袋 bùdài) – a Buddha commonly depicted as a very fat and jovial monk – symbolizing happiness, good fortune, and abundance. He is sometimes conflated with the prophesized Maitreya Buddha, who is a savior-like figure and the successor of Gautama Buddha.
Life Tablet (命简 mìngjiǎn) – also known as a Life Slip. A magical item which is intangibly connected to a cultivator. If the cultivator dies, their life tablet will subsequently shatter – no matter how far away it is. In some novels, sects keep track of their disciples’ statuses using life tablets.
- Life tablets are slightly similar to the spirit tablets used in ancestor veneration.
Longan (龙眼 lóngyǎn) – a type of fruit, also known as the “Dragon Eye Fruit”. Similar to a Lychee. Medicinal pills in Chinese cultivation novels are sometimes described as being “the size of a longan“.
Magic Power (法力 fǎlì) – basically a cultivator’s mana or spiritual energy.
Mantou (馒头 mántou) – a type of food. It’s a steamed bun.
Mantra (曼特罗 màntèluó) (咒語 zhòuyǔ) – a sacred utterance believed to have spiritual power and chanted to assist in meditation. In cultivation novels, they typically act as spells.
Mother-Child / Mother-and-Child (子母 zǐmǔ) – a set of objects consisting of a primary (mother) object and secondary/supporting (child) objects. In these novels, it is generally used to refer to weapons. For example, Mother-Child Swords might consist of a main sword paired with one or more lesser swords.
Mount Tai (泰山 tàishān) – a mountain in China, considered to be sacred. Ceremonies and sacrifices have been performed there for thousands of years.
- There are several popular idioms which refer to Mount Tai. A few of them can be found here.
Mustard Seed (芥菜籽 jiècàizǐ) – a tiny plant seed. In these novels, “Mustard Seed” is sometimes mentioned in the context of storage treasures and dimensional spaces (basically: pocket dimensions). The reason for this is explained here.
Nine Cauldrons (九鼎 jiǔ dǐng) – a set of nine ritual cauldrons which symbolized the power and authority of the Emperor in ancient China. They were supposedly created by Yu the Great, and subsequent Chinese Emperors used them in ceremonies for ancestor worship. The Nine Cauldrons were lost at some point in history.
Nine Cycles (九转 jiǔ zhuàn) – a term which basically means “Perfect”, “Complete”, or “Consummate“. It’s occasionally included in the names of cultivation methods, mystic arts, martial arts techniques, etc…
- 九转 is often translated in many different ways. Some examples include: “Nine Circles”, “Nine Turns”, “Nine Rotations”, “Nine Revolutions”, or “Nine Reversions”.
- This term is derived from ancient Daoist cultivation and internal alchemy. On the path to immortality, Daoists commonly compared the refinement of the Golden Elixir (金丹) and the cultivation of the Immortal Embryo (仙胎) to fetal development and childbirth (example). Just like human fetuses require 9 months of gestation to fully develop, ancient Daoists believed their cultivation would require 9 cycles of transformations in order to reach a state of completeness and perfection.
Nine Heavens (九天 jiǔ tiān) – in ancient Chinese cosmology, the Heavens were sometimes thought to be divided into 9 vertical layers, and the Ninth Heaven was considered to be the Highest of the Heavens. Alternatively, the divisions were thought to consist of the eight cardinal directions plus the center.
Nirvana (涅槃 nièpán) – a Buddhist term meaning “extinguished; blown out” (as in a candle). It’s the realization of non-self and emptiness when a person achieves Enlightenment, and it liberates the person from karmic bondage and the cycle of reincarnation (samsara).
- With nirvana, the thing being extinguished is either the person’s sense of “self” or the metaphorical “fire” which keeps the cycle of reincarnation turning.
- The seven stars of the Northern Dipper are called the Celestial Pivot (天枢), Celestial Rotating Jade (天璇), Celestial Shining Pearl (天机), Celestial Balance (天权), Jade Sighting-Tube (玉衡), Opener of Heat (开阳), and Twinkling Brilliance (摇光).
Nuwa / Nüwa (女娲) – the goddess who created humanity in Chinese mythology. She’s also famous for mending the Heavens after a war between two other gods destabilized the world. Nuwa is the sister and wife of Fuxi, a god of invention and civilization.
Other Shore (彼岸 bǐ’àn) – a Buddhist term referring to “perfection” (see: Paramita). The etymology of the Sanskrit term can be taken to mean “that which goes beyond” or “gone to the other side”. The idea is that achieving enlightenment is like crossing a river and arriving on the opposite shore.
Pangu (盘古) – the creator of the universe in Chinese mythology. Pangu was born from a cosmic egg in the primordial chaos. He then summoned a giant axe and cleaved the chaos – separating Yin and Yang and creating order from chaos. Yin formed the Earth, while Yang formed the Heavens. However, Pangu later died from his exertion.
Parasol Tree (梧桐 wútóng) – also known as the Chinese Parasol Tree or the Wutong Tree. A type of tree which is widely-planted and considered beautiful and useful in China. In mythology, Phoenixes like to nest in Wutong trees.
- “Phoenix” here refers more specifically to the Fenghuang (凤凰) and Luan (鸾) Birds.
Peacock Plume (孔雀翎 kǒngquè líng) – also known as the Peacock Feather. A famous hidden weapon (暗器) which resembles a tail feather of a peacock. It’s a projectile weapon often described as being dazzlingly beautiful and containing a lethal poison. It appears in many novels (even non-Wuxia).
Phoenix Eyes (丹凤眼 dānfèng yǎn) – also known as Red Phoenix Eyes. An eye shape in which the outer corners of the eyes incline upwards. They are considered striking, beautiful, and alluring.
Pipa (琵琶 pípa) – a musical stringed instrument. Sometimes translated as “Lute”.
Practitioner (武者 wǔzhě) – roughly means “martial person” … in other words, a Warrior or Martial Artist.
- In some novels, Practitioners are distinguished from Cultivators (武者 vs 修者, wuzhe vs xiuzhe). When this is the case, Practitioners are portrayed as mere mortals who train their bodies and martial arts using mundane methods, while Cultivators train using mystical methods and can potentially ascend to immortality.
Pure Land (淨土 jìngtǔ) – a Buddhist term for a sacred or holy land, typically the adobe of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. Pure Lands are somewhat similar to the Secret Realms seen in cultivation novels.
Purple Qi from the East (紫气东来 zǐqì dōng lái) – also known as Violet Qi from the East. A profound spiritual energy and supernatural phenomenon closely linked to Daoism.
Qing (青) – sometimes called “grue” or blue-green in English. Qing is the color of nature. It can be Green, Blue, or Black… the specific color it refers to changes based on context. In most cases (particularly with plants/vegetation), it’s Green. When referring to the sky, it’s Blue. When referring to hair or eyes, it’s Black (or “Dark”). These are just a few examples.
- More information here.
Realgar (雄黄 xiónghuáng) – a toxic mineral. In ancient China, realgar powder was frequently sprinkled around houses to repel pests (like snakes, rats, and insects). Because it was believed to have the power to “ward off evil”, people would sometimes drink realgar wine or use realgar as medicine… not knowing that it was actually toxic.
Samadhi / Samādhi (三昧 sānmèi) – the Sanskrit word for “Concentration” (related to Meditation) brought to China via Buddhism.
- Samadhi True Fire (三昧眞火) is a reference to the mystical and inextinguishable flame of the character Red Boy from Journey to the West.
Samsara / Saṃsāra (轮回 lúnhuí) – the Buddhist term for the cycle of reincarnation, in which all living beings are trapped in suffering. Escape is only possible through enlightenment and attaining nirvana.
Sandalwood (檀 tán) – a type of wood popular for its fragrance. It’s commonly used in religious ceremonies and by monks as a meditation aid.
Scholartree / Scholar Tree (槐 huái) (槐树 huáishù) – a type of tree considered auspicious. In the past, many Scholartrees were planted in the Imperial Palace, and the Emperor and his officials would often have discussions under their shade.
Sea of Bitterness (苦海 kǔhǎi) – a Buddhist term used to describe the mortal world, which Buddhists see as metaphorically drowning in suffering (Dukkha).
Secret Realm (密境 mìjìng) – a minor world/land which is partitioned off from the rest of the mortal world (usually in a separate dimension with a hidden entrance connecting the two). In these novels, cultivators often attempt to find Secret Realms and raid them for the rare treasures, herbs, and beasts within.
Sedan Chair (舆 yú) (轿 jiào) – also translated as a “Litter” or “Palanquin”. A seat or carriage carried on poles by people as a means of transportation. Used mostly by the elite of society, who would sit or lay in it and have their servants carry them around.
Shaolin Sect (少林派 shàolín pài) – a fictional Buddhist martial arts sect which appears in many Wuxia novels. It’s based on the real-life Shaolin Temple (少林寺). It’s commonly portrayed as one of the largest and most powerful orthodox sects.
Stele (碑 bēi) (石碑 shíbēi) – a rectangular tablet with inscriptions on it, often erected at tombs or temples. They act as gravestones or are meant to commemorate something.
Sumeru (须弥 xūmí) (须弥山 xūmíshān) – a sacred, cosmic mountain in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Sun Wukong (孙悟空) – also known as the Monkey King (猴王) or the Great Sage Equal to Heaven (齐天大圣). A mythological monkey with incredible strength, speed, and supernatural powers. His name means “Monkey Awakened to Emptiness”. Sun Wukong is a very famous trickster figure best known for his role in the novel Journey to the West, where he accompanied and protected the monk Tang Sanzang during the eponymous journey.
- Ruyi Jingu Bang (如意金箍棒) – the legendary weapon of the Monkey King. It can be translated as the “Compliant Gold-banded Staff“. It’s an immensely heavy staff which can make copies of itself and can magically expand or contract (in both length and width) according to the wishes of the user. It was supposedly originally used by Yu the Great to measure the depths of the sea and flood waters. When Sun Wukong isn’t fighting with it, he normally shrinks it down to the size of a needle and tucks it behind his ear.
Sunflower Manual (葵花宝典 kuíhuā bǎodiǎn) – an infamous martial arts manual which requires practitioners to castrate themselves before they can begin training. In The Smiling Proud Wanderer, Dongfang Bubai (“the Invincible of the East”) became the most powerful martial artist in the world after mastering its secrets. The Sunflower Manual is referenced in many other novels as well.
Taiji (太极 tàijí) – sometimes translated as the “Supreme Ultimate” or “Supreme Polarity”. Taiji is the cosmological term for the “oneness before duality” in the primordial universe. Daoists claim that Taiji (the initial singularity) birthed Yin and Yang. And from the intermingling of Yin and Yang, everything in the universe eventually came into being.
- More information here.
- The famous martial art Tai Chi is named after this term.
- Modern Taiji philosophy emphasizes the importance of balancing and harmonizing Yin and Yang. The “Yin-Yang Symbol” that most people imagine when they think of Daoism is actually a Taiji diagram.
Tang Clan (唐门 táng mén) – also known as the Tang Sect. A fictional martial arts clan which appears in several novels. Their members usually bear the “Tang” surname. The Tang Clan specializes in poisons and hidden weapons (暗器). They’re said to be located in Sichuan Province.
Three Treasures (三宝 sānbǎo) – Essence, Qi, and Spirit. Three essential energies which are thought to sustain life. The term “Three Treasures” (三宝) can also refer to the Three Treasures of Daoism or Buddhism, but this isn’t as commonly seen in Chinese webnovels.
- Essence (精 jing) – basically “lifeblood”.
- Qi (气 qi) – basically “spiritual energy” or “the breath of life”.
- Spirit (神 shen) – basically “the mind” or “consciousness”.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (中医 zhōngyī) – medical knowledge, skills, and practices which were used in China for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Western medicine. TCM is still widely-practiced today, although much of it is now considered to be alternative medicine. Herbal remedies, Acupuncture, and Moxibustion were commonly used in TCM.
- The doctors in Wuxia / Xianxia / Xuanhuan novels often diagnose patients simply by reading their pulse, use needles to treat all kinds of illnesses, and prescribe herbs and elixirs to patients. This all comes from TCM.
Triangular Eyes (三角眼 sānjiǎo yǎn) – eyes which are shaped vaguely like triangles. Triangle Eyes are sometimes considered to be ugly or shifty, as opposed to Phoenix Eyes (丹凤眼) which are considered to be beautiful and alluring.
Turtle Breathing Art (龟息功 guīxīgōng) (龟息大法 guīxīdàfǎ) – also called the Turtle Breathing Method. A fictional martial arts technique used to restrain one’s breath and reduce one’s heartbeat. It’s a powerful concealing technique which can even allow the user to feign death.
Twenty-Eight Mansions (二十八宿 èrshí bāxiù) – part of the Chinese constellation system. Ancient Chinese astronomers divided the night sky into four regions, each named after one of the four divine beasts (Azure Dragon, Black Tortoise, White Tiger, and Vermilion Bird). Each of the four regions has seven mansions, for a total of twenty-eight mansions. These mansions were used to track the Moon’s movement in its orbit around Earth.
Vajra (金刚 jīngāng) – means both “Thunderbolt” and “Diamond”. The Vajra symbolizes Irresistible Force (thunderbolt) and Indestructibility (diamond). In Hinduism, the Vajra is the invincible weapon of the chief god Indra, who uses it to slay sinners and ignorant people. In Buddhism, the Vajra symbolizes Bodhi (enlightenment), which can descend on a person like a thunderbolt and pierce through all ignorance.
- The weapon form of the Vajra (金钢杵) is commonly called the Vajra Scepter, Vajra Pestle, or Thunderbolt Mace.
Weiqi (围棋 wéiqí) – means “encircling game”. A strategic board game played on a grid with white and black game pieces (stones). Sometimes translated as Chess or Chinese Chess, but it is better known by the Japanese name for the game: “Go”. It should not be confused with the other game of Chess.
Wooden Fish (木鱼 mùyú) – a musical percussion instrument. Often used by Buddhist or Daoist monks during their rituals.
Wuji (无极 wújí) – sometimes translated as “Without Ultimate” or “Without Polarity”. Wuji is the cosmological term for the nothingness prior to the birth of all things in the universe. Daoists claim that from the Nothingness (Wuji) came Oneness (the Taiji singularity), which in turn birthed the Duality of Yin and Yang, which then intermingled to form all things.
Young Master (少爷 shàoye) (公子 gōngzǐ) – a form of address for the son of an important person (such as an official, a noble, or a boss). In these novels, a common trope has the main character unintentionally offend an arrogant and spoiled young master, who then becomes an antagonist. The young master inevitably draws his family or backers into the conflict when he fails to defeat the main character.
- Other terms of address commonly used in Chinese cultivation & martial arts novels can be found here.
Zhoutian (周天 zhōutiān) – sometimes translated as “Universe” or “Cosmic Orbit”. It’s an obscure Daoist term relating to the methods of Qi Circulation. Daoists in ancient times took inspiration from the movements and cycles of the Sun, Moon, and Stars. They then started practicing certain meditation and breathing exercises, which they believed would allow them to control the flow of Qi through their meridians (in imitation of the movements of celestial bodies).
- Microcosmic Orbit (xiǎo zhōutiān) – also called a “Small Universe”. This is a basic form of Qi Circulation, wherein the practitioner controls their Qi to flow from the Dantian, through the Governing Vessel, through the Conception Vessel, and back into the Dantian in a full circuit. The Qi is purified during this process.
- Macrocosmic Orbit (大周天 dà zhōutiān) – also called a “Big Universe”. This is an advanced form of Qi Circulation, wherein the practitioner controls their Qi to flow from the Dantian, through all Eight Extraordinary Meridians and throughout their entire body, and then back into the Dantian. This is supposedly more effective, but also much more difficult.