The HunDun of Chinese Mythology


The HunDun (混沌, or Hun Dun, Hun-Dun, Hun Tun) is a being of primordial chaos, known for his six feet, four wings, and featureless face. Translated as “muddled confusion,” his lack of eyes, nose, and mouth serve to highlight the directionless confusion of the chaos that he personifies.

While the HunDun is mentioned multiple times with varying details and backgrounds across Confucian, Taoist, and early Chinese myths, the one constant is his connection to chaos and the featureless face that pervades his descriptions across the texts.


In the ancient texts

One Confucian text refers to HunDun as one of the Sixiong 四凶 "Four Fiends,” the vile son of the Yellow Emperor. He was described as a villain at heart, who did not know righteousness and practiced the worst vices such as shamelessness, vileness, obstinance, and stupidity. He was called Chaos and was eventually banished by the renowned Shun, who would later become a legendary emperor.

The Taoist text Zhuangzi tells a famous story of the Hun-tun, who, in this parable, is the emperor of the Central Region. Two other emperors, Shu (the emperor of the South Sea) and Hu (the emperor of the North Sea) often met in Hun-tun’s territory, and, always being shown hospitality and generosity, thought of how to repay the emperor for the kindness they were shown. They decided that they would bore seven orifices in the featureless face of Hun-tun: two nostrils, two eyes, two ears, and a mouth. In this way, he could be like other men and be able to see, hear, eat, and breathe. They proceeded to bore one hole a day on Hun-tun, and upon the seventh day, he died. Some have interpreted this tale as a warning against trying to force order onto chaos.


The Chinese text, Classic of Mountains and Seas (山海經, or Shan Hai Jing), is a compilation of mythical creatures and geography. It documents a god/spirit on Tian Shan 天山 "Heaven Mountain" known as Di-jiang, and uses "hundun" (muddle thick) as an adjective to describe him. He is faceless, with four wings and six feet, and looks like a yellow sack and has a scarlet aura like cinnabar fire. He also likes to sing and dance!


In pop culture

The HunDun (or Dijiang) features in several video games, but has recently gained recognition due to his appearance in the recent Marvel film, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings as Morris, the cute and fluffy mascot of the film. In the movie, he is found in the dungeons and helps lead the heroes to the legendary Ta Lo, where several others like him are seen playing in the peaceful land surrounding the village.

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