So, anyone who’s heard Wu-Tang Clan knows that RZA watched a bunch of kung fu flicks. After all, that’s where the name came from: “RZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard adopted the name for the group after seeing the kung-fu film Shaolin and Wu-Tang.” As some may already know, Shàolín is a Buddhist monastery in Henan Province that was founded in 495 CE.
Wǔdāng Shān is a holy mountain of Daoism and cult center for the god Zhēn Wǔ, who in his human incarnation attained immortality there. According to the Reed College website linked to above, “The earliest evidence for the existence of practicing Daoists on the mountain comes from the second century BCE.” The Five Dragon Hall was constructed in the Táng Dynasty, and a whole complex of temples and shrines were built during the Míng.
The serpent-and-tortoise icon of Xuán Wǔ, the “dark/mysterious warrior,” is one of the animals that symbolize the directions and elements: Xuan Wu corresponds to the direction North, the element of water and the color black. As you can see in the above image from his temple on Wudang Shan, Zhen Wu is portrayed in human form with the serpent and tortoise at his feet.
Under the Cantonese name Bok Kai, this god also has a temple in Marysville, California.
Peace to all the Gods and the Earths, word is bond
Wu-Tang slang, chopping heads boy
It ain’t safe no more!
-RZA, “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit”
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons, licensed under Creative Commons.