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Ao (turtle)

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Title: Ao (turtle)  
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Subject: AO, Tiantai Mountain, Zhaoyuan, Shandong, Snakes in Chinese mythology, Black Tortoise
Collection: Chinese Legendary Creatures, Legendary Turtles
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Ao (turtle)

Ao (Chinese, Áo) is a large marine turtle in Chinese mythology. He was thought to have lived in the South China Sea during the time of the formation of the world. When the goddess Nüwa, creator of mankind, was repairing the sky after a disaster, she chopped off Ao’s four legs and used them as supports.

Another myth claims that Ao still lives and resides in the Bohai Sea, where he carries the three islands of the Eight Immortals (Penglai, Fangzhang, and Yingzhou) upon his back.[1]

He is thought to have been an influence on the later half-dragon, half-turtle figure of Bixi in imperial Chinese sculpture. Bixi was considered a son of the Dragon King who was able to carry enormous weights upon his back; figures of the dragon-turtle bearing memorial stelae are common monuments throughout East Asia.

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