The Xuangui, also called the twisting-turtles, are found along the Strange River that runs east of the Niu-Trees Mountain.The Xuangui are often described as black turtles (sometimes with some red stripes along their bodies) with a bird’s head and a viper’s tail. When swimming, they make sounds as if splitting wood with their beaks.
The shell of this legendary creature mentioned in many ancient Chinese bestiaries was said to have healing and protective properties.
Ancient tradition dictates that wearing a piece of the Xuangui’s shell as a charm around the neck or waist, will protect from deafness and calluses, enhancing the person’s hearing and cocooning his or her foot until all injuries could be cured.
In his work “Étude sur la mythologie et l’ethnologie de la Chine ancienne” Mathieu compares the Xuangui with to the Japanese water turtle Clemmys japonica, since this species is confined to the river and creeks originating from the Niu-Trees Mountain.
-Mathieu, R. (1983) Étude Sur la Mythologie et l’Ethnologie de la Chine Ancienne. Collège de France, Paris.
-Strassberg, R. E. (2002) A Chinese Bestiary: Strange Creatures from the Guideways Through Mountains and Seas. University of California Press.