Left: Hebei Right: Taihang mountains in Pingshan, Hebei (Wikimedia Commons)
As the legend goes, the Emperor of Wu of the Han dynasty suffered a disease involving skin “sores”. Some oracle about finding a spring water somewhere among the Taihang mountains that would heal him, but that the emperor had to search for it himself. So he rides a white deer day and night, rushing to Taihang mountains, in search of the healing hot spring. But the Taihang mountains where thousands of miles deep and wide, he travelled up and over the mountains, faced many hardships, searching for the grace of the gods, till he came to Pingshan. And there his deer runs up the riverstream, where undulating clouds are seen, and they find the healing hot spring waters gushing up. So according to legend, Emperor Han Wudi stops there for a few days and bathes daily until his sores are healed. While the legend of Emperor Han Wudi may not actually be verified, Pingshan Wentang, Hebei is the location of Baoquan shenshui (godly waters) hotsprings and a Wudi Hall exists within the extant hotspring temple, and south of the hotspring there is a Liutai shrine that commemorates the sacred white deer that Emperor Wudi rode.
White deer seen at Pingshan
According to another Chinese legend(known in Japanese as “Hakushika,” which literally means “white deer,”), the Tang Emperor Hsuan-Tsung who ruled from 712-756 and is known as the longest reigning emperor during the culture rich Tang Dynasty, found a white deer one day wandering in his palace gardens. Seeing that this rare and beautiful animal was adorned with a bronze medal indicating that the animal was 1000 years old, the Emperor recognized this as an auspicious sign symbolizing a long and prosperous life.
These legends of sacred white deer beg the question: Was Emperor Wudi a descendant of the Northeastern Tungusic people, that his spirit animal guide should be a white deer? Or was the Fujiwara ancestor of Wu royal ancestry of Hebei/Shandong?
Right: 絹本著色鹿島立神影図 奈良市指定文化財(絵画)
It also begs another question, any relation to the Fujiwara white deer legend of Kashima jinja? Kasuga sacred deer legend: the deity Takemimikazuchi-no-Mikoto arrived on the top of Mount Mikasa from Kashima Shrine in Hitachi Province (present-day Kashima Shrine in Kashima City, Ibaraki Prefecture), riding on a white stag / OR descended the mountain depending on the version riding a white deer in 768 see Essays on Japan, p 461
Deer Mandala of the Kasuga Shrine (春日鹿曼荼羅) – Muromachi Muromachi era 1st half of 15th c. Mary Griggs Burke Collection
The “Great God of Kashima” rode on a white deer from Kashima, Ibaraki, all the way to the Kasuga shrine in Nara as a divine messenger, and the deer became the symbol of Nara. Kasuga shrine has four main deities and the one of Wakamiya (the New Shrine) is seen as Buddhas standing on the branches. There are also wisteria blossoms (fuji), the symbol of the shrine and the Fujiwara family. Source:
The top part of the mandala shows Mount Mikasa in front of the Kasuga hills.
Sacred stag legends abound across Eurasia, likely of diffused Scythian and totemic Indo-European origins. We are reminded of the Golden stag of Artemis, the Hungarian Legend of the Wondrous (White) Hind and of Celtic tales and Arthurian myths (e.g. The white stag in Pwyll penduc Dyfed has a white body with red ears; King Richard’s White Hart; Yvain (at King Arthur’s court)’s white stag; St. Eustace legend; Odin/Thor; Cernunnos, Fionn, Gwynn ap Nudd are all deities associated with stags).
The Fujiwaras may just have had Amurian or Nanai ancestors (mtDNA N9b haplogroup or D4 Yakut-Siberian pastoralists) who travelled like the reindeer tribal people below:
A reindeer herder on China’s northeastern border with Russia.
Courtesy Wong How Man Source: China’s frontiers: Is there anything left to explore?
Timpton River Bank Yakutia/ Amur Oblast Siberia Source: Where East meets West meets Americas