Chinese Mythology

The Folk Gods and Spirits of the Middle Kingdom


Chinese Protection God

Also known as Li Ne-Zha, Li Nezha, Li No-Cha, Li No-Zha, Li Nozha, Na Cha, Na-Zha, No Cha

Unruly child-god who loved causing trouble

Even if you are well-versed in godly ways, it’s just possible his story could stretch your credulity. Formerly a monstrous immortal with three heads, eight arms and nine eyes, Nezha was sent down to Earth by the Jade Emperor to subdue a plague of demons.

Smuggled in by a fellow immortal, he turned up in the womb of Emperor Li Jing’s wife and would have been killed at birth if he hadn’t made certain Auspicious Signs and flashed a magic bracelet at them.

They called him Third Prince. Soon he was a strapping six-year-old lad, 6 ft tall and with pants of fire. Literally. One day, while he was paddling in the sea, he set it alight.

Puzzled by the mysterious flames, Ao Guang, the Dragon King of the Eastern Sea, sent his princely son Ao Bing to investigate. But in a playful mood of boyish high spirits, Nezha killed him. Oops.

The enraged King zoomed from his Underwater Palace seeking revenge, but was defeated himself in a most humiliating manner. The other Long Wang Ocean Dragons, pausing only to squabble over the empty throne, got their own back by bursting into the Emperor’s home and kidnapping both Li Jing and his wife.

This was a delicate situation requiring the utmost diplomacy and tact. So an abashed Nezha sulkily committed suicide and his parents were released.

But the next morning a rolling ball of flesh turned up at the palace. Li Jing sliced it open and zoom! there was Nezha again. His dad was very angry at all these goings-on, and tried to cut him down to size. Father and son battled furiously, and it looked like the end for Li Jing.

But the Jade Emperor, who couldn’t help feeling that his original plan had gone somewhat awry, intervened and made peace between them. Father and son joined forces and thus began their heroic career of demon-slaying.

Many years later, when Nezha was back in Heaven enjoying the rewards of his labors, mortals back on Earth began to worship him as a general purpose protective deity. Not only does he defend against dragons — he is also especially nice to truck and cab drivers. He is also invoked for help with lotteries and gambling. Of all the Chinese Gods, he’s probably the only one mischievous enough to reveal the winning numbers.

Nezha Facts and Figures

Name: Nezha
Pronunciation: Lee Nuh Jhar
Alternative names: Li Ne-Zha, Li Nezha, Li No-Cha, Li No-Zha, Li Nozha, Na Cha, Na-Zha, No Cha

Gender: Male
Type: God
Celebration or Feast Day: Unknown at present

In charge of: Protection
Area of expertise: Protection

Good/Evil Rating: Unknown at present
Popularity index: 23189

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Article last revised on September 25, 2018 by Rowan Allen.
Editors: Peter J. Allen, Chas Saunders

References: Coming soon.

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