Asian horses of myth and legend

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

Appearing in many East Asian cultures, a “Chollima” means “thousand-li horse.” Also called “Qianlima” or “Senrima,” and “ the thousand-mile horse.”

The Chollima originated in the Chinese classics, and was said to be too swift and too elegant for mere-mortal man to ride.

“Qianlima” means “person with latent talent or ability.”

A “li” is a traditional Chinese unit of travel and distance. In ancient times, 1,000 “li” equaled 400Km. The fabled, winged Chollima could travel 400Km per day, every day.

The Chollima first appeared around the 3rd century BCE, beside “Bole,” a mythical horse tamer and servant of the Duke Mu of Qin. Bole was said to be an excellent judge of horses, and also of human character.

Artwork depicts the Chollima as high-headed and long on the back, with sparks flying from its hooves.

The Chollima horse has gained fame in recent years, since being adopted as a symbol of economic development and progress by the North Korean government. (1)

The “Tulpar” is the word used in Inner Asisan Turkic language that refers to winged horses.

Tulpars show up in many Inner Asian myths and legends.

One story talks about “Oskus-ool,” a Tuvan folk hero, and how he used the remains of his beloved Tulpar to create the very first fiddle.

It is thought that the Tulpar first originated as a symbolic combination of a bird of prey and a horse, each of which are methods used by the inhabitants of Central Asia for hunting.

The Tulpar is so crucial to Central Asian cultural identity that it appears in the state emblems of both Mongolia and Kazakhstan. (2)

The Kazak emblem has two golden Tulpars, along with the top of a “yurt,” or the traditional tent-home of the Kazaks, and the sun’s rays. A blue background represents the sky where the Tulpars run.

Bird and horse changes to hound and horse, forming the “Sighthound.”

Sighthounds or “Gazehounds” specialize in pursuing prey. They look like Greyhounds or Whippets, with deep chests.

A picture of the Sighthound merging together with a horse allowed for the word “Tulpar” to form.

The myth of the Four Mares of Diomedes, also known as the Mares of Thrace, tells of the Labors of Hercules and describes the mares as magnificent and wild. They were crazy, man-eating horses and it was thought that their strange diet made them insane and ruthless in battle.

Diomedes was a giant, and also the King of Thrace, and lived on the shores of the Black Sea.

The eighth Labor of Hercules’ twelve required him to capture and tame the mares, who breathed fire and were tied to a manger made of Bronze.

The mares were named “Xanthos the Yellow,” “Lampon the Shining,” “Podagros the Swift,” and “Deinos the Terrible.”

After capturing the Cretan Bull, Hercules set off to capture and tame the mares.

Several versions of the story exist, but both have Hercules feeding Diomedes to his own horses, which become calm afterwards.

The mares appear in Classical Greek mythology, and it is said that “Bucephalus,” who was Alexander the Great’s horse, is descended from their blood lines. (3)

Sounds wild and crazy. Leaving you with the magnificent stuff of Asian myth to the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1,2,3: Internet