Wuxia is a broad genre of Chinese fiction that concerns itself with martial arts adventures set primarily in ancient China. Although traditionally a literary art form, it is now also found in art, comics, films, games, television, theatre, and other media. Wuxia forms a large part of popular culture for most Chinese-speaking communities around the world.
What is Wuxia
The word “wuxia” is a compound word composed from the words xia (“honorable”, “chivalrous”), which is the philosophy of the Chinese knight-errant, and wu (“martial”, “military”), from the Chinese term wushu (“martial arts” or “kungfu”). A martial artist who follows the code of xia is often referred to as a “swordsman” in works of wuxia, although he may not necessarily wield a sword. He is also sometimes called a xiake (lit: “follower of xia”) or yóuxiá (“wandering xia”).
The heroes in Chinese wuxia do not usually serve a lord, wield military power or belong to the aristocratic class. They are often from the lower social classes in ancient Chinese society. Wuxia heroes are usually bound by a code of martial chivalry that requires them to right wrongs, especially when the helpless are oppressed. The wuxia hero fought for righteousness, typically, seeking to remove an oppressor, or to bring retribution for past wrong-doing. The Chinese xia traditions are similar to those of the Japanese samurai’s bushido, the chivalry of the Western European knights and the gunslingers of America’s Westerns.
The wuxia novel is a Chinese novel genre, which features martial arts heroes, i.e. swordsmen and those related to them, with the plot dedicating to the intricate relationships of honor, loyalty, love and hatred between individuals in the world of martial arts. There’s usually a thread of martial arts practice and demonstration running through the plot.
In most cases, wuxia novels are set in ancient China. And these novels have their unique cultural background with martial arts at the core, involving ancient Chinese medicine, Buddhism, Taoism, Yishu (the art of living with changes) and various types of occultism etc. So, the concepts of values held by the characters in wuxia novels as well as the main spirit of the whole work are based on the basic ideas of martial arts.
“Martial arts” means “to stop fighting” in ancient Chinese, in other words, to end conflicts with force. This means that the aim of martial arts practicing is to stop oppressing the weak by sheer strength. Guided by this thought, wuxia novels are created in a way that justice and evil are clear and definite.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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