Kuixing – the God of Examinations

Looking back to this time last year I would have just begun my A level Examinations, during those months all I wanted was some good luck and for all my hard work to pay off.

While sitting on a bench in the World Art Gallery unsure of what object to write about; I found myself surrounded by a swarm of school children pointing and gawking at colourful head dresses and bizarre masks from across the globe. This made me reflect on where I had been a year ago and how one day those children will have to go through the same ordeal of procrastination, stress and panic.

I carried on letting my eyes wonder around the room until they settled on a group of little male figures; these were the gods of Chinese mythology.

Kuixing - God of Examinations
Kuixing – God of Examinations

One in particular grasped my attention, Kuixing the god of examinations, an ugly little man with three prongs of pointed red hair grinned back at me through the glass cabinet. Also known as The Star Prince Kuixing is a nineteenth century delicately hand painted wooden carving made in the Middle East. The sculptor shows great skill by creating movement in a serpentine shape whilst managing to create perfect balance as the figure is shown in an open pose.

Kuixing is depicted standing on one foot balancing on the head of a dragon whilst holding a writing brush in his left hand and a tablet in the other, he is also referred to as the dipper or spoon as he is believed to be the chief star furthest from the handle of the Big Dipper. The story goes that Kuixing was a highly intelligent mortal but was hideously ugly. The emperor of the time wouldn’t allow him to work due to his repulsive appearance; Kuixing then decided to throw himself from a cliff but was saved by a dragon as he fell.

The dragon that he was saved by caused Kuixing to become an attendant to the literary god Wen-Cheng. Kuixing was appointed as the god of official documents and imperial exams, and now maybe even text messages and e-mails.

Alice Beesley, World Stories volunteer project assistant.

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