Behind the Cards: The Yang Zing's Epic Poem

Franco Ferrara

8/22/2015 11:00:00 AM

Hello everyone, I'm back from my hiatus! Today's article will focus on the three new Yang Zing monsters released in Crossed Souls, and as a bonus we'll be Debunking some misinformation I've seen in common discussion.

As some of you might remember from previous articles, the Yang Zing monsters are based upon a set of poems from China's Forbidden City, titled ‘The Sons of the Dragon Emperor.' The characters of the Sons were employed heavily in the architecture of the city itself and can even be seen throughout our daily lives, in carved ornamental objects and even in modern architecture. The Yang Zing borrow many influences from Feng Shui too, as well as astrology, geomancy and the concept of qi, the energy of life, making the Yang Zing theme multi-dimensional in design and flavor.

Before we start, remember that the poem of the Dragon Emperors Nine Sons is subjective in that depending on who the teller of the poem was, there may be more than nine Sons of the Dragon Emperor. That means that while the most popular versions of the story portray only nine characters, there are potentially far more and therefore there could be a unique Yang Zing released to represent each one.

The Overlooked Children
As per usual, I came across a few misconceptions in popular Yu-Gi-Oh! sites created by fans, largely in two categories. The most frequent Mistake was the assumption that ‘fanlated' names were assumed to be true names endorsed by Konami. The second are confusions of contextual origins and historical Errors. Today we're looking into the Yang Zing, so obviously Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing and Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing, are the monsters I'm talking about. I've seen some people refer to them as 'purified' or ‘alter ego' versions of two previous Yang Zing monsters, Taotie, Shadow of the Yang Zing and Jiaotu, Darkness of the Yang Zing respectively. I think some may be a little off track with that statement.

I'm unsure why people are seeing that kind of association between these monsters, because there's nothing linking any of them. Looking back on the older Yang Zing articles I'd written before, most of you are familiar with the poem or tale of the Dragon Emperor and his nine Sons. They're the basis of the Yang Zing, and Konami's taken those dragon children and created a card for each one, which is a pretty awesome feat.

 Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing
Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing98423
Set Crossed Souls
Number CROS-EN024
Level 3
Type Pendulum/Effect Monster
Monster Wyrm
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 1500 / 0
Rarity Ultra Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect: You cannot Pendulum Summon monsters, except "Yang Zing" and "Zefra" monsters. This effect cannot be negated.

Monster Effect: If this card is Pendulum Summoned, or Special Summoned from the Main Deck: You can target 1 "Yang Zing" or "Zefra" monster you control, except "Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing"; that monster is treated as a Tuner monster this turn, also place this card on the bottom of the Deck when it leaves the field. You can only use this effect of "Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing" once per turn.

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So in truth, each Yang Zing monster is unique unto itself and not an actual ‘dark' or ‘light' version of any of the others. Each Yang Zing seems to be just as unique as each of the children it's based upon. Perhaps they reincarnate into one another just as they do in the card game, explaining how each one can be in the same place at the same time.

Next we come to the hybridization of the names of Zefraniu,Treasure of the Yang Zing and Zefraxi, Secret of the Yang Zing. The Zefra Yang Zings are based upon the dragon's sons Fuxi – pronounced something like ‘fooh-she' – and Qiuniu – pronounced like ‘key-new.'

Anyone who doesn't speak the language in which these names are based wouldn't necessarily know how to properly pronounce them phonetically sound out the letters. For example our ‘X' doesn't retain its harsh ‘-cks' sound in other languages, but a sound similar to ‘sh-' instead. Based on how people pronounce Baxia, Light of the Yang Zing and Bixi, Water of Yang Zing, I hear the ‘-cks' sound more often than the correct ‘she-‘ sound.

Symphony of the Yang Zing
Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing's a fascinatingly underrated card; it's one of the largest of the non-Synchro Yang Zing monsters in terms of DEF and Level. Physically, this monster's a wealth of visual gold and symbolism, possibly one of the best visual designs I've seen in Yu-Gi-Oh! to date. It's based on Qiu Niu, regarded in myth as the eldest of the Dragon Emperor's children albeit the smallest of them in size.

Qiu Niu avoids confrontation at all costs and has a passion for music. He was said to have such sensitive and precise hearing that he could distinguish any voice or sound from one another no matter the distance. Enthralled and enamoured with music, Qiu Niu was said to sit on instruments and languish in the sound. With such a predisposition for music, it's no wonder one can see the head of Qiu Niu carved atop the erhu, a Chinese two-stringed instrument. Carving the head of an instrument with the head of the Qiu Niu is said to give it a clear sound and protect its bearer from evil and malice.

That said, Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing shares some physical features with the erhu itself. Its neck contains the two Tuning pegs found on the erhu and even looks like the neck of the instrument. Attached through the nose of this monster are two prominent strings connected to a ring representing the two strings of the erhu, though where they lead on its body is unknown; it seems to disappear behind its cheeks. The ring and the Zefra crest represent the headstock decoration. The monster's skin color and exceedingly long body could be likened to the python skin used in quality erhu instruments, though that might be a bit of a stretch (no pun intended).

While the ‘Qiu-' portion of the name is no longer there, the ‘-niu' part does remain. There's a reason. One possible meaning of the word ‘niu' is ‘cow,' and Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing definitely has many cow-like features. The ears and even the horns of this are very bovine in form. Fascinatingly, the appendages of this monster end in a two-clawed ‘foot' much like a cow! Take a good look at a cow's hoof and you'll notice that it's in fact two ‘claw-like' appendages due to their cloven nature. Each hoof is divided into two parts and is actually known as a ‘claw'.

 Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing
Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing98424
Set Crossed Souls
Number CROS-EN025
Level 6
Type Pendulum/Effect Monster
Monster Wyrm
Attribute EARTH 
A / D 0 / 2600
Rarity Rare
Card Text

Pendulum Effect: You cannot Pendulum Summon monsters, except "Yang Zing" and "Zefra" monsters. This effect cannot be negated.

Monster Effect: When this card is Pendulum Summoned, or when this card is destroyed by battle or card effect while in your Monster Zone: You can add 1 "Yang Zing" or "Zefra" Spell/Trap Card from your Deck to your hand. You can only use this effect of "Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing" once per turn.

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The long, lolling tongue and the muzzle of Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing are also very bovine, but contorted enough to make it look dragonic. Finally, the tail of the monster is also tipped with a hair, similar to Bixi, Water of Yang Zing and Suanni, Fire of Yang Zing. That seems to highlight its animal-like form and its relation to its kin.

Finally, without spoiling too much about the Zefra theme which we'll save for a future article, the black Zefra core symbolizes Binah, the second sphere of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah. It's translated as ‘understanding' and the feminine mother. That bit of info becomes important later.

Gargoyle of the Yang Zing
Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing is much different than its counterpart mentioned above and even more distanced from its other Yang Zing kin. Its body almost seems to be carved from stone with its eyes lifeless and grey just like the rest of it's body. In fact its entire form could be likened to that of a gargoyle. As the embodiment of Fuxi from the poem mentioned above, Zefraxi loves nothing more than the written word and everything it encompasses. He's so enamored with language that it was said he enjoys calligraphy, reading and is fascinated by the art of writing itself. It's said that he's the only one of his siblings who is literate and well educated, though he has a tendency to be covetous of his materials.

Images of Fuxi are carved on ancient steles, monoliths and other stone ornaments adorned with script. According to various tales and writings, Fuxi enjoys sitting on gravestones and was even said to perch on ink stones, to be closer to the art it loves. Fuxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing's stony body is meant to pay tribute to its carved form; it looks like it would be perfectly at home amongst gargoyles and gravestones. This monster's body reflects a stylized grave marker, complete with the ridges seen on traditional East Asian graves, shown on its back, as well as the stylized ‘lunette' upon its forehead which highlights the Zefra crest. That could all be mere coincidence, but if you add everything together it all seems very intentional.

Fuxi's place amongst the Zefra is the sphere known as ‘Chesed,' the fourth sphere of the Tree of Life in Kabbalah. It roughly means ‘loving compassion, kindness, and favor' or in more interpretive phrasing, to "love thy neighbor and treat them as you would yourself." This is represented in Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing's ability to transform a non-tuner Zefra or Yang Zing monster into a Tuner. It's sort of like a gift from the Synchro-based Yang Zing theme, to pass on its ability to Synchro Summon. We'll delve into this in deeper context in a later article covering Zefras.

In light of the real-world background behind the two Yang Zing Zefra monsters, something interesting unites them beyond their match as a workable Pendulum scale. An old Chinese creation myth states that two creator gods – Fu Xi and Niu Wa, Zefraxi, Treasure of the Yang Zing and Zefraniu, Secret of the Yang Zing respectively – were responsible for creating mankind. Fu Xi was said to have the face of a man and the body of a dragon, while his sister and wife, Niu Wa, had the face of a woman and the body of a serpent.

These two figures were said to be responsible for creating and breathing life into the first humans. As a Pendulum Scale, these two monsters work together in the same manner as the two creator gods. Now, is it by coincidence that the two were released in the same set, and work together with the concept of a Pendulum Scale making them a pair? Possibly. Some of the iconography and metaphor overlap, making the similarities really stand out.

Majestic? No. More...
Finally, the last of the Yang Zings – Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing – has finally appeared, and it's one powerful monster! It seems like Chaofeng's a conglomeration of two beasts. Firstly, it has dragon-like fur, scales, whiskers and fangs. Secondly, it has colorful plumage with feathers on its tail, a beak, and wings, as well as bird's feet.

The name alone could be interpreted as a portmanteau of the words ‘chao,' meaning “to surpass” or “exceed,” and ‘feng,' which can mean “large” or “vast.” Although I suspect the ‘feng' aspect of the name pays homage to the word ‘fenghuang' – a name for the colorful Chinese phoenix – re-establishing its visual display. In respects to the son of the Dragon Emperor, the name of Chao Feng doesn't seem intended to mean dragon and phoenix. However, things are a Little Different in the world of Yu-Gi-Oh; hidden images and meanings are found just about everywhere.

 Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing
Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing98451
Set Crossed Souls
Number CROS-EN047
Level 9
Type Synchro/Effect Monster
Monster Wyrm
Attribute LIGHT 
A / D 2800 / 2200
Rarity Super Rare
Card Text

1 Tuner + 1 or more non-Tuner monsters
While this Synchro Summoned card is on the field, your opponent cannot activate effects of monsters with the same original Attribute(s) as the "Yang Zing" monster(s) used for the Synchro Summon of this card. When this Synchro Summoned card is destroyed by battle or card effect and sent to the Graveyard: You can add 1 Tuner monster from your Deck to your hand. Once per turn, when a monster(s) your opponent controls is destroyed by battle or card effect: You can Special Summon 1 Wyrm-Type monster from your Deck, in Defense Position, whose original Attribute matches the original Attribute that 1 of those destroyed monsters had on the field.

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The Chao Feng mentioned in the real world's ancient poems was said to enjoy nothing more than sitting upon high precipices and rooftops, staring off into the distance. Whilst sitting on his perches, he couldn't help but overhear conversations and was known to be quite the gossip. He was also mentioned to be nosy and would eavesdrop on privat conversations and personal secrets.

As the final Yang Zing Synchro monster so far, Chaofeng's unusual – unlike the Yang Zing Synchro monsters before it, the character's physical form isn't a combination of any other Yang Zing monsters. In fact, there's nothing about it that even slightly resembles other Yang Zings. Its tail feathers and body feature countless colors that could each represent one of the non-Synchro Yang Zings.

Interestingly enough, one monster does happen to look very similar in appearance to Chaofeng, Phantom of the Yang Zing, and that's Infernoid Devyaty. Both monsters share some physical similarities including general shape, wing placement, Level and even their stylized tails. Take that with a grain of salt and analyze it yourself, as this could be a curios coincidence rather than a fact...maybe.

I hope you enjoyed today's article. It's unlikely we'll see more Yang Zing monsters as most, if not all, of the sons from the original poem seem to now be represented in-game. Maybe in the new year some more support will surface. Join me again next time where we'll go in depth into the Zefra theme!

-Franco Ferrara

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