Giant salamander is commonly known as “Baby Fish”. The Chinese character“Ni (in its Chinese name)” is composed of character“yu (fish in Chinese)” and “er (child in Chinese)”and it carries a rarely known love story.
Long long ago, there was a Xianfeng Mountain at the upstream of Yangtze River. In the mountain there was a natural cave and an underground river originated here flew through the village at the mountain foot. The village was called Ni Village and the villagers always drank from the river generation after generation, all healthy and had long lives. This is because a black fish spirit that ate Polygonum multiflorum was living in the river for over a thousand years, and its wastes became the magical medicines for the longevity of the villagers.
It is said that the black fish cultivated itself into a beautiful girl, calling herself “Mountain Girl”. Sometimes when she was happy, she would sing some beautiful exotic songs with her high pitch voice.
One day, Ni Wei, a woodcutter from the village, was attracted by the songs of Mountain Girl.He came to the mountain and they fell in love at first sight. Then Mountain Girl came to the village with Ni Wei, and cured the blind, the deaf, the dumb, and the handicapped in the village. Several months passed by, Mountain Girl and Ni Wei got married and Mountain Girl was pregnant.The Gnome knew this and reported to Jade Emperor at the Heavenly Palace. Jade Emperor was furious because man and spirit should never get married and sent heavenly army to arrest the couple. Although Mountain Girl fought fiercely with the heavenly soldiers she was defeated in the end because of the huge difference in strength between them. Then, she felt severe pain in the belly, and gave an early delivery. She ran to the deep of the cave, and put her babies of a half-man and half-fish shape into a ditch, and covered them with gravel. After that, she went out of the cave and ran with her husband who was then seeking for her to a cliff to distract the soldiers who were chasing them. The moment the couple jumped into the cliff, two beautiful rainbows appeared above the valleys. Under the rainbows were two mountain peaks connected to each other, which looked like a young couple hugging each other from a distance, and became the Couple Peaks. Next to the peaks, there was a deep river pool named Black Fish Pool. Later, a temple was constructed in memory of Mountain Girl by the villagers, with numerous visitors each year.
After the death of Ni Wei and Mountain Girl, the villagers found a kind of animal with half-man and half-fish shape in the stream from the cave to the mountain foot, which cried like baby at night. The villagers had never heard of this before, so they believed that they were the children of Ni Wei and Mountain Girl. They never hurt them, and protected and treated them like god, and fed them with earthworms, green worms, shrimps and fishes.
Some people called them “Baby Fish”. A teacher in the school of the village thought the name was poor, so he combined character“Er (in Chinese Character)”, the right half of character“Ni (in Chinese Character)” and “Yu (in Chinese Character)” to form a new character“Ni (in Chinese Character)”, and then added a “Da” from “Weida (means great) to the new “Ni” to form a more elegant name: Da Ni (giant salamander).