Creation Story: Pangu and Nuwa
When I start to feature creation stories from around the world I want to show everyone that we are all connect to one another by a common thread. Now featuring Chinese creation in two parts.
In the beginning there was darkness everywhere, and Chaos ruled. Within the darkness there formed an egg, and inside the egg the giant Pangu came into being. For aeons, safely inside the egg, Pangu slept and grew. When he had grown to gigantic size he stretched his huge limbs and in so doing broke the egg. The lighter parts of the egg floated upwards to form the heavens and the denser parts sank downwards, to become the earth. And so was formed earth and sky, Yin and Yang.
Pangu saw what had happened and he was pleased. But he feared that heaven and earth might meld together again, so he placed himself between them, his head holding up the sky and his feet firmly upon the earth. Pangu continued to grow at a rate of ten feet a day for 18,000 years, so increasing the distance between heaven and earth, until they seemed fixed and secure, 30,000 miles apart. Now exhausted, Pangu went back to sleep and never woke up.
Pangu died, and his body went to make the world and all its elements. The wind and clouds were formed from his breath, his voice was thunder and lightning, his eyes became the sun and moon, his arms and his legs became the four directions of the compass and his trunk became the mountains. His flesh turned into the soil and the trees that grow on it, his blood into the rivers that flow and his veins into paths men travel. His body hair became the grass and herbs, and his skin the same, while precious stones and minerals were formed from his bones and teeth. His sweat became the dew and the hair of his head became the stars that trail throughout heaven. As for the parasites on his body, these became the races of humankind.
Although Pangu is dead, some say he is still responsible for the weather, which fluctuates according to his moods.
Nüwa, ancient Chinese goddess of creation and authority, because she's an amazing and powerful lady and also a giant snake woman, so there's basically nothing not to love. Nüwa is one of the or is oldest of all Chinese deities, originating in oral myth and folklore long before modern established Chinese religions, and a creator and parent figure to not only all of humanity but also the divine god-emperors who came after her.
She was the first being to exist at the beginning of the universe after the Pangu’s Death, the original Empress of Heaven who was later succeeded by younger gods who followed her, and the source from which all life and nature originally came thanks to her creative exploits.
In China's oldest flood myths, a devastating flood was brought about by Gong Gong, a malevolent dragon who sought to rebel against heaven when the powers of the universe attempted to reign in his powers over destruction. The majority of the inhabitants of the world were killed, the life-bearing parts of the land were flooded and drowned, and eventually Gong Gong smashed Buzhou Mountain, which collapsed, causing the sky to suddenly list and crack from the lack of support. He also tore a hole in the heavens themselves, disordering all the heavenly bodies, and continued to rampage until the fire god Zhurong defeated and quelled him.
Nüwa, seeing the massive cosmic destruction, acted quickly to counter it; she cut the legs from the great cosmic tortoise Xuanwu and placed them at the corners of the earth to become the new pillars holding and stabilizing the heavens, and then sealed the gaping hole in the skies with five colors of precious stones, which she gathered from the earth itself.
After the flood, only Nüwa and Fuxi remained in the decimated world. Although they were brother and sister, and therefore any marriage between them would be incestuous, Nüwa decided to go ahead and marry her brother anyway, the better to repopulate both heaven and earth. Chinese myth is very careful to remind us that it's not okay for humans to marry their siblings and that Nüwa and Fuxi are exceptions because of the dire circumstances of their union, but nevertheless the goddess became the representative of marriage as a stabilizing and creative force in society.
In addition to having children with Fuxi, she created all kinds of animals (in some alternative versions of the myth, she does this at the very beginning of the universe when even Fuxi does not yet exist in order to alleviate her own loneliness), followed by sculpting the first humans out of yellow clay. Although she carefully formed the first few, she eventually grew bored with the mundane manual task, and thereafter dipped a rope in the clay and used it to spray globs of it all over the place, each of which became a new human being. As the myth goes, the people Nüwa spent her personal time and loving care on became emperors, nobles and privileged people, while the ones made from haphazard rope-flicking became peasants, thus allowing ancient Chinese society to claim that there was an inherent divine reason why one class of people had more power and wealth than another.
These are some of her children: