From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Is a collection of cultural history,
folktales, and religions that have been passed down in oral
or written tradition. These include creation myths and
legends and myths concerning the founding of Chinese culture
and the Chinese state. Like many mythologies, it has in the
past been believed to be, at least in part, a factual
recording of history.
Historians have conjectured that the Chinese mythology
began in 12th century B.C. The myths and the legends were
passed down in oral format for over a thousand years, before
being written down in early books such as Shan Hai Jing.
Other myths continued to be passed down through oral
traditions such as theatre and song, before being recorded
in the form of novels such * Hei'an Zhuan - Epic of Darkness
Literally Epic of the Darkness, this is the only collection
of legends in epic form preserved by a community of the Han
nationality of China, namely, inhabitants of the Shennongjia
mountain area in Hubei, containing accounts from the birth
of Pangu till the historical era.
Imperial historical documents and philosophical canons
such as Shangshu, Shiji, Liji, Lüshi Chunqiu, and others.
Some myths survive in theatrical or literary formats, as
plays or novels. Important mythological fiction which is
seen as definitive records of these myths include:
Verse poetry of ancient states such as Lisao by Qu Yuan
of the Chu state.
Fengshen Yanyi (封神演義), or Anointing of the Gods, which is
mythological fiction dealing with the founding of the Zhou
Journey to the West, by Wu Cheng'en and published in the
1590s, a fictionalised account of the pilgrimage of Xuanzang
to India in order to obtain Buddhist religious texts, in
which the pilgrims encounter a variety of ghosts, monsters,
and demons as well as the Flaming Mountains.
Baishe Zhuan, a romantic tale set in Hangzhou involving a
snake who attained human form and fell in love with a man.
Shangdi (上帝), appears in literature probably earlier
than 700 BC as Huangtian Dadi 皇天大帝 very occasionally as
皇天上帝, (the dating of these occurrences depends on the date
of Oracle Bones and the
Shujing, aka "Book of Documents"). When Huangtian Dadi was
used it refers to Jade Emperor or Yu Huang, and Tian 天 and
Jade Emperor were synonymous in Chinese prayers.
Yu Di (玉皇 or 玉帝 or Jade Emperor), appears in literature
after the establishment of Taoism in China, but the position
of Yu Huang dates back to beyond the times of Huangdi, Nuwa
Tian (天, or Heaven), appears in literature probably
about 700 BC, or earlier (the dating of these occurrences
depends on the date of the Shujing, aka "Book of
Documents"). There are no "creation" oriented narratives for
'Heaven', although the role of a creator is a possible
interperatation. The qualities of 'Heaven' and Shangdi
appear to merge in later literature (and are worshipped as
one entity ("皇天上帝") in, for example, the Temple of Heaven in
Beijing). The extent of the distinction (if any) between
them is debated. The sinologist Herrlee Creel proposes that
an analysis of the Shang oracle bones shows Shangdi preceded
'tian' as a deity, and that Zhou Dynasty authors replaced
the term Shangdi with tian to cement the claim of their
Nüwa (女媧), appears in literature no earlier than about
350 BC. Her companion was Fuxi (伏羲), the brother and husband
of Nuwa. These two beings are sometimes worshipped as the
ultimate ancestor of all humankind. They sometimes believe
that Nuwa molded humans from clay for companionship. They
are often represented as half-snake, half-human creatures.
Nüwa was also responsible for repairing the sky after Gong
Gong damaged the pillar supporting the heavens (see below).
Pangu (盤古), written about 200 AD by the Daoist author Xu
Zheng, was a later myth claiming to describe the first
sentient being & creator.
Three August Ones and Five Emperors
Following on from the age of Nuwa and Fuxi (or
cotemporaneous in some versions) was an age known as the
Three August Ones and Five Emperors (三皇五帝). This involves a
collection of legendary rulers who ruled between c. 2850 BC
to 2205 BC, the time preceding the Xia dynasty.
The list of names comprising the Three August Ones and
Five Emperors vary widely between sources (see Three August
Ones and Five Emperors for other versions of the list). The
version in the widest circulation (and most popularly known)
The Three August Ones (Huang):
Fuxi (伏羲) - The companion of Nuwa.
Shennong (神農) - Shennong, literally meaning "Divine Farmer",
reputedly taught the ancients agriculture and medicine.
Huang Di (黃帝) - Huang Di, literally meaning, and commonly
known as, the "Huang Emperor"(normally "黄" means "yellow",
however it doesnt mean "yellow" here. See below for the full
explaination of "皇帝"), is often regarded as the first
sovereign of the Chinese nation.
(Source: Shangshu (尚書))
The Five Emperors (Di):
Shaohao (少昊) - Leader of the Dongyi or "Eastern
Barbarians"; his pyramidal tomb is in present-day Shandong
province. [clarification needed]
Zhuanxu (顓頊) - Grandson of the Huang Emperor
Emperor Ku (帝嚳) - Great grandson of the Huang Emperor;
nephew of Zhuanxu.
Yao (堯) - The son of Ku. His elder brother succeeded Ku, but
abdicated when he was found to be an ineffective ruler.
Shun (舜) - Yao, passing over his own son, made Shun his
successor because of Shun's ability and morality.
These rulers were generally regarded as extremely moral and
benevolent rulers, examples to be emulated by latter day
kings and emperors. When Qin Shi Huang united China in 221
BC, he felt that his achievements had surpassed those of all
the rulers who have gone before him. Hence, he combined the
ancient titles of Huang (皇) and Di (帝) to create a new
title, Huangdi (皇帝), usually translated as Emperor.
Shun passed his place as leader of the Huaxia
tribe to Yu the Great (禹). According to legend, the Yellow
River was prone to flooding, and erupted in a huge flood in
the time of Yao. Yu's father, Gun, was put in charge of
flood control by Yao, but failed to alleviate the problem
after 9 years. He was executed by Shun, and Yu took his
father's place, and led the people in building canals and
levees. After thirteen years of toil, flooding problems were
solved under Yu's command. Shun enfeoffed Yu in the place of
Xia, in present-day Wan County in Henan. On his death, Shun
passed the leadership to Yu. The main source for the story
of Yu and the Great Flood comes from The Counsels of Yu the
Great in the Classic of History (尚書·大禹謨). Because of his
achievement in resolving the Great Flood, Yu, alone among
the mythological rulers, is usually called "Yu the Great"
(大禹). Alternatively, he is called Emperor Yu (帝禹), like his
from the shang dynasty
Upon Yu's death, his position as leader was passed not to
his deputy, but was inherited by his son Qi. Various sources
differ as to the process by which Qi rose to this position.
Most versions agree that during his lifetime, Yu had
designated his deputy, Gaotao (皋陶), to be his successor.
When Gaotao died before him, Yu then selected Gaotao's son,
Bo Yi (伯益) as successor. One version then says that all the
peoples who had submitted to Yu admired Qi more than Bo Yi,
and Yu passed power to Qi instead. Another version holds
that Bo Yi ceremoniously offered the position to Qi, who
accepted, against convention, because he had the support of
other leaders. A third version says that Qi killed Bo Yi and
usurped his position as leader.
A 4th version, the currently most accepted version in
China says, Yu named Bo Yi as successor, because Bo Yi had
achieved fame through teaching the People to use fire to
drive animals during hunts. Bo Yi had the popular support of
the People and Yu could not go against it easily. But Yu
gave Bo Yi the empty successor title, without giving Bo Yi
more responsibilities. Instead Yu gave his own son all the
responsibilities of managing the country. After a few years,
Bo Yi lost popularity without additional achievements, and
Yu's son Qi became more popular among the People. Then Yu
named Qi as the successor. Bo Yi, however, did not lose
willingly. Bo Yi challenged Qi for leadership, and a civil
war ensued. Qi with great support of the People, managed to
defeat Bo Yi's forces, and killed Bo Yi, and solidified his
In any case, Qi's succession broke the previous
convention of meritorious succession, and began what is
traditionally regarded as the first dynasty in Chinese
history. The dynasty is called "Xia" after Yu's centre of
The Xia Dynasty is considered at least semi-mythological.
The Records of the Grand Historian and the Bamboo Annals
record the names of 17 kings of the Xia Dynasty. However,
there is no conclusive archaeological evidence of its
capital or its existence as a state of any significant size.
Archaeological evidence do not point towards a significant
urban civilisation until the Shang Dynasty.
Jie, the last king of the Xia Dynasty, is said to be a
bloodthirsty despot. Tang of Shang, a tribal leader,
revolted against Xia rule and eventually overthrew Jie and
established the Shang Dynasty, based in Anyang. In Book 5 of
Mozi, Mozi described the end of Xia dynasty and the new
Shang dynasty. During the reign of King Jie of Xia, there
was a great climactic change. The paths of the sun and moon
were different, the seasons were confused and the five
grains were dried up. Ghouls were crying in the country and
cranes shrieked for ten nights. Heaven ordered Shang Tang to
receive the heavenly commission from Xia dynasty. The Xia
dynasty have failed morally and Heaven has determined her
end. Therefore, Shang Tang was commanded to destroy Xia with
the promise of Heaven's help. In the dark, Heaven destroyed
the fortress' pool. Shang Tang then gained victory easily.
The Shang Dynasty ruled from ca. 1766 BC to ca. 1050 BC.
It came to an end when the last despotic ruler, Zhou of
Shang, was overthrown by the new Zhou Dynasty. The end of
the Shang Dynasty and the establishment of the Zhou is the
subject of the influential mythological fiction, Investitute
of the Gods (封神演義). Book 5 of Mozi also described the shift.
During the reign of Shang Zhou, Heaven could not endure his
morality and his neglect of timely sacrifices. It rained mud
for ten days and nights, the nine cauldrons (presumably used
in either astronomy or to measure earth movements) shifted
positions, pontianaks appeared and ghosts cried at night.
There were women who became men, the heaven rained flesh and
thorny brambles covered the national highways. A red bird
brought a message "Heaven decrees King Wen of Zhou to punish
Yin and possess its empire". The Yellow River formed charts
and the earth brought forth mythical horses. When King Wu
became king, three gods appeared to him in a dream, telling
him that they have drowned Shang Zhou in wine and that King
Wu was to attack him. On the way back from victory, the
heavens gave him the emblem of a yellow bird.
Unlike the preceding Xia Dynasty, there is clear
archaeological evidence of a government centre at Yinxu in
Anyang, and of an urban civilization in the Shang Dynasty.
However, the chronology of the first three dynasties remains
an area of active research and controversy.
Creation and the Pantheon
The Jade Emperor is charged with running of the three
realms: heaven, hell and that of the living. The Jade
Emperor adjudicates and metes out rewards and remedies to
actions of saints, the living and the deceased according to
a merit system loosely called the Jade Principles Golden
Script (玉律金篇, see external links). When judgments proposed
were objected to, usually by other saints, the
administration would occasionally resort to the counsels of
the advisory elders.
The Chinese dragon is one of the most important mythical
creatures in Chinese mythology. The Chinese dragon is
considered to be the most powerful and divine creature and
is believed to be the controller of all waters. The dragon
symbolised great power and was very supportive of heroes and
gods. One of the most famous dragons in Chinese mythology is
Yinglong "Responding Dragon", said to be the god of rain.
Many people in different places pray to Yinglong in order to
receive rain. In Chinese mythology, dragons are believed to
be able to create clouds with their breath. Chinese people
sometimes use the term "Descendants of the Dragon" as a sign
of their ethnic identity.
For the most part, Chinese myths involve moral issues
which inform people of their culture and values.
Religion and mythology
There has been extensive interaction between Chinese
mythology and the major belief systems of Confucianism,
Taoism, and Buddhism.
On the one hand, elements of pre-Han dynasty mythologies
such as those in Shan Hai Jing were adapted into these
belief systems as they developed (in the case of Taoism), or
were assimilated into Chinese culture (in the case of
Buddhism). On the other hand, elements from the teachings
and beliefs of these systems became incorporated into
Chinese mythology. For example, the Taoist belief of a
spiritual paradise became incorporated into mythology, as
the place where immortals and deities dwell.
Wade-Giles romanization Ma-wang-tui
Archaeological site uncovered in 1963 near Changsha, Hunan
province, southeastern China. It is the burial place of a
high-ranking official, the marquess of Dai, who lived in the
2nd century bc, and of his immediate family. He was one of
many petty nobles who governed small semiautonomous domains
under the Han dynasty. The tombs were discovered during the
construction of a hospital.
The almost perfectly preserved body of the marquess’s
wife was found in tomb number one; it subsequently was
placed on exhibit in a specially designed museum in
Changsha. In the same tomb, an exquisite banner was
discovered in 1972 that shows the noblewoman on her journey
to heaven. This banner has become important for the
information that it provides about ancient Chinese religious
beliefs and practices. Also uncovered at Mawangdui were
lacquers and silks that have shed light on artistic styles
of the Han period.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Chinese: 馬王堆; pinyin: Mǎwángduī, lit. "Horse King
Mound") is an archaeological site located in Changsha,
China. The site consists of two saddle-shaped hills and
contained the tombs of three people from the western Han
Dynasty. The tombs belonged to the first Marquis of Dai, his
wife, and a male who is believed to be their son. The site
was excavated from 1972 to 1974. Most of the artifacts from
Mawangdui are displayed at the Hunan Provincial Museum.
The tombs and occupants
The tombs followed a mixture of Western Han Dynasty and Chu
burial practices. The tombs were made of large cypress
planks. The outside of the tombs were layered with white
clay and charcoal; white clay layering was a practice that
originated with Chu burials, while charcoal layering was a
practice that was followed during the early western Han
Dynasty in the Changsha area. The tombs contained nested
lacquered coffins, a Chu burial custom. The tombs also
followed the burial practices dictated by Emperor Wen of
Han, containing no jade or precious metals.
The eastern tomb, Tomb no. 1, contained the remains of a
woman in her fifties (Lady Dai). Her mummified body was so
well-preserved that researchers were able to perform an
autopsy on her body, which showed that she probably died of
a heart attack. Specifically, her diet was too rich in
sugars and meats, and she suffered from arterial-coronary
problems. Buried with her were skeletons of various
food-animals, jujubes, lotus soup, grains and a complete
meal including soup, rice and meat skewers on a lacquer set.
Researchers found honeydew melon seeds in her stomach,
inferring consumption right before death. She outlived the
occupants of the other two tombs. Her personal name was
Western Han (202 BC - 9 AD) era lacquerwares and lacquer
tray unearthed from the 2nd-century-BC Han Tomb No.1 at
MawangduiXinzhui's tomb was the best preserved tomb by far
of the three tombs. A complete cosmetic set, lacquered
pieces and finely woven silk garments with paintings are
almost perfectly preserved. Her coffins were painted
according to Chu customs and beliefs with whirling clouds
interwoven with mystical animals and dragons. The corpse was
bound tightly in layers of silk cloth and covered with a
wonderfully painted T-shaped tapestry depicting the
netherworld, earth and heavens with Chinese mythological
characters as well as Xinzhui. There was also a silk
painting showing a variety of exercises researchers call the
forerunner of Tai ji.
The western tomb, Tomb no. 2, was the burial site of the
first Marquis of Dai, Li Cang (利蒼). He died in 186 BC. The
Han Dynasty had appointed Li Cang as the chancellor of the
Kingdom of Changsha. This tomb had been plundered several
times by grave robbers.
Tomb no. 3 was directly south of Tomb no. 1, and
contained the tomb of a man in his thirties who died in 168
BC. The occupant is believed to be a relative of Li Cang and
his wife. This tomb contained a rich trove of military,
medical, and astronomical manuscripts written on silk.
Tombs 1 and
One famous artifact type were the lacquered
wine-bowls and cosmetic boxes , which showcased the
craftsmanship of the regional lacquerware industry. The
perfectly preserved 2,000+ year-old corpse of the inhabitant
(Marquise of Dai) of Tomb no. 1 is by far a more famous
One of the most famous artifacts from Mawangdui were the
silk funeral banners; the T-shaped banners were draped on
the coffin of Tomb no. 1. The banners depicted the Chinese
abstraction of the cosmos and the afterlife at the time of
the western Han Dynasty. A silk banner of similar style and
function were found in Tomb no. 3 on the coffin of Lady
The T-shaped silk funeral banner in the tomb of the
Marquise (tomb no. 1) is called the "name banner" with the
written name of the deceased replaced with their portrait.
We know the name because the tomb's original inventory is
still intact, and this is what it is called on the
inventory. The Marquise was buried in four coffins, the silk
banner drapes the innermost of the coffins.
On the T-shaped painted silk garment, the uppermost
horizontal section of the T represents heaven. The bottom of
the vertical section of the T represents the underworld. The
middle (the top of the vertical) represents earth. In heaven
we can see Chinese deities such as Nuwa and Chang'e, as well
as Daoist symbols such as cranes (representing immortality).
Between heaven and earth we can see heavenly messengers sent
to bring Lady Dai to heaven. Underneath this are Lady Dai's
family offering sacrifices to help her journey to heaven.
Underneath them is the underworld - two giant sea serpents
The contents of Tomb no. 2 were destroyed during various
attempts to rob the grave. An excavation report has been
published within the last 5 years in Chinese, there has not
been a publication of the tomb contents in English yet.
Tomb no. 3 contained a silk name banner (similar to that
of tomb 1) and three maps drawn on silk: a topographic map,
a military map and a prefecture map. The maps display the
Hunan, Guangdong and Guangxi region and depict the political
boundary between the Han Dynasty and Nanyue. The maps are
some of the oldest discovered in China. At the time of its
discovery, they were the oldest maps yet discovered in
China, until 1986 when Qin State maps dating to the 4th
century BC were found.
Tomb no. 3 contained a wealth of classical texts. The
tomb contained texts on astronomy, which accurately depicted
the planetary orbits for Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and
Saturn and described various comets. The tomb also contained
a rich collection of Huang-lao Taoist texts, as well a copy
of the Zhan Guo Ce. The tomb also contained various medical
texts, including depictions of qigong (tao yin) exercises,
as well as a historical text, the Chunqiu shiyu.
The Ten Suns of Heaven
In the beginning, there were ten suns, the sons
of Di Jun, Chinese Emperor of the Eastern Heavens,
and his wife Xi He, goddess of the sun. They lived
in a giant mulberry tree that grew up from the
waters of the Heaven Valley - waters that were
always boiling hot because the suns all bathed
there. Each morning, the suns took it in turns to
shine in the sky, leaving the others resting in the
tree. But one day, bored with their orderly life,
they all rushed up into the sky at once and ran
round wildly having fun. Their tenfold strength
began to scorch the earth but when their parents
told them to behave and come down they would not
listen. So Di Jun sent his archer, Hou Yi, to teach
his sons a lesson. Yi then shot down nine of the ten
suns. Di Jun was devastated and he stripped Yi and
his wife Chang E of their immortality and banished
them from heaven.
THE FUNERAL BANNER OF LADY DAI
China, second century ВС
This funeral banner divides into four sections. The
top rectangle depicts deities in heaven.
The section below, from the heavenly gates to Lady
Dai, shows how mortals ascend to heaven
to become immortals. The third section, below the
upturned bell, shows the mourning people
who have survived the deceased, and the fourth,
below the altars full of food, is a
reproduction of the afterlife.
Chang E Flees to the Moon
Here, Chang E, Hou Yi's wife who lost her
immortality when her
husband did, travels up to heaven. After his
disgrace, Hou Yi
travelled to the Киn Lun Mountains to bring back a
immortality. There was enough for one person to
return to heaven
and live as an immortal, or for two to become
immortal. Hou Yi had
planned to share it with Chang E, hut she stole all
of it and
floated into the sky to live in the temple of the
first mythical emperor of China. His miraculous birth, as a
divine being with a serpent’s body, is said to have occurred
in the 29th century bce. Some representations show him as a
leaf-wreathed head growing out of a mountain or as a man
clothed with animal skins. Fu Xi is said to have discovered
the famous Chinese trigrams (baqua) used in divination
(notably in the Yijing) and thus to have contributed, in
some uncertain way, to the development of the Chinese
writing system. He domesticated animals, taught his people
to cook, to fish with nets, and to hunt with weapons made of
iron. He likewise instituted marriage and offered the first
open-air sacrifice to heaven. A stone tablet dated 160 ce
depicts him with Nü Gua, a frequent companion, who was
either his wife or sister.
central figure in Chinese Daoist legends of creation. Pan
Gu, the first man, is said to have come forth from chaos (an
egg) with two horns, two tusks, and a hairy body. Some
accounts credit him with the separation of heaven and earth,
setting the sun, moon, stars, and planets in place, and
dividing the four seas. He shaped the earth by chiselling
out valleys and stacking up mountains. All this was
accomplished from Pan Gu’s knowledge of yinyang, the
inescapable principle of duality in all things.
Another legend asserts that the universe derived from Pan
Gu’s gigantic corpse. His eyes became the sun and moon, his
blood formed rivers, his hair grew into trees and plants,
his sweat turned to rivers, and his body became soil. The
human race, moreover, evolved from parasites that infested
Pan Gu’s body. These creation myths date from the 3rd to the
6th century. Artistic representations frequently depict Pan
Gu as a dwarf clothed with leaves.
Pun Gu holds the
Pan Gu Creates the World
In the beginning, the universe was contained
within an egg, inside which the vital forces
of yin (dark, female, and
cool) and yang (light, male,
and hot) interacted with each other. Inside
the egg, Pan Gu, formed from these forces,
slept for 18,000 years. When he awoke, he
stretched and broke the egg. The heavier
elements inside the egg sank to form the
earth, and die lighter ones floated to form
the sky. Between the earth and the sky was
Pan Gu. Every day, for another 18,000 years,
the earth and sky separated a little more,
and every day Pan Gu grew at the same rate
so that he always filled the space in
between. At last the earth and sky reached
their final positions, and exhausted, Pan Gu
lay down to rest. But he was so worn out
that he died. His torso and limbs became the
mountains. His eyes became the sun and moon,
his flesh the land, his hair the trees and
plants, and his tears the rivers and seas.
His breath became the wind, and his voice
the thunder and lightning. Finally, Pan Gu's
fleas became humankind.
Nuwa, Chinese creator goddess
Creation myths of NU Wa
Human beings were created by the goddess Nu
Wa, either out of mud and water, or with her
brother Fu Xi. Wanting the gods' approval,
she and Fu Xi lit two bonfires and said, "If
Heaven wants us to marry, may the smoke of
the two fires mingle; if not, may it drift
in separate ways". It mingled, so they
married; but Nu Wa was shy and covered her
face with a fan - as brides still do today.
Nu Wa felt protective towards humanity. When
Gong Gong, the Water God, made holes m the
sky during a battle with Zhu Rong, the Fire
God, and die whole world was unbalanced and
ravaged by fire and flood, Nu Wa melted
stones to plug the gap and make the sky as
good as new. And, to make it extra safe, she
killed a giant turtle and used its four legs
as pillars to support the four corners of
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Nüwa, Chinese creator goddessNüwa (Traditional
Chinese: 女媧; Simplified Chinese: 女娲; Pinyin: nǚwā, also
Nü Gua or Nügua) is a goddess in ancient Chinese
mythology best known for creating mankind and repairing
the wall of heaven. Later traditions attribute mankind's
creation to either Pangu or Yu Huang.
Nüwa primary sources
Nüwa was referred to in many books of songs. Below
are some of the common sources that describe Nüwa,
tabled in chronological order. The list below did not
include those of local tribal stories or modern
reinterpretations, often adapted for screenplay. (Note:
please maintain pattern of date, author, book, chapter,
account, and detail for future additions.)
1) (Warring States - early Han) editor: Liu
Xiang, book: Shan Hai Jing, chapter 16, account: Nüwa's
intestines scatter into ten spirits. Not to be confused
with Nǚwá 女娃 also known as Jingwei.
2) (475 - 221 BC) author: Lie Yukou, book:
Liezi, chapter 5: "Questions of Tang" (卷第五 湯問篇),
paragraph 1: account: "Nüwa repairs the heavens" detail:
Describes Nüwa repairing the imperfect heaven,. detail:
The heaven was imperfect at the beginning, Nüwa uses
five colored stones to repair the heaven, cut the legs
of a tortoise and use them as struts to hold up the sky.
But later, Gong Gong bumps into the mountain "buzhou"----
which holds up the sky, so the world inclines again, all
river run to the east and stars begin to move.
3) (340 - 278 BC) author: Qu Yuan, book:
"Elegies of Chu" (Chuci), chapter 3: "Asking Heaven"
(问天, or Wentian), account: "Nüwa Mends The Firmament"
detail: The name Nüwa first appeared here. This story
states that Nüwa molded figures from the yellow earth,
giving them life and the ability to bear children.
Demons then fought and broke the pillars of the heavens.
Nüwa worked unceasingly to repair the damage, melting
down the five-coloured stones to mend the heavens.
4) (179 - 122 BC) author: Liu An, book:
Huainanzi, chapter 6: Lanmingxun (覽冥訓), account: "Nüwa
Mended the Sky" detail: In remote antiquity, the four
poles of the Universe collapsed, and the world descended
into chaos: the firmament was no longer able to cover
everything, and the earth was no longer able to support
itself; fire burned wild, and waters flooded the land.
Fierce beasts ate common people, and ferocious birds
attacked the old and the weak. Hence, Nüwa tempered the
five-colored stone to mend the heavens, cut off the feet
of the great turtle to support the four poles, killed
the black dragon to help the earth, and gathered the ash
of reed to stop the flood. Variation: The four corners
of the sky collapsed and the world with its nine regions
Nuwa and Fuxi as depicted from murals of the Han Dynasty
(206 BC – 220 AD)
5) (58 - 147 AD) author: Xu Shen, book: Shuowen
Jiezi, entry: Nüwa detail: The Shuowen is China's
earliest dictionary. In it, Nüwa is said to have been
both the sister and the wife of Fuxi. Nüwa and Fuxi were
pictured as having snake like tails interlocked in an
Eastern Han dynasty (+25 +220) mural in the Wuliang
Temple in Jiaxiang county, Shandong province.
6) (618 - 907 AD) author: Li Rong, book: Duyi Zhi
(獨異志); vol 3, account: "opening of the universe"
 detail: There was a brother and a
sister living on the Kunlun Mountain, and there were no
ordinary people at that time. The sister's name was Nüwa.
The brother and sister wished to become husband and
wife, but felt shy and guilty about this desire. So the
brother took his younger sister to the top of the Kunlun
Mounatain and prayed: "If the heavens allow us to be man
and wife, please let the smoke before us gather; if not,
please let the smoke scatter." The smoke before them
gathered together. So Nüwa came to live with her elder
brother. She made a fan with grass to hide her face.
(The present custom of women covering their faces with
fans originated from this story.)
7) (618 - 907 AD) author: Lu Tong, book:
Yuchuan Ziji (玉川子集), chapter 3 detail: characters:
"與馬異結交詩" 也稱 "女媧本是伏羲婦", pinyin: "Yu Mayi Jie Jiao Shi"
YeCheng "Nüwa ben shi Fuxi fu", English: "NuWa
originally is Fuxi wife" (note late date)
8) (618 - 907 AD) author: Sima Zhen, book:
Four Branches of Literature Complete Library (Siku
Quanshu) , prologue chapter to Sima Qian's Shiji:
"Supplemental to the Historic Record – History of the
Three August Ones" detail: The three August Ones (San
Huang) are: Fuxi, Nüwa, Shennong; Fuxi & Nüwa have the
same last name Feng (風). note: Sima Zhen's commentary in
included with the later Siku Quanshu compiled by Ji Yun
(紀昀) & Lu Xixiong (陸錫熊).
9) (960 - 1279 AD) author: Li Fang,
collection: Songsi Dashu, series: Taiping Anthologies
for the Emperor (Taiping Yulan), book: Vol 78, chapter
"Customs by Yingshao of the Han Dynasty" detail: States
that there were no men when the sky and the earth were
separated. Nüwa used yellow clay to make people. The
clay was not strong enough, so she put ropes into the
clay to make the bodies erect. It was also said that she
prayed to gods to let her be the goddess of marital
Nüwa in various roles
An ancient painting of Nüwa and Fuxi unearthed in
Xinjiang.Since Nüwa is presented differently in so many
myths, it is not accurate to tie her down as a creator,
mother, or goddess. Depending on the myth, she is
responsible for being a wife, sister, man, tribal leader
(or even emperor), creator, maintainer, etc. It is not
clear from the evidence which view came first.
Regardless of the origins, most myths present Nüwa as
female in a procreative role after a calamity.
Nüwa as a repairer
The earliest literary role seems to be the
upkeep and maintenance of the Wall of Heaven, whose
collapse would obliterate everything.
There was a quarrel between two of the more powerful
gods, and they decided to settle it with a fight. When
the water god Gong Gong saw that he was losing, he
smashed his head against Mount Buzhou (不周山), a pillar
holding up the sky. The pillar collapsed and caused the
sky to tilt towards the northwest and the earth to shift
to the southeast. This caused great calamities, such as
unending fires, vast floods, and the appearance of
fierce man-eating beasts. Nüwa cut off the legs of a
giant tortoise and used them to supplant the fallen
pillar, alleviating the situation and sealing the broken
sky using stones of seven different colours, but she was
unable to fully correct the tilted sky. This explains
the phenomenon that sun, moon, and stars move towards
the northwest, and that rivers in China flow southeast
into the Pacific Ocean.
Other versions of the story describe Nüwa going up to
heaven and filling the gap with her body (half human
half serpent) and thus stopping the flood. According to
this legend some of the minorities in South-Western
China hail Nüwa as their goddess and some festivals such
as the 'Water-Splashing Festival' are in part a tribute
to her sacrifices.
Nüwa as a creator
The next major role of Nüwa is of a creator deity.
However, not many stories ascribe to her the creation of
everything; they usually confine her to the creation of
mankind. It is said that Nüwa existed in the
beginning of the world. She felt lonely as there were no
animals so she began the creation of animals and humans.
On the first day she created chickens. On the second day
she created dogs. On the third day she created sheep. On
the fourth day she created pigs. On the fifth day she
created cows. On the sixth day she created horses. On
the seventh day she began creating men from yellow clay,
sculpting each one individually, yet after she had
created hundreds of figures in this way she still had
more to make but had grown tired of the laborious
So instead of hand crafting each figure, she dipped a
rope in clay and flicked it so blobs of clay landed
everywhere; each of these blobs became a common person.
Nüwa still laboriously crafted some people out of clay,
who became nobles.
Nüwa as wife or sister
By the Han Dynasty, she is described in literature with
her husband Fuxi as the first of the San Huang, and
often called the "parents of humankind". However,
paintings depicting them joined as half people - half
snake or dragon date to the Warring States period.
Nüwa as a goddess for Miao people
Nüwa is also the traditional divine goddess
of the Miao people.
Nüwa in history
Paintings of Nüwa, and her consort Fuxi, date
to the Warring States period.
Herbert James Allen erroneously translated Tang
dynasty historian Sima Zhen's interpolated prologue to
the Han dynasty Sima Qian's Shiji. In one of his more
serious flaws, Nüwa was described as male even though
the Nü (女) in the name means female and the wa (媧) also
contains the female radical.
Appearance in Fengshen Yanyi
Nüwa is featured within the famed Ming dynasty novel
Fengshen Yanyi. As featured within this novel, Nüwa is
very highly respected since the time of the Xia Dynasty
for being the daughter of the Jade Emperor; Nüwa is also
regularly called the "Snake Goddess". After the Shang
Dynasty had been created, Nu Wa created the Five-colored
stones to protect the dynasty with occasional seasonal
rains and other enhancing qualities. Thus in time, Shang
Rong asked King Zhou of Shang to pay her a visit as a
sign of deep respect. After King Zhou was completely
overcome with lust at the very sight of the beautiful
ancient goddess Nüwa (who had been sitting behind a
light curtain), he would write a small poem on a
neighboring wall and take his leave. When Nüwa later
returned to her temple after visiting the Yellow
Emperor, Nüwa would see the foulness of King Zhou's
words. In her anger, she swore that the Shang Dynasty
will end in payment for his foulness. In her rage, Nüwa
would personally ascend to the palace in an attempt to
kill the king, but was suddenly struck back by two large
beams of red light.
After Nüwa realized that King Zhou was already
destined to rule the kingdom for twenty-six more years,
Nüwa would summon her three subordinates—the
Thousand-Year Vixen (later becoming Daji), the Fat-Belly
Guitar Jade Pipa, and the Nine-Headed Pheasant. With
these words, Nu Wa would bring destined chaos to the
Shang Dynasty, "The luck Cheng Tang won six hundred
years ago is dimming. I speak to you of a new mandate of
heaven which sets the destiny for all. You three are to
enter King Zhou's palace, where you are to bewitch him.
Whatever you do, do not harm anyone else. If you do my
bidding, and do it well, you will be permitted to
reincarnate as human beings." Thus, with these words,
Nüwa would never be heard of again, but would still be a
major indirect factor towards the Shang Dynasty's fall.