Sunday, May 29, 2011

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 turns shining 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 around 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.

Pan Gu Creates the World
In the beginning, the universe was contained within an egg, inside of 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 the 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.

Creation myths of Nü Wa
Human beings were created by the goddess Nü 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 Nü Wa was shy and covered her face with a fan—as brides still do today. Nü Wa felt protective toward humanity. When Gong Gong, the Water God, made holes in the sky during a battle with Zhu Rong, the Fire God, and the whole world was unbalanced and ravaged by fire and flood, Nü 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 heaven.

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