Fun Facts about Chinese Culture and History

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Chinese Gods in the Creation Myth & Legend 

Chinese Creation Myth is in respect to the formation of primitive culture and society. 

 

  • Those myths and legends of Chinese culture were inherited from ancestors of more than 5,000 years ago; none of them was written or created by professional authors or religion. 

 

  • Chinese creation myths are mainly in regard to fighting with the nature or supernatural power, to survive, and to protect human’s well being. ​​

 

  • Major characters are diligent, brave workers, sometimes with miraculous power. They became well respected Chinese gods because of their outstanding contributions, hard working, and spirit of sacrificing. 

 

Creator of the World -- Chinese God Pan Gu

Once upon a time, the whole world was like an egg, all dark and blurry.

 

Around 18,000 years ago, a person named Pan Gu woke up inside the big egg. Soon, he felt it was quite uncomfortable staying in this dim and breathless surrounding, so he grasped an axe next to him, and broke the eggshell.

After a big explosion, the bright and clear debris rose up and became the sky, while those dark and turbid ones went down and turned into the earth. 

Pan Gu was quite happy about the clear and spacious world that he created; therefore, he stood between the sky and earth, hoping they won't mix again. 

 

As time went by, he grew taller and taller, while the sky and earth became further apart. 

Until tens of thousands of years later, Pan Gu felt exhausted, and fell down. 

His left eye transformed into the sun and his right eye turned into the moon. His breath became wind and cloud, and his voice became thunder. Shining stars are his hair and his beard, Five Great Mountains in China are his head and limbs.

 

His blood turned into rivers, lakes, and seas, and his muscles became mud and road. Plants are his skin, rain is his sweat, and mineral treasures are his teeth and bones.

 

As the first human being, he dedicated his entire life to creating the beautiful world.  

Crushing of Mount Bu Zhou -- Gong Gong

Long time ago, the Mount Buzhou was the only way to get to the heaven, but it was covered by snow and ice.

 

One day, the God of Water named Gong Gong crashed into Mount Buzhou and changed the whole world.

 

Some said that he lost in a war with the God of Fire, so he collided the mountain accidentally when he was escaping.

 

Others believed that he wanted to adjust the geographical landscape, which is of great helpful to agricultural irrigation. 

After the huge crash, the sky leaned to the northwest, and the earth inclined to southeast.

 

Then, the sun and the moon rose from the east and descend to the west, while all the water in China runs toward the east and at the end merging into the sea. 

From that time on, natural phenomena followed these laws in China, and never changed again. 

 

Creator of Human and Savior of Sky -- Nv Wa

After the world has been created, it was a pity that there were no lives in such a wonderful place.

 

Therefore, a goddess named Nv Wa made some little people with clay. After a slight blow, they became real human beings. 

 

Nv Wa was excited about her magic and kept creating lots of people and animals with clay.

 

Then, she taught them to get married and reproduce offsprings on their own. This new alive world seemed perfect. 

Until one day, the sky was broken and then followed with a huge disaster, after the God of Water Gong Gong crushed the Mount Buzhou.

Nv Wa then fought bravely, and defeated many monsters that killed many people in the catastrophe, with assistance of her magical guardians Teng She and Bai Xi

 

With the broken sky, however, her people still couldn't live a stable and safe life.

 

So she collected 36,500 pieces of five-color stones, refined them into a magical stone to fill up the big hole in the sky.

 

Afterwards, the world became peaceful again.

There are many different versions with regard to her appearance, the most common one is that she was a beautiful half-woman and half-snake celestial.

 

As for her origin and ending, however, is still a mystery.  

In some legends, she married to the King Fu Xi, or was the sister of the King Fu Xi. Together, they set and taught a series of basic etiquettes to people, and formed a decent, functional society. 

 

Creator of Chinese Characters -- Cang Jie

There was a person named Cang Jie, who found that tying knots on strings was no longer accurate and sufficient to document things. 

 

Therefore, he spent years and invented some more sophisticated signs, based on shapes of the surrounding items. 

 

Those Chinese characters he created were known as the Pictograms

After the extraordinary invention, people saw a rain of maize on daytime and heard crying of the ghosts at night for several days.

 

Some people considered the invention an outstanding achievement to celebrate, after which all culture and history could be documented and well preserved.

 

Others thought that with the development of people’s intelligence and enrichment of knowledge, their desire would keep expanding, which might lead to more fights and wars.

 

But for ghosts, which represented the dark and evil side, their behaviors would be recorded and disseminated permanently. Therefore, they cried for the reason that they could no longer fool and manipulate human as easy as before. 

 

Father of Agriculture & Herb -- Shen Nong 

Shen Nong, leader of a strong clan, had two horns on his head and was very smart and audacious. He was a genius and contributed a lot to agriculture, through teaching people better methods to plant more food and using herbs to cure some types of diseases and intoxications.

 

In order to save more people and get to know more about botany, Shen Nong started to investigate herbs on his own.

 

He had tasted and recorded hundreds of floras, even after having been poisoned for several times.

Years later, unfortunately, gelsemium elegan killed him.

 

However, hundreds of herbs and their application methods had already been documented and taught to other people, and countless lives were saved since after. 

 

Now, there is a big area named Shennongjia, where was believed the place that Shen Nong had tasted those herbs and departed thousands of years ago. 

 

Pursuing the Sun -- Kua Fu

Once upon a time, there was a clan that consisted of giant people.

 

One year, they were suffering from severe drought. So their leader named Kua Fu told his people that he will catch the sun and make it stop burning.

Then, he took over a huge stick and started the journey of chasing after the sun, in which was full of severe weather and horrible monsters.

 

But Kua Fu was strong and brave, and had successfully overcame all of these difficulties.

 

Finally, he arrived the magical mountain where the sun sets.

Seeing the bright and glowing sun, Kua Fu was exhausted and scorching.

 

The sun was so huge and powerful, which made him realized that he was unable to take the sun back or make it stop burning as he had expected, and he didn't have enough strength to come back to his clan either. 

 

In the end, before he fell down, Kua Fu used up his last strength to throw his stick toward the direction of his clan. 

 

Later, his stick transformed into a big peach forest, which contains plenty of tree shade and peaches.

 

People of his clan then happily living in this forest, since after they never suffered from drought again, even the sun is still there shining.  

 

Fulfilling the Sea -- Jing Wei

There was a beautiful little girl, who was the youngest daughter of the God of the Sun. One day when she was playing outside, she accidentally drowned in the sea.

 

Her spirit transformed into a bird with a white beak and red claws. People called the bird Jing Wei based on the sound of her tweets.

​Jing Wei hated the sea for taking away her young life, especially after seeing more people lost their lives there.

 

Afterwards, she used her beak to pick up some branches and small stones and throw them into the sea, trying to fill it up.

She believed that after the sea was flattened, no more people would  drown again. 

 

Tens of thousands of years passed, but she never gave up.

 

She believed that where there is a will, there is a way, no matter how hard the work is and how long it will take. 

 

Shooting Suns -- Hou Yi

In ancient times, there were ten suns working in turns, when each sun worked for one day and rested for another nine days. 

 

Thousands of years later, they found their working schedule quite boring; then they went out together every day, which caused severe drought afterwards.

 

Seas and rivers dried out, and countless people and plants died because of this destructive aridity. 

 

Human beings, therefore, tried their best to find a solution.

 

Soon, a brave young man named Hou Yi with great archery skills recommended himself to the current king, and then he was given ten magical arrows.

Hou Yi came to the driest center, the nearest location to the ten suns.

 

Out of a sudden, he shot the nine suns down, using those magical arrows.

 

The only left sun was scared and promised to work diligently and punctually since that time on.

 

Finally, the world turned back to normal, and Hou Yi became a big hero. 

 

Flying to the Moon -- Chang E

Chang E was the wife of Hou Yi, the hero that shot down nine suns and saved people from severe drought.

 

As a hero of their country, Hou Yi also had eliminated many horrible monsters, with his excellent archery skill and fearless spirit.

 

His great contributions impressed the celestial Xi Wang Mu living in Mount Kunlun, who awarded him an elixir afterwards. 

 

If two people shared that elixir, they both can immortal; but one person can fly into the sky and become an deity, if he/she took it alone.

 

Hou Yi and Chang E planned to share it together, after Hou Yi defeated an evil monster. 

 

After her husband left, a bad guy came to Chang E and tried to rob the elixir. 

 

She doesn't want to give it to this horrible person, so she swallowed the elixir and flew to the moon, the closest place to the earth. 

From that time on, the only thing that she could do was to watch her husband on earth, from the cold moon, until he got old and passed away, as a normal person.

 

When Hou Yi came home and found his beloved wife was gone, he was extremely sad and cried her name loud, day and night.

 

One night, he saw her silhouette on the moon, then he took out all of his fine food and put them on a table, trying to share them with his wife living on the moon.

 

Afterwards, other civilians also started to worship the moon, using fine food, on Mid Autumn Festival, which is now still an important holiday to reunite with family.  

Kings in Chinese History and Gods in Mythology

Gradually, clans and kings were formed out of primitive society in Chinese history.

 

Hence, some exceptional kings are documented both in historical and mythological stories. 

Because of their remarkable accomplishments, they were respectable kings when they were alive, and were memorized as honorable ancestors and powerful Chinese gods after they departed. 

Until Yu the Great, who led people conquered a huge flood and founded Xia Dynasty, the first empire in the history of China. 

He ended the prehistoric mythology and opened up the chapter of the historic Hereditary Kingdom.

 

Kings after him were monarchs of the secular world that were granted by the divinity, but they didn’t become Chinese God after having departed. 

 

Defeating of Huge Flood -- Yu the Great

Thousands years ago, there was a severe flood that had caused many destructions and took away tens of thousands of lives.

A person named Gun stole from heaven some special clay which could permanently grow and could never be used up, and put it into the river to block the flood.  

 

However, simply blocking was a short term solution and proved not quite efficient.

 

In addition, Gun was found out for having stolen valuable treasure from the heaven, and then was sentenced to death. 

Afterwards, his son Yu was nominated as the new commander to defeat the flood, and was given those magical clay officially. 

Unlike his father, Yu didn’t use the special clay to block or plug the flood.

 

Instead, he led people to dredge river ways, which was proved to be better and more efficient. 

 

He also defeated many monsters that brought disasters and killed people. 

 

After years of hard works, the flood was finally defeated, and people could go back to their normal lives.

 

During this period, Yu had been to many places in China, in some legends, this was the era that he finished the great book -- The Classic of Mountains and Seas

 

As a remarkable commander with great contribution, Yu was nominated as king and then built Xia Dynasty, the first hereditary kingdom in the history of China.