In Chinese, both 天地 (tiān dì) and 乾坤 (qiánkūn) can mean “heaven and earth,” and “the universe.”
As to the phrase of 天地乾坤 (tiān dì qián kūn), it is usually used to indicate the entire universe. The respective meanings of these four Chinese characters are as follows:
天 (tiān) usually means sky, heaven, god, day, weather, etc.
地 (dì) usually refers to earth, ground, land, soil, location, etc.
乾 (qián) usually denotes heaven, sky, male, etc.
坤 (kūn) usually means earth, female, etc.
天地 (tiān dì) usually indicates “heaven and earth,” the universe, the world, etc.
乾坤 (qiánkūn) usually symbolizes “heaven and earth,” the universe, the cosmos, “male and female,” etc.
According to Chinese mythology, Pangu was the first living being and the creator of the universe. It is believed that the universe was originally a formless chaos that coalesced into a cosmic egg, from which Pangu hatched out.
Legend has it that each day, Pangu grew 10 feet taller, while heaven rose 10 feet and the earth expanded 10 feet for 18,000 years. Eventually, he was 9 million li (about 30,000 miles) in height, which was the distance between heaven and the earth.
It is said that when he died,
- his breath became the wind;
- his voice, the thunder;
- his two eyes, the sun and the moon;
- his limbs, the mountains;
- his blood, rivers;
- his muscles, fertile land;
- his hair, the stars and Milky Way;
- his fur, bushes and forests;
- his bones, minerals;
- his sweat, the rain and the dew;
- the fleas in his hair, human beings.
The universe was thus created.