The Chinese Creation Myth: Pangu Cleaves Open Heaven and Earth

One well-known legend from the book is the Chinese creation myth, which describes the creation of Heaven and Earth by the god Pangu. (Image:  pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
One well-known legend from the book is the Chinese creation myth, which describes the creation of Heaven and Earth by the god Pangu. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The Classic of Mountains and Seas (山海經 Shān hǎi jīng) is a book of ancient Chinese geography, mythology, and folklore. One well-known legend from the book is the Chinese creation myth, which describes the creation of Heaven and Earth by the god Pangu. Below is an excerpt from this story.

It was said that before the creation of Heaven and Earth, there was nothing but formless chaos in the universe, with neither light nor sound.

Certain individuals seem to be born with social intelligence. (Image: Guadalupe Cervilla via flicker / CC BY 2.0 )

And ever since then, there have been sun, moon, and stars in the sky, and mountains and trees on the Earth. This brought about the flourishing of all things, life, and the beauty of the world. (Image: Guadalupe Cervilla via flicker / CC BY 2.0 )

At that time, a being named Pangu emerged. He cleaved the formless chaos with a giant ax. A mass of air rose upward and formed the heavens; a mass of heavy air sunk downward and formed the Earth. After that, each day the sky grew 10 feet higher, the Earth 10 feet wider, and Pangu 10 feet taller. After going on like this for 18,000 years, the sky became very high, the Earth became very thick, and Pangu became an indomitable giant.

After Pangu died, his left eye became the sun; his right eye the moon; his hair and beard became the stars; the last breath out of his mouth became the wind and clouds; his voice became thunder and lightning; his flesh became the soil; his limbs became mountains; and his blood became rivers. And ever since then, there have been sun, moon, and stars in the sky, and mountains and trees on the Earth. This brought about the flourishing of all things, life, and the beauty of the world.

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