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China: Fuxi and Nüwa

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Fuxi and Nüwa


Panguite (meteoritic mineral named after Pangu, discovered in 2012)

First man or woman

Kingu, Manu, Panhu, Purusha, Tiamat, Yama, Ymir

Fuxi (伏羲), also known as Paoxi, is a culture hero in Chinese legend and mythology, credited along with his sister Nüwa, also read Nügua, with creating humanity and the invention of hunting, fishing, domestication, and cooking as well as the Cangjie system of writing Chinese characters around 2,000 BCE.

Pangu, the first living being and the creator of all in some versions of Chinese mythology, was said to be the creation god in Chinese mythology. He was a giant sleeping within an egg of chaos. As he awoke, he stood up and divided the sky and the earth. The first writer to record the myth of Pangu was Xu Zheng during the Three Kingdoms period. Recently his name was found in a tomb dated 194 AD.

Pangu then died after standing up, and his body turned into rivers, mountains, plants, animals, and everything else in the world, among which is a powerful being known as Hua Hsu.[clarification needed] Hua Hsu gave birth to a twin brother and sister, Fuxi and Nüwa.

Fuxi and Nüwa are said to be creatures that have faces of human and bodies of snakes. Fuxi was known as the “original human”, and he was said to have been born in the lower-middle reaches of the Yellow River in a place called Chengji (possibly modern Lantian, Shaanxi province, or Tianshui, Gansu province).

In reality, many Chinese people believe[citation needed] that Hua Hsu was a leader during the matriarchal society (c. 2,600 BC) as early Chinese developed language skill while Fuxi and Nüwa were leaders in the early patriarchal society (c. 2,600 BCE) while Chinese began the marriage rituals.

Fuxi was counted as the first of the Three Sovereigns, sometimes known as the Three August Ones, at the beginning of the Chinese dynastic period. The Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were two groups of mythological rulers or deities in ancient northern China. The Three Sovereigns is before The Five Emperors. Today they may be considered culture heroes.

The Three Sovereigns, sometimes known as the Three August Ones, were said to be god-kings, demigods or god emperors who used their abilities to improve the lives of their people and impart to them essential skills and knowledge.

The Five Emperors are portrayed as exemplary sages who possessed great moral character and lived to a great age and ruled over a period of great peace. The Three Sovereigns are ascribed various identities in different Chinese historical texts.

These kings are said to have helped introduce the use of fire, taught people how to build houses and invented farming. The Yellow Emperor’s wife is credited with the invention of silk culture. The discovery of medicine, the invention of the calendar and Chinese script are also credited to the kings. After their era, Yu the Great founded the Xia Dynasty.

According to a modern theory with roots in the late 19th century, the Yellow Emperor is supposedly the ancestor of the Huaxia people. The Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor was established in Shaanxi Province to commemorate the ancestry legend.

The Chinese word for emperor, huángdì (皇帝), derives from this, as the first user of this title Qin Shi Huang considered his reunion of all of the lands of the former Kingdom of Zhou to be greater than even the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors.

The Five Emperors in later history have been assigned dates in a period from circa 2852 BC to 2070 BC. The dates of these mythological figures may be fictitious, but according to some accounts and reconstructions, they preceded the Xia Dynasty (which itself is prehistoric, without writing, and which is likewise also documented only in much later written sources).

A related concept appears in the legend of the Four shi (四氏) who took part in creating the world. The four members are Youchao-shi (有巢氏), Suiren-shi (燧人氏), Fuxi-shi (伏羲氏), and Shennong-shi (神農氏). The list sometimes extends to one more member being Nüwa-shi (女媧氏), making Five shi (五氏).

Four of these five names appear in different lists of the Three Sovereigns. shi (氏) is the meaning of clan or tribe in china, so none of them are a single person in prehistoric times. There is a saying that the Three Sovereigns are Suiren-shi (燧人氏), Youchao-shi (有巢氏), Shennong-shi (神農氏).

The Suiren teach people to drill wood for fire, so people can easily migrate. The Youchao teach people to build houses with wood, so that people leave the cave to expand into the plains. After the number of people became more, Shennong tried a variety of grasses to find suitable cereals to solve people’s food problems.

People call them the Three Sovereigns in order to miss their contribution,The tribe also used their contribution as the name of the tribe. Depending on the source, there are many variations of who classifies as the Three Sovereigns or the Five Emperors. There are at least six to seven known variations.

Many of the sources listed below were written in much later periods, centuries and even millennia after the supposed existence of these figures, and instead of historical fact, they may reflect a desire in later time periods to create a fictitious ancestry traceable to ancient culture heroes.

The Emperors were asserted as ancestors of the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties. The following appear in different groupings of the Three Sovereigns: Fuxi (伏羲), Nüwa (女媧), Shennong (神農), Suiren (燧人), Zhurong (祝融), Gong Gong (共工), Heavenly Sovereign (天皇), Earthly Sovereign (地皇), Tai Sovereign (泰皇), Human Sovereign (人皇), and even the Yellow Emperor (黄帝).

The following appear in different groupings of the Five Emperors: Yellow Emperor (黃帝), Zhuanxu (顓頊), Emperor Ku (嚳), Emperor Yao (堯), Emperor Shun (舜), Shaohao (少昊), Taihao (太昊), and Yan Emperor (炎帝).

Nüwa is the mother goddess of Chinese mythology, the sister and wife of Fuxi, the emperor-god. She is credited with creating mankind and repairing the Pillar of Heaven. Her reverential name is Wahuang (Chinese: 媧皇; literally: ‘Empress Wa’).

女 nü ‘woman’ is a common prefix on the names of goddesses. The proper name is 媧 wa or gua. The Chinese character is unique to this name. Birrell translates it as ‘lovely’, but notes that it “could be construed as ‘frog’, which is consistent with her aquatic myth.” She has also been described as a “mythological snail goddess”.

The Huainanzi relates Nüwa to the time when Heaven and Earth were in disruption: “Going back to more ancient times, the four pillars were broken; the nine provinces were in tatters. Heaven did not completely cover [the earth]; Earth did not hold up [Heaven] all the way around [its circumference].

Fires blazed out of control and could not be extinguished; water flooded in great expanses and would not recede. Ferocious animals ate blameless people; predatory birds snatched the elderly and the weak.

Thereupon, Nüwa smelted together five-colored stones in order to patch up the azure sky, cut off the legs of the great turtle to set them up as the four pillars, killed the black dragon to provide relief for Ji Province, and piled up reeds and cinders to stop the surging waters.

The azure sky was patched; the four pillars were set up; the surging waters were drained; the province of Ji was tranquil; crafty vermin died off; blameless people [preserved their] lives. ”

The catastrophes were supposedly caused by the battle between the deities Gonggong and Zhuanxu (an event that was mentioned earlier in the Huainanzi). The five-colored stones symbolize the five Chinese elements (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water), the black dragon was the essence of water and thus cause of the floods. Ji Province serves metonymically for the central regions (the Sinitic world).

Following this, the Huainanzi tells about how the sage-rulers Nüwa and Fuxi set order over the realm by following the Way (道) and its potency (德). Nüwa was born three months after her brother, Fuxi, to whom she later took as her husband; this marriage is the reason why Nüwa is credited with inventing the idea of marriage.

Before the two of them got married, they lived on mount K’un-lun. A prayer was made after the two became guilty of falling for each other. The prayer is as follows, “Oh Heaven, if Thou wouldst send us forth as man and wife, then make all the misty vapor gather. If not, then make all the misty vapor disperse.” Misty vapor then gathered after the prayer signifying the two could marry.

When intimate, the two made a fan out of grass to screen their faces which is why during modern day marriages, the couple hold a fan together. By connecting, the two were representative of Yin and Yang; Fuxi being connected to Yang and masculinity along Nüwa being connected to Yin and femininity.

This is further defined with Fuxi receiving a carpenter’s square which symbolizes his identification with the physical world because a carpenter’s square is associated with straight lines and squares leading to a more straightforward mindset.

Meanwhile, Nüwa was given a compass to symbolize her identification with the heavens because a compass is associated with curves and circles leading to a more abstract mindset. With the two being married, it symbolized the union between heaven and Earth. Other versions have Nüwa invent the compass rather than receive it as a gift.

Nüwa invented multiple musical instruments: The Shenghuang, Saengwhang, and Hulusi gourd flute (all of these instruments are various reed pipes). Nüwa created the Shenghuang around the idea of reproduction; the Shenghuang is used in marriages and reproduction rites.

‘With regards to the Saengwhang, Nüwa created this instrument to be in the shape of the god of music, Bonghwang. Chinese musical theaters around the world have pictures of Nüwa decorating their interiors.

Nüwa created mankind due to loneliness which in time grew larger and larger. The way in which she made some of mankind was by molding yellow earth or in other versions yellow clay to the shape of humans.

These people later became the wealthy nobles of society because they were created by Nüwa’s hands directly. However, the average majority of mankind was created by Nüwa dragging string across mud to mass produce humans. She did this because creating every human by hand was too time and energy consuming.

This creation of mankind gives an aetiological explanation to the social divide between people in China. The batch of humans handmade by Nüwa believed that being directly made by the goddess gave them more importance than the majority who were massed produce because Nüwa took time to create them and they were directly touched by her hand.

In another version of the creation of humanity, Nüwa and Fuxi were survivors of a great flood. By the command of the God of the heaven, they were married and Nüwa had a child which was a ball of meat. This ball of meat was cut into small pieces and the pieces were scattered across the world which then became humans.

Nüwa is featured within the famed Ming dynasty novel Fengshen Bang. 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, Nüwa 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 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 wrote a small poem on a neighboring wall and took his leave.

When Nüwa later returned to her temple after visiting the Yellow Emperor, she saw the foulness of Zhou’s words. In her anger, she swore the Shang Dynasty would end in payment for his offense. In her rage, Nüwa personally ascended 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 summoned her three subordinates—the Thousand-Year Vixen (later becoming Daji), the Jade Pipa, and the Nine-Headed Pheasant. With these words, Nüwa brought 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.” With these words, Nüwa was never heard of again, but was still a major indirect factor towards the Shang Dynasty’s fall.

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