Asian Culture

Legend of Nu Wa

Marion Garcia's image for:
"Legend of Nu Wa"
Image by: 

Every culture has its own beliefs about how humans were created. The Chinese culture has Nu Wa also known as Nu Gua, Nu Kua, and Nu Kwa.

Nu Wa was one of the first Deities of the Chinese people. As you read the accounts of Nu Wa, you cannot help comparing notes with the accounts written in the book Genesis.

The legend first became known during the Neolithic (tool age) period. This is the time when mud and clay was used to produce porcelain. This was also a time when women were considered to be the stronger and more important figures in the families.

There are varied versions of Nu Wa, this being the most popular.

The myth among the Chinese people is that Nu Wa; a female Goddess came down from the heavens and created humans. She is described as having a human appearance with the lower body of a dragon or snake.

The earth was full with trees, and beautiful flowers, but there were no humans or animals. Nu Wa was very lonely, so she decided to make the animals. On day one she made the chicken. Day two she made the dogs. The third day she created the sheep. On the fourth day she created the pigs. The fifth day she created the cows. On the sixth day she created the horses. On the seventh day, while looking at herself in a pool of water she grabbed a handful of mud. Nu Wa began forming the mud-clay in her image. The image came to life.

She dipped a cane or rope into the pool and pulled up more mud. With this mud, she used her hands to form more men and women. Realizing this was a slow and tedious process, she decided to dip her cane or rope and scatter small dots of mud freely upon the lands of China. These dots of mud became people. The people that she formed with her hands became the wealthy and nobles. The people that were formed with the scattered dots of mud became the common populace.

It is not said how these humans became to breathe. Other stories say that some of the scattered mud that didn't form correctly was how sickness and physical abnormalities began.

One day the god of water (Gong Gong) was fighting with the god of fire (Zhu Rong). Gong Gong fearing he would lose the fight smashed his head against the mythical Mount Buzhou which was a pillar holding up the sky.

When the parts of the sky fell it caused the earth to crack. This created heavy flooding and forest fires. The creatures from underground came out and began devouring the humans. Seeing her humans suffering, Nu Wa melted five different colored stones and sealed the opening in the sky. She killed a giant turtle and used its legs as pillars to hold up the sky. She then slew a dragon and scared all the creatures and beasts away from the land. Using burned reeds she sealed up the land to stop the flooding. The different colors of the stones are what causes the rainbow in the sky after it rains.

It was this catastrophe that caused the sun, moon, and stars to point towards the west. It caused all of the rivers to flow to the southwest. It caused the earth to lean towards the southeast and the sky lean towards the northeast.

Now that her people were safe, Nu Wa exhausted lay down to die.

Another version is that Nu Wa herself went up and used her body to seal the opening in the sky, sacrificing herself.

There are some that say Nu Wa and her brother/husband Fu Xi were tribal chieftains. As time went by, stories told and passed down through generations turned into the legend of Nu Wa.

Nu Wa has been accredited with the beginning of fertility and marriage. She is also associated with the invention of sheng reed pipes. She is accredited with the teaching of building dams and irrigation systems.

The Thai legend is almost the same as the Chinese except that she is associated with rats and birds instead of beasts and birds. The Chinese legend is the same as the Japanese version of Jokwa.

More about this author: Marion Garcia

From Around the Web