The Legend of Nu Kua

images-3This story comes from China. It begins with a giant egg. The egg was filled with chaos; in fact, the egg was so huge that it was filled with absolutely everything. Darkness and light were mixed together inside the egg and everything was in so much of a muddle that nothing was anything at all. Sleeping in the middle of all this was a giant – Pan Gu.

Pan Gu slept for thousands of years, but eventually he woke up and stretched himself, as he did, he broke the egg. The darkness and light separated from each other and poured out. Part of the egg drifted downwards and became the earth and part floated upwards and became the sky. The world had begun.

Pan Gu lived on the earth for many years making the world safe and beautiful. When he’d finished he was tired again and lay down for another short nap. While he slept his body changed into a whole mountain range covered in forests and rivers, his breath became the wind and his eyes became the sun and the moon. (If you’re not careful, this is what can happen to you if you stay asleep in bed for too long and don’t get up for school in the morning)

The world stayed this way for thousands of more years until, one day, it was discovered by Nu Kua. (noo-kwah)

Nu Kua was a strange and beautiful creature: her upper body was like that of a woman’s while her lower body was like that of a snake’s. She wandered around the world and was very happy. She watched the animals and roamed through the forests. Everything was so beautiful; she was enchanted with all that she saw.

The world was a wonderful place, but after a while, Nu Kua became lonely. Then, one day as she was sitting by a pool gazing at her own refection, she suddenly had an idea; she reached down into the pool and took a handful of yellow clay. Skilfully, she lovingly modeled a small figure that looked very much like her self, except that it had legs instead of a snake’s tail. When she had finished, she breathed life into it, placed it on the ground and the creature magically came to life; the first human had come into being.

Nu Kua was so delighted with the small creature, that she made many more and loved and cared for them all. At night while they slept, she would whisper secrets in their ears and sing to them softly so that they might sleep blissfully and awake in the morning with joy in their hearts.

All was well for a long time, until one day: disaster struck. In the heavens above the earth Gong Gong the lord of water and Zhu Rong the lord of fire were fighting. They fought so fiercely that they fell to earth where they continued to battle, causing terrible destruction.

The mountains, which held up the sky, were flattened so that part of the sky fell down and left a huge black hole. The ground shook and trembled under the terrific strain of the battle until cracks opened up in the earth. Fiery dragons escaped from the cracks and set the forests on fire. The fallen mountains blocked the rivers and caused terrible flooding: many of Nu Kua’s people were killed.

Nu Kua couldn’t stand to see such destruction and suffering. Once the battle was over she set about putting things right: she forced the dragons back into the huge cracks they’d escaped from and then filled the cracks with rock and clay to keep them in. She built dams to hold the flooding rivers in check and she put out the fires. When this was done she collected precious stones of five different colors, she crushed them in the palms of her hands and mixed the powder with some of the tears she’d wept, to make a paste, which she smeared on the heavens, like a rainbow, to repair the sky. Finally she supported the sky on the four huge legs of a giant turtle, she placed one at each point of the compass before flying to the heavens above the earth, where she could keep an eye on Gong Gong and Zhu Rong and make sure that never again would so much damage be done to Pan Gu’s beautiful world or the people who lived there, for she loved them both.

Found at: Garden Pata

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