Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Story of Darkness

The Story of Darkness
Many cultures have a creation myths, it so happens that Chinese culture has incorporated the dragons in their creation myths.
How wonderful is that?

A Brief History:

The Book “Epic of Darkness”, compiled in primeval China, is a collection of folklore and legend relayed in epic poetry. Preserved by the inhabitants of the Shennongjia mountain area in Hubei Province, it includes accounts from the birth of Pangu till the historical era.
On August 1982 an old local farmer submitted a rare songbook to Hu Chongjun. The booklet (leaflet), written in brush and ink with about 3,000 lines of seven Chinese characters each, was split into four sections. These sections were: a) The beginnings of the Universe; b) The Birth of Pangu; c) The Great Flood; d) The birth of mankind up until the beginnings of the Three Sovereigns and The Five Emperors. Believing “The Epic of Darkness” to be finest written representation of the oral Han creation myth, Hu went on to study and compile more manuscripts as well as the oral accounts from the elderly living in Shennongjia. It took him 9 years to eventually finish the documentation. Hu had to sort through more than 30, 000 lines of collected manuscript to compile a 5,500 line summary.

Here’s a brief retelling (with some liberties taken) of the Han Chinese creation myth:

In the beginning of time, all that was manifest was a cloud of gas, chaos and darkness. A Deity called Jiang Ku, after expending vast effort, created the first drop of water. Another God, Lang Da Zi, swallowed that drop of water and expired. Immediately his body was split into the five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. From these elements Pan Gu came into being.

The Legend of Pan Gu:

In the primeval Universe there was nothing but a vast formless chaos which, after 18,000 years, merged to form a giant cosmic egg. Inside the egg, the perfectly opposed principles of Yin and Yang eventually balanced and Pan Gu formed as a primitive, horned, hairy giant, clad in furs. As soon as he emerged from the egg Pan Gu set about the task of creating the world. With a swing of his giant axe, he separated the Yin from the Yang and created the Earth (murky Yin) and the Sky (clear Yang). In order to maintain this separation, Pan Gu stood between them and pushed up the Sky. This task took another 18,000 years; as each day the sky grew ten feet (three meters) higher, the Earth ten feet wider and Pan Gu ten feet taller. Pan Gu was aided in this task by the four most prominent beasts: the Turtle, the Qilin, the Phoenix, and of course, the Dragon. After the 18,000 years it took to separate earth and sky Pan Gu passed away. His breath then became the wind; his voice became thunder, his left eye transformed into Sun, his right eye transformed into the Moon and his facial hair turned into brilliant stars and the Milky Way.
His body, his four limbs turned into the mountains and other of the extremities that marked the four corners of the world. (This account bears a strange similarity to Norse myth of the Giant Ymir, and also of the Babylonian tale of Tiamat.) His fur turned into bushes and forests; his blood formed the rivers; his muscles turned into fertile lands; his teeth and nails became metals; his bones became rocks and valuable minerals while his bone marrow transformed into sacred diamonds. Mankind was yet to be created at this point. His sweat fell as rain and the fleas on his fur carried by the wind became the fish and animals throughout the land.
From the five elements and animals were born demons and gods who fought each other until a great flood overcame the land.From this great flood, emerged two mighty dragons, one black and one yellow, which fought a mighty battle. A goddess, the Sacred Mother Wu Tien, helped the yellow dragon defeat the black dragon. In gratitude, the yellow dragon laid three eggs which the Sacred Mother swallowed and gave birth to three gods: Heaven, Earth and Hell.

Later still, five dragons emerged from the flood and they discovered a gourd across the Eastern Sea. Wu Tien opened the Gourd and found two humans within. Fuxi and Nuwa, who were ordered by Wu Tien to copulate and thus the human race came into being after the flood waters receded.



In a different version it states, “A brother and sister became the only survivors of the prehistoric Deluge by crouching in a gourd that floated on water. The two got married afterwards, and a mass of flesh in shape of a whetstone was born. They chopped it and the pieces turned into large crowds of people, who began to reproduce again. The couple were named “Pan” and “Gou” in the Zhuang ethnic language which stands for whetstone and gourd respectively.”In another version Nuwa, the Goddess, supposedly had used the mud of the water bed to form the shape of humans. These humans were very smart since they were individually crafted. Nuwa then became bored of individually making every human so she started putting a rope in the water bed and letting the drops of mud that fell from it become new humans. These small drops became new humans, not as smart at the first.
Another interesting note: When the earth had thus been shaped from the body of Pan Gu, we are told that the three great rivers formed from his blood successively governed the world: as first the celestial, then the terrestrial, and finally the human sovereign. They were followed by Yung-Ch’eng and Sui-Jen (fire-man) who brought the fire down from heaven and taught man its various uses. The Prometheus myth, which by the way is not indigenous to Greece but also known in Mesopotamia and India, is another expression of this theme. There is a slight possibility therefore that the figure Sui-Jen has been derived from the same archetype as the Greek Prometheus.

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