Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chinese Creation Myths: Pan Gu & Nu Wa

The Chinese have many myths and legends, often as the basis for a festival, or to explain the origins of something important to their culture, such as agriculture or silk. Just as any other culture, they also have creation myths - myths explaining how our world and its people have come to be. We read two books, reviews below, introducing us to these myths.

According to Chinese mythology, the creator of the universe is Pan Gu, often depicted as a furry giant or a dragon. 

In the beginning, there was chaos contained within a cosmic egg. This chaos, the light and the dark, the cold and the heat, grew with Pan Gu for 18,000 years. Pan Gu then broke free from the egg, separating the Yin from the Yang, the earth from the sky by standing between the two for another 18,000 years, pushing up the sky as he grew 10 feet each day. After this difficult and exhausting task, Pan Gu laid down for a rest, never to awaken. His breath then became the wind, his voice the thunder, one eye the sun and the other eye the moon. His head became the mountains and his blood formed the rivers. The fleas on his fur became fish and animals. 
Nu Wa, often described as having the torso of a woman and the tail of a serpent or dragon, created human kind.

Nu Wa was lonely, wandering the earth alone, and decided to create companions. She sculpted them from clay near a river, as a close image of herself, however giving them legs. After a time she tired of molding individual people, took a rope, dipped it in the clay and flung it. When the drops of clay landed on earth, they too became humans. Those created by hand became the rich and powerful, those by drops became the poor. 

You can watch and read an animated version of these two myths at Mythic Journeys.

Myths and Civilization of the Ancient Chinese by Rupert Matthews

This book has nine of the most important Chinese ancient myths, such as Pan Gu Creates the World and Nu Wa creates the Human Race,(and including the Cowherd and Weaver Maid, the Ten Suns, the First Silk Worm) each written and illustrated over a two page format. After each myth, there is another two page spread of facts related to an aspect of the Ancient Chinese, peppered with photographs of ancient artifacts.

The Snake Goddess Colors the World: A Chinese Tale Told in English and Chinese by Li Jian

A lovely water color illustrated story book format of the Chinese myth in which Nu Wa, the snake goddess, adds color to the world by taking various magical elements the colors of the rainbow. It is told in English and Chinese.

I've linked up this post to this great blog hop of reviews and activities for Children's books at the Kid Lit Blog Hop

Books are a wonderful way to experience new worlds and ideas. Our house is filled with books, most of which are borrowed from our public library. Public libraries are an incredible resource, making books accessible to everyone, and we highly encourage everyone to discover theirs. If you are hoping to build your own home library, I've made it easy by including a search box for Amazon in the right sidebar.  Please note that I have become affiliated with them, which means that if you make a purchase, you are also supporting this website. 
Kid Lit Blog Hop


  1. This myth sounds very interesting and thanks for the link to the Mythical Journeys. It sounds like the site my daughter will love!

    1. I love reading different creation myths - it's so interesting to read the various cultural myths about how the earth came to be.

  2. What a great blog. Thanks for linking it in the Kid Lit Blog Hop!

  3. The only creation myth we studied with China was the Ten Suns. I can see I need to revisit and catch up!
    You have such an interesting blog, Marie!

    1. Thanks Claire :) We are big fans of mythology, and love comparing between cultures. Creation myths are some of our favorites!

  4. Very interesting, thanks so much for brining them to our attention on the Kid Lit Blog Hop

  5. I have yet to read Mythology to DD and these look like fascinating reads. Did you introduce the idea of what myths and legends are and how they originate before reading the books? These would be good to read aloud in DD's class too!
    Thanks for sharing on Kid Lit Blog Hop
    -Reshama @StackingBooks.com

    1. Hello Reshama, I've been reading various myths with the girls since they were around 5 years old, we love how they vary from culture to culture, how they connect us to the past, and the invariable magical element. It is important to discuss why and how myths originate, and over the years that discussion has come up on more than one occasion.
      The Chinese have so many myths - I hope you get a chance to share some with DD!

  6. Thank you for two fantastic recommendations. I haven't read much Chinese mythology in comparison to what I've read about Greek, Roman, and Egyptian mythology. I find it absolutely fascinating. Thanks so much for joining us in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. :)

  7. Thanks for hosting the blog hop, Renee. I always find it interesting to compare myths from different cultures!


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