China travel’s guide books can’t provide you all the information you need about Chinese culture, beliefs, history and myths. But fully understanding its inhabitants needs going further on the culture. Western people have their own version of how the Earth was created according to the Bible, but did you know that even Chinese people are not religious in general, have their own myth about that? Creation of Heaven and Earth by Pangu is the creative myth that was spread in the Orient in ancient times. More than a myth, it is even written on Chinese history books to explain who the Chinese ancestors were. But don’t get me wrong, they know that it’s a legend. The point is that wherever you go on your China tours every local would know that story, and if the topic comes out in a conversation be sure that they’ll be surprised that you know that kind of legend.

A very long time ago, Heaven and Earth were a chaotic gathering of air masses, just like an egg, with Pangu slept inside. He slept for about 18000 years and then awoke. He found that he was in the dark, so he expanded his huge hands and cut into the darkness. At that moment an explosion happened: Heaven and Earth started to split. Standing right in between the Heaven and the Earth, hands holding out the sky, feet stamping on the ground, he grew taller and taller, hence the sky became higher and higher while the ground became lower and lower. Because he was afraid that the sky and the earth could come together again he stood there for 18.000 years. As a result, the Heaven and the Earth were finally driven away from each other of 90.000 kilometers. Pangu gradually weakened after he separated the heaven and the earth. After he died, his body turned into all the things in the universe. After his death, his eyes became the Sun and the Moon, his four limbs, the mountains, blood, rivers, lakes and seas, his sinews, the field, his arteries, the roads and ways, his hair and moustache, the stars in the sky, his skin and body hair, flowers, grass, and woods, his teeth and bones, rocks, glittering pearls and precious stones. His breath became the wind and cloud, his shout became the thunderbolt, and the sweat turned out to be the rain. A lot of insects on his body were blown by wind into living human beings.

This myth has been passed from generations to generations until now among Chinese families. Moreover some ethnic minorities still sing songs about Pangu. This is one of the numerous myths in China, if you appreciated that story you could also read about Fuxi and Nüwa who are considered as ancestors of Chinese people before taking your China flight.

Jack Li
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