Lotis Heroes Monthly - January 2022
Retelling Myths: Nuwa Creates Humanity
Happy New Year!
To start off this year’s monthly stories, we have a creation myth from Chinese mythology!
Nuwa Creates Humanity
The goddess wandered blissfully on the beautiful earth.
Although she and the other deities had made their home in the heavens, Nuwa had always found the earth to be a beautiful place - one that was vibrant and full of life.
She slithered along the grass field, and finally came to a rest at the bank of a river.
Looking out at the beauty in front of her, she smiled.
A snake slithered up to her.
'How cute!' she thought to herself, 'It has a tail, just like mine!'
She reached her hand out towards the snake.
But, before she could touch the snake, the snake had already slithered off - most likely to find its next prey.
The goddess laughed a little.
However, soon, a loneliness began to set in.
Nuwa couldn't explain it.
Even though she lived happily in the heavens with the other deities.
Even though she was overjoyed to be with her husband, Fuxi.
And even though she could visit this beautiful earth.
Still, she felt a loneliness that just would not leave.
Nuwa peered into the river, looking at the reflection that was staring back at her.
Suddenly, an idea struck her.
Reaching down into the river, she pulled out some of the mud and the clay, and began to mold them together.
Gathering more mud and clay from the river and its bank, she added to what she already had, and began to sculpt it.
Soon, the first few figures had been finished.
She had given the figures an upper body like hers - a head on top of a torso, with two arms and hands.
For the figures' lower bodies, she decided to give them the two legs that some of the other deities had instead.
Pleased with her work, she gave them life, and named them "humans".
But, most importantly, she decided to give them the potential to become sapient - to become one step closer to the deities that resided in the heavens, over the other creatures on the earth.
And thus, the first humans were born, and Nuwa rejoiced.
It had been a joy for Nuwa to share the earth with her hand-sculpted creations.
They were getting closer and closer to gaining sapience, and some of them were even beginning to be able to communicate with her.
Even the other deities had begun to take an interest in these "humans".
Her husband, Fuxi, wanted to teach the humans how to write, fish, and hunt.
Another fellow deity, Shennong, wanted to teach them about agriculture and medicine.
The potential and possibilities of the humans began to excite the gods.
Filled with much joy and love for her creations, Nuwa decided that she had to create more humans - not only because they had brought her happiness, and had driven away her loneliness; but also because her creations would need to be bolstered with numbers, if they were to survive amongst all the other creatures on the earth.
However, hand-sculpting each new human was proving to be too exhausting, and it would take too long for her to hand-sculpt all the new humans that would be needed.
And so, to solve this problem, Nuwa dragged a piece of rope across the mud and the clay.
When enough mud and clay had gathered on the rope, she began to fling the rope around.
Imbuing life and her love into each swing, the lumps of clay and mud that were flung off the rope hit the ground, and rose up to become humans.
When the task was done, Nuwa looked around her, and was overcome with joy - her new children had been born.
Nuwa looked down upon her creations from the heavens.
It had been eons since the creation of humanity, and the gods had long since decided to distance themselves, allowing the humans to be free on earth.
A war between two of the gods had caused the destruction of one of the four pillars separating the heavens and the earth, which caused the sky to fall and tear, threatening to destroy the already-ravaged earth that the war had left behind.
Seeing her children and the earth's creatures in pain and suffering, Nuwa had to save them.
She gathered the five coloured stones that had each been imbued with one of the Five Elements - Fire, Water, Wood, Metal, and Earth. Melting the stones, she used them to repair the tears in the sky.
Then, to repair the four pillars that had all been damaged to varying degrees by the war, she sacrificed a giant tortoise, and used its four legs to repair each of the pillars.
The heavens and the earth were once again separated, and yin and yang had been balanced once more.
And though the sky was now tilted, because of the uneven length of the repaired pillars, Nuwa had saved the land, the earth's creatures, and her children.
Ever since then, the gods had retreated to the heavens and their other realms, so that the earth could be at peace once more.
When Nuwa left her children behind, she had hoped that they would grow with love in their hearts.
However, looking upon them now, she felt a sadness inside of her.
"Know your place, peasant!" the noble said, as he kicked the peasant away.
The other nobles laughed, as the peasant's friends were too scared to approach.
"Unlike you mass-produced mud blots," the noble said, "we are the chosen ones, hand-sculpted out of clay by Nuwa herself!"
The nobles walked away, leaving the scared peasant on the ground.
'But that isn't true!' Nuwa wanted to shout out.
Hand-sculpted or mass-produced, the mother goddess had loved all her creations the same.
Though their methods of creation differed, one was not superior to the other.
Furthermore, all the "pure" hand-sculpted humans had died long ago - that classification did not, and had never, mattered at all.
But Nuwa could only watch, from up in the heavens, as the nobles used her methods of creation, the ones that she had imbued with so much love, to oppress the peasants.
And all she could do was hope that, one day, all the humans will understand that she created all of them with love.
And that was a retelling of one of the creation myths in Chinese mythology.
Unlike most other mythologies, Chinese mythology does not have one specific creation myth. Instead, there are several different and contradictory origin myths that have been recorded.
Exactly why that is, is unknown and debated.
One variation of this story involves Nuwa and her brother/husband, Fuxi, making humans from the clay together; and in a variation of that variation, Nuwa and Fuxi procreated the human race themselves, and are seen as humanity's ancestors.
In a completely different story, Pangu was a primordial being born from the cosmic egg, and the one who separated yin (the earth) and yang (the sky) with his giant axe; when he died, various parts of his body became the different parts of the world - and the various parasites on his body became the animals, with some of those becoming the humans.
There are also other creation myths about how humans were spontaneously created from the chaos of the universe as it settled down into a balance of yin and yang.
Interestingly, there are also versions where Pangu can be seen as the being who separated and balanced yin and yang, and then became the universe after he died; resulting in deities such as Nuwa being born; and then Nuwa went on to create the humans. This is more-or-less the approach that I used here (though I didn't get a chance to mention Pangu and the creation of the universe and the deities), but that isn't really important to this story.
To complicate matters even more, in a completely different version of things, Nuwa is the second of the Three Sovereigns (god-kings that led humanity in ancient times). In this version of things, Nuwa does not create humanity, but she does still mend the sky following a different version of events that led to a tear in the sky.
Nuwa has been depicted with many different forms. Sometimes, she's depicted with a body mostly like a human's; other times, she's depicted as having a human-like upper body and a snake-like lower body (which is what I went with here); and there are also depictions that depict her as having just a human-like head on snake-like body.
Her husband (and/or brother, depending on the depiction), Fuxi, has also been variously portrayed like so.
The "humans needed to be bolstered with numbers, or else they won't survive" thing is something that I made up, as well as the "distancing of the gods".
The gods getting excited about the possibilities and the potential of humanity is an embellishment.
And although there isn't really a version where the sapience thing is explicitly said, it is overtly implied in a lot of them.
As for that last section...
To start with, the Mending of the Heavens is another interesting story that I didn't know if I'd get the chance to fully tell, so I included a quick recap here. It also serves to highlight just how important Nuwa is.
There are differing versions of that story as well. Some say that it happened before Nuwa created the humans, while others say that it happened afterwards (which is what I chose to go with here).
Also, sometimes there are four pillars, while other times there are eight. I went with four because I felt like it was more fitting with the sacrifice of the tortoise.
As for the nobles and the peasants part of the story... The creation myth of Nuwa was used by those in ancient China as a way to explain the social hierarchies that existed - as in, it was a way for the nobles to tell the peasants how superior the nobles were to them. So, I would have been remissed if I didn't, in turn, use the creation myth to say why that was wrong.
While I didn't intend this story to be a direct analogy to anything, I did intend for it to be applicable to many different situations.
However, just so that we are clear, I intended for it to speak out against people using perceived differences (made-up or otherwise) to bully and terrorize others.
And finally, to finish this long commentary, I'll leave you with an interesting tidbit: the Chinese characters for Nuwa is 女媧 - that second character is completely unique to her name, and it isn't used for anything else (as far as I know).
The Sun Aegis - Continuing work on Part 7.
Audrey, The Unicorn Girl - Continuing to work with @Tobatoons, the artist for this project. Inking continues for Chapter 1!
As always, please consider:
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