December 20, 1996
This report is about the myths and beliefs of the Chinese culture. It’s about
the stories the Chinese created to explain the world around them, and generally
how they perceived their surrounding environment. This report deals with
ancient myths and the people who believed them, and what the current believes of
these people are.
The Southwest Creation Story
The Southwest creation story is a myth which explains why people are different.
The myth begins by saying that there were people on earth who were all alike,
meaning there weren’t people who were black, white, oriental, etc.. It states
that the humans on earth all generally were the same. There were also gods who
lived above the clouds in the heavens. And there was a huge heavenly ladder
which started on a mountain and reached all the way up to heaven’s door. It
goes on to tell a story of a man who had two children. One was a girl and the
other was a boy.
They lived in a house which had a huge very thick roof. The man had built the
roof so thick because it rained almost every day. He hated the rain. He knew
it had its benefits but too much of it ruined his crops, destroyed his livestock
and every time it rained the roof of the house was destroyed. And every time
the man rebuilt it, he made it thicker and thicker. He blamed all his
misfortune on the Duke of Thunder. The Duke of Thunder was one of the gods who
lived in the heavens. He was the god of rain and thunder. The man dispised the
Duke very much and had a pure hatred of him.
Every time it rained the Duke would descend from the heavens and stand on a
hilltop. There he would watch with pure delight as the rains and thunder came
down harder and harder. Finally the man had had enough. One day he took his
axe and waited on the hilltop for the Duke to arrive. When the rains came so did
the Duke, and the man slashed him in the back. The Duke was
hurt but not killed because he was a god. The man caged him and brought him
home. He put him in a corner and warned the kids not to go near him. And to
especially not give him water. The next morning was a beautiful sunny one, but
the Duke looked horrible almost as if he was dehydrating. The man told the
children he had to go to the market and said again not to go near the Duke no
matter what he does and don’t give him water. After the man left the Duke
started moaning. He begged the children to give him some water but they refused
following their father’s orders. The Duke pretended he was dead with his mouth
hung open and he had his lips very dry.
The girl was worried, she thought he was dying so she gave him one drop of
water. The Duke instantly jumped back up and tore apart the cage. The
children were terrified. He came over to them and promised them that they
will be rewarded for their deed. He gave them a small egg and told them to
plant it in the ground and then he left. When the man came back he was
shocked by what had happened. He knew the Duke would be very angry and would
punish him. So he didn’t waste any time and started to build a ship. After
a month’s time the ship was finished. It was built out of the strongest
material known to him.
Meanwhile the egg the children planted had grown to a size of about two small
people. Then one day what the man had anticipated came. Huge torrential
downpours of rain started and there were tremendous floods. The man jumped into
the ship he built, in his panic he had forgotten about the children. They had
ran into the egg which had become soft. The floods were so great that the man
in his ship reached all the way to the door of the heavens. He banged the doors
and yelled let me in! The gods didn’t want mortals in the heavens, so the Duke
was ordered to recede the floods. He took the floods back so fast that the man
fell back to the earth and was crushed by his ship.
The children in the soft egg bounced back to the ground safely. When they came
out, they saw everything was destroyed. They were the only ones left. They
lived happily for a while and after some time they had a child. Because they
were brother and sister the child was deformed and died a short time later. The
two kids chopped up the baby into tiny pieces and put him in a bag, and they
started climbing up the heavenly ladder.
The bag ripped before they could reach to the top and all the pieces
fell back to earth. They fell all over the continents, and from them the new
people developed. They were different in appearance from each other depending
on where they lived. This myth explains why there are people who look so much
different from each other. This myth suggests that man was more responsible for
the creation of the new humans than the gods. Because of the actions of the man
the people were created.
The Heritage of a King
This is a myth about fate. In this myth a man named Zoa chi who is a king tries
to find out his fate. Zoa was a survivor. When he was little his parents were
assassinated. An attempt at his life was also made but his older brother
protected him. The murderer was his uncle who betrayed his father and overthrew
his power. He stayed in exile with his brother until he was older. Over the
years his hatred of his uncle had made Zoa a very stern man. He had wowed to
get his revenge. He became a great fighter and started a group of followers who
also were against the king. Then finally the day he had been waiting for had
arrived. With his small army he overpowered the kings army. Growing up on
the streets had made Zoa a great strategy leader, so he was able to defeat
the huge overconfident king’s army. He killed the king and took over the
throne. Years went by and he himself became overconfident and selfish. He
created a fantasy image of himself as a great man. He thought that nothing
on this planet could defeat him. As time went by he became just like his
uncle. Absolute power had corrupted him.
Then one day he declared to all his subjects that he was a god and expected to
be worshipped. This was too much for the people, they rebelled but Zoa crushed
all their resistance. One of his advisors told Zoa that he knew a magician who
could greatly help him in keeping down further rebellions. He said that this
man could see the future and help him stop protesters before they could organise
and challenged him. The king immediately called the man to his castle. The
man’s name was Hou. He told the king that there will be a man who will kill him
soon. And that man would be a close relative of his.
The king knew exactly whom Hou was talking about. Zoa’s son Zhuan was almost
the age where he could become king if something happened to his father.
Immediately Zoa ordered Zhuan to be imprisoned. He said this was another
example of how clever he was, he said he saw the future and beat fate’s
destiny. He even said that he was better than any other god the people
believed in. When he went to see Zhuan his older brother went with him.
Zhuan pleaded with Zoa and said he would never even think of killing his own
father. But Zoa didn’t believe him.
He sentenced Zhuan to death. But before Zhuan could be killed older Zoa’s
brother beheaded him when he facing his son. Zoa was killed by his own
brother who was ashamed of what his younger sibling had become. What the
magician didn’t tell Zoa was which close relative would kill him. Zoa who
had become overconfident wasn’t as great as he thought he was. And he was
too arrogant to not know that the gods should not be challenged. This myth
tells that becoming overconfident will eventually hurt you and that no one
could beat their destiny. The Chinese in this story believed in the gods,
they were very religious people and this myth tells that the gods should not
Both of these myths were written a long time ago and I don’t think that the
people today still believe in these myths as strongly as the people who wrote
them did. I think it’s like Halloween in our culture. We still practice the
custom as the ancient people did but we don’t have as much as a strong believe
in ghosts and goblins as our ancestors did.
Birch, Cyril. Chinese Myths And Fantasies. Great Britain: London, 1992.
Fei, Charles. Strange Creatures. New York, 1990
Ke, Yuan. Dragons And Dynasties. China: Beijing, 1993
*Chinese Myths.* Grolier Encyclopaedia, 12th ed. 1996.