The word ‘mythology’ means a collection of myths, especially one belonging to a particular religious or cultural tradition. Myths are used for specific cultures to explain the particular nature of that society. Creation myths were used to explain how the earth and man were created in ancient cultures. The Chinese culture is no exception and has been around for thousands of centuries and collected various stories surrounding its creation. However, the myth about Pangu does not only contain an explanation of the Chinese origin but also displays something unique about the Chinese culture.
In Chinese mythology, the creation of man can be dated back thousands of years. When the heavens and the earth were one everything was chaos. There, in the middle of all the chaos, was Pangu in a deep sleep floating in a cosmic egg. After 18 thousand years, he had finally woken. Feeling suffocated, Pangu used all of his might to crack open the egg (Pan Gu). Pangu lifted the light part of the egg and created the heavens, while also lowering the heavy part of the egg to create the earth. While doing this he had produced, what we now know as, Yin (earth) and Yang (heavens and the sky) and became the pillar that made sure they would never join again.Order now
While being the only being in the world, the different characteristics of Pangu had caused the environment around him to change. His moods controlled the weather around him forming lakes and rivers. As time went on, he grew taller until he felt satisfied with the distance between the two. Satisfied with the length he stood, holding up the sky for the next 18 thousand years, while both the earth and the heavens grew. Pangu soon became tired and fell asleep, then shortly died (Yao).
His death was beneficial to the earth, for his body became one with the earth. His breath became the wind, while his voice became the thunder. One eye turned into the sun and the other the moon. His body and limbs molded into the five main mountains. The fertile land created by his muscles. His veins became the long stretching roads. The numerous stars in the sky came from his hair and his beard. While in some versions of the legend of Pangu, it says that the fleas and lice from his body became the ancestor of man (Pan Gu).
The egg in gives a visual idea of origin and helps to define the concept of Yin and Yang in the Chinese culture. The heavy part sank and made the earth and the light part rose and created the heavens and sky. While Yin depicts the earth and darkness, Yang represents the heavens and light. Yin and Yang are two opposing forces. The Chinese classified everything in those two categories. Hence, the Chinese culture reflecting in the roles for men and women in the family. Being submissive to her husband Yin was customarily interpreted as female. Being dominant in the family Yang was interpreted as a man. This concept meets the theory in old Chinese culture because women were thought to play an inferior role and were responsible for domestic matters and raising children in society. These thoughts were why the first being in China was Pangu—a man, not a woman (Yao).
As all cultures have their stories, the Chinese myth has a very consistent correlation with its culture. The Chinese creation myth of Pangu tells not only about their ancestors, but also how they understood the composition of the universe, the origin of man, the creation of all things, and helps to define the Chinese culture.