October 2020
Like other com- munities, our Chinese American commu- nity has been hit hard physically, mentally and economically.
Fall Colors
October 2020
In this year of coronavirus, we can find joy in the beauty of nature and celebrate festival traditions with tastes of mooncake on the trail.
Publisher Pronouncement
October 2020
With the 2020 U.S national election approximately a month away, will Asian American voters make a difference in the U.S. political fabric?
October 2020
The resolution “calls on all public of- ficials to condemn and denounce anti-Asian sentiment, racism, discrimination, and re- ligious intolerance related to COVID-19”
Canton Fair
October 2020
The 10-day virtual 128th session will go online from Oct. 15-24.
HK Press
September 2020
On June 30, 2020, the Beijing government stepped in on Hong Kong’s governance and enacted the Hong Kong National Security Law
Lauren Food Blog
September 2020
March 16, 2020, a Monday, is a day I will never forget; it’s the day all my jobs essentially vanished. At the time, I was living in New York City, auditioning and performing.
Chang Wang - CAAPM
September 2020
Chang Wang, a regular China Insight contributor, to the Board of Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans (CAPM) to represent the Chinese Minnesotans at the Council and the State government.
China Garden
Septemebr 2020
These gardens are all more expensive than anticipated.
August 2020
Studying and understanding how ancient China viewed consumerism and the pursuit of wealth through the lens of Confucian thought and traditions, and how they impacted modern Chinese society will help us develop a deeper understanding of modern China.
Green Restrictions
August 2020
The idea of "green restrictions" on property rights is reflected in the property rights section, which makes it possible for coordination of property utilization activities and environmental protection goals.
Hong Kong
August 2020
Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing government said the new National Security Law will only target “an extremely small minority.” As with most things Beijing directed, that may be a borderline lie.
Unsung Heroes
August 2020
The story of Chinese American veterans and their contributions in World War II and the path toward recognition as told by the sons/daughters/grandchildren of these veterans.
Ming Bday
August 2020
Not even a pandemic can keep down the celebration for this spirited nonagenarian.
Post Covid Wuhan
August 2020
“Long Time No See, Wuhan” is a documentary that tells the stories of 10 families in the Chinese city hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic,. It was viewed more than 25 million times during its first 24 hours online in late June. The film was directed by Takeuchi Ryo, a Japanese who has lived in Nan- jing, Jiangsu province, for seven years.

By Elaine Dunn

     Last month’s “Story” column dealt with China’s version of the creation of heaven and earth by Pangu (盤古). The story ended on the premise that we human beings came from mites off Pangu’s hairy body. Not exactly a pleasant thought.  So this month, I’ll offer up an alternate, and I hope, a more palatable version of how human beings were created according to Chinese mythology - the story of Nüwa.

The myths of human creation
     In the west, there’s Darwin’s evolution theory. For Christians, it started with God creating Adam and Eve. In Chinese mythology, Nüwa takes credit for origin of the species. And there are quite a few versions of the Nüwa story. I will include two of the best-known ones.

Version one
     After Pangu created heaven and earth, the kind goddess Nüwa visited the earth. She found the environment pleasing and attractive.  However, she thought earth lacked life. She thought, “The sky has stars; the ocean has fish; the earth has animals, but I have nothing.” She felt lonely and yearned for some company.

      While strolling along the river, she caught sight of her own reflection in the water. An idea came to her and she excitedly sat down and went to work. She scooped out a handful of clay and started making dolls modeled after herself – with one modification.  Nüwa is supposed to have the head and torso of a woman, but her bottom half is that of a snake! Thus, the modification to the mud dolls she made was they all had feet so they could stand erect. 

     Then she breathed air into the mud dolls and put them down on the ground. The ones she breathed masculine air into became males and the ones she breathed feminine air into became females. They sang and danced and Nüwa found them quite amusing and enjoyed watching them. She was so taken by her handiwork that she diligently made more mud dolls  day and night. Then she breathed life into them so they could enjoy each other and to entertain during her stay on earth. However, making the mud dolls proved painstaking and her hands and fingers soon started hurting. Yet, as there was still not enough “dolls” to populate the earth,  she had to figure out how to create more dolls in a more efficient way.

     One day, she dipped a cord into the mud and then swished it in the air. Droplets of mud fell to the ground and turned into little people! Delighted with the outcome, she continued with the dip-cord-and- swish method, splashing mud droplets all over until the mountains and plains in all corners of the earth were fully populated.

     In order that she never had to hand-make mud dolls or dip and swish a cord again, Nüwa set up a marriage system so males and females would get married and procreate. This would ensure earth would be forever populated.

     Satisfied with bringing life to the beautiful earth, she returned to heaven.

     One day, Nüwa heard a loud noise. The gods of water and fire were fighting. The god of water was losing the fight and angry. He bumped his head on one of the mountain pillars that supported the sky. The pillar collapsed and half the sky caved in. Thunder and lightning followed. The earth was getting flooded by torrential rain. Part of the earth split open and giant flames burst through! People were dying; crops and animals were scorched.

     Nüwa could not bear to see “her children” suffer so she tried to block the hole in the sky with a huge boulder. Unfortunately, the heavy rain washed away the boulder in no time. Nüwa returned to earth, selected five colored stones from the river and put them into a boiling cauldron where they melted into a dense liquid. She proceeded to patch the hole in the sky with this liquid. It took her nine days to complete the task. Finally, the sky was mended and the sun shone again. She did not want to risk the sky falling again, so she found a giant sea turtle from the East Sea. She used its four legs to hold up the sky. She also took the ashes from the burnt crops to dam up the flooding banks and restored peace to “her children” on earth. And she once again returned to heaven.

     Legend has it that the hand-made dolls became aristocrats and learned scholars. The mud droplets became peasants and common folks.

Version two 
     Nüwa has various roles in Chinese mythology: goddess, creator, repairer, sister, wife … In this Han version of the creation of humankind story, Nüwa is both sister and wife of Fuxi (伏羲).

     There was a great flood on earth and Nüwa and her brother Fuxi were the only two survivors left. They knew they had to procreate to keep the human race going, but were afraid and ashamed of the incestuous act. Unable to resolve the hard choice with which they were faced, they went to Mount Kunlun to seek the gods’ advice. They asked the gods to send a signal. If the gods give permission for brother and sister to marry, they asked the gods to let smoke hang above their prayer offering. Smoke indeed hung over the offering, so brother and sister married. To cover her embarrassment on wedding night, Nüwa covered her face with a fan she had woven from grass. Therefore, to this day, Chinese brides often hold a fan on their wedding night!

     Mud dolls or mites, take your pick.

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