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Classic Chinese Myth From Archaic Times: Nuwa Mends the Sky

The myths of the past are a reflection of our ancestry. It showcases the belief system and the values that our ancestors hold dearly. That’s why stories of these myths are as imperative as any form of literature. It allows us to peer into the perspective of our predecessors and see how they think, react, and rationalize things they see. Not to mention, stories of myths have an intrinsic allure that captivates any readers. Not only is it worth the read, but it also teaches us different lessons immortalized into fictional stories.

Interestingly, stories from remote antiquity have no written records. They only pass it down through words of mouth continuously transferred to posterity. While there may perhaps be unforeseen changes in the stories, the central concept remains. It still reflects the understanding of our ancestors regarding social customs and traditional narratives.

Why We Should Learn Myths

That is why, today, that will be the focus of our reading. We will tackle one of the most classic stories from time immemorial; the story of Nuwa mends the Sky 女娲补天 (Nǚwā bǔ tiān).

nuwa mends the sky
image from Internet

The proliferation of the patriarchial system overlooked the contributions of women. They invalidate women’s social, political, and individual endowment to our society. However, even ancients understand how imperative they are to our progress. Not only as an invaluable aspect for survival but also for impacting and changing societal narratives.

Consequently, the ancients created a mythical story regarding a powerful independent woman. At the time, when the sky collapsed, the Earth sank, wildfire spread, floods ravaged the land, and beasts ran amok, she became our last hope. When depravity and chaos overtook the Earth, she rose to the challenges and conquered them.

Today, we will delve into how a stunning and powerful woman mends the sky with five-color rocks, saving humanity. Today, we will look into the story of Nuwa.

The Related Story

A long time ago, there was no sky and land, no plants 植物 (zhí wù), and no animals, let alone humans.

After Pangu separated the sky, there were all creatures in the world. But one day, the western sky 西天 (xī tiān) suddenly collapsed, causing huge on the Earth, separating life as the ancients know it. The torrential water flooded all the lands; fierce animals  (yě shòu) preyed on men. It was a time of chaos. Many who fought unfortunately lost their lives

Nuwa witnessed all this. At that time, she made a promise. She vowed to take responsibility for filling the gap in the sky. Consequently, she embarked on a harsh journey that exhausted her mind and her physical capacity. After numerous tries, she still couldn’t find a way to make up the sky. At this point, her physical capacity exhausted the last storage of her energy. Nuwa opted to rest but inevitably fell asleep. During her deep sleep, an epiphany came knocking at her consciousness. In the dream, a fairy told her that the top of Kunlun Mountain was full of five-color gems 五彩石 (wǔ cǎi shí). After refining the gems with fire, they could be used to mend the sky.

Nuwa hurried to Kunlun Mountain after waking up. She picked up a lot of them, piled them on the top of the mountain, set a fire, and refined them for ninety-eighty-one days, turning the gems into molten lava. Seeing that the molten lava was made, Nuwa was very happy. She held up the lava with both hands and took it to fill the sky again and again. She breathed a sigh of relief until the gap in the sky stopped leaking. However, her duty does not stop there. Beasts still run amok on Earth, causing thousands of casualties. Consequently, she confronted the beast. She cut off the four legs of a 10,000-year-old giant tortoise 万年巨龟 (wàn nián jù guī) and used them as Optimus Primes to support the four sides of the world.

In this way, Nuwa mended the sky, the flood was tamed, and the terrifying beast disappeared. Seeing that the situation was gradually improving, the people rebuilt 重建 (chóng jiàn) their homes one after another, and life soon returned to its former peace.

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