Chinese Myth Tuesdays: Pan Gu


Edited from Fuck Yeah Chinese Myths!:

You know how in every culture we wonder who we are, and where we came from? The Norse believed that everything came from the primordial void of the Ginnungagap (“mighty gap”), until the frost Giant Ymir thawed out from the ice and his sweat became human beings. And so do the Chinese, more or less!

The story goes that a long time ago, there was nothing except a primordial chaos, and from that chaos emerged a cosmic egg. The egg remained unhatched for 18,000 years. I don’t know how we’re meant to know this. I suppose they wanted to make their creation myth more believable.

In that egg was Pan Gu (盘古 pángǔ, literally “plate ancient”). In most images he’s a giant, hairy with horns on his head and wearing furs. Pan Gu got really damn bored in that egg so he burst it open (with his axe in some versions) and was like, oh shit. You see, he had released the primordial yin and yang energies within the egg, which split into two and became the sky (tiān, which is yang) and the earth (dì, which is yin).

Pan Gu stood there propping up the sky. He did that for another 18,000 years until he died. Every day the sky grew ten feet higher, the earth grew ten feet thicker, and Pan Gu grew ten feet taller. And you think you have a boring day job.

When Pan Gu died, his breath became the wind, his voice thunder, his eyes the sun and moon, his facial hair the stars, his head the mountains, his blood the rivers, his muscles the land, his furs the forests, his bones minerals, and his sweat rain. Basically, nearly every kind of landscape or weather phenomenom was attributed to his body parts. Ew.

After that, a new goddess came up, called Nüwa, and she is going to make humans – so watch out for that myth coming next week.

Fuck Yeah Chinese Myths! is a tumblr of Chinese myth, history and culture written by Min Xie