How Pangu formed the world

My mom shared this folklore on how the world was formed. This story was a traditional Chinese mythical story that is passed down generation to generation. She first heard about the story from her father. We interviewed in Chinese so the following is only rough translation of what she shared.


In ancient times, sky and earth were linked together, and the universe was all chaos. There was a giant called Pangu, sleeping in this chaos for over eighteen thousand years. One day, Pangu was suddenly awake. When he opened his eyes, all he could see was endless darkness, so he smashed at the darkness with his axe, making a huge sound. After it’s all quiet again, all the chaos slowly separate themselves from each other. Those that are light and clear ascended to become the sky, and those that are heavy and turbid descended to become earth.

Fearing the sky and the earth would link together again, Pangu used his head to shore up the sky, and used his feet to hold off the earth. Every day, the sky ascends miles up, and Pangu would grow higher simultaneously. Countless years past, the sky and earth finally were stable, and Pangu was so exhausted that he collapsed on the ground.

As he collapsed, his body had great changes. His breathes became the winds of the four seasons and the floating clouds; his sounds became the thunders; his eyes became the sun and the moon; his four limbs became East, West, South, and North polars; his skin became the vast lands; his blood became the running rivers; his sweats became the rains that give life.


This is a typical Chinese myth story where it explains how the world comes to be, and where the land the wind the rivers come from. I first heard this story from my grandmother (my father’s mother) and there is not a lot difference between the version my mom told and the version I heard from my grandmother. I asked some of my friends and it turned out each version is not much different. This is an interesting observation given many of the other folklore have various versions that are more or less different from one another.