Nuwa’s Creation of Humanity – Chinese Myth

Context: After learning about myths in class, I was interested if there were any Chinese creation myths. I called up a friend of mine (JK) who knew a lot about creation stories, and he told me this one about Nuwa creating humanity. 


JK: “This myth is about the creation of humanity, and the main divine being in the myth is Nuwa. Nuwa, sometimes called Nugua, is basically the mother goddess in Chinese mythology and is one of the most compassionate gods. The story goes that after the creation of the world, Nuwa was filled with feelings of loneliness, which only grew more and more intense. In order to solve this problem, she molded yellow clay into a smaller version of herself. These were the first humans, but Nuwa soon realized that molding individual humans one by one was too time-consuming, and devised a new method by dragging a piece of string across the dirt. And that’s really all there is to it.”

Background: My friend first learned about this myth from hearing that Nuwa was the creator of humanity in his Chinese school. He did some more digging and asked his parents if they knew more about Nuwa and humanity’s creation, and his father told him the story. My friend’s outlook after some research on the myth is that those on top of the social hierarchy in ancient China created this myth for their own gain because the rich nobles at the time thought that they were the first people who were hand crated by Nuwa. They believed that the commoners were those that were created by Nuwa dragging string through the mud, which is why the nobles were more privileged and important to society.

Thoughts: After doing some further digging, I learned that Nuwa did a lot of things in order to help humanity in Chinese mythology. When the fire and water gods were fighting, they tore up the sky and Nuwa was the one that had to calm them down. She single-handedly patched up the sky and stopped all the storms that were the result of the fighting. I thought the myth of humanity’s creation was really interesting because of the way the nobles used it and perceived themselves to be naturally born into a higher class due to a difference in their creation from the peasants. I also learned that a lot of other cultures had similar ideas of mankind being created from earth or clay. One example of this is Prometheus creating humanity from clay in Greek mythology. 

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