The flood, floods and mythic flood stories 4 Mythic theme 3 Chinese mythology

Chinese mythology

In Chinese culture day arrived when Chu Ying (or Chu Lung) with his body of a red snake, opened his eyes, and nigh felt when he closed his eyes. Winter and summer came into being depending on the strength of his breath.

We may find stories that by the crying of the gods, because man did something wrong, the tears poured down and came to flood the country.

“Nine Dragons” handscroll section, by Chen Rong, 1244 AD, Chinese Song dynasty, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, USA.
King Yu of Xia.jpg
Yu the Great, Color on silk at the National Palace Museum

In Chinese myths the great mass of water that covered the land was a primordial condition that, above: else, prevented man from engaging in agriculture. Because the deluge did not recede of itself, the labours of a hero were required to alleviate the situation.
The story of Da Yu, Yü the Great (Tamer of the Flood) has thus been viewed as a myth involving the creation of Chinese society and not as a retribution for sin nor an attempt to destroy mankind.

In Chinese mythology, the Tamer of the Flood is a saviour-hero and reputed founder of China’s oldest dynasty, the Xia. In one legend, among many we find the story of Da Yu’s extraordinary birth, wherein a man called Gun or Kun was given charge of controlling a great deluge. To dam the water, he stole from heaven what seems to have been a piece of magic soil or mould. Variously interpreted as the breathing, the living, or the swelling clod of earth from which plants grow. The theft so angered the gods in heaven, that the harder Kun worked, the higher the waters rose.

Annual heavenly sacrifice (祭天 jìtiān) in honour of the Highest Deity the Heavenly Ruler (皇天上帝 Huángtiān Shàngdì) is held at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. State pomp and a variety of Confucian religious groups have contributed in the reviving of worship of the Highest Deity in the 2000s.

Angered by the theft, the Lord on High (Shangdi) issued an order for his execution. After three years Gun’s miraculously preserved body was slit open and a son brought forth. This was Da Yu who, after years of strenuous labour, provided outlets to the sea through dredging, with the aid of dragons, thus making the world suitable for human habitation.

 

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The flood, floods and mythic flood stories 1 Flooding and Water-waves

The flood, floods and mythic flood stories 2 Mythic theme 1 God or gods warning

The flood, floods and mythic flood stories 3 Mythic theme 2 Hebrew story of the flood

Next: The flood, floods and mythic flood stories 5 Indian region

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