Episode 2: The Beginning

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In Chinese mythology, Pangu 盘古 is the god who created the universe. Pangu’s Creation story came later than the story of Nvwa 女娲. Pangu was originally a mythical character from the minorities in the south China. When the tribes of Fuxi 伏羲 migrated from the Yellow River, from the North to South. his stories combining with Pangu’s stories became the one we know today. Pan 盘 means beginning in the ancient Chinese and gu 古 means gourd, the plant, which represents fertility.

盘古

In the book called WuYunLiNianJi 五运历年记, before anything was created in the universe, Pangu emerged from the egg-like universe. When he was born, he was already 18000 years old. So he sat in the egg for a while. He separated Yin, which is murky, became the earth and Yang, which is clear, became the sky. Pangu was between the sky and land. Each day, the sky grew one zhang 丈 , a unit of length in ancient China, is about 2~3 meters (10 feet), and the land also grew about one zhang thicker and pangu grew one zhang taller. Hey! It is like the Big Bang. This went on for another 18000 years. You can do the math and distance between the sky and the earth is around 1000200 miles, which is half of the diameter of the moon or a third of the way of the equator of the earth according to Wolfram. So the universe definitely fit in half of the moon for sure (not really). 36000 years was probably a huge number for people to imagine in the ancient time that the universe took to emerge.

After Pangu died, his breath became the wind and clouds, his voice became the thunder, his left eye became the sun, his right eye became the moon. His arms, legs and head became the mountains and polars, his blood became rivers and lakes, his muscles became fertile lands, his fair became stars, his skin became grassland and forests, his bones and teeth became minerals and his sweat became rainfalls. The fleas from his body were carried by the wind and became animals. The profile we used for the podcast is Pangu himself! Some researchers think this story is from Indian Myth of Purusha, which is a very similar story about Purusha whose sacrifice created all life forms including human beings. In the same book, it also recorded that Pangu had a dragon head and a snake body, which is different from the photo, which is a hairy guy with horns. In the folktale version, Pangu held a chisel in his left hand and a hammer in his right hand to separate the sky and land. When he opened his eyes, it was the day. When he closed his eyes, the night fell. People worship Pangu at some shrines in China today, where Pangu usually holds a Bagua, which is a Taoist symbol.

Pangu created the universe. Who created Pangu?

 

Mentioned:

盘古 Pangu

女娲 Nvwa

伏羲 Fuxi

zhang

五运历年记 WuYunLiNianJi

八卦 Bagua

Purusha

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