Much as the African myth explaining the creation of its society included a talking mountain god who once lived on earth (Parrinder, African Mythology) does my own myth, based on Korean culture, explain the foundation of one society peopled with characters of strength and fortitude. Long before earth was populated, Panther and Mouse lived in a cave high over a verdant valley in the region of Mount T`aebaeksan on the border between Manchuria and what is now North Korea. There was water flowing in the streams and sun shining on the trees and grass but this was not enough for Panther and Mouse.
Although they spent their time playing games and singing songs, they were lonely for additional company. The God of All and Ruler of Heaven Huan-an had a son, Huan-gun, who was also discontent with his own life confined to the heavens. He yearned to live on Earth amongst the valleys and the mountains. Huan-an agreed to honor his son’s wishes based on the requirement that he produce a population of humans worthy of this great gift who would live in the beautiful, mountainous countryside of Mount T’aebaeksan in happiness.
Panther and Mouse watched from their cave as Huan-gun arrived with his heavenly ministers who created clouds, rain, and wind to keep the valley below green and lush. “I want to live down there,” said Mouse one day, scampering to the edge of his cave and watching Huan-ang’s work with great fascination. “and become human. ” “Then let us go down the mountain and talk to the god,” suggested Panther. Huan-gun watched the two approach. The panther descended the mountain warily, watching where he placed his paws while the mouse scampered happily in and out amongst the boulders and trees.
They crossed the stream with Mouse hanging on to Panther’s back and stood before Huan- gun to plead their case. “To become humans you must first eat only the herbs in this bag. ” Huan- gun handed the animals a leather satchel. “And you must return to your cave, staying out of the sunlight and rain, for one hundred days straight. ” For the next fortnight, Huan- gun observed the progress of the animals. He thought that surely Panther would be strong and fearless and triumph over Mouse to win the challenge he had presented.
But after only 50 days, Panther emerged from the cave, blinking his big black eyes in the sun. “I cannot do it,” Panther declared. Huan-gun sent him back to the forest. After 100 days, Mouse came out of the cave. As sunlight touched Mouse’s body, it was transformed into that of a beautiful woman with long black hair and soft brown eyes. Huan-gun was pleased. Mouse had proved to be strong and possessed of great fortitude. He took the woman’s hand and together they lived in the valley. Huan-gun and his mortal wife produced many children and ruled the land with great compassion.
Huan-gun taught his sons and daughters to live within the laws of the land and a strict moral code. From their mother they learned to sing and make up games and to call upon their inner strength. When the civilization was well and truly established, Huan-gun took his wife and became god of the mountain, where he could continue to oversee his Earth. From high in the Heavens, Huan-an looked down at the handiwork of his son and he was pleased. Works Cited Parrinder, Geoffrey. African Mythology. New York: Hamlyn Publishing Group, Ltd. , 196