Stories of Creation in Babylonian and Chinese Myth Essay
Stories of Creation in Babylonian and Chinese Myth
Different religions have their own stories of creation. One of the major reasons for religion is the establishment of how the world and humans were created. With the advancement of science, most of these stories are now regarded as myths and legends. This essay will examine two creation myths from the ancient world: the Assyrian-Babylonian creation myth and the Chinese creation myth. In Babylonian myth, although the heavens and the ground existed in the beginning, only the waters have a name. In the war of the gods, Marduk created heaven and earth from Tiamat’s body.
The god, Marduk, also created men left from the bones of dead monsters from the war, according to Mythic Journeys. They were created to serve the gods and bear the burden of hard work for the gods. Unfortunately, the Babylonian creation myth did not specify if women were created along with men, but it is safe to assume they were. The Enuma Elish, the source of the myth, just specified that Marduk “will take blood and fashion bone. I will establish a savage, ‘man’ shall be his name” (Bratcher). Aside from bones, Marduk needed blood to create man.
Ea, one of the Babylonian gods, suggested that the blood should come from the one god who was guilty of starting the war. Thus, Kingu, who incited Tiamat to start the war, was handed over and his blood vessels were severed. “Out of his blood they fashioned mankind” (Bratcher). The Babylonian myth does not specify whether the gods fashioned man in their own image or in the image of Marduk, but it is more likely that they did not since Babylonian gods were in different forms. In Chinese mythology, the world started out as an enormous egg containing chaos from whence was born the giant dragon, Pan-gu.
Pan-gu pushed the two halves of the shell as he grew, thus forming the earth and the sky. He hammered out mountains from the earth and filled it water to form oceans. He carved out the rivers with his own fingers and stamped upon the earth to create flat grounds. He filled the sky with lights that became stars. Pan-gu lived for 18,000 years, after which he laid on eternal rest. His body formed huge mountains; his skull, the top of the sky; his hair formed all the flowers and plants; his bones turned to jade and pearl; his blood became the rivers; his breath turned to wind and his voice became thunder; his eyes became the moon and the sun.
The half-dragon goddess, Nuwa, was also born. The world became a lonely place to live in. It was Nuwa who decided to create humans to talk and share ideas with, but most of all to love. Obviously, humans were not created in her image. She created them first by forming figures with legs, instead of having dragon’s tail like she does, out of mud from the Yellow River. She realized that it would take her a long time to fill the earth with humans if she just form them with her own hands. So she grabbed a muddy stick and flung drops of mud across the earth, which became man and woman as the sun dried them out.
These people, however, became inferior in intelligence than those formed by Nuwa’s own hands, who became leaders. She commanded all the people to populate the lands and she protected them. Nuwa bacame the mother of all humans. Although the world may have started out in chaos in both mythologies, each is different from the other. Although the heaven and earth were created by a single god, there were many gods and godesses who participated in the war in Babylonian myth that led to man’s creation. On the other hand, there were two principal deities responsible for creation in the Chinese mythology.
The gods and godesses also have contrasting reasons for the creation of humans. Interestingly, it wasn’t specified on both myths on how humans are supposed to behave. Works Cited Bratcher, Dennis. “Enuma Elish: ‘When on high… ‘ The Mesopotamian/Babylonian Creation Myth. ” Biblical and Theological Resources for growing Christians. 13 July 2006. The Voice. 2 July 2008. <http://www. cresourcei. org/enumaelish. html> Mythic Journeys. “The Big Myth. ” The Big Myth. 2007. Mythic Journeys. 2 July 2008. <http://www. mythicjourneys. org/bigmyth/2_eng_myths. htm>