Good Stories from China: Nuuwa Created Humans and Mended Heaven
After God Panggu created Heaven and Earth, Goddess Nuuwa undertook the affairs on earth to make it prosperous. Descending from her heavenly kingdom, Nuuwa came to the eastern land. Seeing that Heaven and Earth were marvelously made, she was pleased.
But she saw something was missing. So she started to create. On the first day, Nuuwa created chickens; on the second day, dogs; the third day, goats; on the fourth day, pigs; on the fifth day, oxen; and on the sixth day, she created horses.
On the seventh day, using yellow dirt and water, Nuuwa made clay figures in her own image. She made many and turned them into living beings that we now call humans. One after another, Nuuwa made clay figures, but she saw the process was too slow. So she dipped a long vine in the mud and started dancing with it. Drops of mud on the ground turned instantly into human beings.
To make humans multiply and perpetuate, she invented marriage, in which men and women would join together to produce and care for their offspring. Human life started to prosper on Earth, supported by all creations.
But the good life did not last for long. One day, Heaven suddenly collapsed and the Earth cracked open. Thunder roared in the hollow sky and lightning set the forest on fire. A torrential downpour doused the fire and drenched the forests and fields. The riverbed of Heaven was broken, and the water in the heavenly river poured straight down on earth, drowning many lands. Dangerous beasts also came out of the dark forest to harm people. Great disaster befell human beings.
Nuuwa was so pained by the suffering of the human beings that she decided to mend the heavens. She selected great number of stones in five colors, and collected reeds to mix with the stones. Then she set fire to the reeds, which burned for nine days and nine nights. Using the melted stones, Nuuwa mended the broken heavens in seven days and seven nights.
According to Cao Xueqin's famous novel The Story of the Stone (also known as A Dream of Red Mansions ), Nuuwa used 36,500 stones to mend Heaven.
Nuuwa then restrained the harmful black dragons and snakes, and restored the land scourged by the flood.
Heaven and Earth were good again, and life for human beings returned to peace and harmony.
Seeing her work finally done, Nuuwa made ready to depart. Riding on a thunder-chariot drawn by a flying dragon, Nuuwa rose up to the ninth heaven.
Source: Story adapted from “Imperial Overview of the Great Peace” and “Huainanzi,” with reference to the version told on www.pureinsight.org .