Form and Content (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series, Supplement)
Chinese Myths and Fantasies has three parts. The first part contains three creation myths. In “Heaven and Earth and Man,” the god P’an Ku, after sleeping eighteen thousand years in the midst of chaos, hacked chaos with an axe into heaven and earth. Over the next eighteen thousand years, he grew into a giant, separating the earth from the sky with his body. After the earth and the sky became fixed in their places, P’an Ku died, giving his breath to form the winds and clouds, his body for the mountains, his hands and feet for the two poles of the east and west, his blood for the rivers, his flesh for the soil, and the hairs of his body for flowers and trees. Then, the goddess Nü-kua created humans with mud. She also paired them by male and female and taught them the ways of marriage. Many years later, Kung-kung, the spirit of water, and Chu-jung, the spirit of fire, battled against each other. In his defeat, Kung-kung struck his head against Mount Pu-chou-shan, the pillar holding up the sky in the western corner. The sky cracked and the earth tilted up. To free humans from the catastrophe, Nü-kua patched the sky with molten colorful stones and propped the sky firmly with giant turtle legs.
In “The Greatest Archer,” Yi, the greatest of all archers during the reign of the sage Emperor Yao, shot down nine of the ten suns and slew a monstrous serpent on the Tung-t’ing Lake. In “The Quellers of the Flood,” Kun was punished with death...
(The entire section is 576 words.)
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