Two Creation Myths of the Kucong Minority
Two Creation Myths of the Kucong Minority
- The Creation of Heaven and Earth
In the era of chaos, there was neither heaven nor earth, and no people existed. There were no rivers or mountains, trees or plants, beasts or birds. The world was a dark void.
A group of fire gods flew and set the empty world ablaze, flames emerging everywhere. Then, the smoke rose and gradually became the sky. Shortly afterward, the ashes that had ascended with the smoke began to fall and scatter over the earth, gradually transforming into the land. Since then, there has been heaven and earth.
After the creation of heaven and earth, trees and plants gradually emerged on the land. Once there were trees and plants, beasts and birds began to appear. However, there were still no human beings, and the world remained quite monotonous. Later, the dewdrops that settled on the leaves of the trees began to fall to the ground. As they fell, these glistening drops disappeared because each of them transformed into a person on the roots of the trees. This is how humanity originated from dewdrops, and thus, in the sky, there were not only beasts and birds but also humans.
But in that era, there was no sun, moon, or stars in the sky. The earth was always dark, with no distinction between day and night. People didn’t know how to carry out productive work. One day, a massive earthquake suddenly occurred on the earth, and a great mountain collapsed. From the bowels of that collapsed mountain rolled a luminous white stone ball and a dazzling red stone ball that people couldn’t even look at without hurting their eyes. These stone balls eventually flew up into the sky. First, the white one flew up and became the moon, which hung in the sky ever since. Then, the red one flew up and transformed into the sun, also hanging in the sky. From then on, the world was illuminated, and people could clearly see even distant places.
With the presence of the sun and the moon, the world was divided into day and night, and humanity adjusted its work and rest times accordingly. When the sun rose, people would wake up to work, and when the sun set, they would return home to rest. When the moon rose, it was time to sleep.
However, at that time, there were still no stars. There was once an old man who returned home to rest after sunset, but without realizing it, he dropped a bowl of rice soup, which splashed onto the sole of a plow that was behind the door. The plow’s sole, as if it were an arrow, flew up into the sky and remained there as the Plow Sole Star. Some of the rice also splashed onto the plow’s handle, which similarly ascended into the sky and transformed into the Plow Handle Star. And a bit of it splashed onto the chicken coop’s grille, which, in the same manner, ascended to the sky and became the Chicken Coop Star. Since then, there have been stars in the sky, and the world took on this form.
- The Song of the Creation of the World
Ana used a stone to create the sky, while Alou used clay tiles to create the earth. When Ana created the sky, she left three large cracks so that rain could fall through them. Aluo, when creating the earth, left three openings for the wind to pass through. After completing the construction of the sky, the first things that came to life were the stars. When the construction of the earth was finished, the first things that came to life were the plants. However, the sky was very low and pressed down on the bamboo, preventing it from raising its head. The ground, on the other hand, was saturated, and water seeped everywhere. It was the giant Jibialou who pushed the sky upwards using his hands. With his hands, he also opened the first rivers to allow the earth’s water to flow into them.
There was a family with nine brothers and one younger sister. Although the sister was very hardworking and carried water to her nine brothers, they hardly gave her any food. So one day, with her hungry stomach, she left home. She cut a stick to make a staff, and leaning on it, she walked to the banks of the Red River. This staff was very peculiar, and in just three days, it grew into a tall tree that reached the sky. After three years, the enormous tree covered the entire firmament. During this time, birds could no longer reach the tree’s peak, and even monkeys couldn’t reach its upper branches. The earth was completely dark, and people couldn’t survive. Everyone hoped for the tree to be cut down, but cutting this enormous tree was tremendously difficult. If a piece was cut one day, the wound would be healed the next. Eventually, its secret was discovered, and after cutting for 99 days, the giant tree that covered the sky was finally cut down.
Some time later, a great flood occurred, and water covered the entire land. Because the root of the felled giant tree had been hollowed out by ants, the deluge descended from the root of that tree, inundating the entire earth and ending the lives of the people living there. Only a pair of siblings named Dansou and Danluo lay inside a huge gourd and avoided the flood disaster. When the waters receded, the two siblings got married, had numerous children, and they are the ancestors of the Kucong, Yao, Hani, Dai, and Han Chinese.
Much later, the god of the sky sent a fairy to scatter tree seeds across the land and a spirit to sow cereal seeds. The god of the sky, «Longshi,» built a fence to protect human tranquility. Men were divided into leaders, pimos (shamans), and blacksmiths. Leaders were responsible for distinguishing good from evil, pimos expelled evil spirits from people, and blacksmiths crafted axes and knives.
After cutting down the giant tree and tilling the land, they searched for seeds to cultivate their food. After the harvest, they sacrificed pigs to honor their ancestors and spirits, thanking them for their assistance and protecting the crops of the following year, preserving the peace and prosperity of the community.
In a way, these two myths reflect two of the most important creation myths in Chinese culture: the creation from chaos, in which the world gradually emerges and differentiates from a primordial chaos without a creative presence, and the myth attributing creation to a hero like Pangu, who, with his strength, separates heaven and earth, subsequently creating various elements of nature from his own body.
If you are interested in creation myths from Chinese minorities, you may also be interested in other books I’ve written on the topic.
Leyendas de la diosa madre: y otros mitos de diosas y mujeres de los pueblos de China. Miraguano Ediciones. Madrid, 2006.
Image: Kucong women, in “China’s Minority Nationalities (I). Beijing. 1984”.
 These myths were translated many years ago, for the sheer pleasure of doing so and in the hope of making known in the future some aspects of the culture of this indigenous people of China, who, not being recognized as one of the 56 national minorities, have been little studied by national scholars.
 Narrated by Huo Qinglian, Kucong, and collected by Zi Li. In Ma Changyi. Tales from the Mythologies of China (Zhongguo shenhua gushi), p. 367.
 I don’t know which stars it refers to.
 From Lei Bo, Brief History of Lahu Literature. 1995. P. 125-26.
 Tree common to mythologies throughout Asia. A kind of axis mundi that communicates the world of people with the sky.
 The gourd is a symbol of the mother, perhaps because of its resemblance to the womb of a pregnant woman.
 Marriage between siblings who survive the flood is a common motif in Yunnan minorities’ mythologies.
 Three Yunnan minorities living near the Kucong.
 Women once again play an important role in the origin of agriculture.
 Pimo is the name given to the ritualistic priests of the Yi minority. Religious specialists who are called similarly among other peoples who speak languages related to the Yi.
 The leadership of the primitive peoples is divided between the chief, the main shaman and the blacksmith.
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