Examples Of Origin Myths

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Perhaps the best way to understand the human condition is to understand history; and the best way to understand history is by understanding origin myths. Although myths are allegorical, their metaphors hold the secrets that reveal truth – and origin myths are no different. Origin myths provide insight into humanity and a common past, shared by us all (Bergman 1994). Before the invention of written language, people used myths to pass on knowledge, values, and beliefs orally, and most, if not all, cultures throughout history have created origin myths to explain the world around them. Here, we will compare and contrast the creation myths of the Navajo, Chinese, Hebrew, Egyptian, and Polynesian people to illustrate that these cultures all hold…show more content…
Harold Carey, Jr., a Navajo historian, tells us that in the beginning there was nothing but blackness (2011). The world had four corners, and over each of these corners hovered a cloud, each of a different color – black, white, yellow, and blue – and each containing all the elements of the world. The First World was tiny, merely a small island floating in the vast darkness with a single pine tree in the…show more content…
This is contrary to the more popular myth of Nü Wa. Walls and Walls (1984) relate that there were no men when the sky and the earth were separated. It was Nü Wa (Emperor Yandi's youngest daughter) who made men by molding yellow clay because she was lonely. She made many perfect beings by hand this way and she was so pleased with her creations, she wanted to make more and more of them. However, the work was so taxing that her strength was not equal to it, so she dipped a vine into the mud and then lifted it, swinging it over the earth. The mud that dripped from the rope as she twirled it also became men. Those made by molding yellow clay were perfect, and made the rich and noble class of mankind, while those made by swinging the rope were just a bit less perfect, and made the poor, lower class of people. The Chinese origin myths lie in stark contrast to the Navajo myth, and yet they too begin with ex nihilo creation, and stress the importance of the core values of family, community, and harmony with nature to Chinese culture, as defined by Zhang Lihua, a resident scholar at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy (2013). Note that the Chinese origin myth also justifies the Chinese custom of separating people into classes, incongruous to most other origin
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