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Nüwa (also Nyuwa, Nuwa, Nü-wa, Nu-wa and Nügua; traditional Chinese: 女媧; simplified Chinese: 女娲; pinyin: Nǚwā; Wade–Giles: Nü3-wa1) is a goddess in ancient Chinese mythology best known for creating mankind and repairing the wall of heaven. Depending on the source, she might be considered the second or even the first Chinese ruler, with most sources not putting her on the role, but only her brother and/or husband Fu Xi.

Description

The legend of Nüwa is told in many ancient texts.

  • The Shan Hai Jing, dated between the Warring States period and the Han Dynasty, describes Nüwa's intestines as being scattered into ten spirits.
  • In Liezi (c. 475 - 221 BC), Chapter 5 "Questions of Tang" (Chinese: 卷第五 湯問篇), author Lie Yukou describes Nüwa repairing the original imperfect heaven using five-colored stones, and cutting the legs off a tortoise to use as struts to hold up the sky.
  • In Songs of Chu (c. 340 - 278 BC), Chapter 3 "Asking Heaven" (Chinese: 问天), author Qu Yuan writes that Nüwa molded figures from the yellow earth, giving them life and the ability to bear children. After demons fought and broke the pillars of the heavens, Nüwa worked unceasingly to repair the damage, melting down the five-coloured stones to mend the heavens.
  • In Huainanzi (c. 179 - 122 BC), Chapter 6 Lanmingxun (Chinese: 覽冥訓), author Liu An tells that in remote antiquity the four poles of the Universe collapsed and the world descended into chaos; the firmament was no longer able to cover everything and the earth was no longer able to support itself; fires burned wild and waters flooded the land; fierce beasts ate common people, and ferocious birds attacked the old and the weak. So Nüwa tempered the five-colored stones to mend the heavens, cut off the feet of the great turtle to support the four poles, killed the black dragon to help the earth, and gathered the ash of reed to stop the flood. (In a variation of this tale, the four corners of the sky collapsed and the world with its nine regions split open.)
  • In Shuowen Jiezi (c. 58 - 147 AD), China's earliest dictionary, under the entry for Nüwa author Xu Shen describes her as being both the sister and the wife of Fu Xi. Nüwa and Fu Xi were pictured as having snake like tails interlocked in an Eastern Han Dynasty mural in the Wuliang Temple in Jiaxiang county, Shandong province.
  • In Duyi Zhi (Chinese: 獨異志; c. 846 - 874 AD), Volume 3, author Li Rong gives this description.
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