Nǚwā 女娲 = a lonely goddess
Fúxī 伏羲 = her brother
The goddess Nǚwā 女娲 lived upon the earth that Pángǔ 盘古 the giant had created, which was a place teaming with life and filled with beauty, entirely suitable for a goddess. But she was the only goddess on the earth, and she was lonely, although, having always been lonely, she did not know that it was loneliness from which she suffered.
One day, as Nǚwā sat in a state of picturesque but rather abstract emotional emptiness beside a sparkling pond, she chanced to see her reflection in the water, and it occurred to her to try to make a small model of herself from the lakeside mud.
It was a better model than you or I would make, since Nǚwā was a goddess, but even she was surprised when she gently set it down on the ground and it began to move. It rose, sang and danced, and called her "mother." Delighted, she made another figure, and another and another, and each came to life in the same way.
Day in and day out Nǚwā amused herself making mud figures and watching them come to life. At length, when she wearied of sculpting them, she chanced to flick drops of mud off a vine, and these too came to life and became human, until there were humans everywhere.
When she finished making humans, Nǚwā taught them to use leaves to cover themselves, and to pick fruit to feed themselves, and to gather in the moonlight to rejoice in their lives.
And this was the origin of humans.
Some say that Nǚwā and her older brother Fúxī 伏羲 were children of a being named Zhūyīng 诸英 and a water spirit named, simply, Water Spirit [Shuǐ Jīngzǐ 水精子]. Nǚwā in that account had a long head with fleshy horns and looked like a great snail. (Since a snail is called a guā 蜗, some Western sources spell Nǚwā's name "Nü-gua" or "Nü-kua," which doesn’t seem very polite.)
Other people say she had a human head on a snake's body.
Nǚwā and her brother also had other siblings, including Cāngjié 仓颉, who invented writing, and Zhōngyáng 中央 and Kūnwú 昆吾. As children they all studied with the Great Sage Yù Huázǐ 郁华子, and they became very wise. But those are other stories.
Return to top.