From Academic Kids

In Chinese mythology, Nüwa (Traditional Chinese: 女媧 Simplified Chinese: 女娲 Pinyin: nǚwā) is mythological character best known for reproducing people after a great calamity. Other later traditions would attribute this feat as a creation myth to either Pangu or Yu Huang.


Nuwa in various Roles

Since Nuwa represents so many myths, it is not accurate to tie "her" down as a creator, mother, goddess, or even female. Depending on the myth, "she" is responsible for being a wife, sister, man, tribal leader (or even emperor), creator, maintainer, etc. It is not clear from the evidence which view came first. Regardless of the origins, most myths present Nuwa as female in a procreative role after a calamity.

Nuwa Original Source Documents

-0475 BC -0221 BC 列子 [lie4 zi5] (aka 列圄寇 Lie YuKou, Lieh Zi) a Daoist of the Warring Sates period writes the "列子" / Nuwa repairs the heavens after a great flood. It was also said that this NuWa moulded the first man out of clay

-0278 BC 楚辭 [chu3 ci2] "Elegies of Chu" by 屈原 [Qu Yuan] has a part 問天 [wen4 tian1] "Asking Heaven" in which a story called "Nuwa Mends The Firmament". The name Nuwa first appears here: She moulded figures from the yellow earth and gave them life and the ability to bear children. Demons fought and broke the pillars of heavens. Nuwa worked unceasingly, melting down the five-coloured stones to mend the breach.

-0206 BC +0024 AD 淮南子 [huai2 nan2 zi3] chapter Lanming, describes the tale called "Nuwa Mended the Sky" In remote antiquity, the four poles of the Universe collapsed, and the world got into a chaos: the firmament was no longer able to cover everything and the earth was no longer able to support everything, either; fire ran wild everywhere without stop, and flood overflowed out of control. Fierce beasts ate common people and ferocious birds attacked the old and the weak. Hence, Nuwa tempered the five-colored stone to mend the Heaven, cut off the feet of the great turtle to support the four poles, killed the black dragon to help the earth, and gather the ash of reed to stop the flood. Variation: The four corners of the sky collapsed and the world with its nine regions split open.

-0145 BC -0087 BC 司馬遷 [si1ma3 qian1] Sima Qian / ShiJi / Chapter BenJi (or prolog) Nuwa is a man with the last name of Feng. He is related to Fuxi. (?possibly related to 鳳凰 [feng4 huang2] /(n) legendary phoenix bird/)

+0058 AD +0147 AD 說文 [shuo1 wen2] or Explanation of Words by 許慎 [Xu Shen] a philologist, defines NuWa. The ShuoWen is China's earliest dictionary. In some versions of the legend Nuwa is said to have been both the sister and the wife of Fu Xi. Nuwa and FuXi were pictured as having snake like tails interlocked in an Eastern Han dynasty (+25 +220) mural in the Wu-liang Temple in Jiaxiang county, Shandong province.

+0618 AD +0907 AD 李冗 [li3 rong3] (possibly also 李榮), has 獨异志 [du2 yi4 zhi4] Volume Three written in 唐 Tang Dynasty At the opening of the universe, there were a brother and a sister called Nuwa, living in the Kunlun Mountain, and there were no ordinary people at that time. They wished to become husband and wife, yet, felt shy about it. Thus, the elder brother took his younger sister to the top of the Kunlun Mounatain and swore: If Heaven allows us to be man and wife, please let the smoke before us gather; if not, please let the smoke scatter. Then, the smoke gathered together. The younger sister came to live with her elder brother. She made a fan with grass to hide her face. The present custom of women taking a fan in their hands, originated from that story.

"與馬異結交詩" 也稱 "女媧本是伏羲婦" "yu3 ma3 yi4 jie1 jiao1 shi1" ye3 cheng1 "nu:3 wa1 ben3 shi4 fu2 xi1 fu4" 玉川子集 / 3rd 卷 Tang dynasty: 唐 / author: 盧同 (撰) "Becomes friends with the poem with Ma I" also calls "NuWa originally is Fu Xi woman "

Tang Dynasty / Sima Zhen author / [Si Ku Quan Shu] or 4 Branches of Literature Complete Library / part "Supplemental to the Historic Record History of the 3 Emperors" the three Emperors are: Fuxi, Nuwa, Shengnong / Fuxi and Nuwa were brother and sister and have the same last name "Fong" or Feng

+0960 AD +1279 AD 太平御覽 [tai4 ping2 yu4 lan3] or Taiping Anthologies for the Emperor, Volume 78, "Customs by Yingshao of the Han Dynasty" describes that there were no men when the sky and the earth were separated. Nuwa used yellow clay to make people. As it was not strong enough, she put ropes into the clay to make the bodies erect. It was also said she prayed to gods to let her be the goddess in charge of marital affairs. Variations exist.

Nuwa in History

Although Nuwa is typically represented as a woman in mythology, the noted Chinese historian Sima Qian (in the ShiJi, Chapter BenJi or prolog) clearly identifies Nuwa as a man with the last name of Feng. Some scholars consider Nuwa a tribal leader (or emperor); others consider the name Nuwa a title.

Nuwa as Wife or Sister

She and her husband Fu Xi, the first of the San Huang, are often called the "parents of humankind", as in one myth they were said to be ancestors of humankind. With Fu Xi she is often depicted with the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a snake or dragon as it was in the form of dragons that she and her husband carved out the rivers of the world and drained the floods.

Nuwa Story as Maintainer

She is charged with the upkeep and maintenance of the Wall of Heaven, whose collapse would obliterate everything.

The Upkeep and Maintainence of Heaven: There was a quarrel between two of the more powerful gods, and they decided to settle it with a fight. When the water god Gong Gong saw that he was losing, he smashed his head against Mount Buzhou (不周山), a pillar holding up the sky. The pillar collapsed and caused the sky to tilt towards the northwest and the earth to shift to the southeast. This caused great floods and suffering to the people. Nwa cut off the legs of a giant tortoise and used them to supplant the fallen pillar, alleviating the situation and sealing the broken sky using stones of seven different colours, but she was unable to fully correct the tilted sky. This explains the phenomenon that sun, moon, and stars move towards the northwest, and that rivers in China flow southeast into the Pacific Ocean.

Nuwa Story as Creator

It is said that Nwa existed in the beginning of the world. She felt lonely as there were no animals so she began the creation of animals and humans. On the first day she created chickens. On the second day she created dogs. On the third day she created sheep. On the forth day she created pigs. On the fifth day she created cows. On the sixth day she created horses. On the seventh day she began creating men from yellow clay, sculpting each one individually, yet after she had created hundreds of figures in this way she still had more to make but had grown tired of the laborious process. So instead of hand crafting each figure, she dipped a rope in clay and flicked it so blobs of clay landed everywhere; each of these blobs became a person. In this way, the story relates, were nobles and commoners created from the hand crafted figures and the blobs respectively. Another variation on this story relates that some of the figures melted in the rain as Nüwa was waiting for them to dry and in this way sickness and physical abnormalities came into existence.


Some versions of the story narrate that Nwa herself went up to heaven and filled the gap with her body (half human half serpent) and thus stopped the flood. According to this legend some of the minorities in South-Western China hail Nwa as their Goddess and some festivals such as the 'Water-Splashing Festival' are in part a tribute to her sacrifices.

The Fuxi-Nuwa story is related to Genesis: they were half-snake and brother-sister, whereas Eve was able to listen to the serpent, showing that her tribe had an affinity to the snake, and she came from the same body as Adam; Fuxi-Nuwa survived the great flood like Noah, and Nuwa made humans from kneading and flinging mud, whereas Adam was made from soil and Deucalion-Pyrrha, from the Greek flood legend, created humans by flinging pebbles. It is likely that all these stories were derived from very ancient legends of a common ancester tribe, whose descendents dispersed widely.


ja:女渦氏 zh-cn:女娲


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools