Nuwa (女;) is a goddess in Chinese mythology, the mother of all men, the creator of the human race, a symbol of mercy and motherhood. Nuwa is the sister and wife of Fuxi (Fu Hsi – also the creator of mankind, the creator of hunting; he and Nuwa are the first people on earth, before the first people of clay).

The name Nuwa can be translated as: “illuminated”, “beautiful”, “frog” (the latter translation may be in accordance with its water myth).

The Myth of the First People

Pangu, the master creator of the universe left behind a beautiful creation. All the gods admired the creation of the giant. One goddess, Nuwa, sensed that something was missing and decided that she would create the human race to inhabit the Earth. The first people came from this decision.

The moon measured the months, the sun measured the days, the heat and the light. Life, harmonious, flourished under the warm rays of the sun and the irrigating even rain. Trees grew from the soils, seeds were sprayed from the trees, the wind blew them away, new trees sprouted, and the smaller plants followed the harmonious cycle of creation, and soon the earth grew into beautiful dense vegetation. The gods rejoiced and looked at the river and sea waves, which reflected the bright sun. Wild animals inhabited forests and fields, fish, crabs and all sorts of other sea creatures filled the seas and rivers. Life flourished everywhere.

Goddess Nuwa, Xiao Yuncong, 1596-1673

The First Man

The goddess Nuwa, seeing the creation unfolding before her with its beautiful variety of natural forms, decided that something was missing – the human. The goddess was one of the most amazing goddesses in heaven, mercy was her second nature, and her appearance was bizarre – the head of a woman with the body of a snake. But her eyes saw everything, she covered the whole earth with her gaze and so she saw that although all the diversity of the world, the forests, the fields, and even the seas seemed somehow deserted. When she descended to earth she was lonely, when she ascended to heaven she saw emptiness, and it would be more fun for the gods if a new type of being was created.

After much deliberation, Nuwa noticed that the ground was covered with water, sand, and hard rocks, and in places there was soft flexible clay. She was especially interested in clay, as I could sculpt almost anything from it, and it also made up water, sand and rocks. She visited these areas with the flexible yellow clay, took a lump in her dragon’s paw and began to model. She sculpted the creature’s head and looked like her head, but instead of continuing in her image with a serpentine body, she made two legs and two arms. She placed the clay man on the ground and it came to life.

Nuwa’s new creation jumped, and she laughed at the new life, which was trying to dance and entertain the goddess. Satisfied with her creation, the goddess made several more clay men – men and women – and they danced around her happily. Thus she supplemented the work of the great Pangu.

Time passed and Nuwa noticed that human beings are not like the gods – humans grow old, they are not immortal like the gods. In order not to kill the human race, Nuwa endowed them with the ability to conceive and have children. She taught them marriage and reconciliation. It wasn’t long before the first voices of human babies broke the silence. The goddess was happy, as were the people. So there would always be people on earth and entertain the gods when they came down from heaven.