Creation myth of the Lahu

 

Creating Heaven, creating earth tries to provide a mythic explanation to the world where the Lahu people inhabits. To doing so the main episodes of the process of creation, creation of heaven and earth, sun and moon, and human beings, as well as the first steps of these later out of the animal world are recreated with a luxury of details that allow the listener (or the reader) to know the origin of the animals, plants and peoples related to the Lahu, and the origin of this relationship.

The mythic narrative, without being identical to other mythic narratives of peoples related with the Lahu, it is constructed of mythic themes that can also be found in the mythology of peoples geographically or linguistically related with them. The Lahu creation myth can be characterized, however, by the dual character of its main deities, from the androgynous creator Guisha, to the couples of ancestors: Ca Law and Na, Ca Ti and Na Ti, Ca Leh and Na Leh; and also for the special role played by the tiger among other animals.

As is usual in this kind of mythic narratives, Creating Heaven Creating Earth of the Lahu follows a pattern of growing complexity. From this undifferentiated world where only Guisha existed, we are informed of the creation of Heaven and Earth with the assistance of Ca Law and Na Law (the male and female dragon, or the male and female beings born on dragon day); of the sun and moon.

The second part, appropriately titled in the English version "The Creation of all things" constitutes most of the myth. It narrates the creation of water, of trees and animals, of the people, coming out of a gourd, whose rolling lets the story-teller to tell the history of different plants and animals and their use by the Lahu people. At last the first couple Ca Ti and Na Ti can go out of the gourd with the help of the rat. The brothers marriage, in secrecy as feel shame of it, the nursing of their children by different animals, whose eat they neither their descendants would not eat; and the succession by the younger children Ca Leh and Na Leh, are described in detail. The myth of origin of fire it is very similar to the Dulong nationality's with human beings changing his wings to the fire seed.

The third part, about the origin of cultural life of the Lahu, first narrates the origin of the different ethnic groups, according to the way they cook the meat of a tiger they hunted together; the way they choose their territory, the origin of gender equality, of the swidden agriculture, of the medicinal plants, curiously originated from the medicine of the snake, of cotton planting, writing and new year festival.


The translation of this myth opens the door to the western reader of the wonderful world of the mythologies of the Yunnan ethnic groups, one subject almost unknown out of China. The similitude and differences with creation myths of related peoples can help to understand the common cultural tracts shared by some of them as well as the particularities of the history and environment that make every ethnic group an unique product of human evolution and adaptation.

Mvuh Hpa Mi Hpa - Creating Heaven, Creating Earth, An Epic of the Lahu People in Yunnan. Edited and introduced by Anthony Walker from a Chinese text collated by Liu Huihao. Silkworm books. 1995

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