The turtle blinked - A Qiang nationality tale about the origin of earthquakes


One of the myths of the Qiang nationality, who have recently suffered one of the worst earthquakes of Chinese history, can enlighten us about the origin of earthquakes.

Many, many years ago, when the world must be created, the god and the goddess divided their work. The god would create the heaven, and the goddess the earth. When the god had finished his work, he tried many times to raise the heaven, but every time the heaven fell down. Then he asked the goddess: "Tell this big turtle to make the foundation of the earth, ask her to hold up the heaven with her four legs, and then the heaven will not fell down."

The goddess asked the turtle to do as the god had suggested, but the turtle was not completely convinced, then the goddess called her dog and told the turtle: "This dog is your uncle, if you do not obey its orders, it will bite your ear." The turtle watched the dog but still refused to hold the heaven. Then the dog got angry and climbing to the turtle's ear, started to bite her.

With her ear aching, the turtle said: "Uncle, uncle. I will do it, please don't bite me anymore." Then the dog went down the turtle and she became the earth and her four legs became the four columns that sustain the heaven.

After becoming the earth the turtle sometimes wanted to move, or to blink. But every time she blinked in the earth happened a big earthquake and all the people suffered a disaster. From then on every time she moved a little the dog bit her quickly so that all the people on the earth can live happily.

When the Qiang people feel the earth trembling they use to say: "zhe, zhe, zhe", calling the dog to ask the turtle not to move.

60% of the population of Beichuan County, one of the worst hit counties in May, 12th, 2008 earthquake, are Qiang. After see their lives, lands and homes destroyed, they wonder why heaven punish them.

Back to Qiang main page

© Copyright 2007


Buy books related to China Ethnic Groups and help to develop this web