The origin of the universe: a myth of the Yi goddess


The origin of the universe is a myth of the Yi people living in Yuanyang District, Yunnan Province. This is one of the most important myths of the Yi. In its various versions, Aheixinimo, the Great Goddess creates everything that exists in nature. Here we introduce a short summary of this myth.

In the fist chapter we know that the Great Mother of the Universe, Aheixinimo appeared in the middle of the primeval ball Xibaolei. After a brief description of her the myth tells how she created heaven and earth, sun, moon, stars and clouds, as well as all the deities that live in the heavens, whose origin is in this way linked to Aheixinimo. Later the myth narrates that she created leopards and tigers, gazelles and yaks, goats, bears, eagles, ducks and every type of snake, frog and insects. She created all the birds. All the animals in the world were created be her.

In the second chapter Aheixinimo is the great mother with 28 breasts that nurtures all the things she created. The heaven, earth, sun and moon, stars and clouds, all the things in the universe are feed with her breasts. All the deities she created are nurtured also with her milk, as are the animals. Her milk has also the power to transform the universe. One drop changes the cliffs and precipices, one more the mountains and valleys, other the tress and bamboos, more drops change the gourds, herbs, buckwheat, medicinal plants and the rivers. All the things in the universe are nurtured by her.

In the third chapter Aheixino with her 9082 layers cover all her sons. She covers heaven and earth, sun and moon, the multitude of deities as well as all the animals in the world. In the fourth chapter she feeds all her creatures in order to make them grow to reach their full size. In the fifth she gives names to all the creatures she created. Then she put the fishes and other aquatic animals on the seas, and the terrestrial animals on the mountains. In an interesting evolutionary theory fishes slowly change in apes that soon fill the mountains, sleeping in caves and feeding on fruits. Mother apes have many sons that go to everywhere. At first they walk on four legs, later they learn to walk on two legs, but not knowing the proper way they continuously fell down and get up. One day they throw a stone and fire come out, a wild fire that burned everything. Ants were extinguished, leopards, tigers, boars, foxes and armadillos died. Green and red apes ate all the flesh of leopards, tigers and boars. In this way appeared the fist kind of men: the one eyed men. Aheixinimo went to see, but these one eyed men with only one leg can not walk, with only one arm can not work, so they were extinguished.

Later appeared the vertical eyed men, but as they do not know the rites Aheixinimo closed the gates of heaven.

Bigu and Pangu separated heaven and earth, and later sun and moon, stars and clouds, etc. After this time the deities of every place of the world were sent to their respective places and the first animals are sent to the mythic land where they were originated. In the next chapter the deity Jiyi established the calendar. Inspired by a big cypress with 360 leaves he creates a year of 360 days. Then the myth tells about the works and ceremonies that must be done in every month.

As the vertical eyed men did not make the ceremonies to the Dragon King, he complains to the god of heaven and stop to provide rain. The people suffer a drought that last for several years. When they complain to the god of heaven he said it was caused because they don't do the ceremonies. They say that they don't know these ceremonies and the god of heaven appeal to the Dragon King to produce rain again.

The ancestor Dumu narrates the story of this hero, common to some other Yi branches. After some generations there was a big flooding. Before the flooding two gods, knowing that Dumu has a good heart tell him that there will be a big flooding and instructed him that in order to avoid be drown, he must hide in a wooden coffin sealed with wax. After the flooding Dumu is the only human being alive on the earth. He searches a couple without success until at last he find the third daughter of one god. At first her father don't allow her to marry Dumu, but when the god of heaven ask him to consent, they get married. The have sons and daughters, that give them many descendants, to whom Dumu give ritual instructions.

Later the narrative departs from the creative aspects and from the story of Aheixinomo as great mother and in several narratives explains the origin of marriage among the Yi, the stories of the deities Sezhu, Sekobile and Jide, and it ends with the long narrative of the adventures of the great hero Along, whose name and story is related with those of the hero Zhigealong, very popular among the living to the north.

Wanwu de qiyuan (The origin of the universe). Yunnan Nationalities Press. Kunming, 1998

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