Clas 3305 Flood Lecture Lec 15 One of the themes which underlies the lectures and discussions for this second term is that of man's relationship to the gods



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Chinese Myth: the story of Yu


very ancient theme in Chinese mythology

from the Shu ching -- dating from the Chou dynasty 1,000 BCE

emphasis not on sinfulness of mankind -- water not punishment

rather on necessity of bending unruly water to the purposes of man


tremendous flood waters wreaking destruction everywhere

rose above the hills and circled the mountains

people groaned under their oppression

they reached almost to the heavens

Ti, hearing the lament of the people, commanded Kun to deal with the flood

Kun laboured nine years against the flood, but without success


Kun was executed and his son Yu attempted to finish the task

thought of channeling the water instead of damning it up

eventually conquered the flood

made the land fit for habitation

rewarded with the throne

became founder of Hsia dynasty


another version:
Kun, after being ordered to deal with the flood, stole the "growing soil" for the gods

used it to build dams

when he failed, he was executed at Feather Mountain

a sunless place in the extreme north

after three years, his undecomposed body was cut open to reveal Yu (other versions claim that Yu was born from a stone -- perhaps another version of his father's petrified body)

Yu came down from the mountain to complete his father's work

succeeded only after 8 or 10 years of ceaseless work

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obviously a different sort of flood story -- no moral lesson -- no just punishment

merely a sort of creation story







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