In the beginning, the unimaginable vastness of the universe was contained within a single egg. Inside the egg, a giant named Pángǔ slowly developed over tens of thousands of years.

One day, there was a rumble from within the egg. A crack stretched across the surface of its shell and soon, the egg burst open. The Big Bang. From within the egg’s initial singularity, the giant, along with the rest of the nascent world, emerged.

Image: Big Bang

Pángǔ awoke from his slumber to darkness and a tangled mess of mass and elements. The startled giant grabbed an axe and gave a powerful slash. The elements became separated. The lighter elements floated upwards and became the sky, while the heavier elements sank down and became the earth.

Pángǔ tried to stretch his stiff limbs. But, “oops,” he said as the back of his head bumped against the sky. In this newly formed world, the sky was quite low and close to the earth.

“This will not do,” reflected the gentle giant and, like the Greek god Atlas who shouldered the weight of the world on his back, Pángǔ raised his arms towards the sky and began to push.

Each day, Pángǔ grew a meter, and each day the sky became further separated from the earth. This tiring labour continued for many tens of thousands of years until, finally, the sky was high and far from the earth. Then, the spent giant Pángǔ, finally able to stretch out his arms and legs, collapsed from exhaustion.

Pángǔ died, peaceful in the knowledge that he had had a hand in the creation of a better world for other beings.

As his body decomposed, his eyes became the sun and the moon, his teeth, the stars in the night sky. His large body became the mountains and his hair, the trees and forests. His tears became the world’s great rivers and seas and his breath, the wind.

The gentle giant, the first being to live in the world, was dead—but not really. Pángǔ, having merged with the world he’d helped to create, continues to watch over it to this day.

Photo: Beautiful sunset behind clouds over landscape
Posted by:Island Folklore

An online repository of Taiwan’s folktales, history, legends, myths and traditions.