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Pangu

A recurrent theme in Chinese medicine is that the body and its physiology are a microcosm of the universe and its movements. In what amounts to a reversal of these images, the body of Pangu, the cosmic giant who holds heaven and earth apart in the Chinese creation myth, literally transforms into the features of the universe:

"His breath became the wind and clouds; his voice became the thunder. His left eye became the sun; his right eye became the moon. His four limbs and five extremities became the four cardinal points and the five sacred mountains. His blood and semen became the water and rivers. His muscles and veins became the earth's arteries; his flesh became fields and land. The hair on his head and his beard became the stars, the hair on his body became the plants and trees. His teeth and bones became metal and rock; his vital marrow became pearls and jade. His sweat and bodily fluids became streaming rain. All the mites on his body were touched by the wind and were turned into the black-haired people [= the Chinese]."

An 18th Century depiction of Pangu. He is often shown clothed in leaves; sometimes he also has horns on his head and holds the sun and moon.

From China: The Land of the Heavenly Dragon edited by Professor Edward L. Shaughnessy

 


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