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Chapter 10

In this chapter we get the opportunity to see how an Asian myth explains the creation of the world; and we will find it quite different from Western beliefs. Most noticeably, the creator, Nü Kwa, is female. This is not unique in non-Western traditions; as an example, this textbook includes male and female creators in African groups.

In connection with the worship of creation gods, we might also notice the roles of various other cultural forces in the propagation of a creation story. These include religious views (especially Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism) and political factors in the society, such as the rise of particular regimes and the influence of certain classes and geographic areas. In this respect we can compare the social significance of Nü Kwa to that of Marduk (Chapter 6) and Isis (Chapter 29).

In addition, we learn about Kuan Yin, a goddess who is still revered in China today. Her worship invites us to consider the relationship between popular practices and the theology that underlies them.

Although, as before,  the creation myths in this chapter are translations of actual original texts, this chapter is different from the other creation myths in this part. Because this a key myth with numerous versions, Bettina Knapp's comprehensive presentation of the story, characters, background, and engendering belief systems gives us a very comprehensive picture of the significance of the creation myths in this chapter.

In the introductory material there is an extensive discussion of the various techniques used by scholars to understand the stories presented here. As explained in Chapter 2, mythological texts can be very complex, and this section highlights the many decisions made to reveal the meaning and significance of the stories presented by Knapp.



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