The well-known Chinese myth that God Pan Gu created the universe could have originated in Laibin, a city in south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, before it spread to the central and northern regions, according to a Chinese expert.
Prof. Qin Naichang, head of the Guangxi Institute for Nationality Studies, has labored to disprove beliefs that China has no myth about the creation of the universe and that the mythology of God Pan Gu had came from India, Egypt or Babylon.
"After two weeks of on-site surveying, we believe Laibin was a cradle of the Pan Gu myth," said Qin, also head of the Guangxi Society for Zhuang Studies.
Qin and his colleagues have found the mythology is still closely related to Laibin people's life today.
"They still celebrate a traditional Pan Gu Festival, tell centuries-old tales, sing lyrics and stage operas about the God," he said. "Many villages, mountains and grottoes have been named after Pan Gu, too."
The research team also found an ancient Pan Gu Temple in the city, which echoes what an ancient scholar wrote over 1,500 years ago that a Pan Gu Temple was in Guilin -- which meant today's Xiangzhou County in Laibin.
In his "ABCs about Chinese myths", noted Chinese writer Mao Dunalso expressed the belief that the Pan Gu mythology "had originated in south China" before it was adapted by scholars in the central regions to a national myth.
The myth that God Pan Gu separated heaven and earth has been handed down from generation to generation in different versions across China. Many scholars assume it could have originated in the Pearl River drainage area in south China, most probably by the ethnic people, and spread to the central regions only after frequent cultural exchanges were carried out between the north and south during the Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 BC).
Laibin City, located in the center of the Pearl River valley, has a large population of the Zhuang people.
In these people's version of the myth, a brother and his sister became the only survivors of the prehistoric Deluge by crouching in a gourd that floated on water. The two got married afterwards, and a mass of flesh in the shape of a whetstone was born. They chopped it and the pieces turned into large crowds of people, who began to reproduce again.
"The couple were named 'Pan' and 'Gou' in the Zhuang ethnic language, which stand for whetstone and gourd respectively", said Prof. Qin. "This is the Zhuang people's interpretation of how God Pan Gu was named."
The discovery would help the Chinese people know more about their long-standing civilization, particularly myths and legends that had helped establish the Chinese national identity, said Guo Wei, a professor with the Guangxi Teachers' College.
(People's Daily December 13, 2003)