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Creation Myths


Creation Myths Chaos, Eggs and Earth-Divers What does a Creation Myth do? Explains how the world comes into being Builds up a world-view, a hierarchy of values ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Creation Myths

Creation Myths
  • Chaos, Eggs and Earth-Divers

What does a Creation Myth do?
  • Explains how the world comes into being
  • Builds up a world-view, a hierarchy of values,
    first things first
  • Often explains how and why bad things happen and
    tell us who to blame
  • Patterns of divine/human interaction establish
    models for ethics

The disorder of formless matter and infinite
space, supposed to have existed before the
ordered universe
The Yoruba Tribe (Nigeria)
In the beginning, water was everywhere. The god
Olurun sent Obatala down from above to create
land out of the Chaos.
The gods argued over the equality of their rule
and these arguments created disharmony and chaos.
Peace returned between the ruler of the sky and
the ruler of the sea, and that peace restored
order in the universe.
This crown embodies the ideals of political and
personal stability, refuge for the oppressed and
salvation. It also gave the wearer the ability
to unite with the ancestors.
Yoruba Mask
This veil obscured the kings features to protect
men and women from looking directly at his
face when he was united with his
powerful ancestors.
These birds signify a divine force called
ashe- the power to make things happen. they
also symbolize the kings power.
This power includes a group of elderly women who
can turn into night birds who punish those
who are arrogant, selfish or otherwise immoral.
Yoruba Mask
The face represents the god Oduduwa, and unites
the spirit world of the ancestors with the
earthly world of the king and his people.
The projection from the head symbolizes spiritual
power. It often contained a pouch of herbal
medicines that gave the crown its power. Even
the king would not look into his own crown for
fear of being blinded by the Spirits.
The Navajo Tribes
The Navajo creation myth contains many forms of
In the beginning was a Black World which
consisted of a small area of solid land
surrounded by burning resin.
The myth contains four consecutive worlds, with
each world ending in a form of chaos, causing
its people to move onward
Each consecutive move created a more and more
civilized society, ending in the fourth world a
world of respect for all living things.
The number four is sacred in Navajo culture, with
four seasons, four directions, four winds and the
progression through the four worlds.
In the Navajo creation story, order was brought
out of chaos in the first and fourth world by
dividing them into four quadrants, marking each
with a mountain.
The designs on this ketoh emphasize the Navajo
values of order, harmony and simplicity. It also
evokes the topography of the Navajo creation
Order and harmony are further evoked through the
careful balance of curved lines, symbolizing the
female ideal of activity, and straight lines,
symbolizing the male ideal of stasis.
Ketohs often have an emphatic center, recalling
the sacred place from which the first Navajo
emerged from the giant reed into this world.
The Cosmic Egg
  • The cosmic egg signifies the origins of
    conscious life.
  • On the surface, the egg dramatizes the starting
    existence in the womb.
  • Breaking out of the egg achieves a conscious,
    separate existence.
  • On a scientific scale, the cracking open of the
    egg echoes the theme of the Big Bang while the
    shape of the egg connects with Einsteins theory
    of curved space.

  • Pan Ku broke free from his egg and separated the
    heavens and the earth
  • The light parts of the egg, the yang rose and
    formed the heavens.
  • The heavy parts of the egg, the yin sank and
    formed the earth.
  • Pan Ku dies and his body becomes the features of
    the earth.

Yin and Yang
The yin and yang elements of the creation
story represent the structure of the Chinese
Yin, the half that sinks, in Chinese culture is
thought of as female and submissive in nature.
Therefore, the females in Chinese culture
also should be submissive.
Yang, the half that rises, in Chinese culture
is thought of as male and the aggressive
principle in nature.
Therefore, the men of Chinese society should
be aggressive and thereby dominant in the family.
  • In the creation myth, Vishnu awakens in the form
    of Brahma, creator of life on earth.
  • Brahma breaks open the egg to begin the process
    of rebirth.
  • The egg, like the womb, brings life which is the
    beginning of the repetitive cycle from creation
    to disintegration to dissolution to re-creation.

Earth Diver Myths
  • Scientific evidence has shown that at one point
    parts of the earth that are now dry were covered
    with water.
  • This fact is alluded to in the earth diver myths
    which consist of a being diving into the water
    and earth being brought to the surface to become
  • Predominant symbols of earth diver myths include
  • Water as the unformed, pure element out of which
    the universe develops.
  • Descent into the dark waters, which parallels
    descent into the underworld or return to the womb
    as an experience of renewal.
  • Return to light with the germs of creation as
    well as knowledge to change the world.

Iroquois and Huron Creation
  • Both myths include a Sky Woman who fell to
  • Caught by birds, the woman was transported to a
    turtles back for safety.
  • Water creatures dove deep to bring up earth in
    order to make land for the woman.

Sky Woman Images
Final Purpose
  • These myths include many of the following
  • The origin of earth and its people
  • Establishes the central relationships among
    people, the cosmos or universe
  • Distinguishes gender roles and social
  • Tells of the origins of distinctive aspects of
    significant social institutions and activities.

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