Sit down, children; I will tell you a story.
In no time, Phan Ku burst from the egg. He was the first being. He was the Great Creator. Phan Ku was the size of a giant. He grew ten feet a day and lived for eighteen thousand years.
Hair grew all over Phan Ku. Horns curved up out of his head, and tusks jutted from his jaw. In one hand he held a chisel, and with it he carved out the world.
Phan Ku separated sky from earth. The light, pure sky was yang, and the heavy, dark weight of earth was yin. The vast Phan Ku himself filled the space between earth and sky; yin and yang.
He chiseled out the earth’s rivers; he scooped out the valleys. It was easy for him to layer the mountains and pile them high upon high.
Then Phan Ku placed the stars and the moon in the night sky and the sun into the day. He put the great seas where they are now, and he showed the people how to fashion ships, how to build bridges.
Only when Phan Ku died was the world at last complete. The dome of the sky was made from Phan Ku’s skull. Soil was formed from his body. Rocks were made from his bones; rivers and seas from his blood. All of plant life came from Phan Ku’s hair. Thunder and lightning are the sound of his voice. The wind and clouds are his breath. Rain was made from his sweat. And from the fleas that lived in the hair covering him came all of humankind.
The form of Phan Ku vanished in the making of the world. After he was gone, there was room then for pain, and that is how suffering came to human beings.*
Reproduced without permission but with apologies from In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, by Virginia Hamilton. This one comes from China, 600 B.C. Phan Ku was a popular god of the period. He completes the creation of the world by means of his own sacrifice.