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Long ago there was a big, big crusty stone egg. One day the egg hatched and of the egg came the giant Pan Gu who was as tall as the mountain and as broad as the sea - but there was neither heaven nor earth back then, for they were unified.
Pan Gu pushed the heaven and earth apart with a loud crack and held the heavens and earth apart for a great long time, till he fell down and died from using up all his enormous strength. Giant sweat and blood became rivers, giant hair became woods, hopefully. The giant body became landscape and mountains, and his breath became wind and clouds. In this way the World was created.
Nu Wo, a fairy, came to earth to look at it. Se exclaimed: "How boring! - Well, well."
Then she took some wet clay from the riverbank and moulded little clay figures into the shape of men. She breathed life into them through a very special reed, so now they could walk and talk. But they were too lonely, so the fairy said, "Men need companions. I will make women."
She took more clay and made women. After a while she decided that making men and women by hand was too tiring. Then she sprayed the mud around, and it became people. That is why we have clever and simple people, they say.
In this tale we are told that before the world began there was chaos shaped like a hen's egg, and that the huge Pan Gu separated this egg into yang and yin, heaven and earth. Heaven makes the male, dry and bright things, and to Earth belongs the female, wet, dark things of nature, or kun, as it is in Chinese. There could be no perfect thriving without male and female parts in harmony. Such balance is of the Way (Tao), and thriftiness can make it.
A farmer was once ploughing in the fields, when suddenly a hare rushed across in a great hurry, dashed against a stump and broke its neck. It died right there.
"What good luck!" the farmer said, picking up the dead hare, "If I can harvest hares that come like this one, I can make a much easier living. Why shouldn't I just wait here instead of toiling all day long, sweating blood, tiring my body out, like a great fool?"
Getting this idea into his head, the farmer no longer worked. He sat at the stump, his hands supporting his cheeks, and waited patiently for more hares. Unfortunately no more long-eared-and-short-tailed food came. Day in and day out the farmer starved, only to become a laughing-stock in the neighbourhood.
Once on a time ten farmers who were crossing a field together. They were surprised by a heavy thunder-storm, and took refuge in a half-ruined temple. But the thunder drew ever nearer, and so great was the tumult that the air trembled about them, while the lightning flew around the temple in a continuous circle.
The farmers were greatly frightened and thought that there must be a sinner among them that the lightning would strike. In order to find out who it might be, they agreed to hang their straw hats up before the door, and he whose hat was blown away was to yield himself up to his fate and go outside.
No sooner were the hats outside, than one of them was blown away, and the rest thrust the owner out without pity. But as soon as he had left the temple, the lightning ceased circling around, and struck it with a crash. The nine left there were all killed.
Once there was a man who dug up a big, earthenware cask in his field. He took it home with him and told his wife to clean it out. But when his wife started brushing the inside of the cask, the cask suddenly began to fill itself with brushes. No matter how many were taken out, others kept on taking their place. So the man sold the brushes, and the family managed to live quite comfortably.
Once a coin fell into the cask by mistake. At once the brushes disappeared and the cask began to fill itself with money. Now the family became rich; for they could take as much money out of the cask as ever they wished.
The man had an old grandfather at home, weak and shaky. Since there was nothing else he could do, his grandson set him to work shovelling money out of the cask. When the old grandfather grew weary and could not keep on, he would fall into a rage, and shout at him angrily, telling him he was lazy and did not want to work. One day, however, the old man's strength gave out, and he fell into the cask and died. At once the money disappeared, and the whole cask began to fill itself with dead grandfathers.
Then the man had to pull them all out and have them buried, and to do it in style he had to use up again all the money he had received. When he was through, the cask broke, and he was as poor as before.
Long ago there was a strong man named Kuafu who wanted to race against the sun. Every day the sun rises in the east, travels across the sky and then goes down below the western horizon. Where does it come from and where does it hide itself? Kuafu resolved to find an answer to this himself.
He started to run, and so fast did he dash towards it sun that he approached it too. But the closer he got to the sun, the more thirsty he became.
He looked round, and to his delight saw the rivers Huanghe and Weihe with their jolly waves. He plunged into the rivers and drained them, gulping them down. But even this was not enough, so he turned to run north to the Great Lake for more water. But before he got there, he died of thirst. Falling down, he threw away his walking stick. It became a grove of green peach-trees for the good of later generations.
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