Miao (specifically, Hmub) Creation Epics

[texts in a humorous style, publicly sung for popular entertainment : each (short) section being introduced by a quaestion]


pp. 157-68 Part V = "Great Flood"

pp. 159-160 tricks played by Jan Van on his brother the Thundre-God

p. 159

Janx Vanb appropriated the antient Grain-Drying Bluff belonging to the Thundre-God.

p. 160

Janx Vanb borrowed an ox (for ploughing) from the Thundre-God. "After Jang Vang finished plowing the paddies and fields, he killed the ox and ate it.

After sticking the ox’s tail in a waterway, he said to the Thunder God :

"... the ox sank right to the bottom : his tail is still sticking out.

Let’s go quickly and pull him out!""

p. 161

Janx Vanb voyaged on a calabash to escape the deluge (covering even the peaks of all the mountains) sent by the Thundre-God.

p. 162 animals whose beaks or horns the Thundre-God deformed in punishment for bringing to him the unwelcome news that Jan Van (together with his sister) was surviving the deluge




bump on bill {cf. [Chipewyan] goose’s beak scorched by snared Sun (SCS)}


flattened bill


twisted horns

pp. 162-163 chicken brought welcome false news; its beak was not deformed

SCS = http://www.ruthenia.ru/folklore/berezkin/eng/011_37.htm

pp. 164-166 successive stages in Jan Van’s convincing his own sister to marry him

p. 163-4

Because only he and his sister had survived the deluge, the nan- and cotton-bamboos suggested to Janx Vanb that he marry his sister. {cf. [Hopi deluge-myth] "giant reeds ... sheltered the people in the hollow stems" (BH – "FS")}

p. 164

The sister grasped the 9 thrushes within 9 cages. {"Ndrao-ya took the wrought iron claw-bar and struck at the martins." (AH, p. 46 –M131:99)}

p. 165

A pair of millstones rolled down mountainside together. "Ndrao-ya and his sister rolled the upper and nether grindstones of a small hand mill separately from the top of the hill, and discovered, when they emerged at the bottom, that they were firmly pegged together, ready for use." (AH, p. 49 – M135)}

p. 166

"When the sister escaped ...,

Jang Vang chased after her. ...

He circled round and round a mountain,

and the two of them came fact to face , {"God Izanagi said "Then You and I will walk around this sacred pier. After we will meet again, we will be unified"." (Kojiki 2 – "OI")}

and the two horses were head to head.

... the horses’ tails tangled together." {When Phaidra sought sexual intercourse with (GM 101.d) her stepson Hippo-lutos, this resulted in his becoming "entangled in the reins" (GM 101.g) of his chariot.}


"He went to set up a snare ... .

When his sister went to pound rice,

the snare caught her by the foot." {cf. [Bella Coola] boy snared Sun in snare made of boy’s own sister’s pubic hair (SCS)}

with p. 208, n. 6

This sister of Janx Vanb was named Nian Ni.

BH = Frank Waters : Book of the Hopi.

"FS" = http://www.crystalinks.com/floodstories.html

M135 = http://www.archives.ecs.soton.ac.uk/miao/songs/TranslatedSongs/m135/m135in.htm

"OI" = http://www.wasabi-tokyo.net/2010/03/onogoro-island-god-izanagi-and-goddess-izanami-kojiki-2.html

pp. 166-168, 208 re-peopling of the earth after the deluge

p. 166

Janx Vanb’s and Nian Ni’s progeny "had feet but no arms;

it had no face, but it had eyes."

p. 167

Jan Van chopped up his child, "Filling up nine manure buckets".

p. 208, n. 9

"The bones turned into Miao people,

the meat turned into Han people,

the intestines turned into" other people.

p. 167

These peoples "had no words to speak."

The Thundre-God whispered to himself that if Janx Vanb were to explode bamboo (by burning it), then "the people will be able to talk."

To this whispering by the Thundre-God, the Earth-God "listened on the sly. The Earth God ... heard the Thunder God’s words,

then went back to tell Jang Vang."

Accordingly, Janx Vanb, by burning it,

p. 168

exploded the bamboo :

"As the bamboo cracked,"pop-pop,"

the people followed along and spoke".


pp. 169-188 Part VI = "Westwards, Upriver" [p. 208, n. 1 : "The Miao title is Nang E Ji Bi (Nangx Eb Jit Bil), or Going Upstream along the River."]

p. 170 the food and clothing for the 6 Westward-moving couples [each couple being "a husband and wife" (p. 208, n. 1)]



"clear and bright" greens ["It blooms yellow flowers" (p. 209, n. 2).]

"sheaths off bamboo shoots"

fonx hfib lul ["root of the kudzu vine" (p. 209, n. 2)]

"cliff vine leaves"

"bitter buckwheat"

"banana leaves"

p. 172 how Grandma was tricked into consenting to emigrate [Praeviously, "Six grandmothers were unwilling to leave" (p. 171).]

"Bee Person [p. 209, n. 3 : "a personified bee, named Liong Wa (Liongx Wab)."] came from the East, blowing a trumpet plant stem ... . ["The trumpet plant blooms every few years and is poisonous enough kills insects. The root and flower are both yellow and can be used as dye." (p. 209, n. 4)] The sound shook the sky ... . Bee Person came to trick Grandma, saying : "... the pillars of the sky are tumbling down, and you and I will certainly be crushed to death! What are be doing here?""

p. 173 implements which were forgotten to be taken along by the emigrating couple when emigrating : consequence to mother’s sister


consequence of negligence

Elder brother forgot to take the lu-s^en pipes.

The "cicada blew them with a "lia li" sound." [p. 209, n. 8 : "The cicada is called gang lia li (gangb liax lil)".]

"Mother forgot her walking stick;

later it changed into a stumbling stone.

... when sister tripped over it, ... and cried out "Mother!" ...

Mother’s sister ... was wed to ... the cherry blossom."

pp. 173-174 the 2 birds sent to view the West

p. 173

"The Eagle ... went to measure the earth. ...

Magpie ... flew over nine mountains

p. 174

flying up to the seventh level of the sky."

Returning, he reported that

"the cotton stems are as thick as hammer handles,

the cotton bolls are as big as horse hearts;

a single boll can make a suit of clothes".

pp. 174-176 the people’s migration to the West

p. 174

"it was from Jang Xi Go that they set out." ["jang xi go (jangb xib gox) ... means jangb xib fruit." (p. 209, n. 11)]

p. 175

The migration was through a "pomegranate forest."

p. 176

"They came to Dang Vi Mong." [" "rocky plain" (Dangx Vib Mongl)." (p. 209, n. 13)]

pp. 176-177 animals as assistants to the people in building a settlement-colony

p. 176

"The frog ... went to invite the rooting pig;" the rooting pig cleared "a swath of bamboo forest" for the immigrant-settlers.

p. 177

"Old Spider wove a silver thread for an ink line.

... it was strummed on the moxa pillar,

the sound traveling to the home of the Sun. {cf. [S^into] the sound produced by goddess Ame-no-uzume’s dancing upon overturned tub}

The Sun hurried out its door, {cf. [S^into] difficulty in inducing Sun-goddess Amaterasu to emerge from her cavern, when she was sulking therewithin}

and the Sun saw the web and praised it."

p. 177 "The house was built at Gang Ye Meng".

p. 177 at the celebration (to the ancestor Go Do) of the completion of the first house built by the immigrants at Danx Vib Monl

the __

functioned as __



"empty-heart vegetable stalks"






pp. 178-179 further journey





Zan Pa Bi mountain

"the trees and brush were thick

and it was hard to get through;"

until "Old Man Yu Yang Dai ["Yux Yangb Dail is a personified wild animal." (p. 209, n. 15)]

... broke through the brambles to build a road."


Nanl Luk

"where the Nang Yu water

washes into Nang Ngo,

the Nang Hxi River waters

lap Nang La;

five rivers join into one."

[p. 209, n. 16: Nanl Yux, Nanl Nok, Nanl Xib, Nanl Lak]


Nanl Hseit Lek

"the road was slippery and hard going," until Grandpa Sun dried it.


Zanx Gaib

Old man Xon Ghai [Xonx Ghaib (p. 210, n. 19)] gathered the Parents in 16 cities.

p. 180 at the celebration (to the ancestor Gho Do) at Zan Ghai Plain

functioning as __

would now be __

but was then __


yellow sandalwood

bugle grass

goer through

white chicken




water scorpion


yellow cowskin

toad skin


cudrania wood


pp. 180-181 securing of a tree whence to carve a big boat

p. 180

"really coming, arriving at a long, deep pool ...

everyone ... had to make some boats ...

to get the Parents across, ... Westwards."

p. 181

"There was still a white parasol tree ... .

The Thunder God covered it with his hat".

pp. 181-183 Rock Eagle

p. 181

"That old Rock Eagle raised into children in the tree. ...

The Rock Eagle then

had a beak like blacksmith’s tongs,

claws as thick as harrow spikes,

and wings as wide as grain-drying mats".

p. 182

the 3 birds successively summoned to accuse Rock Eagle ["when a fierce beast was captured, it had to be "tried" by the village elders before it could be killed and eaten." (p. 210, n. 24)] were :




p. 183

The accuser "had to wear ... a silver crown on his head when making the accusations". The accusation was : "you wanted to eat your Parents".

p. 182

for the bow-&-arrow to kill Rock Eagle,

the __

was made of __


nonx hnianb wood ["deciduous hardwood shrub ... called nongying in Chinese", used for carrying-poles. "Its leaves can be used to feed silkworms." (p. 210, n. 21)]


nanx onb vine ["strong, pliable species of cane ... that likes marshy gullies. It is called nanweng in Chinese." (p. 210, n. 22)]

arrow shaft

nonx hniub ["type of bamboo called "heart bamboo" ... because it is not hollow. In Chinese it is called nongliu." (p. 210, n. 23)]

p. 182

In order to certify the death of the executed prisoner Rock Eagle, the king of Hornets was sent : "Big Brother Hornet King

who climbed into the Eagle’s wound to listen." Said Hornet King :

"The head and body are separated, but it is not dead ...!"

p. 183

"The Eagle’s meat had to be boiled to eat. ...

Moxa stalks were used to make the pot. ...

Liong Bi came to eat the kidneys.

... when he finished eating, his tongue was sluggish;

his tongue was so numb he mumbled. {/UMBLE/ ‘organ-meat’ is similar to /mUMBLE/.} He said gad, instead of niaf [sic : read /naif/, as per p. 210, n. 25]." ["In Miao vernacular, however, they [viz., /gad/ & /naif/] indicate regional dialects." (p. 210, n. 26)] {This is a myth of the origin of diversity of languages as a "confusion of tongues".}

pp. 184-186 voyage in the big boat

p. 184

"Our Grandpa poled in the front,

our Grandma steered in the rear.

With one push, seven pools were passed. ...

Xong Za ["(Xongt Zax)" (p. 210, n. 28)] ... was so powerful that

in seven pushes he passed a whole mountain."

p. 185

"Coming to Sickle Bar ["in Jian County, on the Clearwater River." (p. 210, n. 27)],

the Dragon King wanted to eat the Parents."


"At dawn they had cut down that white parasol tree,

cut it down to make boats;

the parasol tree fell down,

and crushed the Dragon’s mother.

It was because of that ... that he wanted to eat the Parents."


"Throw raw copper into the river,

and the Dragon will retreat to its rocky lair".

p. 186

"Arriving at the dark and dangerous cliffs,

they ran into a giant Toad;

its body was six spans thick ... . ...

It wanted to eat Mother."


"In the morning when they came to Zang Ghai Plain,

and sacrificed to Gho Do,

they had killed a Toad and used into skin for a drumhead.

Because of that, the Toad wanted to eat the Parents".


"A knife had to be made

to kill the Toad at the foot of the cliff ... . ...

The Eagle’s leg bone was used as a knife,

and carried to the foot of the dangerous cliff

to kill the giant Toad".

pp. 187-188 final arrival

p. 187

"the monkeys came to help,

pulling the Parents up the cliffs."


"Arriving at a brambly forest, ...

Old Man Xong Tin [Xonx Tinb (p. 210, n. 32)] ...

took a right-handed sickle

and cleaned a clear path".


"Arriving at Khong Xong Wang,

to Je Hsang’s Western place."

[p. 210, n. 33 : "Literally, "seventy-thousand skies," and "nine thousand places." They are names ... along a mountain chain ... . ... When a person dies, his soul is instructed to follow this route back to the ancestral home. {cf. the Fijian journey of souls of the dead along the ridge of a mountain range to the world of the dead.} If people refer to someone who has "gone to Khong Wang (Khongd Wangs) and Fang Je Hsang (Fangb Jex Hsangb)," it means that the person in question has died."]

p. 188

"Arriving at Dang Gho Saddleback,

at Dlong Ji they killed an ox."

["Dangs God and Dlongs jit {Jit} are both located in Taijiang County." (p. 210, n. 34)]


"Fang and Fu went to Je Mi,

Yi {Dli} and Hie went to Fang Jang.

Dai Ne stayed in the old place".

[Fans, Ful, Dlib, Niel, and Dail Nes "later became names of different branches of the Miao." (p. 210, n. 35)]


AH = Keith & Kenneth Parsons : A Hmao (Hua Miao) Songs, Stories and Legends from China. Lincom, Muenchen, 2009.

Jin Dan ("Jenb Dangk" in Miao; compiler and translator from Miao into Chinese); Ma Xueliang (editor of the Chinese version); Mark Bender (translator from the Chinese) : Butterfly Mother : Miao (Hmong) Creation Epics from Guizhou, China. Hackett Publishing Co, Indianapolis, 2006.