Once there were only gods and goddesses on the earth. It was a beautiful place, but very lonely. The goddess Nu Wa wanted people around her. Although her tail was that of a dragon, her upper body was of female form. She wanted to talk to people. She wanted to love people and share their thoughts.
One day she sat by the Great Yellow River. The bed of the river was very muddy. After a while she reached down and scooped up some mud in her hand. She started to make something. She made a head, a body, some arms and hands and fingers. She stuck them all together. Then she made legs. It took a long time and she worked carefully. When she had finished the mud figure, she sat it down by the bank of the Great Yellow River. She then breathed life into it and gave it a push. It tried out its new arms and legs. Soon it was dancing.
‘Mother’ it shouted gleefully, ‘Look at me!’ Nu Wa was very happy. She set about making more mud people. She decided to find a quicker way of making them so she could fill the world with people. She found a stick and stuck it in the mud. She shook it very hard so the mud fell in small drops. Each droplet was dried by the sun and became a person. Some became men and some became women. Nu Wa told them to go together and become families to fill the world.
My Thoughts about the story
I have often told this story to begin a group for people with learning difficulties. For me it conjures up a beginning of group formation – an exploration of “me” and “other”. There are images of loneliness and the potential of being part of something. I also like the story’s earthiness, connecting us to the natural world.
I think it has the scope for movement with touch work, body awareness and sculpting. I have also invited people to create their own beings from clay.
Some versions of this story say that some of the scattered mud didn’t form properly, so that could evoke the theme of difference and disability.
The story could also provide an opening for working with the themes of the mother and feminine energy.