Central Asian Mythology

Central Asian Creation and Devil-Tricksters

What is an example of a Tungus creation myth?

The Tungus, originally from Manchuria, who speak an Altaic language and live in northern China and eastern Siberia, had a shamanic-based religion. They taught that originally there were only the primordial waters until the Sky God sent down fire, which burned away part of the waters and made land. As soon as he came down to that land to begin creating, the Sky God found a devil figure, Buninka, there. Buninka wanted to help with creation, but the Sky God refused, and the devil became so angry that he broke the Sky God’s lyre. When the Sky God challenged the devil to make a tree out of the primordial waters, Buninka tried, but his tree was weak. When the Sky God made a tree, it was strong, so Buninka gave up creating.

The tree created by the Sky God in this creation story would seem to be a version of the world tree, the axis of all of creation. The struggle between the Sky God and Buninka is the struggle between shamanism and witchcraft.


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