Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/535

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531
SCIENCE AMONG THE CHINESE
essence of heaven and earth the dual principles yin and yang were formed; from their joint operation came the four seasons, and these putting forth their energies gave birth to all; they produced fire; and the finest parts of the fire formed the sun. The cold exhalations of the yin being likewise condensed, produced water; and the finest parts of the watery substance formed the moon. By the seminal influence of the sun and moon came the stars. Thus heaven was adorned with sun, moon and stars; the earth also received rain, rivers and dust.

But such explanations were too subtle for the common people, and they personified and deified the powers and operations, though with far less imaginative genius and fine taste than the Greeks displayed in the same line. The most striking legend is that of Pwanku, the first creature, who was "hatched" from chaos by the dual powers and who then chiseled the universe into form and order by the might of his hands. His efforts continued 18,000 years, and by degrees he and his handiwork increased:

The heavens rose, the earth spread out and thickened, and Pwanku grew in stature, six feet every day, till, his labors done, he died for the benefit of his handiwork. His head became mountains, his breath wind and clouds, and his voice thunder; his limbs were changed into the four poles, his veins into rivers, his sinews into the undulations of the earth 's surface, and his flesh into fields; his beard, like Bernice's hair, was turned into stars, his skin and hair into herbs and trees, and his teeth, bones, and marrow into metals, rocks, and precious stones; his dropping sweat increased to rain, and lastly, the insects which stuck to his body were transformed into people!

It must be confessed that most of us will find this quite as clear and a far more interesting account of the universe than the learned disquisition of the famous Chu Fu Tsz.

(To be concluded)