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ARTH 101: Survey of Art and Culture I- Creation Stories in Early Civilization

ARTH 101: Survey of Art and Culture I- Creation Stories in Early Civilization

Creation Stories in Early Civilization


Creation stories can be defined as myths that try to explain how the world that we see today was formed and also how human beings come to life. These creation stories are considered by its subscribers as profound truths even though not necessary ily in a literal or historical sense.

Ancient Egyptian creation story.

These stories in early civilization are found in the ancient Egyptian accounts of the creation of the world. The writings and decorations found in the tombs, pyramid texts and also the old kingdom have played a very significant role in giving us information about the Egyptian creation stories. All these early creation stories in Egypt with many creator gods and all associated legends try to explain the origin of the world that we are in today. All these creation stories give almost a similar explanation of the origin of the world. They state that the universe come from a shapeless and a formless sea when the sun appeared for the first time in a period known as Zepi Tepi for the first occasion. Very many creation stories also are based on many different gods such as transcendent god, Amun and Atum god and many others. All these creation stories share common elements. This common thing that is common in all these creation stories is that the world emerged from a huge lifeless sea of chaos known as Nu. Another thing that was included in these stories is the pyramid-shaped mound that was known as Ben bene which arose from the waters as the first thing. This was associated with the flooding nature of River Nile that happened every year where the flood waters left a lot of soil in their wake. The Egyptian equated this with the emergence of life from the primeval chaos.

The pyramidal mound that rose from one of the highest mounds appeared as the river receded. Another thing that is used to explain the origin of the world is the sun. It is said that it emerged first from the mounds as the general sun-god Ra who was the representative of the newly risen sun. There is another theory known as Hermopolis that try to explain the Egyptian creation. This approach mainly focuses on the way the universe before the world was created. In this theory, it is said that the inherent qualities of the primeval that were presented by the eight gods called Ogdoad. Ancient waters took part in the creation process and that why the deities that represented them were considered as gods. The set of these eight gods were grouped into two (male and female). The representative of males was frogs while the female was represented by snakes. These two groups joined together which led to a great upheaval that produced the pyramidal mound. From this, the sun was formed, and it rose, into the sky to light the world.

Japanese creation story

Japanese believed that at the beginning, the universe emerged in a shapeless and a beaten form of matter sunk in silence. A sound of a kind was heard which indicated the vibration of particles moving from one side to another. As the vibration and movement of particles continued, the light particles rose, but they didn’t go higher as the light. At the very top of the world, there was light, followed by the particles that formed the clouds then Heaven that was known as Takamagahara. The other particles that had remained formed a huge mass, dark and dese named earth. After heaven (Takamagahara) was formed, the Japanese first gods (Amenominakanushi, Kami-Mushi-no-kami, Taka-mi-Mushi-no-kami,) appeared. That is how the Japanese believe that the world was formed.

Other theory states that the earth was a formless void without anything but only muddy water. It is said that from this muddy water, a green shoot sprung out and from the shoot, the first god emerged who is believed to make the other gods. The land of japan was formed when again poked his staff through the clouds to see what was on the earth surface. It is stated that as Izanami lifted the staff from the muddy water, clumps of mud fall on the top of the water forming the island of Japan. The pair went down to the earth and everywhere it went, plants and flowers sprouted. They had four sons the moon, the sun and another one that lived in the water and created storms and other things. From these, Japanese emperors were established.

From this discussion, we learn that both Japanese and Egyptians creation story have some common things that try to explain the origin of the world we are in today. However, all these stories are myth stories.


David A. (2010). Creation Myths of the World (2nd ed.). ABC-CLIO.

Margaret Adams (2009). A Dictionary of Creation Myths (Oxford Reference Online ed.). Oxford University Press.

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