- The Great Flood and the Origins of Humankind
In Southwest China, the most popular legend concerning the origins of humanity is “the story of marriage between the brother and sister.” The legend typically begins with a great flood that had eradicated all humankind, with the only survivors being a brother and sister. By the will of Heaven, they were wed and gave birth to a mass of flesh, which was not human in appearance. The couple then chopped up the mass, casting it in all directions, and humans then appeared everywhere.
- The Legends of Panhu, of the Bamboo King, of Lin Jun, and of Jiulong
As a result of being in contact with the Han Chinese for a substantial period of time, the ancestral memories of many ethnic communities in Southwest China have become mixed with histories and legends of the Han. As early as the Eastern Han dynasty (1st–3rd century), some of these writings have recorded the four legendary figures largely associated with the origin stories of ethnic minorities in the region, namely Panhu, the Bamboo King, Lin Jun, and Jiulong. Moving forwards, several ethnic minority groups, even in the present era, have inherited or adopted these social memories, claiming to be direct descendants of the four legends.
- The Qiang peoples who live in the Aixi valley, Songpan county, use different stories on brotherhood to describe their brotherly relationships with outside communities, which exist in various degrees of proximity and of scope relative to those in the valley.
The story of the three brothers, for example, illustrates that the ancestors of the three villages within Aixi valley enjoyed a relationship steeped in brotherhood, a story known by almost all locally.
The story surrounding the seven brothers expounds the brotherly relationship enjoyed by the community in Aixi valley with six other neighboring social groups, such as those in Songpan and Heishui, a story mostly told by those with wider knowledge.
The story of the nine brothers explains the origins of the Qiang ethnic group, a story only known by the Qiang intellectual class.