Flood Myths and Domination: A comparison of the flood myths in Chinese and Abrahamic traditions

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Many riverside or coastal civilizations in the world have a foundation myth that begins with the survival of its ancestral patriarchs (and matriarchs) from a catastrophic flood. According to James Frazer (1918), flood myths are disaster survival narratives about regional floods that threatened the livelihood of nearby communities. This means the characteristics of flood myths may differ across different geographical areas. These differences were determined by factors considered to be most essential to the survival of the tribe, and therefore bear distinct cultural demarcations. This paper will compare the differences between the flood myths in China and those in the Abrahamic religions and point out the distinct cultural traditions embedded therein. Myths from the Chinese civilization emphasize the hero’s self-abnegation for the benefit of the community, the protection of land over life, and the continuation of the blood lineage. In contrast, Abrahamic flood myths highlight the survivor’s individual virtue demonstrated by obedience to a greater power external to themselves (the divine), prioritize life over land, and stress the importance of establishing a covenant between the divine maker and his human subjects. The Chinese flood myth emphasizes the moral and physical superiority of the leader and therefore generates a form of dominance in which the leader’s centralized hold on power is rarely questioned, as long as the leader is willing to sacrifice him/herself in face of disaster. Abrahamic flood myths emphasize the supremacy of divinely ordained law before the human patriarch and therefore produces a form of dominance based on social contract.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021
Event International Symposium & Exhibition on Mythology: Myths in the ancient and modern world - Ardahan University, Ardahan, Turkey
Duration: 8 Jun 202110 Aug 2021
Conference number: II


Conference International Symposium & Exhibition on Mythology
Internet address

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Flood myths
  • deluge
  • domination
  • authoritarianism


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