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List of flood myths

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flood myths are common across a wide range of cultures, extending back into Bronze Age and Neolithic prehistory. These accounts depict a flood, sometimes global in scale, usually sent by a deity or deities to destroy civilization as an act of divine retribution.


Although the continent has relatively few flood legends,[1][2][3][4] African cultures preserving an oral tradition of a flood include the Kwaya, Mbuti, Maasai, Mandin, and Yoruba peoples.[5]


Floods were seen as beneficial in Ancient Egypt, and similar to the case with Japan, Ancient Egypt did not have any cataclysmic flood myths picturing it as destructive rather than fertile force. One "flood myth" in Egyptian mythology involves the god Ra and his daughter Sekhmet. Ra sent Sekhmet to destroy part of humanity for their disrespect and unfaithfulness which resulted in the gods overturning wine jugs to simulate a great flood of blood, so that by getting her drunk on the wine and causing her to pass out her slaughter would cease. This is commemorated in a wine drinking festival during the annual Nile flood.[6]


North America[edit]




  • Popol Vuh: Huracan caused the fall of the wooden people by way of a great flood.

South America[edit]







Ancient Near East[edit]


Abrahamic religions[edit]

The Deluge, c. 1896–1902, by James Jacques Joseph Tissot



  • The Videvdad mentions that Ahura Mazda warns Yima that there will come a harsh winter storm followed by melted snow.[19] Ahura Mazda advises Yima to construct a Vara (Avestan: enclosure). This he is to populate with the fittest of men and women; and with two of every animal, bird and plant; and supply with food and water gathered the previous summer.[20] Norbert Oettinger argues that the story of Yima and the Vara was originally a flood myth, and the harsh winter was added in due to the dry nature of Eastern Iran, as floods didn't have as much of an effect as harsh winters. He has argued that the Videvdad 2.24's mention of melted water flowing is a remnant of the flood myth.[21]


The Matsya avatar comes to the rescue of Manu
  • Manu and Matsya: The legend first appears in Shatapatha Brahmana (700–300 BCE), and is further detailed in Matsya Purana (250–500 CE). Matsya (the incarnation of Lord Vishnu as a fish) forewarns Manu (a human) about an impending catastrophic flood and orders him to collect all the grains of the world in a boat; in some forms of the story, all living creatures are also to be preserved in the boat. When the flood destroys the world, Manu – in some versions accompanied by the seven great sages – survives by boarding the ark, which Matsya pulls to safety. Norbert Oettinger argues that the story originally was about Yama, but that he was replaced by his brother Manu due to the social context of the authorship of the Shatapatha Brahmana.[21]
  • Pūluga, the creator god in the religion of the indigenous inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, sends a devastating flood to punish people who have forgotten his commands. Only four people survive this flood: two men and two women.[22]



Japan lacks a major flood myth. The namazu is considered a creature that brings earthquakes, which in turn bring tsunamis, but they do not count as floods in a strict mythological sense. Japanese scholars in the 19th century such as Hirata Atsutane and Motoori Norinaga have used the global flood myths of other cultures to argue for the supremacy of Shinto and promote Japanese nationalism.[23] They claimed that the fact that Japan has no flood myth showed that it was both the centre and highest point on Earth, making it the closest place on Earth to the heavens. As such, to them this demonstrates the veracity of the Japanese creation myth, where Japan comes first and foremost.




  • Ifugao: One year, when the rainy season should have come, it did not. When the river dried up, the people dug into its grave, hoping to find the soul of the river. They struck a great spring, which angered the river gods. It began to rain and the river overflowed its banks. The resulting flood wiped out all of humanity save for two survivors, Wigan and Bugan, who repopulated the earth once the waters receded.[25]
  • Igorot: Once upon a time, when the world was flat and there were no mountains, there lived two brothers, sons of Lumawig, the Great Spirit. The brothers were fond of hunting, and since no mountains had formed there was no good place to catch wild pig and deer, and the older brother said: "Let us cause water to flow over all the world and cover it, and then mountains will rise up."[26]


The Origin of Humans from A Massive Magical Gourd, by Suradej Kaewthamai

There are many folktales among Tai peoples, included Zhuang, Thai, Shan and Lao, talking about the origin of them and the deluge from their Thean (แถน), supreme being object of faith.

  • Pu Sangkasa-Ya Sangkasi (Thai: ปู่สังกะสา-ย่าสังกะสี) or Grandfather Sangkasa and Grandmother Sangkasi, according to the creation myth of those Tai people folktales, were the first man and woman created by the supreme god, Phu Ruthua (ผู้รู้ทั่ว). A thousand years passed, their descendants were wicked and crude as well as not interested in worshiping the supreme god. The god got angry and punished them with a great flood. Fortunately, some descendants survived because they fled into an enormous magical gourd. Many months passed, the supreme god had compassion on the humans that had to live in the difficult period of their life, so he had two deities Khun Luang and Khun Lai climbed down a massive vine linking an island heaven that floated in the sky to the earth in order to drill the enormous gourd and take the surviving humans to a new land. The water levels had been come down already and there was the dry land. The deities helped the surviving people and led them to the new land. When everyone arrived in the land called Mueang Thaen, the two deities taught the humans how to cultivate rice, farming and building structures.[27]


  • Saisiyat: An old white-haired man came to Oppehnaboon in a dream and told him that a great storm would soon come. Oppehnaboon built a boat. Only Oppehnaboon and his sister survived. They had a child, they cut the child into pieces and each piece became a new person. Oppehnaboon taught the new people their names and they went forth to populate the earth.[citation needed]


  • Sơn Tinh – Thủy Tinh
  • Virtually every Southeast Asian ethnic group in Vietnam tells a story of a great flood that leaves only 2 survivors who must consummate the marriage.[28] Sometimes they are siblings, sometimes a woman and dog, but from this incestuous abnormality is born a gourd or a gourd-shaped lump of flesh, and the gourd becomes the source for various ethnic groups, according to Dang Nghiem Van, who explored the flood myths of Southeast Asia by collecting 307 flood myths in a field research in Vietnam in the early 90s, describing how they all have varying versions of essentially a similar story.[28]


  • Ket: In the mythology of the Ket people of Northern Eurasia, there have been many floods in the past. People and animals survived by grabbing on to pieces of floating turf. In the future, a final flood will bring back ancient Ket heroes.[29]


Classical Antiquity[edit]

Medieval Europe[edit]

Baltic area[edit]







Modern era folklore[edit]




  • Tiddalik: A water-holding frog awoke one morning with an extreme thirst, and began to drink until all the freshwater was consumed. Creatures and plant life everywhere began to die due to lack of moisture. Other animals devised a plan for him to release all of the water he had consumed by making him laugh. As Tiddalik laughed, the water rushed out of him to replenish the lakes, swamps and rivers.
  • Lizards vs Platypuses: The world became overpopulated with birds, reptiles, and other animals. Therefore, a meeting took place in the Blue Mountains to mitigate this. Tiger Snake planned that birds and animals who have good mobility should migrate to a new country. The lizards, who knew about rainmaking, decided to rid the world of the platypuses, whereby instructing all of their family to perform the rain ceremony. The lizards fled to mountain tops, before a deluge covered the land below, destroying most of the world. The flood eventually ended and there were no platypuses. After some time Carpet Snake observed the existence of platypus. The animals discovered that they were all related to the platypuses, who were then invited back and treated as ancient value. Eventually the head platypus married into the bandicoot family, although platypuses were never comfortable with other animals.[30][31]



  1. ^ Witzel, E.J. Michael (2012). The Origins of the World's Mythologies. Oxford University Press. p. 345. ISBN 978-0-19971-015-7.
  2. ^ Witzel, E.J. Michael (2012). The Origins of the World's Mythologies. Oxford University Press. p. 284. ISBN 978-0-19971-015-7.
  3. ^ Martinez, Susan B. (2016). The Lost Continent of Pan: The Oceanic Civilization at the Origin of World Culture. Simon and Schuster. p. 220. ISBN 978-1-59143-268-5.
  4. ^ Gerland, Georg (1912). Der Mythus von der Sintflut. Bonn: A. Marcus und E. Webers Verlag. p. 209. ISBN 978-3-95913-784-3.
  5. ^ Lynch, Patricia (2010). African Mythology, A to Z. Chelsea House. p. 45. ISBN 978-1-60413-415-5.
  6. ^ McDonald, Logan (2018). "Worldwide Waters: Laurasian Flood Myths and Their Connections". georgiasouthern.edu. Retrieved 2020-09-01.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Native American Indian Flood Myths". www.native-languages.org. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  8. ^ "The Creation Story – Turtle Island" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-06-11. Retrieved 2015-11-06., Grand Council Treaty #3, The Government of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty #3
  9. ^ "Choctaw Legends". Retrieved 2020-07-18.
  10. ^ "Flood Stories from Around the World". www.talkorigins.org.
  11. ^ In The Beginning of the Nisqually World
  12. ^ Orowignarak flood myth at talkorigins.org
  13. ^ "First Nations". District of Central Saanich. Archived from the original on December 28, 2023. Retrieved December 28, 2023.
  14. ^ "Jipohan é gente como você". Povos Indígenas no Brasil (in Portuguese). 2020-11-11. Retrieved 2020-11-11.
  15. ^ Crépeau, Robert R. (October 1997). "Mito e ritual entre os índios Kaingang do Brasil meridional". Horizontes Antropológicos. 3 (6): 173–186. doi:10.1590/s0104-71831997000200009.
  16. ^ The Flood Narrative was written during the Old Babylonian Period and added into existing texts such as the Sumerian King List
  17. ^ Chen, Yi Samuel. The Primeval Flood Catastrophe: Origins and Early Development in Mesopotamian Traditions. Oxford University Press, 2013.[ISBN missing][page needed]
  18. ^ Marvin Meyer; Willis Barnstone (2009). "The Secret Book of John and The Reality of the Rulers (The Hypostasis of the Archons)". The Gnostic Bible. Shambhala. ISBN 9781590306314. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  19. ^ Skjærvø, Prods Oktor. An Introduction to Zoroastrianism. 2006.
  20. ^ Quotations in the following section are from James Darmesteter's translation [1] of the Vendidad , as published in the 1898 American edition of Max Müller's Sacred Books of the East
  21. ^ a b N. Oettinger, "Before Noah: Possible Relics of the Flood myth in Proto-Indo-Iranian and Earlier", [in:] Proceedings of the 24th Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference, ed. S.W. Jamison, H.C. Melchert, B. Vine, Bremen 2013, pp. 169–183
  22. ^ Gaster, Theodor Herzl. The oldest stories in the world: Originally translated and retold, with comments. New York: Viking Press, 1958 [1952] [ISBN missing][page needed]
  23. ^ Through Japanese Eyes by Richard H. Minear & Leon E. Clark (1994). A Cite Book, 3rd ed. ISBN 0938960369. page 61.
  24. ^ "Tree Bachelor and the Great Flood".
  25. ^ Beyer, Henry Otley (1913). Origin Myths among the Mountain Peoples of the Philippines. Philippine journal of science – Vol. 8, sec. D Manila: Science and Technology Information Institute. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-31808-686-3.
  26. ^ "Philippine Folk Tales: Igorot: The Flood Story". www.sacred-texts.com.
  27. ^ Na Thalang, Siriporn (1996). การวิเคราะห์ตำนานสร้างโลกของคนไท : รายงานการวิจัย. Chulalongkorn University.
  28. ^ a b Van, Dang Nghiem (1993). "The Flood Myth and the Origin of Ethnic Groups in Southeast Asia". The Journal of American Folklore. 106 (421): 304–337. doi:10.2307/541423. JSTOR 541423.
  29. ^ Vajda, Edward (2011). Jordan, Peter (ed.). "Siberian Landscapes in Ket Traditional Culture" (PDF). Landscape and Culture in Northern Eurasia.
  30. ^ Are there Australian flood myths? Oceanic Mythologies: Australian Aborigine and Polynesian Australian Creations and Floods
  31. ^ Australian Aborigines and the Dreamtime When the World was Created By The Handy Mythology Answer Book (Visible Ink Press), adapted by Newsela staff