To the Ainu, demons, gods, and animals resided in one of six Hells or six heavens. Lesser gods lived among the clouds and the stars. The creator, Kamui, lived in the highest reaches of heaven with his servants. A massive metal wall surrounded his realm, broken only by a single iron gate.
When Kamui created the world, he rested the round ocean on the backbone of a massive trout. The tides are caused by the trout sucking in the ocean, and spitting it out again. When the fish moves, it causes earthquakes.
As Kamui looked over the world, he decided to add more. He sent a small bird, a water wagtail, to trample the sand and fan the water with its wings. This created islands in the ocean. When the heavenly animals saw this beautiful new world, they begged to be allowed to live there. Kamui allowed them to go, and also created the first people. These people, the Ainu, were created of earth, sticks, and chickweed. Kamui then sent the divine man Aioina to teach the new people how to hunt and cook.
Along time ago, the earth was covered in water. Nothing existed except a brother and sister, locked in a yellow wooden drum. Everything else was dead.
The sky gods saw the water and decided to drain it away by poking holes in the earth. Slowly, the water drained away until the drum bumped against the ground. The brother and sister got out and looked around. All the people were gone.
The brother, seeing what was happening, told his sister that they should marry. The sister refused to marry her brother. To settle the issue, they rolled two grind stones down the hill – if the brother’s grindstone landed on top, they would marry. As soon as he released his grindstone, he ran down the hill to catch it, then placed it on his sister’s stone. She had no choice but to marry him.
The following year, they had a child. The baby had no arms or legs, and was nothing more than a round little pumpkin. The husband cut the baby up, throwing the pieces around. One piece landed in the garden, becoming the “Vang” clan (which sounds like the word for “garden” in Hmong). Other pieces fell in the grass, or on leaves, becoming other clans. By the next morning, houses filled the village. A steady stream of visitors came to the home of the husband and wife, begging, “mother, father, come eat at our table.” Where once the earth was empty and still, now the sons and daughters of these siblings fill the world.
Heavenly creatures existed in the domain of the sky, living in their own kingdom. The Son of the Supreme Being, JoMulju, brought his human and animal ministers to the earth to govern the planet. JoMulju has an interesting dual nature, being both a deity and a human being. A bear and a tiger approached him, begging to be made human. He gave them each a handful of mugwort and 20 cloves of garlic, telling them they had to live in a dark cave for 100 days. The bear withstood the hardship and the starvation, and became a girl. She desired a child, and married JoMulji. Their son, Dangun, established the Korean kingdom. And the Tiger? At the last minute, the Tiger panicked and ran from the cave.
The Mansi of Siberia believe that two loons dove into the primordial seas. They carefully scooped some of the bottom, bringing it to the top of the sea. From this small piece, the earth grew and grew. The sky spirit ordered his brother, a spirit of the lower world, to make people. The brother made seven clay figurines, and their sister, mother Earth, breathed life into them.