Many different cultures have ideas about the Cosmic Turtle—the great turtle that holds up the world. Let’s take a look at a few of the stories from different cultures and find out what inspired them.
The ancient Chinese myth about this celestial beast went like this: A god named Gong Gong went into a fit of rage and banged his head against the mountains, like the mature adult he apparently was. Unfortunately, those mountains were holding up the sky, and without them the sky would literally plummet into the ocean. So the creator goddess, Nuwa, came to the rescue of the world. She cut the legs off of the giant sea turtle named Ao, and used them to prop up the sky. A bit unfortunate for Ao, but he's still depicted with all four legs in most art, so hopefully they grew back.
The ancient Chinese believed all tortoises were female, and that the great tortoise would have to mate with a snake in order to procreate. As a result of this belief, we have the image of the great tortoise and the great snake intertwined, holding up the world together.