> >Why is the name Noah so similar to the names of other flood-heroes
> >and ancestor-heroes to be found worldwide: Noj in central Asia Noj; Nuwa,
> >or Nu [...]
> Well, I can't verify the existence of all those names, but you
> have to realise that christianity has spread worldwide and this
> might account for some of the names.

OK, a bit more detail.

According to a tradition from the Lower Sepik in New Guinea, a man called Nu
went up a hill, killed his son, tore the body in pieces, and threw each in a
different direction, each time saying something in a different language.
The pieces of the boy's body became the ancestors of villages in different
parts of the country. [Knappert, J. (1992), "Pacific Mythology", Aquarian
Press: 165.] (So there's a Nu who's an ancestor, at least, even if not a
flood hero).

According to one Chinese tradition, a girl called Nuwa survived the Deluge
in an iron boat; [MacKenzie, D.A., "Myths and Legends: China and Japan".
1994 edition: 268] according to another, the goddess Nu Kwa managed to
restore a pillar holding up the sky that had been toppled by three rebels,
so stopping the flood caused by the fallen pillar. [McLeish, K. (1996)
"Myth": 158-159]. (The flood hero has here become a flood heroine or flood

The Egyptian word nwy, "flood", may be connected with the name of the god
Nu or Nunu or Nu, who symbolized the primeval waters. According to Martin
Bernal, the name Noah is probably connected with the word nwy because it was
widely disseminated in the Near East. [Bernal 1991: 84] (I'm aware that
Bernal's linguistic arguments have met with criticism in some quarters).

The Mexican Nata, who survived a flood by scraping out a cypress tree,
belonged to the Nahua, or Nahuatl, people.

According to a tradition from the Sagaiyes of Central Asia, Noj is
instructed by God to build a ship, but is unable to complete it in time.
According to Altai legend, the three sons of Nama build an ark to escape the
flood. [Holmberg, U. (1927), "Finno-Ugric and Siberian Mythology": 362,

Holmberg suggests that the diffusion of ancient Hebrew mythology might
explain the presence of names similar to Noah in Central Asia. Other people
argue, as you yourself suggested in your last post, that the similarities of
some of the other names, such as Nu'u in Hawaii, must be due to
contamination by Christian missionaries.

But, even if those arguments are correct in those particular cases, how
could they explain the Mexican Nata of the Nahua/Nahuatl, or the Chinese
Nuwa or (female deity) Nu Kwa? Those traditions long pre-date Christianity.

>>Logically, it would take
> far too long for a particular myth to traverse the globe.

It would take a very long time, as you rightly say - but no one knows for
sure how old any of these traditions are. I do realize that linguists
don't like to draw hasty conclusions from what might be described as
superficial evidence. However, I think what I'm trying to ask is whether a
name related to the word for flood, or water, might have become the name of
a culture hero, and whether the tradition might have been diffused from
somewhere (I don't know where - ?? Central Asia ?? Africa ??) along with one
of the major ancient language groups (I wouldn't know which) a very long
time ago (I wouldn't pretend to know when). But, if the Mexican name Nata
was really derived from a word that originally meant "flood" or "water" in
another language, might it mean that the word, and the accompanying myth,
was diffused along with, say, Amerindian language groups, having arrived
there via, say, Sino-Tibetan - (hence, perhaps, Nu Kwa)?

I apologize if these ideas are not very well expressed - I'm afraid that I
lack the appropriate linguistic knowledge, framework and vocabulary to
describe them with any greater degree of coherence or fluency!

If this question is off-topic, I apologize again. However, if anyone has
any ideas, I really would be very grateful to hear them.


Jean Kelly