It might seem crazy, but great flood stories can be found all over the world. In fact, over 200 flood myths and stories exist. What is even more bizarre is that many of them generally follow the same theme of a deity or deities sending a flood as retribution against humanity, while a small remnant lives on to repopulate the earth. Not all follow this structure, but the idea of a great flood still links them all together. It makes you wonder if a great flood really happened in history. Curious to hear the many tales of our forebears? Let’s dive in. Here are 25 Great Flood Stories Found Around The World.
Legend of Trentren Vilu and Caicai Vilu
The Legend of Trentren Vilu and Caicai Vilu comes from the mountains of southern Chile and the Chilean archipelago and is about the god of the Earth and the god of the sea, two giant snakes, waging battle with each other. Caicai Vilu covered much of the land with water but Trentren Vilu, the god of Earth, eventually won the battle. It was not without costs, of course, making what Chile and the archipelago are today.
Unu Pachakuti is an Incan flood myth. In the story, the creator god, Con Tici Viracocha, created a race of giants out of large stones but killed them in a flood because they were uncontrollable. Afterward, he created humanity with smaller stones.
In Ancient Greece, Deucalion was the son of the Titan Prometheus. When Zeus wanted to destroy humanity because they were mean, greedy, and disobedient, Deucalion pleaded with him to have mercy, but Zeus had made up his mind. Deucalion took his father’s advice and built an ark to save himself from the flood created by Zeus. A generation of men was killed by the flood except for Deucalion, his wife, and those that made it to the mountains.
Väinämöinen's Blood Flood
In Finnish mythology, the epic hero Väinämöinen builds a boat on top of a mountain, but the devil hits him with an ax and floods the world with his blood. Väinämöinen takes the boat to travel to Pohjola where culture starts anew.
In Maori mythology, Tawhaki causes a flood to destroy the village of his two jealous brothers-in-law. He warns his own village to go up into the mountain of Hikurangi so they will be spared.
In a South American legend, a man named Bochica came to the land of Colombia and taught the people to take care of themselves rather than depending on the gods. He spent so much time helping the people that Huyhaca, his wife, grew bitter and prayed to the god of water to raise up water to flood the land and kill everyone. Chibchacun, the god of water, heard her prayer and unleashed the flood waters. But Bochica climbed on a rainbow and tapped the rocks with a golden scepter, parting the waters and giving them new ways to flow. He saved some people, but many lives were still lost.
In the Maya flood myth, Huracan, a wind and storm god, caused the great flood because humans angered the gods. After the flood, three men and four women repopulated the world.
Cameroon Flood Story
In a Cameroon story, a girl was grinding flour when a goat came to lick it. She first shooed it away but it came back and she allowed it to lick as much as it wanted. For her kindness, the goat warned her of a coming flood. The girl and her brother took their belongings and ran from their village, looking back and seeing it flooded.
The Temuan people have a legend about how many of their ancestors died because they had angered the gods. The gods sent a great flood that killed all the Temuan people except two, named Mamak and Inak Bungsuk. They climbed an Eaglewood tree to survive.
In a Native American legend, the Puget Sound Indians said people became so numerous they ate all the fish and animals, so they started to eat each other. Dokibatl, the Changer, sent a flood to punish them for their wickedness. The only two creatures left were a woman and a dog and out of them came the next race of people.
There are several Sumerian flood stories. Ziusudra and the Sumerian flood myth is one of the oldest we have in history, dating back to 2,000 BCE. In this story, the gods are frustrated by all the noise the humans make because they can’t sleep; they sent the flood to kill humanity. The god Enki warns Ziusudra about it coming, so he builds a ship and rides the flood to safety.
Flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh
Another flood story in ancient Sumerian culture is told in the famous Epic of Gilgamesh. In it, Gilgamesh is seeking eternal life and finds Utnapishtim, a man who achieved it. Utnapishtim tells of a great flood, how he was warned by a god, and how he built a boat and loaded up his treasures, his family, and seeds of all living things. When the flood ceased, Utnapishtim landed on the mountain of Nisir. The god Enil blessed Utnapishtim with eternal life.
Of all the flood stories, the Genesis flood story ranks as the most well-known. It begins with a righteous man named Noah and how people on earth had become so evil that God decided to wipe them all out with a great flood. Noah was instructed by God to build an ark and bring his family and land animals on it. After the flood, God sent a rainbow as a sign of a new covenant with Noah.
Eskimo Flood Myth
In one Eskimo flood myth, a flood swallowed up all the land and the people tied rafts together and pitched a tent. They huddled together for warmth before a magician named An-odjium threw his bow into the water and commanded the wind to be calm. After throwing in his earrings, the flood receded.
Waynaboozhoo and the Great Flood
When the world was filled with evil, the Creator decided to purify the earth with a flood. One of the only surviving men was named Waynaboozhoo. He built a raft for himself and the animals to float on the water. When the water didn’t go down, he asked the animals to swim down and get some mud. When one did, he put the mud on top of a turtle’s back and it grew larger and large and became the new world.
In an ancient Norse myth, the sons of Borr killed Ymir and so much blood came out that it flooded the world and the entire race of frost-giants died. Only Bergelmir and his house escaped on a boat and started a new race of frost-giants.
Yu the Great
The Chinese have more than one flood myth, but the story of Yu the Great is the most common. During the reign of the Yellow Emperor, the emperor used magic dirt to soak up the flood waters that came, but it didn’t work. His grandson stole the magic dirt to build dams but nothing would hold the flood waters, so the emperor had his grandson killed by the fire god, Zurong. Yu asked the emperor for the magic dirt and the emperor was pleased and granted it to him, advising him to seek the help of a tortoise and dragon. With their help, he redirected the water into canals, tunnels, and lakes.
Korean Flood Story
In an old Korean myth, a son was born to a fairy and laurel tree. The fairy left to heaven when the boy was young. When floods filled the earth, the laurel tree told his son to ride him on the waters. The boy rescued another boy, and they found an old woman with her granddaughters; everyone else had died from the flood. According to the story, the human race is descended from those two couples.
Chingpaw Flood Story
In Northern Burma, there’s a story about how a man named Pawpaw Nan-chaung and his sister Chang-hko saved themselves in a boat during a great flood. They took nine cocks and nine needles. After the rain stopped, each day they’d throw out a cock and needle. When they finally heard both the cock and needle hit the ground, they knew land had formed again.
When Gong Gong, the god of water, and Zhu Rong, the god of fire, fought each other and caused chaos over all the earth, Gong Gong smashed his head against Mount Buzhou. Mount Buzhou was said to be a pillar holding up the sky, but when it broke, flood waters came up from the earth and drowned many people. Nüwa, feeling bad for the people, decided to mend the sky with five colored stones melted together and used the legs of a dead turtle as pillars to support the sky.
The Southwestern Native American Hopi tribe have a myth about a spider woman who created a giant web for the people to stand on while a great flood came through the land.
Manu and Matsya
Manu ends up getting a small fish, Matsya, that asks him to protect it from a bigger fish. In return, Matsya will protect Manu from a flood. Manu brings Matsya to the ocean where he can grow big and strong. When the flood comes, Matsya instructs Manu to build a boat and when the waters rise, Matsya drags the boat to the mountains in the north.
The Saanich people believe their creator XALS handed down various teachings; if they abided by them, they would be blessed. But one day, the Saanich people didn’t listen to his teachings, and they were punished with a great flood. The only people who survived were those that obeyed his teaching.
Dwyfan and Dwyfach
A Welsh mythological flood story tells of a great flood caused by the monster Afanc. Everyone died except for Dwyfan and Dwyfach, who built a ship called Nefyd Naf Neifion. Once the waters receded, they later repopulated Prydain.
Queneesh and the Comox People
The Comox people have a story about how a voice in a dream came to an old man warning about a coming flood. Taking the advice, everyone pitched in and built canoes and prepared for the coming flood. The rain came just as the voice predicted, and it didn’t stop, rising high above the totem poles and up to the mountains. The canoes needed constant bailing and the people were afraid. Then, Queneesh the glacier suddenly appeared as a great white whale and broke through the water. When the rain stopped, the people praised. Soon after, the water receded.