Legendary Foundations of Chinese Civilization: Hou Yi Shoots Down the Nine Suns

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
November 4, 2016Arts and Culture
Legendary Foundations of Chinese Civilization: Hou Yi Shoots Down the Nine Suns

This series by Epoch Times surveys the course of Chinese history, showing how key figures aided in the creation of China’s divinely inspired culture. This installment introduces the legendary warrior Hou Yi.

Hou Yi, the warrior sent to serve Emperor Yao, is best known in Chinese folklore for completing his mission to shoot down 9 of 10 suns that scorched the earth.

It is said that the appearance of nine suns was precipitated by a number of inauspicious omens, including the sighting of a snake-like monster with six legs and four wings.

Soon afterward, there were droughts and one day the people awoke to a sky with four suns. The commoners condemned the extra three as demon stars. Emperor Yao ordered Hou Yi to use his strength and eliminate the abominations.

Hou Yi may have his divine arrows, but the matter rests with the piety of the sovereign.

How shall I distinguish the lone true star, Hou Yi wondered, not wanting to commit a grave sin. “The genuine sun cannot be shot down,” Yao reassured him.

Before long, there were fully ten suns in the heavens, and despite his superb aim, none of Hou Yi’s arrows could affect them.

The “Classic of Mountains and Seas” records that the heavenly emperor Jun had 10 sons with his wife, who became the 10 suns residing beyond the eastern seas. The current disaster had arisen when the 10 suns decided to rise in unision. Rivers dried and plants withered. The soil burned and the air itself became difficult to breathe.

As Emperor Yao burned with impatience and worry, a minister suggested that the emperor abstain from meat, wine, and carry out sacrifices to the gods in sincere prayer before heaven, earth, and the ancestors.

“Hou Yi may have his divine arrows,” the minister said, “but the matter rests with the piety of the sovereign.”

Yao then bathed and carried out the proper abstinence for three days. At the same time, he made sacrificial offerings to heaven and Earth. Hou Yi too made a trip to Mount Kunlun where he prayed devoutly to heaven and begged the suns to spare the Earth.

The suns did not budge, and Hou Yi was forced to draw his bow. He brought down nine of the stars and the climate cooled to its normal state.

Click here for the original article on Epoch Times, and read the next installment here

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.