Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Chinese Tale Series: Chang'e Flying to the Moon
Chang'e Flying to the Moon Adapted by Wang Zhiwei, Trans. by Liu Yonghou, Illus. by Zhao Jing & others, 2005.
I think that this is the first Chinese folktale I've looked at that was produced and printed in China. It is part of Dolphin Books' Chinese Tale Series and is written in English and Chinese. The English translation is not always smooth, but the story is still quite interesting.
Houyi the archer impresses a group of fairy maidens with his shooting talent and becomes charmed by the most beautiful one, Chang'e. Almost immediately, he has a chance to win her when he slays an attacking heavenly wolf. The Lord of Heaven decides that the two young ones should marry, but later, for reasons that are not explained, Houyi shoots down the nine suns, and gets himself and Chang'e thrown out of the heavenly palace and into the human world. Houyi adapts well to this life, having become a champion of the people and killing all the beasts and monsters that threaten them, such as Big Wind Bird, Three-Tailed Dragon, a nine headed monster and more. Chang'e is not having such an easy time. She misses her husband when he is gone, longs for life in the heavenly palace and frets because she and her man are now mortal.
In order to end his wife's worrying, Houyi makes the dangerous trip to Kunlun Mountain to visit the West Queen Mother and bring back the elixir of immortality. This brings about tragedy for the couple and explains why the moon is always bright and gentle on August 15th.
Learn more about Chang'e at: http://www.moonfestival.org/change.html