USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Chang e’
Tales /märchen

Chang E goes to the moon

12) Chang E goes to the moon

Chang E was the wife of Hou Yi. They were a loving couple that was praised and respected by everyone around him. One day, an old monk that really admired Hou Yi’s power and bravery gave him a pill that can make him immortal and go up to the sky. Unwilling to leave the villagers and his wife however, Hou Yi told Chang E to hide the pill.

Peng Meng–a servant of Hou Yi–was bad natured and greedy and wanted to take the pill for himself so that he can become immortal. Thus, on the 15th of August one year, Peng Meng made an excuse to not go hunting with the rest of the man. He went to Chang E’s house, cornered her and forced her to give him the pill.

Worried and scared, Chang E did not know what to do, so she ended up just taking the pill herself. She then started rising to the sky, but because she loved her husband Hou Yi so much, she decided to land on somewhere that is the closest to earth–the moon.

Hou Yi came back home and when he found out about this, he was heart-broken. He kept chasing the moon, but whenever he moved forward, the moon mover forward, and whenever he moved backward, the moon moved with him also. He was so desperate but all he could do was to just stare up at the moon with his eyes to try to see if Chang E is there.

Thus, on the 15th of August of the second year, Chang E steps out from her moon palace and watches her husband and families. And the 15th of August became the mid-autumn festival/moon festival where all the families came back home and celebrated together (kinda like thanksgiving).

My mother also told me this tale when I was really little, and every kid just knew because when one attends an event for the moon festivals, there are poster boards that explain the origin of the festival. Unrequited love seem to be a very common theme in chinese stories throughout history. It seems that separation of distance between two lovers are used quite often in chinese folklores.

 

Folk Beliefs
Gestures
Kinesthetic

Pointing at the Moon

If you point your finger at the moon, you would anger the moon, and the deity living on the moon will slice off your ear when you sleep.

The informant is not sure why this is so or who the deity living on the moon is. However, this superstition may be rooted in respecting the deities, and could possibly be linked to the myth of Cháng’é (嫦娥), the Chinese goddess of the moon. She lives on the moon because she had swallowed the elixir of life and became light, floating away from the earth. Her husband Hòu Yì (后羿) was a mortal archer known for shooting down nine of ten suns that were scorching the earth. Cháng’é lives on the moon with a jade rabbit.

It is interesting to note that pointing is disrespectful in cultures all around the world.

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