Houyi and Sun

Genre: verbal lore

Category: mythology

Collection date: Apr.27th, 2022

Main piece:  

Original script:


Full translation:

“Once upon a time, there were ten suns in the sky. It was so hot. People could no longer live under such hot temperatures, and the crops could not grow anymore. There was a hero, named Houyi. He took a bow and some arrows and shoot nine suns down from the sky. There was only one sun in the sky, and people live happily ever after.”

Contextual data:

Social context:

The informant learned this story from a storybook when he was a child. This is a well-known story that people would bring up when thinking about traditional Chinese folktales. It is one story that kids in China would learn about from either storybooks or their parents. The story is usually narrated as a heroic story. It has some educational values for children. 

Cultural context:

The informant has a mixed cultural background of northern and southern Chinese. He defines himself to have a stronger connection with northern China, specifically Beijing. 

Informant’s comment:

“This is a story that I don’t have much thought about. It is a tale, a myth. In all cultures in the world, there was a certain time period when people believe in these magical things. When I was a child, I really wanted to go back to this magical world.”

My comment: 

This story shows people’s desire in having a hero or savior to resolve their problems. In the past, people had little control over natural phenomena, and they resolve these problems by creating stories to explain, rationalize, and imagine a solution.