Taiwanese story: Hou Yi and the 10 Suns

Nationality: Taiwanese
Primary Language: Taiwanese/Mandarin
Age: 76
Occupation: Retired, former teacher
Residence: Taipei, Taiwan
Performance Date: 24 March 2024

Tags: hou yi, taiwan, suns, origin, tradition, archer


Once upon a time, there were 10 suns in the sky. One day, they decided to all come out at the same time. The land was scorching and the people were on the brink of death from the heat, so they asked a legendary warrior, Hou Yi, to go and do something about the suns. Hou Yi was a great warrior and archer, but even he saw the difficulty of shooting down 10 celestial entities. He pondered upon how to deal with the suns for some time, and one day, Hou Yi looked down and saw a puddle of water reflecting the 10 suns. Hou Yi then shot arrows at the reflections of 9 suns inside the puddle, causing the real 9 suns in the sky to disappear, leaving only 1 sun so that humanity wouldn’t have an endless night. Thus, that is how and why there is 1 sun in the sky today.


C. is a born and raised Taiwanese citizen, and has told her fair share of stories to her children and grandchildren alike. This story is one of the most famous and commonly known stories in Taiwan and most other East Asian countries, and C. was even surprised when I asked her to tell it again for this class since she knew I had heard it multiple times.


Being one of the oldest stories in Chinese (and thus Asian) folklore, there are a myriad of different details and versions of the story that contest the sequence of events. Some versions include the Jade Emperor being the one to appoint Hou Yi, others include the rooster as the reason the last sun comes back up, and a plethora of other changes/additions. Overall, this is a good example of a common story with various differences being made by various different storytellers over time.