How Houyi Shot Down Nine Suns

Houyi, as depicted in Xiao Yuncong's Illustrated 'Inquiry of the Heavens.' (Image:  wikimedia /  CC0 1.0)
Houyi, as depicted in Xiao Yuncong's Illustrated 'Inquiry of the Heavens.' (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Houyi was said to be a god that came to the human world during the time of the pre-historic Emperor Yao. At that time, there were ten suns that rose at the same time over the sky, scorching the earth and withering the crops. Rivers and lakes were drying out. Forest started to burn, driving out monstrous beasts to prey on people. Human life on earth became unbearable.

The suffering in the human world alarmed heaven. The Heavenly Emperor sent Houyi, a masterful archer, to come to the human world to help alleviate human suffering. Carrying a red bow and a bag of white arrows given to him by the Heavenly Emperor, Houyi descended onto the middle earth.

Emperor Yao (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Emperor Yao. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

As soon as he came to earth, Houyi started to travel eastward toward the suns. He climbed 99  mountains, waded 99 rivers, and traversed 99 valleys; then he arrived at the shore of the Eastern Sea. Taking out his bow and arrows, Houyi aimed at the suns and started to shoot. One by one, the suns disappeared from the sky at the shot of Houyi’s arrows. Knowing that people and creatures would need sunlight, Houyi shot down nine suns and left the last one to shine in the sky.

The fiery heat disappeared, replaced with nurturing warmth and a cool breeze. People could breathe again, and the land could grow crop and vegetation again. Houyi traveled all over the land to eliminate the harmful beasts that came out of the forest.

A peaceful life was restored on earth, thanks to Houyi. To award Houyi’s great deed, the Heavenly Emperor conferred on him the title of Divine Warrior.

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