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The goddess, rabbit and other lunar tales: the folklore surrounding China’s moon exploration (2)

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    10:00, January 11, 2019

Chang'e and the jade rabbit.

Chang’e: Tragic moon goddess

The Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) is also known as the Chang’e Project. As China’s moon goddess, Chang’e possessed breathtaking beauty and immortal youth, but in exchange, she lost her beloved husband forever.

Living in a very distant past, Chang’e and her husband, a skilled archer named Yi, had a wonderful life together. However, one day, ten suns rose into the sky and scorched the earth, taking millions of lives. Yi shot down nine of them, leaving only one sun to serve the people, and thus he was rewarded by the gods with the elixir of immortality.

Reluctant to enjoy immortality without his wife, Yi decided to hide the elixir. However, one day, while Yi was out hunting, his apprentice broke into his house and forced Chang’e to give him the elixir. To prevent the thief from obtaining it, Chang’e drank the elixir instead, and flew up to the moon to begin her immortal life. Though devastated, Yi displayed fruits and cakes his wife had liked during the full moon, and that’s how China’s Moon Cake Festival came to be.

Though a sad story, Chang’e has inspired generations of Chinese scientists to explore the secrets of her moon palace. As of 2018, China is in the preliminary stages of research for a crewed lunar landing mission in 2030. Perhaps, in the foreseeable future, people will fly back to the moon and save the goddess from her eternal loneliness.


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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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