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The goddess, rabbit and other lunar tales: the folklore surrounding China’s moon exploration (3)

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

The mythological white hare making the elixir of immortality on the Moon, from Chinese mythology. Embroidered onto 18th-century Imperial Chinese robes. 

Yutu: Symbol of purity

China’s lunar rover, the first to ever land on the far side of the moon, was named Yutu in August 2018, after the country launched a worldwide poll to find a suitable name. According to Xinhua, a total of 42,945 proposed names were submitted within a month, but Yutu was chosen due to its representation of kindness and purity, reflecting China’s peaceful use of space.

According to Chinese folklore, the jade rabbit used to live in a forest with other animals. One day, the Jade Emperor disguised himself as an old, starving man and begged the jade rabbit for food. Being weak and small, the jade rabbit couldn't help the old man, so instead jumped into the fire so that the old man could eat its flesh.

Moved by the generous gesture, the Jade Emperor (the first god in Chinese mythology) sent the rabbit to the moon, and there he became the immortal Jade Rabbit. The Jade Rabbit was given the job of making the elixir of immortality, and the story goes that the rabbit can still be seen creating the elixir with a pestle and mortar on the moon.


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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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