What is the myth that Hou Yi shot the sun? Is Hou Yi and Yi the same person?

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Fairy tales are always full of fantasy. Listening to the myths and legends left by our ancestors is a kind of spiritual sustenance and yearning for ideals, which helps us understand Chinese classical culture. Today, the editor of China story net has brought you an article. Welcome to read it~

Such as “Pangu opens the sky”, “Nuwa creates people”, “Kuafu chases the sun”, “Jingwei fills the sea”, etc. Among them, there is a character named Hou Yi in “Chang’e flying to the moon” and “Hou Yi shooting at the sun”. In addition, there is a legend of “Yi” in Chinese history. The myth is easy to be confused in the process of Folk Circulation for a long time. In fact, Yi and Hou Yi are completely different figures, and have been misunderstood by the people for a long time. This article starts with “Hou Yi shooting at the sun” and “Chang’e running to the moon”, and discusses the long-term misunderstanding of “Yi” by Chinese people.

I. specious: who are Yi and Hou Yi?

Yi, the Chinese character meaning is: birds spread their wings and whirlwind upward. In ShuoWenJieZi, Yi means:

Yi, Emperor Yao, shot officials.

In the “Yao” period of “Yao, Shun and Yu”, there was an official position called Shezheng, whose chief officer was Yi, who was famous for his skill in shooting. It is recorded in Guanzi:

Yi, who was good at shooting in ancient times, reconciled his bow and arrow and stuck to it. It is necessary for him to exercise his bow and judge his superiority and inferiority.

It is said here that Yi was very good at shooting in ancient times. He took bows and arrows, adjusted the strength of the bow, and shot 100 times.

In the “songs of Chu”, there is also a record of Yi, saying:


Yi is good at shooting and boating. All of them are doomed to death.

To sum up, Yi was an official under Yao, one of the “Five Emperors”, who was good at archery. He shot hundreds of arrows. He was a real historical figure, not a mythical figure.

In addition to the Yi mentioned above, there are other Yi in history. In the Zuo Zhuan:

Yi lived in a land of poverty and stone, so he took poverty as his country name and was worthy of it. As the saying goes, there are weeks and summers. Later, the king of the poor country was called Yi, which was called the poor king.

That is to say, in the Xia Dynasty, there was a tribe in the land of poor rocks, which took poverty as the country name and added the word “you”, so it became Youqiong. The monarchs (tribal leaders) of all dynasties with the surname of Qiong were called Yi. It should be noted that:

First, the Xia Dynasty was established later than before. This Yi is different from the Yi in the Yao era.

Second, Yi here refers to the monarch of the tribe with a poor surname, not just one person, but all monarchs.

Because Yi in the Yao period was first, and Yi in the Xia Dynasty was second to the king of the poor family, some people called the king of the poor family “Hou Yi” and Yi in the Yao period “Yi” or “great Yi”. It is recorded in historical records – xiabenji:

Emperor Yi had a poor surname. He had never heard of his predecessor. He was Emperor Yao and above. The world’s palm shot right, reaching Yao, and was given a tong bow and a plain arrow… Through Yu and Xia.

According to Sima Qian, Hou Yi in the Xia Dynasty and Da Yi in the Yao period were related by blood. However, this statement has not been mentioned in other historical books, so it remains to be tested.

It can be seen from the above discussion that Yi was born earlier than his descendants. Yi is good at shooting, and his descendants are the monarchs of the poor tribe. Moreover, the descendants do not refer to a person.

II. Houyi shooting at the sun: isn’t Houyi shooting at the sun?

The story of Hou Yi shooting at the sun is well known. It roughly means that there are 10 suns in the sky, the crops die, the sea water dries up, and the beasts in the Sea run to the shore, endangering the people. Hou Yi shot nine arrows with a bow, leaving only one sun, forming day and night, and people were able to survive.

The story of “Hou Yi shooting at the sun”, which is well known to women and children, is actually a misinformation, because the person shooting at the sun is not Hou Yi, but Da Yi. According to the book of mountains and seas – autumn water:

Yi shoots nine days and falls to wojiao.

In Huainan Zi, the description is more detailed, saying:


When Yao was captured, he came out at the same time in ten days. He scorched the grain and killed the grass and trees, but the people had nothing to eat… Yao made Yi kill and chisel his teeth in the field of chouhua, shooting ten times.

It should be noted that “Huainan Zi” means that there are 10 suns in the sky, but they appear in turn, and only one appears every day. In the Yao period, 10 suns suddenly appeared at the same time, and Yao ordered Yi to shoot out 9.

In the famous book of Chu Ci in the pre Qin period, there is a similar description, saying:

In Yao’s time, ten days came together, and the vegetation was scorched. Yao ordered Yi to shoot for ten days, nine of them, and all of them died. Their wings fell, so they stayed for one day.

Both Huainanzi and Chuci clearly point out that shooting the sun took place in the Yao period. In other words, Yi here refers to the “great Yi” of the Yao period, not “Hou Yi”. Therefore, although “Hou Yi shoots the sun” is a myth, the real protagonist should be “Yi”. Therefore, the story should be “big Yi shoots the sun” or “Yi shoots the sun”, which has nothing to do with Hou Yi.

III. Chang’e rushes to the moon: which “Yi” is Chang’e’s husband?

The myth of Chang’e flying to the moon is closely related to China’s Mid Autumn Festival, so it is well-known. In the traditional story of Chang’e running to the moon, people think that Chang’e’s husband is Hou Yi. The explanation of “Chang’e” in Cihai is:

Hou Yi’s wife she. It is said that she rose to the Moon Palace and became a fairy because she secretly took the immortal medicine. In order to avoid the taboo of Emperor Wen of Han Dynasty (Liuheng), the literati of Han Dynasty changed the word “Yi” to “Chang”.

In other words, according to the commonly used entries in Cihai, it is generally believed that Chang’e’s husband is Hou Yi. According to this statement, Chang’e’s husband is the monarch of the poor family. The earliest record about Chang’e appeared in Guizang. Guizang was unearthed in Jiangling, Hubei Province in 1993. It, along with Zhouyi and Lianshan, has become an ancient “three changes” with a long history. Among them, Guizang records that:

Return to me and say: the former constant self (Chang’e) steals and does not die ? rushes to the moon, while the coins occupy ? ? has yellow. Huang zhanzhi said, “good luck.”.

It is recorded here that Chang’e’s flying to the moon was an auspicious omen at that time, and there was no love story in it.

In the Western Han Dynasty, Huainanzi processed the story into:

Yi invited the medicine of immortality to the queen mother of the west, and Yi’s wife Chang’e stole it to the moon, holding her body to the moon. It was for the toad, but for the essence of the moon.

In other words, Yi got the elixir of immortality from the queen mother. His wife Chang’e secretly took it and ran to the moon. She became a toad in the Moon Palace. The “Yi” in this article is the same as the Yi in the Yao period quoted above, that is to say, Chang’e’s husband Yi is the Yi in the Yao period, and should be a great Yi, not Hou Yi.

It is also recorded in astronomy records of the later Han Dynasty:

Yi asked for the medicine of no death to the queen mother of the west, and she stole it to run to the moon.

The Yi mentioned here is also a great Yi, not a descendant.


To sum up, although the story of Chang’e flying to the moon is well-known, it is easy to be regarded as Hou Yi by Yi because it has been circulating in the folk for a long time. The explanations of general terms, including Cihai, confuse it. Besides, folk literature can not be easily distinguished. But in fact, the hero of the story of Chang’e running to the moon should be Da Yi, and it has nothing to do with Hou Yi.

IV. Zhang Guan and Li Dai: why is Hou Yi so famous?

In this way, the hero of the stories of Hou Yi shooting at the sun and Chang’e flying to the moon should be big Yi, not Hou Yi. The question is, isn’t Hou Yi famous in history? No, although Hou Yi doesn’t mean a person, the most famous Hou Yi is enough to leave a page in history books.

At the beginning of this article, it is mentioned that Hou Yi was a monarch of the poor family in the Xia Dynasty, and he should be a courtier of the emperor of the Xia Dynasty. The origin of the Xia Dynasty can be traced back to the Dayu period. Dayu made meritorious contributions to flood control and received the concession of Emperor Shun. However, Xiaqi, the son of Dayu (below), changed “the public world” into “the family world”, and established the Xia Dynasty from then on. The Xia Dynasty was composed of many tribes, including Houyi’s Youqiong family.

According to the records in historical records Xia Benji, the lineage of the emperor in the previous generations of the Xia Dynasty should be Dayu – Xiaqi (Dayu Zi) – Taikang (xiaqizi) – Zhongkang (brother of Taikang) – Xiang (zhongkangzi). Zuo Zhuan said:

Hou Yi replaced Xia government with Xia people. Du Yu said: “Yu sun Taikang, who lost his country by prostitution, was made his younger brother Zhongkang by the Xia people. Zhongkang was also weak. Zhongkang died, his son was made up, and Yi attacked the prime minister. The name was poor.”

That is to say, at the time of Xia Qi, his son Taikang was obscene and immoral. The Minister of the Xia Dynasty made Zhongkang, Taikang’s younger brother, the son of heaven. After Zhongkang’s death, his son Xiang was made the son of heaven. At this time, Hou Yi began to crusade against Xiang in the name of Youqiong tribe.

After years of struggle, Hou Yi defeated the emperor of the Xia Dynasty and succeeded in replacing him. However, according to the book of history, Hou Yi did not replace the emperor of Xia Dynasty, but became a powerful minister. In other words, Hou Yi had become a powerful official in the Xia Dynasty. However, the good times did not last long. Hou Yi acted recklessly by relying on his power in the Xia Dynasty and lost the support of the ministers. Shaokang, the posthumous son of Xiang, made great efforts to kill the Hou Yi people and recapture the power of the Xia Dynasty. Zuo Zhuan said:

“After the death of Hou Yi, Shaokang was established. After the death of Hou Yi, he destroyed the enemy and the enemy. When he was poor, he died.”.

That is, after Hou Yi died, Shaokang recovered the country. The Youqiong family represented by Hou Yi was completely destroyed.

To sum up, Hou Yi was also a minister of Huo Guang style in the history of the Xia Dynasty, who could lead the abolition of the emperor and the power of the court and the people. Therefore, Hou Yi is so famous.

V. eliminating the false and preserving the true: Yi and Hou Yi must be distinguished

After discussing that Yi and Hou Yi are different concepts, it is pointed out that the hero of “Hou Yi shooting at the sun” and “Chang’e flying to the moon” should be Yi, not Hou Yi. However, Hou Yi was once famous in history, but because “Hou Yi” and “Yi” have similar names and great fame, it is easy for people to put the story of Yi on his head, so there is a long-term misunderstanding. Disclaimer: the above content originates from the Internet, and the copyright belongs to the original author. Please inform us if your original copyright is infringed, and we will delete the relevant content as soon as possible.

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