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Another Story for the Mid-Autumn Festival: Wu Gang and The Jade Rabbit

2016-09-30 10:00:21Share:

  Wu Gang Chopping the Cherry Bay Tree — He Could Never Cut It Down


  You can see there’s a shadow on the moon when you look at it on a clear night. The scientists have proved that the shadow is actually mountains that were generated by a meteor, but a Chinese legend says that is the shadow of a huge tree on the moon.


  How The Story Goes …


  Wu Gang (/woo gung/) was an ordinary person wanting to become immortal, but he didn't work very hard at learning the necessary theurgy.


  Due to Wu Gang’s attitude, the Emperor of Heaven got angry and decided to punish him, he planted a huge cherry bay tree which was 1,665 meters (5,460 feet) high on the moon and ordered Wu Gang to cut it down. If Wu Gang could cut it down, his wish of becoming immortal could be granted.


  Wu Gang became very serious this time and worked hard on chopping down the tree, but he could never finish the work. The cherry bay healed itself every time after Wu Gang chopped it. Wu Gang wouldn't give up, trying harder and harder, and he’s still trying till now. Therefore, people can see a shadow on the moon on clear nights. This is the huge cherry bay.



  The Jade Rabbit — Self-Sacrifice Rewarded


  Related to the Mid-Autumn Festival and the moon, the jade rabbit is also a widespread character. The Chinese believe that the jade rabbit is a companion to Chang'e on the moon.


  How The Story Goes …


  There lived three animals in a forest: a fox, a rabbit, and a monkey.


  The Emperor of Heaven wanted to test the animals' virtues one day, so he came to Earth and changed his appearance to an old man.


  He said, "I heard that you three are very good friends, so I came a long way to meet you. Now I’m very hungry. What will you offer me?"


  "Please wait here. We will go find food for you." Then the three animals went their separate ways to find food.


  The fox caught a fish in a river; the monkey got fruit in the forest; but the rabbit got nothing and came back with nothing.


  The old man said, "It seems that you three didn’t unite to work together. You two kept your promise and brought back food. But the rabbit hasn't brought back anything."


  The rabbit felt very sorry. "Please help me to get some firewood. I want to cook some food for him," she said to the fox and monkey.


  After they set the firewood on the fire, the rabbit said, "Sorry I didn't fulfill my promise. But I can give myself to you. Eat me, please!" and the rabbit jumped into the fire.


  The Emperor of Heaven was deeply touched by the rabbit. He picked up its bones and said, "I was so touched. I will let her go to the Moon Palace to honor her, so that people can see her forever."



  Chinese Names, Pronunciations, and Meanings


  Hou Yi: 后羿 Hòu Yì /hoh ee/ '[surname Hou] + [name of legendary archer, Yi]'


  Chang'e: 嫦娥 Cháng'é /chung-er/ '[the Moon Lady] + beautiful'


  Pang Meng: 逄蒙 Páng Méng /pung mnng/ '[surname Pang] + [to cover/receive/cheat]'


  Wu Gang: 吴刚 Wú Gāng /woo gung/ '[surname Wu] + strong'

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