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Home  |  Mortals   |  Asian Mortals   |  Chinese Mortals   |  Hou Yi : The Master Archer

Hou Yi : The Master Archer

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At a glance

Description
Origin Chinese Mythology
Classification Mortals
Family Members Chang e (Wife)
Region China
Associated With Archery, Sun, Moon

Hou Yi

Introduction

In Chinese mythology, Hou Yi is the Lord Archer, who was widely recognized due to his ability to use a bow and arrow. He saved the country from various plagues, including a wind monster, by using his bow and arrow.

According to legend, Hou Yi was able to shoot down around 8 of the suns that were burning the Earth during the prehistoric era. Although he is usually regarded as an officer in Ku’s army, he is more widely known as the husband of Moon goddess Chang’e.

Chang’e took the pill of immortality and went to the moon. Hou chased after her, but he was stopped by the divine Hare. On the 15 days of each lunar month, the spouses meet, and Hou Yi traveles from his palace in Sun to the moon palace that he built for his wife.

Physical Traits

Hou Yi is a young man who is described as being incredibly strong. He carries a bow made of tiger bones, and his arrows were made using dragon tendons. In art, Hou Yi often appears as a soldier wearing a traditional outfit.

Family

Hou Yi married Chang’e, who later betrayed him and became the moon goddess. In Chinese mythology, both of these characters are popular, but little is known about their families. Hou Yi was given the gift of immortality by Xiwangmu, who wanted to reward him for his efforts. He was given a bottle of the moon goddess’s elixir, which he could use to become a god. However, Hou Yi did not want to let his wife die alone and secretly stored the bottle away.

Hou Yi was sleeping when Chang’e stole the vial containing the pill of immortality. She then drank the contents of it and went to the moon to escape his anger. Hou Yi was so upset that he aimed his bow at his wife, but he could not shoot her down. After his anger had finally gone, Hou Yi would leave out fruits and desserts for his wife to show that he was forgiven. This practice continues during the modern era where people would leave offerings to Chang’e during the Mid-Autumn festival.

Other names

Hou Yi’s name is composed of the Chinese words for “monarch” and “yi,” which is a character in his name. In ancient Chinese texts, he has been referred to simply as Yi.

Powers and Abilities

There are various myths about Hou Yi, with some of them stating that he descended from the heavens. Others state that he is a mortal man who is trying to gain immortality. In Chinese mythology, the suns were 10 and they would move across the sky, but one day, all of them came out at once and burned the Earth. Hou Yi was tasked with reining in the suns, and he tried to reason with them. After failing to do so, he took out his bow and started to shoot them.

Hou Yi continued to shoot at the suns that didn’t heed his warnings. As they fell, they became 3 legged ravens also known as Sanzuwu. After all but one of them was killed, King Yao and Xihe asked Hou Yi to spare the remaining sun for the benefit of man. In some variants, the arrow was stolen by a brave boy or a man who believed that the land required a sun. In many versions of this myth, instead of the suns, Hou Yi shot down the Sanzuwu.

He is known for killing and imprisoning various mythical beasts, such as the Zaochi, Xiushe, and the Dafeng. He was directed by King Yao to attack these creatures due to how they were causing trouble to humans.

Modern Day Influence

Various films, plays, and TV shows have been made based on the story of Hou Yi and Chang’e. One of these is the Chinese drama series “Moon Fairy,” which is about their whirlwind romance. The Shen Yun Performing Arts group has a routine dedicated to Hou Yi.

In the mobile RPG game Dislyte, Hou Yi’s ability to shoot down multiple suns is featured. In the light novel Second Life, a character named Jang Wei is said to be a follower of Hou Yi. In 2016, Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s “Mousao Zushi” referenced the mythology of Hou Yi by introducing the Sunshot Campaign. The story features a powerful clan that seemingly cannot be defeated, and the lesser clans that are against them will attempt to take down the sun.

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Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.
Disclaimer: While it is the intention of Mythlok and its editors to keep all the information about various characters as mythologically accurate as possible, this site should not be considered mythical, legendary or folkloric doctrine in any way. We welcome you using this website for any research, journal or study but citing this website for any academic work would be at your own personal risk.