Hou Yi (Chinese: 后羿; pinyin: Hòu Yì; Wade–Giles: Hou I) was a mythological Chinese archer. He was also known as Shen Yi and simply as Yi (羿). He is sometimes portrayed as a god of archery descended from heaven to aid mankind. His wife, Chang'e, was a lunar deity.
In Chinese lore, when 10 Suns rose from Earth and scorched the fields, turning the world into a wasteland, Houyi shot down 9 of the 10 Suns, leaving the last one alive.
Hou Yi was gifted the pill of immortality by the gods. One of Hou Yi's apprentices called Feng Meng (逢蒙) broke into Hou Yi's house in search of the pill of immortality while Hou Yi was out hunting. His wife Chang'e swallowed the pill before Feng Meng could get it. After eating the pill, Chang'e rose up to the moon.
Hou Yi—usually conflated with the legendary figure in ancient sources—was also a tribal leader of prehistoric China who according to the Bamboo Annals attacked the Xia during the first year of the reign of King Taikang and occupied his capital Zhenxun while Taikang was hunting beyond the Luo River. Houyi was deposed by his lieutenant Han Zhuo in the eighth year of the reign of Taikang's nephew Xiang of Xia.
Houyi takes aim at the Suns (right upper corner), rubbing from the Wu Liang Shrines reliefs
- Mid-Autumn Festival for variants of this legend
- "Chang'e, Chinese Diety". Encyclopedia Britannica. The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
- Goddesses Heroes and Shamans by Scholastic inc., 1994.
- Littleton, C. Scott. Mythology: The Illustrated Anthology of World Myth and Storytelling. Duncan Baird Publishers, London, 2002.