Houyi

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Houyi shooting the suns
Houyi takes aim at the suns (right upper corner), rubbing from the Wu Liang shrines reliefs

Houyi (后羿), formerly romanized as Hou-i, was a mythological Chinese archer. He was also known as Shenyi 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 the Earth and scorched the fields, turning the world into a wasteland, Houyi shot down 9 of the 10 suns, leaving the last one alive.

A Houyi—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 King Xiang.

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  • 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.