Kua Fu

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For the Chinese space program, see Kuafu project.
Kua Fu from a 17th-century print of the Shanhaijing, after original drawing by Hu Wenhuan.[1]

Kua Fu or Kuafu (Chinese: 夸父) is a giant in Chinese mythology who wished to capture the Sun.[2] He was a grandson of Houtu.[3]


One day, Kuafu decided to chase and catch the Sun. With each stride he gets closer to the Sun, however, he could never catch up to it.

He followed the Sun from the East to the West, draining all rivers and lakes crossing his path as sources of water to quench his burning thirst as he closed in on the star. However, he wasn't able to finish his quest because he died of the extreme heat and exhaustion.

The wooden club he was carrying grew into a vast forest.[citation needed] In one version, Kua Fu turns into a mountain range.[4]

In modern Chinese usage, the story of Kua Fu chasing the Sun (夸父追日) is used to describe a person who fails to obtain his goal because he greatly overestimates himself.


"Kua Fu" can also be taken to refer to his people, the Kuafu-shi (s 夸父氏) or "Clan of Kuafu". Since shi can mean both "clan" and "maiden name" and serve as a masculine honorific like "mister" or "sir", it is sometimes used in reference to his people, sometimes in reference to the individual.

During the battle of Banquan, Chi You's tribes allied themselves with the Kua Fu tribe and the Sanmiao (三苗) tribe and attacked the Yan Emperor's tribe, driving them into the lands of the Yellow Emperor.

See also[edit]

  • Icarus, comparative character in Greek mythology
  • Kuafu project, Chinese space program named after Kuafu


  • Yang, Lihui, et al. (2005). Handbook of Chinese Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533263-6


  1. ^ Yang, 154
  2. ^ "Chinese Myth". Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-05-25. 
  3. ^ Yang, 155 and 263
  4. ^ Friedman, Amy; Johnson, Meredith (2014-07-20). "Kua Fu Chases the Sun (A Chinese Folktale)". uexpress. Retrieved 2014-07-20.