"The Raven and Archer Yi"
By Shiu L. Kong and Elizabeth K. Wong

These stories explain how the sun and moon became the way they are today.
1. The Downing of the Nine Suns
When the world began, Dijun the Sun God and his wife had ten sons. These sons
were winged birds of fire and served as suns in the sky.
Dijun worked out a schedule so that only one of his sons would be perched on the
Fusong Tree each day, giving off just the right amount of heat and light to the earth.
When it was not their turn, the nine other sons rested in the sea.
One day, having had enough of the monotony of sitting alone in the tree all the time,
the ten sons rebelled against their parents and flew up into the tree together. This brought
disaster to the earth, as the combined rays of the ten suns seared and scorched its surface.
The heat and light were so intense that the earth’s inhabitants had to hide in deep,
dark holes. Even the rocks and metals were slowly melting away. Nothing could escape
the burning rays.
The people of earth prayed to the gods for help. The Sun God and Goddess tried to
persuade their children to stop their nonsense, but to no avail.
However, there was a god by the name of Yi who was very concerned about the
plight of the people. He asked Dijun if he might have permission to shoot the rebels
At first, Dijun was extremely reluctant to allow his sons to be treated in this way.
However, when nothing else worked, he finally consented. He gave Yi a magic bow and
a quiver of red arrows. “Do what you must,” he told Yi, “but please do not hurt my
children any more than is necessary.”
Yi was the best archer of the universe. He was also a compassionate god, and
proposed shooting down the sun birds only because it was the last resort to stop the
suffering on earth.
Yi went down to earth and climbed the highest mountain. He showed the sunbirds his
magic bow, but they ignored his warning as they had ignored all the others.
Left with no alternative, Yi fitted an arrow to his bow. He took aim and let the bolt
An instant later, a ball of fire hurtled down to the ground. The sunlight was dimmed
slightly, and the heat was less overwhelming. When people went to examine the fallen
bird, they saw a huge, three-footed raven lying in a crumpled heap on the ground.
Yi shot down two more suns before he paused. Even though three of their brothers
had been rendered useless, the other firebirds refused to give up.
Yi was angered by their stubbornness, and fired arrow after arrow at the dazzling
sources of light in the sky.
When his fury had subsided, the people on earth counted nine dead ravens on the
ground. Yi had one more arrow in his quiver. If he had used all ten arrows, the people
realized, there would have been no suns left, and no more light or warmth. What a close
call that had been.
The last sun left in the sky learned his lesson from this unnerving event. From then
on he never disobeyed his parents.