Chang-e’s Ascent to the Moon
Chang-e is the lunar goddess in Chinese traditional myths. In China, she is a widely known character. She is known as a very beautiful woman who is living alone in a palace in the moon called “Guanghan Palace”. Her story is one of the most famous tragedies in Chinese myths. Recently there are several “retold” versions of the story of Chang-e’s ascent to the moon in different media.
In 2010, there was a teleplay named “Chang-e” that told about the love story of Chang-e, Houyi, Wugang and Jade Rabbit. In the retold story, the relationship of these four persons is very complicated at the beginning. Later on, Houyi falls in love with Chang-e and Wugang is ...view middle of the document...
People believe Chang-e has become the goddess of moon after hearing of the story, so they follow Houyi and pray to her. This is the origin of worship to Chang-e on Mid-Autumn Festival.
Although there are many myths in ancient China, Chang-e’s story becomes one of the most famous. People have retold it for thousands of years. It is because of the “Yin Yang” culture in China. “Yin” means negative, dark, cold or female, etc. Chinese people believe the moon belongs to “Yin”, and it is the most “Yin” thing in the universe. Also, Chinese people think the moon is beautiful but lonely and cold because of the nature of Yin. So, people believed that the deity of the moon should be also beautiful, female and alone. In the story, Chang-e is a young and very beautiful woman. Her image fits people’s thinking of the moon. Her husband Houyi is a hero with great power and good at archery. He shot down 9 suns. Although these two persons are nearly perfect, their love story is a tragedy. People always remember those sad and beautiful love stories. This is the reason why tragedies are always retold again and again. Also, Chinese think that the wanes and full of the moon hint the parting and meeting of families or lovers. As the great poet Su Shi said, “People have sorrow and joy, they part and meet again and again. There are wanes and full of the moon, it is sometimes covered and it sometimes shines. These are always regrets since the olden days.” This impression fits the situation of Chang-e and Houyi. They are separated but still can meet in the night with full moon. On another hand, ancient Chinese were very curious about the moon. They thought the moon was beautiful but mysterious, and they always imaged the nature and story of the moon, and tried to get some ideas to go to the moon. From a long time ago, there are so many literary works talking about the moon. Ancient Chinese reposed their thinking on the story of Chang-e’s ascent to the moon, and retell the myth again and again. The popularity of the story of Chang-e shows ancient Chinese people’s eagerness and willingness to explore the moon. Even though they had no abilities to go to the moon, they tried to pass the idea to posterity, and that really comes true recently.
In the past several decades, the space flight technology has developed significantly. Nowadays, it allows humans to go onto the moon already. In 2007, the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) was launched, and the program is also named “Chang-e Program”. The lunar orbiters and lunar landers launched in this program are all named “Chang-e 1”, “Chang-e 2”, etc. The naming of the program and orbiters and landers hints that the Chinese people’s dream of going to the moon finally comes true. Chinese people can finally set foot on the moon back like the lunar goddess, Chang-e.
In contemporary China, the influence of the story of...