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Heng-o and the Twelve Moons in Chinese Mythology - Windows to the Universe

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Detail of an eighteen-century embroidered emperor's robe. In Chinese myth, a white hare was believed to have lived in the moon.
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Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Heng-o and the Twelve Chinese Moons

In ancient times, Chinese people believed that there were twelve Moons as there were twelve months in one year. Likewise, Chinese people believed there were ten Suns as there were ten days in the Chinese week. The mother of the twelve Moons was the same of that of the ten suns.

At the beginning of each month, the mother, Heng-O, washed her children in a lake at the extreme western side of the world. Then each Moon, one after the other would travel in a chariot for a month journey to reach the opposite east side of the world.

There, the Suns would begin their journey. It was believed that the Moons were made of water, and either a hare or a toad were living in their interior.

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