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The image above is a sketch based on an early stone-rubbing showing one of the ten Chinese suns crossing the heavens.

The Ten Chinese Suns

Antique inscriptional documents tell us how during the time of the Chou dynasty (c. 1027-221 B.C.), Chinese people believed that there existed ten suns that appeared in turn in the sky during the Chinese ten-day week. Each day the ten suns would travel with their mother, the goddess Xi He in a chariot drawn by 6 horse-dragons, to the Valley of the Light in the East. There, Xi He would wash her children in the lake and put them in the branches of an enormous mulberry tree called fu-sang.

From the tree, only one sun would move off into the sky for a journey of one day, to reach the mount Yen-Tzu in the Far West. Tired of this routine, the ten suns decided to appear all together. The combined heat of the ten suns made life on the Earth unbearable. The rocks were melting and the plants withering. To prevent the destruction of the Earth, the emperor Yao, who was ruling in that period, asked Di Jun, the father of the ten suns to persuade his children to appear one at a time.

But the suns did not listen to their father. Finally, Di Jun sent from heaven the archer, Yi, armed with a magic bow and ten arrows to frighten the disobedient suns. However, Yi shot nine suns, letting the three-legged crows hidden in the suns fall to the earth with their breasts perforated by the Yi's arrows.

Only the Sun that we see today remained in the sky, because the emperor wisely sent one of his courtiers to steal an arrow from the archer's quiver. Di Jun was so angry for the death of nine of his children that he condemned Yi to live as an ordinary mortal in the earth.

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