Chang E Flees to the Moon

David Leffman Uncategorized, woodblock, Woodblock print Leave a Comment

A lively, colourful print from 1930s Shanghai showing Chang E fleeing the wrath of her husband, Hou Yi, and escaping to the moon.

Hou Yi is described in the frankly insane Chinese bestiary, the Shan Hai Jing, as a mighty archer with a red bow and short white arrows. In mythology, he’s famous for shooting down nine extra suns which had been scorching the Earth, for which he was given the elixir of immortality.

But Chang E ate the elixir and then escaped to the moon, where she lives in the cold palace alongside the white moon hare. She’s celebrated during the Autumn moon festival, when round mooncakes are eaten in her honour.

I bought this thinking it was a woodblock, but it’s machine-printed – a fairly early example of this process in China. What makes it interesting – to me, at any rate – is that it was yet another example of folk art collected by the Reverend Hallock, and came with one of his long letters describing the legend behind the picture.

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