Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Allegory — A Moonlit Meadow

A Moonlit Meadow
A Moonlit Meadow | Oil on canvas | 40 by 30 inches

"An elixir, a lady on the moon, a jade rabbit, and an archer.

Perhaps not known to many, Chang’E and Houyi were a pair of of lovers who served the Heavens. She was an attendant to the Queen Mother of the West, while he served the Jade Emperor. Because Houyi had aroused the jealousy of the other immortals, they occasionally slandered him before the Jade Emperor. This eventually led to the downfall of the pair who were subsequently exiled and banished to Earth. On Earth, Houyi hunted to survive, and overtime, became a skillful archer.

It was during this time that ten three-legged bird like creatures had gathered and came to circle Earth. Legend has it that they resided in a mulberry tree in the eastern sea, and were actually suns that took the form of the queer creatures. Each day by practice, one of the sun birds would travel around the world on a carriage that was driven by its mother. With this routine altered, the coming together of the ten suns created such intense heat that caused the Earth to burn.

The emperor of China had seek for the reputable archer and commanded Houyi to use his skill to shoot down all but one of the suns. When Houyi successful completed the task, the emperor rewarded him with a pill that granted eternal life. He was advised to prepare himself by praying and fasting for a year before taking it. The archer took the pill home and hid it under a rafter.

During Houyi's absence, his wife noticed a white beam of light beckoning from the rafters and discovered the hidden pill. She swallowed it instantaneously and found herself levitating off the grounds. Houyi returned home and found his wife flying out of the window and up into the sky.

Houyi pursued Chang'E halfway across the heavens but was forced to return to Earth because the winds were too overpowering. Chang'E eventually reached the moon, where she coughed up part of the pill. She pleaded with the jade rabbit that resided on the moon, to make another elixir which could enable her to return to Earth.

It is said that the jade rabbit is still pounding herbs, trying to make the elixir.

The distraught husband later on built himself a palace in the sun, and once every year, on the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, Houyi visits his wife. This is the reason why the moon is very exceptionally full and beautiful on this night."

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