Selection of images from Fragrant Mandarin YouTube videos

The Idiom Story of Chang’e

An old illustration of Chang'e ascending to the moon with tongues of cloud flapping around her

嫦娥奔月| Chang’e flies to the moon

This story includes two of China’s classic celestial heroes, Hou Yi the archer and his mesmerisingly beautiful wife, Chang’e. Read on to see the idiom in Chinese and the version translated into English The idiom story was included within our film: 10 idioms based on Chinese Traditional Festivals.

Chinese Idiom Story (HSK 5/6) and English Translation

传说在古代的天空中曾经有10个太阳,它们同时出来的时候会把大地烤成焦土。后羿是一个射箭能手,他射掉了天上的9个太阳,只留下了一个,大地最终才变回了原来的样子。


chuán shuō zài gǔ dài de tiān kōng zhōng céng jīng yǒu shǐ gè tài yáng , tā men tóng shí chū lái de shí hou huì bǎ dà dì kǎo chéng jiāo tǔ 。 hòu yì shì yí gè shè jiàn néng shǒu , tā shè diào le tiān shàng de jiǔ gè tài yáng , zhǐ liú xià le yí gè , dà dì zuì zhōng cái biàn huí le yuán lái de yàng zi 。 They say in ancient China, the sky used to have 10 suns. When they came out, they would scorch the earth. Hou Yi was an archer. He shot down 9 suns from the sky, leaving just one. The earth was finally able to return to its original form.


因为他的英雄事迹,西天的王母娘娘给他了一颗长生不老的仙药。后羿把仙药交给妻子嫦娥保管。嫦娥是一位非常美丽的女子,那天他丈夫不在家,有一个叫逢蒙的坏人来他们家想偷取仙药。


yīn wèi tā de yīng xióng shì jì , xī tiān de wáng mǔ niáng niang gěi tā le yì kē cháng shēng bù lǎo de xiān yào 。 hòu yì bǎ xiān yào jiāo gěi qī zǐ cháng é bǎo guǎn 。 cháng é shì yí wèi fēi cháng měi lì de nǚ zǐ , nà tiān tā zhàng fū bù zài jiā , yǒu yí gè jiào féng mēng de huài rén lái tā men jiā xiǎng tōu qǔ xiān yào 。 Because of his heroic deeds, the Queen Mother Goddess of Western Heaven (India) gave him an immortality pill. Hou Yi handed over the pill to his wife, Chang’e, to take care of. Chang’e was an extremely beautiful woman. That day her husband wasn’t at home. A villain called Feng Meng came to their house and wanted to still the immortality pill.


嫦娥为了保护仙药情急之下自己拿起药就吞了下去,刚吃完,她的身体就开始不自觉的往上飘。原来仙药可以让她飞,她一直飞到了月亮上的广寒宫。那里只有嫦娥一个人和一只兔子,所以她非常地孤单,每天都在思念着自己的丈夫。


cháng é wèi le bǎo hù xiān yào qíng jí zhī xià zì jǐ ná qǐ yào jiù tūn le xià qù , gāng chī wán , tā de shēn tǐ jiù kāi shǐ bú zì jué de wǎng shàng piāo 。 yuán lái xiān yào kě yǐ ràng tā fēi , tā yì zhí fēi dào le yuè liang shàng de guǎng hán gōng 。 nà lǐ zhǐ yǒu cháng é yí gè rén hé yì zhī tù zi , suǒ yǐ tā fēi cháng de gū dān , měi tiān dōu zài sī niàn zhe zì jǐ de zhàng fū 。 In order to protect the pill, Chang’e hastily grabbed the pill and gulped it down. As soon as she’d eaten the pill, her body begun to float upwards by itself. It turns out the pill could make her fly. She flew directly to the moon’s Moon Palace. There, Chang’e was alone but for a rabbit. So everyday she lonelily longed for her husband.


后来每当中秋节月圆之夜人们都可以看到月亮里有一个女子正在抱着她的兔子暗自伤心。


hòu lái měi dāng zhōng qiū jié yuè yuán zhī yè rén men dōu kě yǐ kàn dào yuè liang lǐ yǒu yí gè nǚ zǐ zhèng zài bào zhe tā de tù zi àn zì shāng xīn 。 Afterwards, whenever the moon is full on Mid-Autumn festival everyone can see that on the moon there's a woman hugging her rabbit, broken hearted and alone.


也有另一个版本…


Du Chinese Chinese reading App for iphone and android

yě yǒu lìng yī gè bǎn běn … There is also another version…


后羿得到仙药以后交给自己的妻子保管,但是嫦娥禁不住诱惑,她趁后羿不注意偷吃了这颗药,然后就变成神仙飞到了月亮上的天宫,王母娘娘因此惩罚她,让她一个人在广寒宫里思过。


hòu yì dé dào xiān yào yǐ hòu jiāo gěi zì jǐ de qī zǐ bǎo guǎn , dàn shì cháng é jīn bú zhù yòu huò , tā chèn hòu yì bú zhù yì tōu chī le zhè kē yào , rán hòu jiù biàn chéng shén xiān fēi dào le yuè liang shàng de tiān gōng , wáng mǔ niáng niang yīn cǐ chěng fá tā , ràng tā yí gè rén zài guǎng hán gōng lǐ sī guò 。 Hou Yi obtained the immortality pill and handed it over to his wife to look after it, but Chang’e was unable to endure the lure of the pill. She took advantage when Hou Yi wasn’t paying attention, then stole and ate the immortality pill. Afterwards she became a celestial being and flew to the moon’s palace. The Queen Mother Goddess therefore punished her and made her reflect on her errors by herself in the Moon Palace.

Good or Evil?

So what do you think - was Chang’e saving the pill from the hands of the fiendish Feng Meng or did she try to steal its power for herself? To see listen to our Chinese Idiom podcast, check out our Patreon!

Join our club (it smells quite nice in here)