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Faith & Belief
Wu Gang and the Middle Autumm Festival

Wu Gang and the Middle Autumm Festival


Wu Gang, or Wu Kang is a character in Chinese folklore and Taoism. He is known for endlessly cutting down a self-healing Bay Laurel on the Moon. The story has often been associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival. The reason for this remains unclear, although different versions offer several explanations.

The Book of the Master of Huainan, in the Han Dynasty, records that when the Moon waxes, the foot of an immortal grows into a laurel. However, Wu Gang was not mentioned there.

Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang records that the tree was over five hundred chi high, and Wu Gang of Xihe stood under it. It was also recorded that since then, immortals were sent there to chop the laurel when they made a mistake.

In the first version mentioning Wu, Wu saw that his wife and Yandi"s grandson had an affair, and had three sons. As a revenge, Wu murdered Yandi"s grandson. Consequently, Yandi ordered Wu to be banished to the Moon, where he would cut down a laurel. However, the tree healed itself after each blow. Wu was then forced to attempt to chop the tree forever.[2]

Another version features a cherry bay. Wu Gang wished to learn to become an immortal, but he did not try his best. The Jade Emperor was furious, and decided to punish him. The Emperor created a cherry bay on the Moon. Wu Gang was asked to chop it in order to become an immortal. Wu Gang tried to chop the tree but, because of the tree"s self-healing abilities, it was impossible. The shadows on the Moon are said to be created by the cherry bay.

In yet another version, Wu wished to be taught the method of eternal life. He found a teacher in the mountains. When his teacher taught him to heal, he gave up after three days. When he was taught to play Chinese chess, he gave up after two days. When he was taught the method of eternal life, he gave up after a day. His teacher sent him to the Moon to chop down a tree of unnamed species.

 

 
   
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