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at the Lunar and Planetary Institute
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The Vanishing Sun
Eclipse Tales from Around the World

Eclipse animations by Rice University



These multi-cultural eclipse folktales were researched and recorded by professional storytellers Cassandra Wye and Fran Stallings at the request of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, to engage a variety of audiences, particularly in preparation for the August 21 2017 Total Solar Eclipse.  The storytellers learned these stories from a variety of people and obtained their permission to tell these stories, sometimes traveling great distances to do so.* Although the stories may have humorous elements, our intent is to respect the cultures of origin and their traditions.  We ask that discussions of the stories incorporate this respect.

Please enjoy them and share them with your audiences!
Support for the eclipse stories provided by the Institute for Science of Exploration Targets node of the Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute located at Southwest Research Institute.





 

Folktales


Shooting Down the Sun (Chinese story, Asia)
For 4 –14 years, as told by Cassandra Wye
Video with subtitles and with ASL sign interpretation
When the world began there were SIX suns in the sky and it was just too hot! One man sets out to shoot down the extra suns - but the sixth sun does not agree with his plan. A light hearted explanation of the origin of solar eclipses, especially designed for ASL users and the deaf community worldwide.
Source: The original tale was shared with Cassandra Wye by the Cantonese community of Birmingham, UK. This eclipse variant is attributed to Hmong people.
 
When Jaguars Ate the Moon (Toba story, South America)
For 4 –14 years, as told by Cassandra Wye
Nighttime in the Amazon rainforest - everyone is asleep - except for the hungry Jaguars who are wondering whether the Moon is edible or not … A lighthearted explanation of why the Moon turns red during a lunar eclipse.
Source: When Jaguars Ate the Moon by Maria Cristina Brusca, Published by Henry Holt New York.
Mink and Sun (Kwakiutl story, United States)*
For 4 –14 years, as told by Fran Stallings
Know-it-all Mink thinks he can trick Sun out of a job, but rudely rejects advice. What happens when he must cross the River of Stars? A lighthearted explanation of the origin of solar eclipses.
Source:  "Mink and Sun" #585 Mythology of the Bella Coola Indians, Franz Boaz 1898. Emerson N. Matson also heard it from Chief Martin J. Sampson of the Puget Sound Swinomish: Longhouse Legends, Thomas Nelson Sons 1968.
Stealing the Sun (Korean story, Asia)
For younger listeners 4 –7 years, as told by Cassandra Wye
Far, far away from the Planet Earth lies the world of darkness, where the people are desperate for light. The King sends his faithful dog to steal our Sun, but the brave people of Korea await … A light hearted explanation of why solar and lunar eclipses occur.
Source: The Story Bag by Kim So-un. Published by Charles Tuttle Company, USA
Setting Free the Sun (Mayan story, Central America)
For younger listeners 7 –10 years, as told by Cassandra Wye
A young boy plots to capture to the Sun but will his big sister be able to foil his plans? A lighthearted explanation of the origin of solar eclipses.
Source: Fiesta Femenina by Mary Joan Gerson. Published by Barefoot Books, UK
Heavenly Sweethearts (Thai story, Asia)
For 7 –14 years, as told by Fran Stallings
When Sun King loses his heart to princess Beautiful Dawn, the jealous Stars steal his golden chariot. What will he have to do to get it back? A light-hearted romance explaining solar eclipses, and the origin of gold and silver and of the Moon.
Source: "The Heavenly Lovers" in The Elephant's Bathtub: Wonder Tales from the Far East by Frances Carpenter, E.M.Hale & Co. 1967.
Daughter of the Sun (Cherokee story, United States)*
For 7 –14 years, as told by Fran Stallings
Sun Woman's heat almost destroys the Cherokee people but their retaliation backfires, killing her daughter. Can they bring her back from the Land of Ghosts? A poignant, eerie tale explaining not just solar eclipses and the origin of rattlesnake and redbird, but also why we can't bring our loved ones back from the Land of Ghosts.
Source: "The Daughter of the Sun" in History, Myths, and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees collected by James Mooney in the 1890's; 1992 edition by Bright Mountain Books.
Amaterasu (Japanese story, Asia)
For 7 –14 years, as told by Fran Stallings
Furious at the cruel destruction caused by her storm god brother Susano-wo, the goddess of the Sun locks herself in a cave. How can she be lured out? For hundreds of years, the Emperors of Japan were said to be direct descendants of goddess Amaterasu. A jeweled bronze mirror was part of every emperor's royal regalia.
Source: ancient Japanese Shinto myths recorded in the Kojiki (ca. 712 C.E.) and Nihon Shoki (ca. 720 C.E.). See Myths of China and Japan, edited by Doonald A MacKenzie, Avenal Books 1985.
The Buried Moon (British story, Europe)
For older listeners 11 –14 year, as told by Cassandra Wye
A man is trapped in the deadly marshes of England. The Moon sets out to rescue him but is trapped in turn. Who will be brave enough or foolish enough to try and free the Moon? An eerie ghost-like tale of a lunar eclipse – for those who like scary stories.
Source: These Old Stories by Kevin Crossley Holland. Published by Colt Books UK
The Sun and Moon at War (Batammaliba story, Africa)
For older listeners 11 –14 years, as told by Cassandra Wye
The Sun and Moon were once the best of friends. But after the Sun tricks the Moon, the Moon plots a terrible revenge… A hard-hitting tale of the origins of solar and lunar eclipses – and the horrors of war.
Source: Kindly contributed by Grace Wangari, Zamaleo Sigana Story Theatre, Kenya

Literary Tales

The Tale of Oona Manna retold – written by Cassandra Wye (modified from a Zulu folktale, Africa)
For younger listeners 4 –11 years, as told by Cassandra Wye
Everyone listened to Oona Manna except for her argumentative children! As the solar eclipse approaches, Oona Manna finds a way to trick her children to stop arguing, but will it succeed …
Source: The Tale of Oona Manna, Zulu folktale, told to Cassandra by UK storyteller, Wendy Wharam
Fisher Frees the Sun – An original folktale by Lynn Moroney (modified from an Anishabe story, United States)
For listeners 7 –14 years, as told by Lynn Moroney
The Sun has been trapped. Who will release it -- or die trying?
A quiet, poignant tale of bravery and sacrifice, explaining origin of Solar Eclipse and the constellation "Fisher" (Big Dipper). Lynn notes that this was an Anishabe tale about the seasons: Fisher brought warm weather back from the sky land by chewing a hole in the barrier between sky and Earth, letting in just enough of sky’s warmth for half a year. See "How Fisher Went to the Skyland: The Origin of the Big Dipper" in Keepers of the Earth by Michael J. Caduto and Joseph Bruchac, Fulcrum Inc, 1988.
Source: Recorded by Lynn Moroney on her CD Feather Moon: American Indian Star Tales © 1988, used with permission; with Plains Indian Flute composed and performed by Michael Graham Allen.

Eclipse Activities

Encourage students to write their own eclipse story or design eclipse art, or conduct another eclipse art project.
Additional Eclipse activities and resources are available at NASA’s 2017 eclipse website

Credits:

Many people contributed to the making of Cassandra’s and Fran’s video and audio recordings including:

Cassandra Wye and Fran Stallings would like to thank them all for their help in this production.