A tale told by the indigenous Thao people who live deep in the mountains in the centre of Taiwan. It tells of the origin of the beautiful Sun Moon Lake’s distinctive name.

Photo: Sun Moon Lake

In a small Thao village hidden deep in the mountains, there once lived a young loving couple.

One day, as the couple and their fellow villagers worked in the fields, the sun, much to everyone’s horror, very suddenly disappeared. Pitched blackness suddenly replaced what had been a bright sunny day. It stayed thus until, ironically, nighttime, when the full moon lit up the night sky.

But then suddenly, it happened again. The moon’s light was doused and pitched blackness returned.

“What’s going on?” Everyone asked as the terrified villages debated what they should do.

Without the sun’s warmth and the moon’s light, crops will not grow and work cannot be done. If things continue thus, all will perish. Something must be done.

Photo: Sun Moon Lake

The young couple volunteered to go search for the missing heavenly orbs. Armed with nothing but a pair of torches, the couple set out.

Over ridges and ravines, the couple came upon a large lake. There, they discovered both the sun and the moon. But the couple was stunned with horror when they got close. In the middle of the lake, they saw the two orbs toyed as playthings by two large dragons.

Whilst they recovered from their shock, an old man, long enslaved by the two serpentine creatures, chanced upon the Thao couple. From him, they learned that atop of the sacred Mt. Ali, two sacred objects—a pair of golden scissors and a golden axe—were buried. These magic tools were imbued with the power to kill the two dragons and return the sun and the moon to the sky.

So the couple set out toward Mt. Ali. There, after much toiling, they unearthed the magic tools, brought them back to the dragons and successfully freed the sun and the moon. Now, however, they faced a new problem—they have no way of returning the orbs to heaven.

Then, the mysterious old man revealed that consuming the eyes of the slain dragons would cause one to become a giant. So the couple obliged. The two grew to great heights. They picked up the sun and the moon and restored them to the sky and restoring the natural order of the world.

Photo: Yachts on Nantou, Taiwan's Sun Moon Lake

Since then, the dragons’ lake came to be called Sun Moon Lake and the couple who became giants transformed into the guardian mountains around this beautiful central Taiwanese lake.

Posted by:Island Folklore

An online repository of Taiwan’s folktales, history, legends, myths and traditions.