Zhang E is the wife of Yi, the divine archer in Chinese mythology. She is one of the goddesses of the moon, and is generally depicted as a beautiful woman with a gold crown and colourful robes, holding the moon in her right hand.
Zhang E features in the stories about her husband Yi and the 10 suns. In the stories, ancient China had a 10 day week and also 10 suns, so each sun appeared for one day a week. However it didn't take long for the other nine suns to become jealous of whichever sun appeared on a given day, so they all crowded out each day. The earth suffered under the light and heat of 10 suns and drought was imminent. Yi was called upon to come and shoot 9 of the suns out of the sky, which he did.
But for doing this, Yi and Zhang E were turned into humans by the Lord of Heaven, and banished to earth. Zhang E was very unhappy and decided to visit Xi Wang Mu to try and persuade her to help make the couple immortal again (see my post X is for... Xi Wang Mu). Zhang E was given a small pot of the elixir of immortal life – enough for two people to live on earth forever, or for one person to become a god once more.
Yi wanted to share the elixir, but Zhang E wanted it all for herself. However she didn't want to be punished by the other gods for her selfishness so she consulted an astrologer, who told her that the best place for her to drink the elixir would be the moon, as there the gods would be unable to touch her. He also told her that she would also become a different creature on her way to the moon.
She drank the elixir and began the journey to the moon, and as the astrologer foretold, she became a different creature: a striped toad known as Chanchu. The ending of the story varies with different versions, but in the most common ending Zhang E regained her human form and lived on the moon forever more.
So there we are - the last post of my first A to Z Challenge. I've had a great time doing this, but I must admit I had no idea how time consuming daily blogging would be (even though I prescheduled a number of posts due to going on holiday for a week). I'll be going back to blogging two or three times a week so I'll catch up with you all soon!