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Kua Fu from a 17th-century print of the Shanhaijing, after original drawing by Hu Wenhuan.[1]

Kua Fu (Chinese: 夸父; pinyin: Kuāfù; Wade–Giles: K'ua-fu) is a giant in Chinese mythology who wished to capture the Sun.[2] He was a grandson of Houtu.[3]


One day, Kua Fu decided to chase and catch the Sun. He followed the Sun from the East to the West, draining the Yellow River and the Wei River (all rivers and lakes crossing his path) to quench his burning thirst. This big river also not able to quench his thirst and as he searched for more water, he died of dehydration. The wooden club he was carrying grew into a vast forest of peach trees called Deng Forest (邓林).[4]

In one version, Kua Fu turns into a mountain range.[5]

In modern Chinese usage, the story of Kua Fu chasing the Sun (夸父追日) is used to describe a person who fails to obtain his goal because he greatly overestimates himself.


"Kua Fu" can also be taken to refer to his people, the Kuafu-shi (夸父氏) or "Clan of Kuafu". Since shi can mean both "clan" and "maiden name" and serve as a masculine honorific like "mister" or "sir", it is sometimes used in reference to his people, sometimes in reference to the individual.

During the battle of Banquan, Chi You's tribes allied themselves with the Kua Fu tribe and the Sanmiao (三苗) tribe and attacked the Yan Emperor's tribe, driving them into the lands of the Yellow Emperor.

See alsoEdit

  • Icarus, comparative character in Greek mythology
  • Kuafu project, Chinese space program named after Kuafu


  • Yang, Lihui, et al. (2005). Handbook of Chinese Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-533263-6


  1. ^ Yang, 154
  2. ^ "Chinese Myth". Archived from the original on 2007-01-01. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  3. ^ Yang, 155 and 263
  4. ^ Summary of the story given in the definition of 夸父追日 in 现代汉语词典(第七版) [A Dictionary of Current Chinese (Seventh Edition)]. 北京. (Beijing): 商务印书馆. (The Commercial Press.). 1 September 2016. pp. 513, 755. ISBN 978-7-100-12450-8.
  5. ^ Friedman, Amy; Johnson, Meredith (2014-07-20). "Kua Fu Chases the Sun (A Chinese Folktale)". uexpress. Retrieved 2014-07-20.