Moon face

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Possible moon face interpretations - from top to bottom: "man / woman with firewood", " moon bunny ", "face" (2 ×) and the "woman in the moon"

The lunar face or the man in the moon is an apparent figure on the lunar disc that is reminiscent of a human face and is historically interpreted differently in the folklore of various cultures around the world.


The image of the moon face is created as a pareidolia by the shape of some " lunar seas ", the multitude of craters and the different degrees of reflection or absorption of sunlight - the albedo - of the two lunar rock types (" lunarite ", " lunabas ") during a full moon. The darker areas evoke associations with a human face. In many pictures, the moon (like the sun) is therefore shown with a face. The symbols for full moon , half moon and new moon , for example, have a face on many clocks and calendars; likewise the moon in heraldry . Because of its human-like appearance, the moon was sometimes worshiped as a divine being in ancient cultures.

Structures that can be interpreted as moon faces can be seen on the one hand in the - frontally illuminated - full moon, on the other hand around the half moon. Terrain structures then lie on the front of the moon in the sunlight falling here grazing; Sun slopes appear light, shaded areas, on the other hand, appear dark, so other contours are drawn with high contrast, which also change strongly with the age of the moon phase. These structures are particularly striking when the crescent moon is narrower than half. With a little imagination, a nose, lips with a mouth, a sea within the completely illuminated sickle can be seen as an eye and the idea of ​​a face in side view is perfect. Accordingly, the moon is often represented as a sickle, at least with a nose, and is immediately recognized as such. Grazing light is a means of highlighting small surface structures, especially in black and white photography.

Further interpretations

Crocodile (dalasi)
  • The West Africans from Gambia , on the other hand, see a "crocodile in the moon" . The upper and lower jaw correspond to the rabbit ears of the Asian interpretation.
Bil and Hiuki
Man in the moon with bundles of sticks
  • A Christian reinterpretation of this myth based on the report in 4 Mos 15,32-36  LUT sees in the structures in question a man with a bundle of brushwood who cut brushwood on Sunday and as a punishment for breaking the Sunday work ban for eternity Moon was moved. The oldest version was published in 1803 by Johann Peter Hebbel in: Allemannische Gedichte. For friends of rural nature and customs. Karlsruhe 1803. Published (anonymously). It was then taken up by many authors, for example by the Brothers Grimm from 1857. The version The fairy tale of the man in the moon by Ludwig Bechstein from 1853 is known. Another version can be found in Peterchens Mondfahrt .
  • In South Africa , on the other hand, a woman is seen in the moon carrying firewood on her back.
  • Some ancient philosophers believed that the moon reflects the face of the earth. They took the predominant light surfaces for the reflection of the strongly reflecting oceans and the dark spots for a reflection of the earthly countries.
  • Other ancient scholars, such as the writer Plutarch in his work On the Face of the Moon , but also the Renaissance , such as the astronomer Johannes Kepler , believed that the darker parts of the moon were the lunar seas.
  • Moon or full moon face is colloquially used as a joking term for a round and plump face.
  • The well-known graphic smileys are sometimes called "moon face" because of their rounded shape, but the emoticons such as ":-)" are usually not.

The moon face in literature and music

The moon face plays a role especially in poems and songs for children. In addition, the personification of the moon was also taken up by many serious poets. The shape of the moon is mostly positive. An exception is Peter's journey to the moon .

  • Popularly known chanting, which is symbolically underlined with a finger: “ Dot, dot, comma, line - the moon face is ready. "
  • François Boucq , Face de Lune (German: moon face)
  • The moon face , children's and youth literature by Gerda Marie Scheidl exists in Japanese ( Marion-no-otsukisama ), Slovenian ( Luncek ), Dutch ( Het maanportret ), Finnish ( Paperikuu ), Danish ( Måneansigtet ) languages
  • Moon face , stories by Jack London
  • Frau Luna , operetta by Paul Lincke , premiered in Berlin in 1899
  • Goethe writes in West-Eastern Divan in the poem "Nachklang":

Do not leave me to the night, the pain,
you dearest one, you my moon face!
O you my phosphorus, my candle,
you my sun, you my light!

Song titles with the name "Mondgesicht" or "Mann im Mond" are sung by the following artists:

The moon face in film and television

In the film The Guardian of Light , the man in the moon is a higher being who selects the light guardian that gives the title.

See also: Woman in the Moon

See also


  • Jürgen Blunck (Ed.): How the devils blackened the moon. The moon in myths and legends . Spectrum Academic Publishing House; Heidelberg and Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-8274-1409-1
  • Klaus Bartels : From the moon face to the moon map. In: Cartographica Helvetica Heft 5 (1992) pp. 11–16 ( full text , PDF; 10 MB)

Web links

Commons : Pareidolia in the Moon  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Moon face  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Already the third “super full moon” in a row, from September 9, 2014
  2. ^ Johann Peter Hebel : Alemannic poems with explanations by Ernst Götzinger, HR Sauerländer, Aarau 1873, 10. Der Mann im Mond , p. 69
  3. Ludwig Bechstein K. Thienemanns Verlag, 1942: The fairy tale of the man in the moon in the Gutenberg-DE project