The three-legged crow originated in China.
The earliest known depiction of a three-legged crow appears in Neolithic pottery of the Yangshao culture (5000 BC).
Evidence of the earliest bird-sun motif or totemic articles were excavated from the lower Yangtze River delta area.
This bird-sun totem heritage were observed in later Yangshao and Longshan Cultures.
The Chinese have several versions of crow and crow-sun tales.
The three-legged crow is called the sanzuwu (Chinese: 三足烏; pinyin: sānzúwū; Cantonese: sam1zuk1wu1; Shanghainese: sae tsoh u (lit. ¨three legged bird¨) and is present in many myths. Even though it is described as a crow or raven, it is usually colored red instead of black.
But the most popular depiction and myth of the sun crow is that of the Yangwu or Jinwu, the “golden crow”.
It is also mentioned in the Shanhaijing.
The sanzuwu is also of the Twelve Medallions that is used in the decoration of formal imperial garments in ancient China.
A silk painting from the Western Han excavated at the Mawangdui archaeological site also depicts a sanzuwu perched on a tree.
A mural from the Han Dynasty period found in Henan province depicts a three-legged crow.
A western Han silk painting funeral procession banner found in the Mawangdui tomb of Lady Dai (d. 168 BCE), depicts the lunar three-legged toad and moon rabbit and the solar three-legged crow.
According to folklore, there were originally ten sun crows which settled in 10 separate suns.
They perched on a red mulberry tree called the Fusang (Chinese: 扶桑; pinyin: fúsāng), literally meaning "the leaning mulberry tree", in the East at the foot of the Valley of the Sun.
This mulberry tree was said to have many mouths opening from its branches.
Each day one of the sun crows would be perched to travel around the world on a carriage, driven by Xihe the 'mother' of the suns.
As soon as one sun crow returned, another one would set forth in its journey crossing the sky.
According to Shanhaijing, the sun crows loved eating two sorts of mythical grasses of immortality, one called the Diri (Chinese: 地日; pinyin: dìrì), or "ground sun", and the other the Chunsheng (Chinese: 春生; pinyin: chūnshēng), or "spring grow".
The sun crows would often descend from heaven on to the earth and feast on these grasses, but Xihe did not like this thus she covered their eyes to prevent them from doing so.
Folklore also held that, at around 2170 BC, all ten sun crows came out on the same day, causing the world to burn;
Houyi the celestial archer saved the day by shooting down all but one of the sun crows.
Mid-Autumn Festivals have several variants of this legend.