The Butterfly Lovers

The Butterfly Lovers

A girl in Hangzhou named Zhu Yingtai wholeheartedly wanted to go to a school for study. At that time in ancient China, girls were not allowed to attend a school. Finally, her father could not stand her lasting efforts and agreed to allow her to go while posing as a man with her servant girl. On the way to Hangzhou, they came across a young learner, Liang Shanbo who also planed to find a school for study. They talked with each other so happily and joyfully that they decided to become sworn brothers.

Afterwards, they studied together at Wansong School for three years. During these years, Liang Shanbo saw her as a brother and did not know she was actually a woman at all. One day Zhu Yingtai received a letter from his father who asked her to go back home as quickly as possible. She was not ready to tell Liang Shanbo all the truth, including her secret love for him. Then she asked his teacher’s wife to deliver her love sign, a jade article, to Liang Shanbo. Upon her departure, she couldn’t help dropping hints to Liang Shanbo who saw her off, but this man had not apprehended her meaning at all. After Liang Shanbo learned that she was a girl later and realized his love for her as well, he hurried to her house; unfortunately Zhu Yingtai had been forced to betroth an official’s son Ma. Liang Shanbo died for striking from this shocking news, and Zhu Yingtai endeavored to see him for the last time after she heard of this sad news. It was the right day she married Ma. On the way to Ma’s house, this poor girl passed through Liang Shanbo’s tomb and cried her eyes out.

In a sudden, it began to thunder and the rain poured heavily and the wind blew strongly. The tomb dehisced when the thunderbolt happened, and Zhu Yingtai quickly jumped into the tomb, then the thunder, rain and wind stopped instantly; the sun shined again. A couple of butterflies emerged and elegantly danced together in the sky with freedom.

It was really a tragedy. The end should be only a good wish for this couple and their true love. Later people created one of the most classical concertos -The Butterfly Lovers. Their story is also favored by big screen.

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Legend of the White Snake

Lü Dongbin, one of the Eight Immortals, disguises himself as a man selling tangyuan at the Broken Bridge near the West Lake in Hangzhou. A boy called Xu Xian buys some tangyuan from Lü Dongbin without knowing that they are actually immortality pills. He does not feel hungry for the next three days after eating them, so he goes back to ask why. Lü Dongbin laughs and carries Xu Xian to the bridge, where he flips him upside down and causes him to vomit the tangyuan into the lake.In the lake, there is a white snake spirit who has been practicing Taoist magical arts in the hope of becoming an immortal after centuries of training and cultivation. She eats the pills and gains 500 years’ worth of magical powers. She, therefore, feels grateful to Xu Xian and their fates become intertwined. There is another terrapin (or tortoise) spirit also training in the lake who did not manage to consume any of the pills; he is very jealous of the white snake. One day, the white snake sees a beggar on the bridge who has caught a green snake and wants to dig out the snake’s gall and sell it. The white snake transforms into a woman and buys the green snake from the beggar, thus saving the green snake’s life. The green snake is grateful to the white snake and she regards the white snake as an elder sister.Eighteen years later, during the Qingming Festival, the white and green snakes transform themselves into two young women called Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing, respectively. They meet Xu Xian at the Broken Bridge in Hangzhou. Xu lends them his umbrella because it is raining. Xu Xian and Bai Suzhen gradually fall in love and are eventually married. They move to Zhenjiang, where they open a medicine shop.In the meantime, the terrapin spirit has accumulated enough powers to take human form, so he transforms into a Buddhist monk called Fahai. Still angry with Bai Suzhen, Fahai plots to break up her relationship with Xu Xian. He approaches Xu Xian and tells him that during the Duanwu Festival his wife should drink realgar wine, a wine associated with that festival. Bai Suzhen unsuspectingly drinks the wine and reveals her true form as a large white snake. Xu Xian dies of shock after seeing that his wife is not human. Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing travel to Mount Emei, where they brave danger to steal a magical herb that restores Xu Xian to life.After coming back to life, Xu Xian still maintains his love for Bai Suzhen despite knowing her true identity. Fahai tries to separate them again by capturing Xu Xian and imprisoning him in Jinshan Temple (金山寺). Bai Suzhen and Xiaoqing fight with Fahai to rescue Xu Xian. Bai uses her powers to flood the temple and drowns many innocent people. However, her powers are limited because she is already pregnant with Xu Xian’s child, so she fails to save her husband. Xu Xian later manages to escape from Jinshan Temple and reunite with his wife in Hangzhou, where Bai Suzhen gives birth to their son, Xu Mengjiao. Fahai tracks them down, defeats Bai Suzhen and imprisons her in Leifeng Pagoda. Xiaoqing flees, vowing vengeance.Twenty years later, Xu Mengjiao earns the zhuangyuan (top scholar) degree in the imperial examination and returns home in glory to visit his parents. At the same time, Xiaoqing, who had spent the intervening years refining her powers, goes to Jinshan Temple to confront Fahai and defeats him. Bai Suzhen is freed from Leifeng Pagoda and reunited with her husband and son, while Fahai flees and hides inside the stomach of a crab. There is a saying that a crab’s internal fat is orange because it resembles the color of Fahai’s kasaya.

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The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl

Once upon a time, there was a young man named Cowherd whose parents died. He lived with his older brother and sister-in-law. They treated him very unfair and unkind, he was only given an old buffalo and a staggering oxcart when he was requested to break up the family and live apart.

From then on the Cowherd and the buffalo began to depend on each other for survival. They planted crops on the field and built their house at the foot of the hill. The Cowherd felt very lonely because nobody could talk with him besides the dumb animal friend. But one day, the buffalo make a sudden speak to him:

“Master, there is a band of fairy ladies from the heaven will swim in the lake near the mountain, if you take a red from the clothes, its owner will become your wife.” Hearing this, the Cowherd felt surprised and happy, and asked his friend: “Oh, my god! Buddy, you can speak? What you said will come true?” The old buffalo nodded and smiled. Then the young man ran quickly to the lake and hide quietly in the reeds.

Presently the fairy ladies came and took off their clothes and jumped into the lake. The Cowherd came out and picked up the red clothes. When the fairy ladies found somebody approached, they dressed themselves hastily and flew to the heaven like the birds. There was only a girl who could not find her clothes, stayed in the lake, was left ashamed and wretched and do not know which way to look. By this time, the young man came up and said to the girl: “Dear lady, my name is Cowherd would you like to be my wife and lead a happy life?” The girl agreed without hesitation and told the young man she was the Girl Weaver in the heaven. Then they fell in love and became husband and wife.

Since then the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver led a very happy life, the husband tilled the land and the wife wove cloth. And after some years, they had a lovely son and a daughter and they hoped their happy life can go on until they had hoary hair. But one day a mischance happened. The buffalo said to the Cowherd: “Master, I will die soon, please peel my skin and keep it for emergency.” then the buffalo dead. The Cowherd felt very sad, he peeled off the buffalo’s skin and buried his old friend.

Some day after the buffalo’s death, another mischance happened to the family. The marriage of the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver was known by the girl’s grandmother, the queen of the heaven emperor. She went wroth and sent the gods and soldiers to catch the Girl Weaver back to the heaven. It was at noon, the Girl Weaver was preparing food for the family in the house. Blustering in the sky, she was caught at once. At that time, the Cowherd just came back from the field. Seeing this, he quickly put his children into the baskets and put on the buffalo’s skin flew up to catch the gods and soldiers.

Gradually when the father and children caught closed to the mother in the sky, the queen of the heaven emperor appeared and used her gold hairpin drew a line between the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver. Suddenly, the line became the wide Milky Way and the family was apart. The children cried, the mother cried, and the husband cried. This scene really drew people’s tears. The gods, the soldiers and even the Girl Weaver’s grandmother were touched by the family.

They promised the Cowherd and his children lived in the heaven, but they were only allowed to reunite one time with the mother in the July 7th of the lunar calendar. It is said that at this time of the year, the magpies cannot be found on earth because they fly heavenwards to build a bridge between the Milky Way for the reunion of the family. It’s more interesting that if you sit under the grape vines in that night you can hear the harmonious music and sweet nothings from the heaven! And the day has been considered the Chinese Valentine’s day since the ancient times. At this day, the young women in some China’s area pray to the Milky Way for the Girl Weaver’s super needlework and a happy marriage.

If you look up into the sky in a night of fall, you will find the Cowherd star is separated from the Girl Weaver by the Milky Way. Around the Cowherd star, there are two small shining stars, which are considered the children of the Cowherd and the Girl Weaver.

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Pan Jinlian and Ximen Qing

Pan Jinlian is married to Wu Dalang, the elder brother of Wu Song. Wu Dalang is short and ugly, while Pan Jinlian is renowned for her beauty; as a result, many people feel that the couple are a mismatch.

Pan Jinlian, dissatisfied with her marriage, has an extramarital affair with Ximen Qing, a handsome womaniser in town. Wu Dalang eventually discovers the affair, but Pan Jinlian and Ximen Qing murder him by adding poison to his food. They bribe the coroner to conceal the true cause of his death.

Wu Song grows suspicious of his brother’s death. He carries out his own investigations and discovers the truth. In Water Margin, Wu Song’s slaying of the adulterous pair is described in graphic detail and is one of the most memorable scenes in the novel. In Jin Ping Mei, however, Pan Jinlian marries Ximen Qing as a concubine, and Wu Song kills Pan after Ximen dies from excessive sexual activity.

Jin Ping Mei is framed as a spin-off from Water Margin. The beginning chapter is based on an episode in which “Tiger Slayer” Wu Song avenges the murder of his older brother by brutally killing his brother’s former wife and murderer, Pan Jinlian. The story, ostensibly set during the years 1111–27 (during the Northern Song dynasty), centers on Ximen Qing, a corrupt social climber and lustful merchant who is wealthy enough to marry six wives and concubines. After Pan Jinlian secretly murders her husband, Ximen Qing takes her as one of his wives. The story follows the domestic sexual struggles of the women within his household as they clamor for prestige and influence amidst the gradual decline of the Ximen clan. In Water Margin, Ximen Qing was brutally killed in broad daylight by Wu Song; in Jin Ping Mei, Ximen Qing in the end dies from an overdose of aphrodisiacs administered by Jinlian in order to keep him aroused. The intervening sections, however, differ in almost every way from Water Margin. In the course of the novel, Ximen has 19 sexual partners, including his 6 wives and mistresses. There are 72 detailed sexual episodes.

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