Copy link succeeded! Now can share to friends.

Popular Chinese Folklore: The Cowherd and Weaver Girl

Who does not love ancient love stories that spiral around phantasmic scenarios? 

Such stories often proliferate among the masses due to their uniqueness and impact. It wakes the hopeless romantic side in all of us, wishing personal love stories would be as magnificent as the stories. 

Today, we will delve into one of the most famous folklore in China. It is a story of unconditional and undying love. It contains an intimacy beyond mere butterflies in the stomach. It is a spiel that captivates readers, breaks them apart, and rebuilds them. 

That story is the boundless love of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl. 

the cowherd and weaver girl
Image from Internet

Why You Should Know This Folklore

As we all know, China is one of the countries that have the most extended records in history. Consequently, they have stories that date back to ancient times. Such narratives have a hierarchical impact on society. 

What sets the Cowherd and Weaver Girl apart from other stories is that it belongs to the Four Great Folklore stories. It is one of the most prolific fantasies that every Chinese people knows. The Cowherd and Weaver Girl attained massive influence and impact not only on Chinese people but also on their cultural and social formation. 

Let’s now delve into the captivating story. 

The Related Story 

The orphan Cowherd 牛郎 (Niúláng) lived on his brother and sister-in-law. The sister-in-law was mean and often abused him. Consequently, the atrocities forced him to leave the family and rely on an old cattle老牛 (lǎo niú) to farm and feed himself.

However, the old cattle was extraordinary. One day, Zhinv 织女 (Zhīnǚ) and the fairies went down to the earth to play and bathe in the river. The old cattle persuaded the Cowherd to meet him. It told the Cowherd that if the fairies could not return before dawn, they could only stay in the mortal world. Now, the Cowherd lived by the river to see the seven fairies. He found that the youngest one was very beautiful and fell in love. Thinking of the old cattle’s words, the Cowherd quietly took the little fairy’s clothes, and the fairies were ready to take a bath. As it was their time to return to the heavens, the little fairy found that the clothes were missing. Consequently, she had to stay. So, the Cowherd made an encounter with the little fairy, the Weaver Girl.

They fell in love with each other. After their marriage, they worked as men and women weavers. Their undying adoration created a son and a daughter. It was a life fulfilled, one full of happiness and affection. Unexpectedly, the Emperor of Heaven 天帝 (Tiāndì) discovered the situation. As there is a rule that prohibits fairies from living with men, it made him furious. He ordered the Queen Mother 王母娘娘 (Wángmǔ Niángniang) to escort the Weaver Girl to the heavenly court for trial.

The cattle couldn’t bear the separation of their wives and children, so he broke the horns on his head, fashioned a boat, and let the Cowherd carry his sons and daughters to chase after him. Seeing that she was about to catch up with the Weaver Girl, the Queen Mother suddenly pulled off the golden hairpin on her head and drew a rolling Milky Way 银河 (Yínhé) in the sky. The Cowherd couldn’t cross the river, so he could only cry with the Weaver Girl by the river.

Since then, the Cowherd can only cry. However, on the seventh day of the seventh month, he weeps unyieldingly. Magpies around the world will hear his sorrow and unwavering love. Countless magpies flew over and built a colorful bridge across the Tianhe with their bodies, allowing the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl to meet on the Tianhe. The Emperor of Heaven had no choice but to enable the Cowherd and Weaver Girl to meet once a year on the Magpie Bridge on the seventh day of the seventh month. The magpie would also be by his side. 

Since then, Cowherd continues to weep as they are forever separated by the eternal celestial river of the Milky Way. And always, on the seventh day of the seventh month, they will meet for a single night of passion.

Is this story familiar to you? Yes! You guess it right! The Cowherd and Weaver girl is the original story of the “Altair 牛郎星(Niúláng xīng) and Vega 织女星 (Zhīnǚ xīng)“. The story is incredibly captivating that it influences cultures globally to create their respective adaptations. 

Till next time! 

Traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day: Double Seventh Festival

Book your free try now !

Your first 1-on-1 Chinese lesson offer

customer service

Contact Us