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Home History and Culture The Butterfly Lovers

The Butterfly Lovers(Liangzhu Love Story)


the butterfly lovers
The TV Image of Liangzhu
the butterfly lovers
Movie Still of Butterfly Lovers
the butterfly lovers
yue opera of butterfly lovers
Yue Opera of Butterfly Lovers

Known as one of top four folk love stories of ancient China, the story of Liangzhu(梁祝) or Love Story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai (internationally famous as The Butterfly Lovers) is as famous as The Story of The Lady White Snake(白蛇传), Story of Mengjianglv(孟姜女) and Story of Niulang and Zhinv(牛郎织女). Among them, the story of Liangzhu is the most famous and influential one and also is the only one that makes the extensive influence throughout the world. This story has more than 1,470 years of history. It is known to every household and undoubtedly is an unsurpassed classic through the ages. From the ancient time to the present, innumerous people were deeply touched by this story. In China, the Story of Liang Shanbo(梁山伯) and Zhu Yingtai(祝英台) is crowned as Oriental Romeo and Juliet.

The daughter of Mr. Zhu, a rich and influential man in Shangyu(上虞,today under the administration of Shaoxing, Zhejiang province), was Zhu Yingtai. She was a naughty but beautiful girl, and disguised as a man to go to Hangzhou for learning. On her way, he met with a learner named Liang Shanbo from Kuaiji, today’s Shaoxing. They felt like the old friend at the first meeting, and then they became the sworn brother under the willows. Since then, they learnt and lived together in Wangsong Academy of Hangzhou for three years. During their study and life, they helped each other and made a deep affection to each other. Liang Shanbo was too honest to recognize the real identity of Zhu Yingtai. In the meantime, Zhu Yingtai in heart deeply loved Liang Shanbo. Three years later, Zhu Yingtai’s father urged her to come back Zhu Yingtai took the jade-made hanging butterfly object of water fan to her teacher’s wife as the keepsake of matchmaking. On her departure, Liang Shanbo’s eighteen send-offs were the most famous part of whole story and the best show of Liang Shanbo’s affection to Zhu Yingtai. And it is also the classical section of Liangzhu, a classic of Yue Opera in history of Chinese opera history. On the way to see off Zhu Yingtai, Liang Shanbo was also in confusion though Zhu Yingtai gave him many hints for many times. After he returned and taught by his teacher’s wife, he absolutely knew the real identity of Zhu Yingtai, and he was quite joyful to rush to family of Zhu Yingtai for proposal. Unfortunately, Zhu Yingtai’s father had married Zhu Yingtai to Ma Wencai(马文才), the son of Governor of Shangyu. Liang Shanbo was desperately and sorrowfully had a meeting with Zhu Yingtai. His happiness got away, and from then on, he got depressed and gloomy and several days later he died of the depression and desperation. Hearing of this piece of news, Zhu Yingtai was in large grief. On her wedding day, she begged her father to go to the tomb of Liang Shanbo, otherwise, she never agreed to marry Ma Wencai. Her father had no other choice but agree her requirement. In the front of the tomb of Zhu Yingtai, she heartbreakingly cried for a long time. Suddenly, the murky sky over a dark earth, and the thunder rumbled and lightening flashed. Subsequently, the tomb opened and Zhu Yingtai jumped into it, the tomb restored to itself. After all ended, two butterflies flied around the tomb, the local people said this couple of butterflies turned from Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai.

The story of Liangzhu initially appeared in a book called Jinlouzi(金镂子) in south Dynasty, approximately more than 1400 years ago. Since then, in different dynasties, the relevant stories can be heard easily. In Yuan Dynasty, Bai Renpu(白仁甫) created it into an opera, and became one of Chinese classic operas in history. In 1950s, Chen Gang(陈钢) composed the internationally famous violin concerto themed with Liangzhu, and in 1954, ex-premier Zhou Enlai introduced the movie named Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, China’s first colored opera-type artistic movie, to the journalists of the world when he attended at the Geneva Conference, and then this movie based on the love story was widely called Chinese Romeo and Juliet. In a short time, this story becomes internationally famous.

Over the hundreds of years, the story of Liangzhu has been rewritten or recomposed continually by playwrights and authors for generations, but the basic scenario was never changed. The theme of paying a tribute to freedom and love was never changed as well. Due to the different versions of the story, there are five earning areas of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, 9 tombs of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, and even there is a memorial of Liangzhu in Yin County, Ningbo. Nowadays, people may always remind themselves of Hangzhou Wansong Academy(万松书院). The connections between Wansong Academy and Story of Liangzhu was firstly mentioned in a book named Tongchuangji(同窗记, The Record of Schoolmates) , and this is a book created by Li Yu(李渔) who was a famous playwright in late Ming Dynasty and early Qing Dynasty when he temporarily lived in Hangzhou. In this book, he set their first meeting at Caoqiaomen when they crossing the Qiantang River from Kuaiji and Shangyu and begun their love story in Wangsong Academy. After their three years of school life, Liang Shanbo sent off Zhu Yingtai along the ancient long way of Fenghuang Hill. The author wrote all the story scenes into the beauty of Hangzhou, and it makes the story more touching and impressive. In modern times, many related films or TV plays were all adapted in accordance with this version of story. From then on, Wansong Academy originally called Fuwen Academy(敷文书院) becomes another must-see tourist attraction from an old educational center.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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