Once upon a time, there was a girl called Zhu Yingtai. She was beautiful, generous, clever, and diligent.
She wanted to study at school very much, but in ancient China, girls were not even allowed to go outside by themselves, let alone go to school.
However, Zhu Yingtai set her heart on seeing the outside world, so she secretly disguised herself as a man and left for Hangzhou to study.
After a few days of traveling, she came to a pavilion near Hangzhou. Being a little tired, she sat down to rest in the pavilion. At that time a young man named Liang Shanbo came by. He was also going to Hangzhou to study.
Even though it was their first meeting, they soon like old friends, right there in the pavilion became sworn brothers. When they arrived in Hangzhou, they studied at the same school.
They were never apart — helping each other, studying together, and never having enough time to finish their conversations. A deep friendship developed between them.
The time flew, and three years had soon passed, Yingtai’s a father wrote to her requesting that she return home.
But at that time, Yingtai had fallen in love with her brother Liang Shanbo, and although Shanbo still did not know that Yingtai was a girl, he really liked his clever, diligent younger brother.
Before Yingtai left Hangzhou, she told the secret to her teacher's wife, and asked her to be her maU.h-maker. The teacher’s wife agreed.
Liang Shanbo was very reluctant to leave Yingtai, and he saw her off to the bottom of the mountains, which was a distance of 18 li. On the way home, Yingtai kept hinting that she was a girl, but however hard she tried, the honest Liang Shanbo did not understand.
Finally, Yingtai said, “Brother Liang, I have a younger sister who looks exactly like me at home. Would you be willing to marry her?" Liang happily agreed.
When he got back to the school, the teacher's wife told Liang what Yingtai had said to her. Only then did he realize that the younger sister Yingtai mentioned was actually Yingtai herself.
He was overjoyed, and immediately went to Yingtai’s home to propose marriage. But, unexpectedly, Yingtai’s father planned to marry his daughter to a rich official's son.
Yingtai and Shanbo were heartbroken, but could not change the reality of their situation. So, they reached an agreement: if they could not marry in life, then they would be together after death.
Not long afler he returned home, Liang Shanbo died of a broken heart. When Yingtai heard of this, she was extremely sorrowful. However, her father still wanted to have her married.
She pleaded with her father to go to Shanbo’s tomb and hold a memorial service for him. Or she would rather die than marry. Her father had no choice but to agree to her request.
On the wedding day, the bridal sedan passed by the tomb of Shaiibo. Yingtai stepped down off the sedan, took off her red wedding garment, and wearing mourning clothes, slowly walked to the front of the tomb and burst into tears.
Suddenly, it started raining heavily and the wind blew hard. After a big crack of thunder, the tomb split open. Without hesitation, Zhu Yingtai jumped into the tomb, and it closed up again.
The wind and the rain slopped, the clouds drifted away and the sky cleared. Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai turned into two beautiful butterflies and flew out from the tomb together, flying freely among the flowers, never to be parted again.
1. 踏 to take a step
2. 亭子 pavilion
3. 一见如故 to feel like old friends at the first meeting
4. 结拜 to become sworn
5. 形影不离 inseparable as body and shadow, be always together
6. 一晃 to flash by
7. 心事 something weighing on one’s mind, concerns
8. 师母 wife of one’s teacher (or master)
9. 做媒 to be a match-maker
10. 暗示 to hint
11. 无奈 to have no choice, cannot help but
12. 约定 to agree on, to appoint, to arrange
13. 过度 excessive
14. 坟墓 tomb
15. 祭奠 to hold a memorial service for
16. 花轿 bridal sedan chair
17. 裂 to crack, to split, to break up
18. 自由 free
The story of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai is a very old and famous story that originated in the Jin Dynasty, more than 1,600 years ago. This story has since been adapted as an opera, novel, and film, and has been reputed as the “Oriental Romeo and Juliet”.
In China, the color red represents luck, so on important festivals, especially weddings, people like to wear red clothes. White, on the other hand, in traditional Chinese culture has been the main color used on funerals.