Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai(the Butterfly Lovers)
The story of the Butterfly Lovers is one of the most famous love tragedies from ancient China. It often draws comparisons to Romeo and Juliet. Their love was strong and passionate but the story but has a sad and tragic ending.
During Dong Jin Dynasty, a girl called Zhu Yingtai lived in a small village in Zhejiang Province. She loved reading books and studying literature, despite the fact that there was no qualified teacher in her house. She decided that she wanted to go to a famous school Hangzhou, but her father refused for her to do this because she was a girl and girls were not allowed to attend school in ancient China.
She then disguised herself as a fortune teller and told her father there would be a disaster if he didn't allow his daughter to go. This persuaded her father, who then allowed her to go. She disguised herself as a man and began her journey.
On her way to Hangzhou she met a man called Liang Shanbo who was also going to the same school. They became close friends.
While at school she fell in love with Liang Shanbo but he never realised that she was a girl. In the meantime her father became increasingly worried and told her to return home as soon as possible. She had no choice but to go back. Before she went, she told Liang Shanbo that she had a little sister at home and hoped he could go to her house and propose to her.
By the time he arrived at Zhu Yingtai's house her father had already forced her to marry another man. He became depressed, causing him to become extremely ill. So ill, in fact, that he died several days later.
On the day Zhu was to be married, a dramatic wind prevented her from walking further than Liang's tomb, which lay on the journey. Zhu leaves the procession to pay her respects for Liang.
While she mourned him, a bolt of lightning opened the tomb and Zhu threw herself in to join Liang. The tomb closes, but a pair of butterflies then emerge from the tomb and fly away and are never to be separated again.
Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai is one of the four most famous love stories in China with many operas and movies based on their story. There is also one famous piece of music played on the violin based on the story. Whenever the Chinese spot a pair of butterflies, they remind themselves of the story, and hope that the butterflies never part.