Chinese tale: Cowherd and Weaving Girl


Nui Lang Zhi Nu

Cowherd and Weaving Girl

“There were seven goddesses in the Sky Temple, maybe the know Chang E. And they’re the daughters of the mother queen of the Sky Temple, so the king of the Sky Temple is their brother. And these seven, they’re bored so they fly to earth and take baths on earth. I don’t know why, I guess they can’t take baths in the Sky Temple. So every month, they go to earth to take baths in a pool. And normally, no one’s there, they put their clothes by the side of the pool, and they swim and play in the pool. And one day, a lucky guy, Niu Lang, a cowherd, he comes across the seven naked women, and he, he’s a pervert I guess, he takes a set of clothes, and the clothes turn out to be the oldest sister’s. And when the sisters are done with the bath, they go back to the Sky Temple. Because they have to go back, or their mother will find out they escaped from the Sky Temple. So six of the sisters fly back, but the seventh one, Zhi Nu, can’t, because the clothes have some sort of magic power that let you fly. Wait, they should be able to fly by themselves because they’re gods. So maybe the oldest sister just doesn’t want to fly naked? Or maybe she just wants her clothes back. Anyways, six of them go back, and she stays. And this cowherd, Nui Lang, comes out, and he says, Hey woman, I have your clothes. You have to say with me and I’ll give these clothes back to you. And, I don’t know what happened, I don’t want to say, but she falls in love with this guy. I don’t know why, maybe she’d never seen any men before, but they fall in love. And you know, time passes differently on earth than in the sky temple, one day in the Sky Temple is a year on earth. So after a few days the queen of the Sky Temple, she finds out that her oldest daughter is lost. She uses her magic and found that her daughter is married to this human being and they have children. She commands the daughter to come back. The daughter refuses. The daughter had her clothes back, but she just didn’t want to go back.

The daughter had become a mother and a good wife and didn’t want to be separated from her family. The queen was very angry and sent an army to get the daughter back. But Niu Lang and the daughter beg the mother, and they say, kids shouldn’t grow up without a mother, and the queen thinks, yeah, I guess the children need a mother and she shows some mercy and allows the couple to meet once a year. But you know, according to the time rules, I guess that means she has to go every day, and Niu Lang only sees her once a year, so I don’t know how that works.

The queen mother uses the Milky Way to separate the couple. And every year on Qi Xi, Chinese Valentine’s Day, the queen sends some birds to form a bridge and Niu Lang brings their kids, and meets his wife Zhi Nu on the bridge one time a year. “

My informant can’t remember where he learned this story, but he thinks that the appeal of it is in the forbidden love. He said that until recently, and even still in some parts of China, people weren’t allowed to marry freely. He compared the story to Romeo and Juliet, two lovers who defied rules and their parents to be together. The fact that this tale is associated with the Qi Xi Festival, sometimes referred to as Chinese Valentine’s Day, supports this theory.

Annotation: The main character in the 2010 remake of The Karate Kid attends the Qi Xi Festival and sees a shadow play of this story.