Fairy Couple is the story of The Cowherd Boy and the Weaver Girl. It is counted as one of the four great folktales (also see White Snake and Liang Shanbo) and it existed in oral tradition long before any written compilation.
There are many versions of the story and the huangmeixi goes as the follows: on their trip to the mortal world, the youngest daughter Fairy No. Seven of the Jade Emperor in Heaven falls in love with a poor man Dong Yong, who has sold himself into servitude to pay for his father's funeral. Fairy No. Seven decides not to go back with her sisters. On the advice of the God of Earth, the fairy pretends to be a village girl and bravely expresses her wish to marry Dong. Dong Yong declines the request because he feels he is so poor that he will not be able to start a family. However, Fairy No. Seven’s magic makes an old sophora tree speak and give Dong advice on taking the girl as his wife. The two finally get married. With help of other fairies, Fairy No. Seven weaves ten pieces of brocade for Dong Yong to pay off his debt. However the seventh daughter’s escape is discovered by the Jade Emperor. He punishes the eldest daughter because she has helped cover for her younger sister and sends generals to urge Fairy No. Seven back home. In order to protect Dong Yong’s life, Fairy No. Seven returns to her parents. She promises her husband that the next year, she will come back with their child and they should meet again in front of the sophora tree.
The alternative ending of the legend is when the couple are separated by the Heaven Emperor, they already have two children. The husband’s friend, an old bull that has worked for him for many years, becomes a pole and two baskets. The husband puts the two children in each of the basket and uses the pole to carry the baskets (one child on each of the end). He runs after his wife who has been taken away by the Heaven generals. No sooner have the husband and children nearly caught up with the fairy wife/mother, Heaven Queen uses her hairpin and makes a river to separate them. It is Silk River in Chinese mythology and Milk Way in astrology. The couple become the two prominent stars: Cowherd boy (Altair) and Weaver girl (Vega). Chinese people believe that the couple are allowed to meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge to reunite the lovers and their children for one day.
There are two clips of huangmeixi. The first one is how Fairy No. Seven uses her magic to make the old sophora tree speak to convince Dong Yong that the two young people should get married. The second clip shows the most famous aria of the play that has been adapted into pop songs.
|Fairy Couple；天仙配||Huangmeixi；黄梅戏||Anhui TV|