The love story that is the basis of the Qixi Festival is the myth of the cowherd and the weaver maid.
The union between the heavenly Jade emperor's grand-daughter, Zhinu, and the mortal man, Niulang, once discovered, is forbidden and Zhinu is taken away from her husband and their two children. The two are divided by a river of stars, bridged once a year by a flock of sympathetic magpies to offer them a short, yearly, reunion.
It is said that if it rains on this day, the raindrops are the teardrops of the two lovers, finally reunited, having waited all year.
This legend is also the story behind the stars Altair and Vega, which form two of the three points of the summer triangle in the night sky, seen at its best on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month (this year, 2013, on August 13). See below for the constellation map.
Read the entire myth here - with talking water buffalo, a fairy that weaves the sky, and enduring love, this is a great legend. And/or watch this clever silent animation of the legend.
|Image taken from Petalia Forum|
Fairy of the Magpie Bridge
by Qin Guan of the Song Dynasty
Among the beautiful clouds,
Over the heavenly river,
Crosses the weaving maiden.
A night of rendezvous,
Across the autumn sky.
Surpasses joy on earth.
Moments of tender love and dream,
So sad to leave the magpie bridge.
Eternal love between us two,
Shall withstand the time apart.
Try finding Zhinu, the weaver maid (Vega star) and Niulang, the cowherd (Altair star) in the night sky. They are seperated by the milky way. The two stars on either side of Altair are their two children.
To celebrate the Qixi Festival, we'll be reading the myth of the weaver maid and cowherd, finding their stars in the sky, making the treat Qiao Guo, trying the folk custom of threading a needle to plead for skills, and the modern custom of a wish lantern on the water.
|Credit: Nick Crook|