The Butterfly Lovers

butterflies in love circling flower - sketch art painting This issue’s legend takes place in China. This is a Chinese love story that is often referred to as the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.

Zhu Yingtai was a young woman from one of the most noble and wealthy families in China. Not only was she very beautiful, she was also extremely intelligent and had a great passion for knowledge. This resulted in her great desire to attend school. Even though at the time in China visiting school was not permitted to girls, she was determined to fulfill her desire and came up with a plan. If she would disguise herself as a boy, no one would notice and she could fulfill her dream. Her usually strict father looked into his daughter´s eyes and saw how much this meant to her, his heart weakened and he finally agreed to send her to school.

Soon, the day came for Zhu to start school and she excitedly embarked on the long journey to Hangzhou. Not long after departing, she ran into a young man named Liang Shanbo. As it turned out, he was heading to the exact same school and they travelled together. The days, months and even years at school passed rapidly, Zhu was excited to finally be able to quench her thirst for knowledge. Liang shared her love for knowledge and they spent many hours in avid discussions. Apart from becoming best friends, Zhu was starting to fall in love with Liang.

Life continued this way, until one day Zhu received a message from her father, urging her to come home immediately. The family had arranged a marriage for Zhu with a respectable man from a wealthy and reputable family. Zhu had no choice but to obey and set out to leave the next day. Liang, sad to be losing his best friend, accompanied her as long as he could. Along the way, Zhu tried to hint to Liang that she was actually not a young man, but was actually a woman, however in vain. The only thing she could still think of doing was to make him promise to come and visit her as soon as he could.

So soon after, Liang arrived at Zhu´s palace to look for his lost friend. His surprise was great when he saw Zhu without her disguise, and recognized her right away. He fell in love with her and the two had a passionate affair. When Liang found out however that Zhu was supposed to get married, he was shattered. He asked Zhu’s parents for her hand, but they would not hear about it, everything was already arranged for the marriage. Heart-broken and despaired, Liang died out of grief.

blue butterfly and twin love hearts digital art Days later when the wedding was supposed to take place, the procession was suddenly interrupted by remarkably strong winds. Zhu took the opportunity and quickly left the procession to visit Liang’s grave. Overcome with grief, she asked for the winds to open the grave, and as it did, she threw herself in.

Moments later the winds calmed down and the sky cleared up again. Out of the grave appeared two of the most beautiful butterflies ever seen flying together as a pair. It is said that every year at the beginning of spring, on that same spot, a pair of butterflies appears, happily fluttering around.