Who are the Butterfly Lovers?

What do butterflies mean to you? Freedom? Beauty?

If I say butterflies also mean a tragic love, like Romeo and Juliet, do you think it strange?

I use butterflies a lot in my cards. Sometimes I wonder, ‘What do they mean?’

Hopeful thoughts with butterfly

Here is a Chinese tragic love story, The Butterfly Lovers. The young lovers were Liang Shanbo (梁山伯, man) and Zhu Yingtai (祝英台, woman). Their names are normally shortened for Liang Zhu (梁祝).

Their tragic love is almost like that of Romeo and Juliet.

The basic story line is: Zhu pretended to be a boy and became Liang’s classmate; Liang didn’t know Zhu was a girl. They spent 3 years together as boys. Zhu was engaged to a rich man by her father later. Liang was too late. He died of a broken heart.

Just for you with butterflies

On her wedding procession, Zhu paid her final tributes to Liang. The grave suddenly opened up, and she threw herself into the grave to join Liang.

The spirits of Liang and Zhu turned into a pair of beautiful butterflies. They flew away and were never separate again.

BBC retold this magnificent story in many languages. Click the link to watch the animation in EnglishLiang Zhu: The Butterfly Lovers. It is only 5 minutes’ long. It’s funnily portrayed, yet endearing. (But how could a tragedy become funny? Watch it and you’ll know.) It’s definitely worth your time.

Butterfly Lovers legend retold by the BBC

The Butterfly Lovers music is also my favourite music, though it evokes deep sadness.

What do you think of this Chinese Butterfly Lovers story? 

Do you have similar stories in your cultures?

What do butterflies mean to you? 

Please leave a message and share your thoughts.

Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, 1954 film

Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, 1954 film (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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9 thoughts on “Who are the Butterfly Lovers?

  1. rhmay

    I became familiar with the “Chinese violin concerto” based on this story about 40 years ago, since when I have listened to it countless times. As sentimental as it is, and as Westernised as it is in musical terms, I still find it very beautiful. When in Beijing in 2002 it was being played in a fancy restaurant they took us to. Later, in a celebrated park, I was able to persuade an elderly man to play it for me on his instrument, a simple stringed instrument with a small sound chamber at the bottom. While he played it, a beautiful student whose name translated as Moon Fairy performed an impromptu dance in the park, though ill with a bad cold. It was one of the loveliest moments of my whole life. I recently published a picture on Flikr called Moon Fairy in her honour. Long live the Butterfly Lovers Concerto!
    Bob

    Reply
    1. shileyao

      The violin concerto”Liang Zhu “was composed by Chen Gang who was a young musical student in Shanghai. His inspiration came from a regional folk art “Yue Opera” which had told the story this couple long before the concerto. This art form is very popular in soutneast of China such as Shanghai and Zhejiang. The violin concerto had a clear story line from the cheerfulness of being classmate to the sadness of being desperately by forced marriage.

      Reply
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