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東海孝婦傳説  Legend of the East Sea Filial Woman

所屬名錄: 第四批國家級名錄

編號: I-128

申報地區或單位: 江蘇省連雲港市 

Inscribed list: National List, Fourth Batch

Inventory no.: I-128

Nominating unit(s): Jiangsu Province, Lianyungang City


現今版本來自《漢書》第71章及干寶的《搜神記》。兩個版本中,東海孝婦在其夫君去世後,與岳母相依為命。時間流逝,老人亦每況愈下。看著孝婦為她日夜奔波,令她於心不忍。為了令孝婦解脫,老婦就自行吊死自己,後來,老婦的唯一女兒以孝婦謀殺老人罪名把孝婦告上官府,寡婦亦經過嚴刑逼供後承認自己為主謀。雖然公平獄吏于公嘗試提醒官員以客觀觀點作出審判,但是孝婦仍逃不過被處死的命運。她被處死後,城郡就會遭遇三年旱災,直到新官員來臨後委託卜者及於公幫助,于公就告訴他旱災是因為孝婦的冤案引起的。最後,官員為她立墓碑後,天上亦下起大雨,旱災亦因此解決了。《搜神記》為孝婦加上姓名 — 周青,亦描述了她青黃色的血往旗桿沒有向下流,反而往上方而流,以示案件為冤案。兩個版本之結局為于公事後因平反冤案而受到民眾敬重。


《東海孝婦》傳説亦是中國十大悲劇之一的元代雜劇,關漢卿之作 — 《竇娥冤》

The Legend of the East Sea Filial Woman is an ancient folk tale that tells of the tragedy of a filial woman who was wrongly punished and executed, which led to the town’s suffering from a severe drought for several years. The story is also connected to some of Shandong’s province cultural heritage.  


The most common versions of the story are based on what is recorded in chapter 71 of The Book of Han (漢書) and Sou Shen Ji (搜神記), written by Gan Bao (干寶). In both versions, the Filial woman from the East was living with her mother-in-law, after the death of her husband. As time passed, the elderly mother-in-law fell ill, and her daughter-in-law took good care of her. The elderly woman felt like she was a burden on the younger woman, and felt bad for her.  To release the filial wife from her duties, the elderly woman hung herself.

Unfortunately, her death was reported by her own daughter to the authorities as a murder, and the filial woman, after a series of brutal interrogation, was made to admit to being the perpetrator. Despite the efforts of Yu Gong (於公), a fair prison warden who tried to remind the officials to be objective, the filial woman still could not escape the fate of being executed. After the wrongful death of the prisoner, the town suffered a long drought that lasted for 3 years, until the arrival of the new official, who sought help from the diviners and the former official, Yu Gong. Yu Gong told him that the drought was the town’s punishment for the wrongful execution of the filial woman.  The new official created a grave for her, and rain fell, finally bringing an end to the drought. In the Sou Shen Ji version of the story, the filial woman is given the name “Zhou Qing’(周青), and an additional note also described that at the time of her execution, the filial woman swore her innocence, claiming that her blood would flow up a flagpole as a sign, which then occurred as said. In both versions, the official Yu Gong earned respect from the townspeople for clearing the name of the woman.  


The story was first recorded in the Western Han period. In the story told by Liu Han’s Shuo Yuan (説苑), Yu Gong the righteous minister was honored by the townsfolk, who constructed a temple for him. Yu Gong is considered a real historical person since there was “the Temple of Yu Gong” located at Shandong. At the same place, there are other monuments related to the legend, including “Tomb of the Filial Woman” and the “Temple of the Filial Woman”. Meanwhile, there are other similar stories of innocent women being mistreated and wrongly accused of murder by officials retold in other historical literature works in different dynasties, such as in Huainanzi (准南子) from Eastern Han dynasty and in Taiping Yulan (太平御覽) from the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, highlighting the theme of filial piety and purity.


The Legend of the East Sea Filial Woman is also believed to be the inspiration for a well-known tragedy Yuan Zaju, the Injustice of Dou E (竇娥冤), composed by Guan Hanqing (關漢卿).


Video 1:

A Bejing Opera production of The Injustice to Dou E, a famous Chinese play which is believed to have been inspired by the Legend of the East Sea Filial Woman.

Video 2:

(Cartoon telling of the story)

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