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孔雀向東南飛傳説   The Peacock Flies Southeast Legend

所屬名錄: 第四批國家級名錄

編號: I-130

申報地區或單位: 安徽省懷寧縣、潛山縣  

Inscribed list: National List, Fourth Batch

Inventory no.: I-130

Nominating unit(s): Anhui Province, Huaining County and Qianshan County

《孔雀向東南飛》傳說是中國文學歴史上最早的長篇敍述古詩。原題為 《古詩為焦仲卿妻作》,講述了一對恩愛夫妻被殘忍地拆散的故事。






The Legend of the Peacock Flies Southeast is the earliest long narrative Gushi (古詩), or Classical Chinese poem. Alternatively titled An Old Poetry Dedicated for Jiao Zhongqing’s Wife, the poem, which dates to the Eastern Han period, depicts a tragic romance of a married couple that is forcefully separated due to cruel orders.


Set in third person narrative, the poem begins with the line “the Peacock flies Southeast, it lingers every five miles,” to open the story, hence giving the poem its name. The peacock is used to emphasize the emotions of the lovers. Liu Lanzhi (劉蘭芝) was a maiden married to Jiao Zhongqing (焦仲卿). Despite being a caring and hardworking wife, she was despised by her harsh mother-in-law, who always complained about her, while the husband was working far away from home. Until one day, the mother-in-law could not stand Liu anymore, and forcefully separated the couple by having them divorce.


Driven out of her husband’s home, Liu returned to her home, only to face pressure from her brother, because she rejected proposals of marriage from several other men. Without any choice, she agreed to the marriage proposal of another rich official. Before the wedding, Jiao arrived and learned of the news, and they bid a tearful farewell. Liu still remained loyal to her love of her ex-husband, so she jumped into a pond and drowned herself to death before the marriage.


When Jiao later heard of her death, he hung himself on a tree in the backyard of his home, to express his love towards Liu. After the consecutive tragedies, Liu and Jiao’s families followed the wishes of Jiao and buried both bodies together, planting two different kinds of trees on both sides of the grave. As the trees grew, their branches wrapped around each other, and there nested a pair of birds known as Mandarin Ducks (鴛鴦) that would call out every night and remind “the passers-by and widows” not to forget the tragedy.


Together with the Ballad of Mulan, this long poem is declared as one of the best Yuefu (樂府), a Chinese style of lyric poetry, and both have been inscribed onto the National lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The story was composed in the Eastern Han dynasty, and in the Northern and Southern dynasties it was included in a compilation of literature called Yutai Sin Yung (玉台新詠) by Xu Ling (徐陵), before being featured again in the Yuefu Shi ji (樂府詩集) by Guo Maoqian (郭茂倩) during the Song Dynasty. The exact author of the original poem is unknown. Jiao Zhongqing and Liu Lanzhi seem to have really existed in history.  It is alleged that the lovers lived on different sides of the riverbank, and that the Peacock Tomb in Anhui province is the site where the couple is entombed.


The Peacock Flies Southeast Legend has been adapted into different local and national opera works, and has also been the inspiration for music and film.


Video 1:

An audio recording of a Cantonese Opera production of The Peacock Flies Southeast

Video 2:

(Cartoon telling of the story)

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