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The Butterfly Lovers
The Butterfly Lovers snow sculpture at the 2005 Breckenridge Snow Sculpture Festival
The Butterfly Lovers, Verona, Italy.

 

 

The Butterfly Lovers, or Liang and Zhu, is a Chinese legend about the tragic romance between two lovers, Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai. The legend is sometimes regarded as the Chinese equivalent of Romeo and Juliet. The story also inspired the production of the Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto, a work for violin and orchestra, written in 1959 by two Chinese composers. A symbolic retelling of the legend, it is one of the classics of modern Chinese music. Beautiful, strong-willed and eager to learn, Zhu Yingtai came from a rich but conservative family in Zhejiang province during Eastern Jin Dynasty. She knew her father would not let her attend classes outside so she disguised herself as a man. Neither her father nor mother could recognize her. With their approval, Zhu set off for Hangzhou. On her way she met Liang Shanbo. They became good friends and swore brotherhood. Three years passed.
Zhu was secretly in love with Liang, but Liang did not know Zhu was a girl. She tried to reveal her true identity, but Liang did not understand. Forced to return home, Zhu parted with Liang. When Liang returned to the college he was told the truth, and then rushed off to visit Zhu. However, Zhu's father had already accepted another proposal from a rich man named Ma Wencai, and refused to change his mind. Liang missed his chance and left with disappointment and frustration. A few days later, he died of sorrow and illness. Grief-stricken, Zhu insisted on visiting his graveyard before going to the wedding with Ma. She took off her wedding gown in front of Liang's tomb and cried with all her strength. Suddenly the tomb opened and Zhu jumped inside. Liang and Zhu were transformed into a pair of colourful butterflies who never parted again.