Legend of Dong Yong 董永与七仙女

The legend of Dong Yong and the seventh fairy is a story wildly known in China. The story has it that a guy in the Han Dynasty named Dong Yong was so dutiful that the seventh fairy in Heaven was touched and descended to the human world to help him pay off his debt by weaving. The story is much favored by the general public and has been selected on the List of Chinese Intangible Cultural Heritages.
The legend of Dong Yong first appeared in Biography of Dutiful Sons written by Liu Xiang, a famous scholar in the Western Han Dynasty. Record of the legend provided in Soushenji (Deities Searching Record) written by Gan Bao, a scholar in the Jin Dynasty has been widespread in the rural areas in China by virtue of its prominent theme (Filial piety) and integral plot, thus serving as an original edition of story evolution and literary transplantation, which has exerted profound influence on later generations. This story embodies the cultural tradition of filial piety in China; meanwhile, it contains some romantic tinge, which caters to the general public’s desire for happy marriage. Moreover, with its artistic features reflecting on the skillful combination of fantastic imagination with human reality, the story has been acting as a common theme for pop literature (e.g. talking and singing, traditional drama) and the subject matter of the movie and television, of which the movie-edition Huangmei Opera The Heavenly Match is extensively influential.
The legend of Dong Yong has been, during a long spreading time of over 2000 years, continuously combined with people’s life in various regions and has evolved to be legends of distinctive regional features. Accordingly, customs in this regard have been formed and relics have come into existence, such as cultural relics, steles, villages and toponym which are related to Dong Yong’s life experience. For instance, there is Dongjia Village and Dong Yong grave in Boxing County, Shandong Province, a stele written with "Dong Yong’s Native Place" and "Consensual marriage cloth" in Xiaohuai Village in Wanrong County, Shanxi Province, and ceremonious worship of the dutiful son in temple fairs held on the third day of the second lunar month and the tenth day of the eleventh lunar month annually in Wuzhi County, Henan Province. Historical and literary material contained in the legend of Dong Yong is valuable to the research on the society, economy, politics and culture, in particular on the literature and art of every dynasty of China.

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