Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping

This Great Wall story happened during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). There was once an old man named Meng who lived in the southern part of the country with his wife. One spring, Meng sowed a seed of bottle gourd in his yard. The bottle gourd grew up bit by bit and its vines climbed over the wall and entered his neighbor Jiang's yard. Like Meng, Jiang had no children and so he became very fond of the plant. He watered and took care of the plant. With tender care of both men, the plant grew bigger and bigger and gave a beautiful bottle gourd in autumn.


Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping

Jiang plucked it off the vine, and the two old men decided to cut the gourd and divide it by half. To their surprise when they cut the gourd a pretty and lovely girl was lying inside! They felt happy to have a child and both loved her very much, so they decided to bring the child up together. They named the girl Meng Jiangnu, which means Meng and Jiang's daughter. As time went by, the little girl grew up and became a beautiful young woman. She was very smart and industrious. She took care of old Meng and Jiang's families, washing the clothes and doing the house work. People knew that Meng Jiangnu was a good girl and liked her very much. One day while playing in the yard, she saw a young man hiding in the garden. She called out to her parents, and the young man came out.


At that time, Emperor Qin Shihuang (the first emperor of Qin) announced to build the Great Wall. So lots of men were caught by the federal officials. Fan Qiliang was an intellectual man and very afraid of being caught, so he went to Meng's house to hide from the officials. Meng and Jiang liked this good-looking, honest, and good-mannered young man. They decided to wed their daughter to him. The two young people accepted happily, and got married several days later. However, three days after their marriage, officials suddenly broke in and took Fan Qiliang away to build the Great Wall in the north of China.


It was a hard time for Meng Jiangnu after her husband was taken away - she missed her husband and cried nearly every day. She sewed warm clothes for her husband and decided to set off to look for him. Saying farewell to her parents, she packed her luggage and started her long journey. She climbed over mountains and went through the rivers. She walked day and night, slipping and falling many times, but finally she reached the foot of the Great Wall at the present Shanhaiguan Pass.


Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping

Upon her arrival, she was eager to ask about her husband. Bad news came to her, however, that Fan Qiliang had already died of exhaustion and was buried into the Great Wall! Meng Jiangnu could not help crying. She sat on the ground and cried and cried. Suddenly with a tremendous noise, a 400 kilometer-long (248-mile-long) section of the Great Wall collapsed over her bitter wail. The workmen and supervisors were astonished. Emperor Qin Shihuang happened to be touring the wall at that exact time, and he was enraged and ready to punish the woman.


However, at the first sight of Meng Jiangnu Emperor Qin Shihuang was attracted by her beauty. Instead of killing her, the Emperor asked her to marry him. Suppressing her feeling of anger, she agreed on the basis of three terms.


Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping

The first was to find the body of Fan Qiliang, the second was to hold a state funeral for him, and the last one was to have Emperor Qin Shihuang wear black mourning for Fan Qiliang and attend the funeral in person. Emperor Qin Shihuang thought for a while and reluctantly agreed. After all the terms were met, Emperor Qin Shihuang was ready to take her to his palace. When the guarders were not watching, she suddenly turned around and jumped into the nearby Bohai Sea.


This story tells of the hard work of Chinese commoners, as well as exposes the cruel system of hard labor during the reign of Emperor Qin Shihuang. The Ten-Thousand-Li Great Wall embodied the power and wisdom of the Chinese nation. In memory of Meng Jiangnu, later generations built a temple, called the Temple of Mengjiangnu, at the foot of the Great Wall in which a statue of her is located. Meng Jiangnu's story has been passed down from generation to generation.


Virtual Field Trip: The Great Wall of China

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