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Legends & stories

The Legend of Meng Jiang Nü

Among all legends and stories about the Great Wall, the most well-known one is probably of a girl called Meng Jiang Nü. Through various dynasties, the story has been modified and developed into many different versions. The most popular one goes as follows: It was in Qin Dynasty (221 B.C. - 206 B.C.). Having escaped from the heavy labour work at the Great Wall construction site, a young man called Fan Qi Liang hid in a private garden where he ran into Meng Jiang Nü, the daughter of the garden owner. They married but right after the wedding, Fan Qi Liang was taken away to build the Great Wall again. Meng Jiang Nü waited at home. Winter came but Fan Qi Liang did not return. Meng Jiang Nü made him some warm clothes and decided to take them to her husband. She got to the construction site but Fan Qi Liang was nowhere to be found. She was then told that Fan Qi Liang had died and his body was built into the Great Wall. Meng Jiang Nü cried night and day. Her Temple of Meng Jiang Nvsorrow was so deep that the Great Wall broke down and exposed the bones and bodies of many dead men. Meng Jiang Nü cut her fingers and dripped her blood on the dead until her blood flowed into one. Knowing that this was her husband, she buried him and then jumped into water and killed herself. This is a very wide-spread legend about the Great Wall and was even made into movies three times. If you ever get a chance to visit Shan Hai Guan, the eastern end of the Ming Great Wall - actually, the Ming Great Wall used to extend further east and northward, - you can pay a visit to the temple dedicated to Meng Jiang Nü.
Though just a legend, the story of Meng Jiang Nü did tell one truth: Many people have given their lives building the Great Wall, and many more defending the Wall. With a history of over 2,000 years, the Great Wall witnessed the changes of time, the lives of people, the happening of events, and the stories of many individuals. So much laughter, so many tears, the Great Wall all endured with silence.

A Story About Jia Yu Guan
At the western end of the Ming Great Wall, a most well-preserved pass, Jia Yu Guan, stands solemnly in the gobi desert. And if you ask the local guides, they will direct you to a special brick. It is said that the designer of the pass in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) was so precise as to be able to calculate how many bricks would be needed for the construction. Upon completion of the pass, the surplus was only by one brick.
The Widows' Tower
At the Tai Ping Zhai section of the Great Wall near Huang Ya Guan, there is a well-known tower called the Widows' Tower. It is said that when building Huang Ya Guan, 12 soldiers from Henan Province lost their lives. Their wives, upon learning the news, were all heart-broken. Later, they used the compensation they got to build the tower in memory of their husbands.
The Happy Meeting Mouth
The buiding of Pan Jia Kou Reservoir in Hebei Province resulted in a section of underwater Great Wall. This section is called Xi Feng Kou, the Happy Meeting Mouth. In the old days, a soldier had not returned home for a long time. His father looked for him everywhere and what a coincidence, they ran into each other at the Songting Hill. They were so happy and laughed so much that they both died. Later they were burried at the pass whose name was then changed to the Happy Meeting Pass.
The "Metal Soup" Great Wall
On the outskirts of Beijing, there is a famous section of the Great Wall called Huang Hua Cheng (the yellow flower fortress). It was named after the yellow flowers that bloom in the summer time but there is a famous story about the building of this section in the Ming Dynasty. A general called Cai Kai was put in charge of the construction. Several years passed before it was completed. The central government was not happy and General Cai was accused of the long construction period and high investment. He was executed. Later, the emperor realised that something was wrong. He carried out an investigation and found that the Great Wall built by General Cai was very steep and solid. Not one crack could be knocked out of the bricks and stones that had been reinforced with rice soup. Knowing that the project was of extremely high quality, the emperor established a tablet for General Cai and wrote on a big rock under the Great Wall the "Metal Soup".
During the Second World War, the Japanese invaders tried very hard and eventually succeeded in blowing up a section of the Huang Hua Cheng Great Wall. The section fell into the lake nearby and you can still see today the Great Wall extending on both sides of the lake.

(Written by e99)
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