CULTURE OF THE WALL
The In the
north of China, there lies a 6,700-kilometer-long (4,161-mile-long) ancient
wall. Now well-known as the Great Wall of China, it starts at the Jiayuguan Pass
of Gansu Province in the west and ends at the Shanhaiguan Pass of Hebei Province
in the east. As one of the Eight Wonders in the world, the Great Wall of China
has become the symbol of the Chinese nation and its culture.
Lots of beautiful legends and stories about the Great Wall took place following
along the construction, and since that time these stories have spread around the
country. Those that happened during construction are abundant, such as Meng
Jiangnu's story and the legend of the Jiayuguan Pass. Meng Jiangnu's story is
the most famous and widely spread of all the legends about the Great Wall. The
story happened during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). It tells of how Meng
Jiangnu's bitter weeping made a section of the Great Wall collapse. Meng
Jiangnu's husband Fan Qiliang was caught by federal officials and sent to build
the Great Wall. Meng Jiangnu heard nothing from him after his departure, so she
set out to look for him. Unfortunately, by the time she reached the great wall,
she discovered that her husband had already died. Hearing the bad news, she
cried her heart out. Her howl caused the collapse of a part of the Great Wall.
This story indicates that the Great Wall is the production of tens of thousands
of Chinese commoners.
Another legend about the Jiayuguan Pass tells of a workman named Yi Kaizhan in
the Ming Dynasty (1368BC-1644BC) who was proficient in arithmetic. He calculated
that it would need 99,999 bricks to build the Jiayuguan Pass. The supervisor did
not believe him and said if they miscalculated by even one brick, then all the
workmen would be punished to do hard work for three years. After the completion
of the project, one brick was left behind the Xiwong city gate. The supervisor
was happy at the sight of the brick and ready to punish them. However Yi Kaizhan
said with deliberation that the brick was put there by a supernatural being to
fix the wall. A tiny move would cause the collapse of the wall. Therefore the
brick was kept there and never moved. It can still be found there today on the
tower of the Jiayuguan Pass.
In addition to the above-mentioned stories about the construction of the Great
Wall, there are also plenty of stories about current scenic spots. A famous one
is the legend of the Beacon Tower. This story happened during the Western Zhou
Dynasty (11th century BC-711 BC). King You had a queen named Bao Si, who was
very pretty. King You liked her very much, however Bao Si never smiled. An
official gave a suggestion that setting the beacon tower on fire would frighten
the King's subjects, and might make the queen smile. King You liked the idea.
The subjects were fooled and Bao Si smiled at the sight of the chaos. Later
enemies invaded Western Zhou, King You set the beacon tower on fire to ask for
help. No subjects came to help because they had been fooled once before. Thus,
King Zhou was killed by the enemy and Western Zhou came to an end.
Beautiful stories and legends about the Great Wall help to keep alive Chinese
history and culture. In each dynasty after the building of the Great Wall, many
more stories were created and spread