Home : Beijing Attraction : Great Wall:

Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping

Great Wall legend, Beijing

The Great Wall is an amazing work created by the Chinese people, but its construction is impregnated with the blood and tears of the working people. Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping is a most enduring but tragic legend that reflects the hardships of the earlier constructors.
In the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC), there lived a lonely old couple with the surname Meng. Their neighbors happened to be another old couple, named Jiang, who had no children either. One spring, Mr Meng sowed a calabash seed in the courtyard. As days went by, trailing vines spread to the Jiang's courtyard and produced a small fruit. Hence, the little gourd was taken good care of by the two families. When it was ripe, they decided to cut it into halves, each having a half. To their astonishment, the calabash contained a baby girl. They were elated and gave her the name Meng Jiangnu, indicating the daughter of the Mengs and the Jiangs.
Year by year, Meng Jiangnu grew into a beautiful and industrious young lady. She fell in love with Fan Qiliang, an honest, well-mannered, handsome gentleman. And this young man nourished a deep affection for her. With the blessing of the parents, a wedding ceremony was held; unfortunately, that night, Fan Qiliang was taken away by force to build the Great Wall. During that time the year-round strenuous work on the wall and ubiquitous atrocities on the sites had cost numerous civilian's lives, which exacerbated an enforced conscription of common people to sacrifice themselves to the wall construction.
Hence, not even a piece of news about the young man came. Every day wore on slowly for Meng Jiangnu, for she was worried for her husband a great deal. One year later in late autumn, Meng Jiannu made cotton-padded clothes for Fan Qiliang and began her long-distance wading to find her husband alone. She underwent all conceivable hardships on her way and finally reached the construction site, only to find that Mr Fan had died and been buried under the wall.
On hearing the news, she was so distressed that she wept herself out at the foot the wall for three days. The sky changed into a state of chaos and darkness, and a section of the wall with a distance of 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) suddenly tumbled down. Many skeletons buried under the wall were revealed. Not recognizing the body of his husband, she bit her finger until it bled and prayed to the god to help her in the way that her blood would sink into the very body of her husband. She proceeded to drip blood onto the corpses, only to watch it run off time and again. With the pity of the god, she at last succeeded in finding her dead husband's remains.
Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of the Qin Dynasty, was informed of the collapse of the wall. This tyrant was shocked and determined to punish Meng Jiangnu. The moment he saw the elegant and pretty lady, he took a fancy of her and demanded her to marry him instead. How could she marry a tyrant? After burying Fang Qiliang, she committed suicide by jumping into the Bohai Sea.
This sad story was then spread widely and passed down through succeeding generations. In memory of this faithful woman, a temple was built at the Mt Phoenix near the Shanhaiguan Pass in Hebei Province. For tourists to Shanhaiguan Pass, they should pay a visit to this temple.
  • China Tours
  • Early Bird Booking

Comments and Questions

My friend Meroe says that the tale of Meng Jiangnu is a very sad tale all in all but she said that she heard another version of the story.Is that true?

Reply2/21/2011 8:11:00 PMAleyah,   United States

Herbert ( Australia ) :11/9/2016 2:44:46 PM

Yes there are many different types or retellings of this version.

where is the section that meng jiang toppled with her tears??

Reply1/17/2013 6:55:00 AMea,   Albania

Nancy :1/17/2013 6:39:02 PM

at the section near Shanghaiguan Pass. a temple was built there to commemorate Meng Jiangnv.

I have heard of this beautiful yet very sad story of Meng Jiang, the young lady and her devotion to Fan Qiliang

I wish all wives are like her.

jb lim

A Chinese husband

Reply8/31/2012 4:03:31 AMlim ju boo,   Malaysia

So Meng Jiangnu was just a girl born from a piece of fruit? She wasn't a complete human?

Reply2/21/2011 8:08:00 PMAleyah,   United States

Mengmeng ( China ) :10/8/2011 2:37:36 PM

Meng Jiangnu was a real person

un none :3/12/2012 4:21:48 PM

well it is a legend so there for part is fake and part is real the part whare she came frome a fruit was fiction.