The story of Meng Jiangnu crying on Great Wall is well known in China. It is one of four ancient Chinese folk tales along with "The Shepherdess and Weaver Girl", "Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai" and "The Legend of White Snake". According to historical records, word Meng Jiang dates back to Spring and Autumn Period, and history of Meng Jiangwi has been constantly changing in subsequent generations.First, who is Meng Jiangnu's prototype?
The title "Meng Jiang" appeared in Book of Songs. "Zheng Feng · Young Girls in Same Car" has: "He's handsome Meng Jiang, and he's handsome, both." The name of a person is but name of a noble lady of state of Qi, Meng means eldest daughter, and Jiang is family name of state of Qi. The Zhou family is a people in which surnames Ji and Jiang are mixed, so in Zhou Dynasty, Ji was most honorable surname for men, and Jiang was highest for women. And word Meng Jiang gradually became a synonym for noble ladies of Spring and Autumn period, like so-called "Bai Fumei" today: "Hengmen" means: "If you marry a wife, you must have ginger."
However, Meng Jiangnu's prototype doesn't seem to have anything to do with "Meng Jiang" here. According to textual research, earliest prototype of Meng Jiangnu must be Qi Liang's wife, which is recorded in Zuo Zhuan. The content of Qiliang's wife crying for city is probably this: Qi Zhuanggong, State of Qi attacked State of Ju, and Dr. Qiliang died in battle. Later, two countries reconciled, Qiliang's body was transported back to country, and Qiliang's wife met her husband's coffin in suburbs. Duke Qi Zhuang also sent people to suburbs to express their condolences. But Qiliang's wife thought that Qiliang died for country and mourned in suburbs without being sincere, so she rejected Qi Zhuanggong. Later, Duke Qi Zhuang went to Qiliang household to offer his condolences in person. Since Qiliang's wife is from Qi and is wife of a scholar-bureaucrat, one can easily be called "Meng Jiang".
It should be noted here that reason Book of Rites and Zuo Zhuan recorded this incident is mainly to show that Qiliang's wife understands etiquette. During Warring States period, scenes of Qiliang's wife crying appeared in many historical documents. The Tang Gong Book of Rites records that Zeng Zi said, "His wife greeted his coffin on way and wept bitterly." change national customs." According to many historical records, it can be concluded that "the people of Qi sing well and cry melodies." Thus, Qi Liang's wife's "weeping sorrow" is indeed credible.
However, in later historical documents, more and more attention is paid to her lamentation, rather than her ceremony. The Han Shi Wai Zhuan states that "Qiliang's wife is crying, but people call it singing." In "Nineteen Ancient Poems" there is "The strings sing, and sound is so sad. one of them is Qiliang's wife.” It can be seen that crying of Qiliang's wife has become a musical and literary symbol. Cai Yong at end of Eastern Han Dynasty recorded in Qin Cao that Qiliang's wife not only wept, but also drummed with qin, saying, "There is no joy in meeting each other, there is no sorrow in parting. with each other and mourning fall of imperial city." After hundreds of years of evolution, Qi Liang's wife seems to have become a musician.Second, how Meng Jianwi turned into a martyr
The story of Qi Liang's wife changed again during Western Han Dynasty. Liu Xiang wrote in Sho Yuan that “In past, Hua Zhou and Qi Liang died in battle. His wife mourned and wept for city. The corner collapsed and city fell." led to collapse of city wall. Liu Xiang also said in "Biography of a Martyr Girl" that she "went to Zishui and died" after Qiliang's funeral. These two scenes were created by Liu Xiang et al. At this time, story of Qi Liang's wife changed beyond recognition. She had changed from a polite person in "Zuo Zhuan" to a strong woman.
Why did Liu Xiang add so much oil and vinegar? We can understand this from past. Liu Xiang was a figure of late Western Han Dynasty. During this era, Confucianism became an orthodox thought, and elements of imprisonment appeared. Dong Zhongshu's "Three Basic Directions and Five Immutable Principles" became moral principles advocated by bureaucrat scholars. their husbands. As a master of Confucianism for a whole generation, Liu Xiang, of course, pays great attention to women's "virtues". For this reason, he collected many stories and adapted them to write Life of a Martyr Girl. Among them, it is written that Qiliang's wife "went to Zishui and died", which depicts her as a generation of strong women.
During Eastern Han Dynasty, famous scholar Wang Chong once criticized Liu Xiang's story of Qi Liang's wife. He said: “It is true that husband says he is crying for city; it's a lie that city is collapsing." The wall then collapsed, but this has nothing to do with crying. It can be seen from Wang Chong's thesis that people of Han Dynasty basically put up with collapse of city wall at that time. The scene in which Qiliang's wife "goes to Zishui to die" seems to be widely accepted. Cai Yong of late Eastern Han Dynasty recorded in Qin Cao that Qiliang's wife finished singing, "Let's be happy, let's get to know each other, and be sad." .Third, where did Meng Jiangnu cry?
According to description in Zuo Zhuan, place where Qiliang's wife met her husband's coffin was on outskirts of Linzi, capital of state of Qi, and its city wall was also in Linzi. Later, however, location also changed. Annotation on Antiquity and Modernity by Cui Bao of Western Jin Dynasty states that place where Qi Liang's wife wept was in state capital of Qi (now Qixian County, Henan Province), which may be due to fact that he considered Qi Liana is a native of State of Qi. Li Daoyuan of Northern Wei Dynasty said that place where Qiliang's wife wept was in Juicheng, and he mistakenly thought that Qiliang's wife went to Ju to mourn him. But in any case, these places are mostly located near Shandong, and we are also talking about Spring and Autumn Period.
In Tang Dynasty, history changed dramatically. From Spring and Autumn Period to Qin Dynasty, this place changed from Linzi of Qi State to Great Wall of Qin, and Qiliang changed from a doctor of State of Qi to a civilian who built Great Wall. Guanxu, Monk Poet at end of Tang Dynasty, "Qiliang's Wife": "Qin has no way, world is dry, and Great Wall is built to cover Northern Hu. Build people and build soil for ten thousand miles, and Qiliang virgins weep." During Qin Dynasty, there were folk songs: “When you give birth to a boy, be careful not to raise him, and if you give birth to a daughter, feed her jerky. If you see Great Wall, corpse will become a pillar." It later evolved into "Drinking Horses and a Journey to Caves of Great Wall" by Han Yuefu. The folk songs of Great Wall of Qin Dynasty and story of Qi Liang's wife gradually merged, and it became a crude version of Meng Jiangnu crying on Great Wall that we see today.
The Tang Dynasty is far away from Qin Dynasty, why did literati make up stories to make fun of Qin Shi Huang? In fact, this is a kind of "using past to ridicule present." The Tang Dynasty continued to fight overseas, causing many family tragedies. Therefore, poems about boudoir complaints and border fortresses prevailed in this era. Du Fu's "Soldiers and Chariots" and "Sanbe" is a satire on military service of Tang Dynasty. Writers wrote that Meng Jiangnu wept at Great Wall, could this be a metaphor for heavy corvée in Tang Dynasty. At end of Tang Dynasty, Qiliang's name gradually evolved into Fan Xiliang, Wang Xiliang, etc. Qiliang's wife also evolved into Meng Jiangnu, and many storylines were added. After Tang Dynasty, story of Meng Jiangnu crying over Great Wall has basically taken shape, appearing in various popular literature such as Bianwen, storybooks, operas, folk songs, Dances, Guqi, Baojuan, Zidishu, etc., making story widely widespread.