Thursday, October 31, 2019

Andy 60s: Butterfly Lovers Liang Shan Poh (梁山伯), Zhu Ying Tai (祝英臺) Part 1

I do not remember how many times I heard this eastern version of Romeo and Juliet. It was told to me again and again; I read it from the Chinese comic koh cheh as a child  but never got tired of this impeccably sweet love story, also known as Sam Pek Eng Tai among the Indonesians.

The image above captures the essence of the love pact between them: tranquil, yet fresh and colourful. 
Richard Clayderman: The Butterfly Lovers 💔 Video from: 音樂無界 Thank You.

Here's my take on the tale:

The young lady Zhu Ying Tai (祝英臺) went to college but disguised as a man because generally in China females were discouraged from taking up academic pursuits. Luck, fate or otherwise, she met this handsome young man in college and fell in love with him. He didn't know and treated her as a close male buddy.

She did not tell him her identity but they took an oath of brotherhood or fraternity. The symbolic place to meet was the pavilion bridge, where they pledged their companionship for each other. 

After all that had happened, he still didn't know she was a lady, even after three years, being the square that he was, they both studied in peace and quiet. When they graduated and had to part, she was smart enough to invite him to her home, on the promise that she would introduce him to her "sister" who could become his girlfriend. Female ingenuity!
When he finally discovered that his three-year uni-mate was a female (of all the luck!), they vowed to marry. He was by then a county magistrate, but when they discovered that she had already been arranged by her parents to be married to a rich merchant,  they were heart broken.  

Because of this malady, Liang Shan Poh  (梁山伯), became ill and as the months went by, he passed away. Worse than Shakespeare's story.

On the wedding day, Zhu's bridal procession had to be halted on the road because of very powerful winds. She took this opportunity to pay respect at Liang's grave. When she reached it, she was so overwhelmed, she begged that the grave opened up so she could join Liang. 

Thunder clapped, the sky turned grim and the gaping grave parted wide. She was swallowed whole, consumed in the subdued light after the lightning burst. 

Then, surprisingly, out of the agony and in the dim light, two colourful butterflies emerged, free spirits to flit into the dusk.

Comment guys, on the tale?

In my next posting I shall explain the origin of the haunting melody 'The Butterfly Lovers'.

梁祝 - The Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto: High Def Video by Chinese080808

Images: Google and YouTube.

I have totally ignored Halloween this year because it'll be another dose of fat pumpkins, white skulls, dark witches and brown coffins. We'll leave them out for next time.

Come Valentine's Day, I'll resurface this tale again.



Hello Andy
I didn't know the story and song until a couple of years back.
I heard of the two names but didn't know the story behind it.
Just read it; a sad one indeed.
It's always nice to learn something new.
Thanks to you.

DR A. KHOO said...

Nice story.
I too dislike Halloween.

facebook chats said...

The story is as well known as Romeo and Juliet. Check it out, please on the blog. The Indonesian Chinese call it SAM PEK ENG TAI.

Peter Cheong
I remember watching this movie with my parents when I was young at at Jubilee Theatre opposite the Odeon. It was a Cantonese movie starring Leong Sing Por a Singapore born actor.

Koh Daisy
I watched it too with my parents then...remember the grave parting scene ... it scared me then... Liang San Poh was love sick and pined away ... some romantic fairy tale ... my parents even bought the records ...😁

Koh Daisy
Think there was a miscalculation and his matchmaker arrived too late.

Andy Young
Thanks Daisy for the information. You've got a great memory.

Andy Young
Thank you Peter. Yes, the Jubilee Theatre at North Bridge Road showed many Chinese movies. Very popular with our local goers.


Oh yes as a young boy 7 or 8 years old, I was staying at Albert Street and I often see Cantonese movies at Jubilee Theatre. Could only afford to buy front row ticket at fifty cents. Also the show at 9 pm. After show neck a bit stiff. Went home and my grandfather waited at the door. I got lectured but it was actually his concern for safety. I still my young days.

Andy Young
Thank you Fabian for always sharing your memories with us. Yes, I remember the stiff neck after viewing from the front rows. :-)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

thank you all for the LIKE on this post.
And the others who replied and gave interesting comments above.

Freda Hanum
Stephen Han
Rose Khoo
Charlie Yap Locomotion
Belinda Poh
Peter Cheong
Tracy Ng
Ho Victor
Mark Tan
Tan Andrew

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

And a big thank you to:
For reminding me that this story is also called
among the Indonesian Chinese.

That was the name my mother mentioned
When she related the story to me.

We could also find the stories
In black and white comic books
Called KOH CHEH.

JT CHEN said...

Slowly but surely, tear-jerking classics, such as 'Dream of the Red Chamber', will slowly recede into the distant past. The younger generation will not appreciate the life of these forgotten eras.

Depiction of such court intrigues in its costumed glamour such as Zhang Yimou's 'Curse of the Golden Flower' doesn't help foster the understanding of the harsh reality. The painting that you present serves to show how latter day artists romanticize relationship through flowing gossamer garments and hair of androgynous characters.

Yes. We have to accept that the technological advances we enjoy now has distanced us from our past.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Appreciate comment from J.T.

Your take, on stories like these, is brilliant. Let's just hope the robotic age will not rid us of imaginative writers and artists. And love?

Any other view? Nice turn this posting has deviated to.

FRED CHING said...

Since it's also Halloween.

Found this pic yesterday. Apologies for the lateness in sharing Brother Andy. Nothing fancy, but these are the little memories in life which are cherished and remembered.

Just me on left playing a “hopping” vampire: Jiangshi... a stiff corpse dressed in official garments from the Qing Dynasty during our D & D Nite.😀🙏

(Picture can be viewed under Halloween posting: