Great Wall Culture

Great Wall with colorful legends

As one of the Seven Wonders in the world, the Great Wall of China has become the symbol of the Chinese nation and its culture.

Extending 21,196 kilometers (13,170 miles) in north China, the well-known Great Wall starts at the Jiayuguan Pass of Gansu Province in the west and ends at the Shanhaiguan Pass of Hebei Province in the east. It also served as the safeguard of the Silk Road, the world's longest and oldest international trading route, and some vital passes along the wall became the trading ports for merchants to take rest and exchange goods.
 See more about the Relation Between Great Wall & Silk Road

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. The story happened during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). It tells of how Meng Jiangnu's bitter weeping made a section of the wall collapse. Meng Jiangnu's husband Fan Qiliang was caught by federal officials and sent to build the wall. Meng Jiangnu heard nothing from him after his departure, so she set out to look for him. Unfortunately, by the time she got there, 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 wall. This story indicates that the wall is the production of tens of thousands of Chinese commoners.

Jiayuguan Pass, Gansu
Jiayuguan Pass, Gansu

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 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 wall help to keep alive Chinese history and culture. In each dynasty after the building of the wall, many more stories were created and spread.

Great Wall Stories & Legends:

 More Stories of Great Wall of China

Further Reading:

Fun Facts about Great Wall: 25 Things You didn't Know

Why is the Great Wall of China important?

- Last updated on Nov. 01, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Great Wall Culture
Asked by poop | Mar. 20, 2013 14:33Reply
in this ancient chinese legend, how did meng jiangnu bring down a section of the great wall
Answers (2)
Answered by Jack from PHILIPPINES | Mar. 20, 2013 21:52

in ancient time, three days after Meng Jiangmu and her husband got married, her husband were forced to build the Great Wall. Then he was dead during the construction, but Meng Jiangnv did not know anything.
She started to find his husband, but when she reached there and got a piece of news that her husband was dead. So she cried three days and nights and her tears made the section wall fall down.
Answered by protype | Apr. 15, 2013 13:29

her heart sorrow tears for her dead husband
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