Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping

Stature of Mengjiangnu, who went to Great Wall construction site to find her husband
Statue of Mengjiangnu
Exhibits at Meng Jiangnu Temple
Exhibits at Meng Jiangnu Temple

The Great Wall story of Meng Jiangnu's Bitter Weeping happened during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). There was once an old man named Meng who lived in the southern part of the country with his wife. One spring, Meng sowed a seed of bottle gourd in his yard. The bottle gourd grew up bit by bit and its vines climbed over the wall and entered his neighbor Jiang's yard. Like Meng, Jiang had no children and so he became very fond of the plant. He watered and took care of the plant. With tender care of both men, the plant grew bigger and bigger and gave a beautiful bottle gourd in autumn. Jiang plucked it off the vine, and the two old men decided to cut the gourd and divide it by half. To their surprise when they cut the gourd a pretty and lovely girl was lying inside! They felt happy to have a child and both loved her very much, so they decided to bring the child up together. They named the girl Meng Jiangnu, which means Meng and Jiang's daughter.

As time went by, the little girl grew up and became a beautiful young woman. She was very smart and industrious. She took care of old Meng and Jiang's families, washing the clothes and doing the house work. People knew that Meng Jiangnu was a good girl and liked her very much. One day while playing in the yard, she saw a young man hiding in the garden. She called out to her parents, and the young man came out.

At that time, Emperor Qin Shihuang (the first emperor of Qin) announced to build the Great Wall. So lots of men were caught by the federal officials. Fan Qiliang was an intellectual man and very afraid of being caught, so he went to Meng's house to hide from the officials. Meng and Jiang liked this good-looking, honest, and good-mannered young man. They decided to wed their daughter to him. The two young people accepted happily, and got married several days later. However, three days after their marriage, officials suddenly broke in and took Fan Qiliang away to build the wall in the north of China.

It was a hard time for Meng Jiangnu after her husband was taken away - she missed her husband and cried nearly every day. She sewed warm clothes for her husband and decided to set off to look for him. Saying farewell to her parents, she packed her luggage and started her long journey. She climbed over mountains and went through the rivers. She walked day and night, slipping and falling many times, but finally she reached the foot of the Great Wall at the present Shanhaiguan Pass.

Upon her arrival, she was eager to ask about her husband. Bad news came to her, however, that Fan Qiliang had already died of exhaustion and was buried into the Great Wall! Meng Jiangnu could not help crying. She sat on the ground and cried and cried. Suddenly with a tremendous noise, a 400 kilometer-long (248-mile-long) section of the wall collapsed over her bitter wail. The workmen and supervisors were astonished. Emperor Qin Shihuang happened to be touring the wall at that exact time, and he was enraged and ready to punish the woman.

However, at the first sight of Meng Jiangnu Emperor Qin Shihuang was attracted by her beauty. Instead of killing her, the Emperor asked her to marry him. Suppressing her feeling of anger, she agreed on the basis of three terms.

Statues of Meng Jiangnu and her husband Fan Qiliang
Meng Jiangnu and her husband Fan Qiliang

The first was to find the body of Fan Qiliang, the second was to hold a state funeral for him, and the last one was to have Emperor Qin Shihuang wear black mourning for Fan Qiliang and attend the funeral in person. Emperor Qin Shihuang thought for a while and reluctantly agreed. After all the terms were met, Emperor Qin Shihuang was ready to take her to his palace. When the guarders were not watching, she suddenly turned around and jumped into the nearby Bohai Sea.

This story tells of the hard work of Chinese commoners, as well as exposes the cruel system of hard labor during the reign of Emperor Qin Shihuang. The Ten-Thousand-Li Great Wall embodied the power and wisdom of the Chinese nation. In memory of Meng Jiangnu, later generations built a temple, called the Temple of Mengjiangnu, at the foot of the Great Wall in which a statue of her is located. Meng Jiangnu's story has been passed down from generation to generation.

Further Reading:

Stories of Badaling Great Wall
Legends of Jiayuguan Great Wall
Legend of Shanhaiguan Great Wall
Legend of Yumenguan Great Wall
Generals of the Yang Family – Yanmenguan Great Wall Story
Zhaojun Going out of the Frontier Pass
More Stories of Great Wall 

- Last updated on Aug. 30, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on The Story of Meng Jiangnu\s Bitter Weeping
Asked by Cher from UNITED STATES | May. 15, 2011 23:22Reply
Is there an area on the Great Wall where people can write a wish and then break out a piece of wall
A close friend told me he visited the Great Wall Of China and there was tradition that you would write your wish and then somehow erase it for it to come true. He also broke a small chunk of wall where he wrote the wish and gave me that piece. I have it in my possession, its a dark charcol color, very light. I was looking for information on this ritual but can't find anything. Please help. Thank you.
Answers (2)
Answered by Ms.Cindy from CHINA | May. 16, 2011 01:39

Take Nothing But Photographs, Leave Nothing But Footprints! I know there are visitors left their writings and wishes on the Wall, but it is not allowed. I didn't know such a place when I went to Badaling, but I saw people's writing on the bricks. It doesn't look civilized. And I don't there is a place sepcially there for visitors to write and broke a small chunk of wall.
Answered by N Wilson from USA | Feb. 15, 2012 17:49

Make your wish. Rub the Wall with your hand, eyes closed. Make your wish again. This is all you need for your 'wish.' DO NOT MAKE MARKS OR TAKE PIECES. You will break the 'wish.' The Wall is HISTORY, important history of China and holds within it many stories and spirits. It is disrespectful to do damage to it.
Asked by Ms.haley from UNITED STATES | Mar. 14, 2010 20:10Reply
how would i foot note the iinformation from this?
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr.James | Mar. 14, 2010 22:11

I think you should mark this website:TravelChinaGuide. Very necessary!
Asked by Ms.O'Malleydirgenswarschmanyjegermanjensen from USA | Mar. 19, 2009 08:05Reply
wow. I think that she was brave, but she shouldn't have ruined the great wall like that.
Answers (1)
Answered by Ms.maiall from CHINA | May. 09, 2009 12:57

haha,interesting comment.You should love Art very much.
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