Wife Tower Legend

The Wife Tower rises near Shanhai Pass. To discover how it got its unique name, we must return to the time when Qi Jiguang, a distinguished strategist and national hero, guarded Shanhai Pass during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
 

Great Wall watchtower
Great Wall watchtower
At that time, a family of three members, old man Wang, his daughter Xuelan and a young man Wu Sanhu lived in Shandong Province. Wu Sanhu was an orphan adopted by Wang. The family made its living by performing in the street. Proficient in Chinese martial arts, Wang taught his skills to both Xuelan and Wu Sanhu who traveled with him all over the country.

As time went on, Xuelan and Wu Sanhu fell in love. Just before Mid-Autumn Day, a traditional Chinese festival of reunion held on August 15 of the lunar calendar, news came from the boundary that Qi Jiguang had given orders to recruit new members. Enthusiastic about making contributions to his country, Wu Sanhu decided to join the army. When he told Xuelan, she secretly informed Wang of what he had said.

Regarding Wu Sanhu as his son, Wang did not want him to join the army and thought that marriage would make him stay with the family. On Mid-autumn Day he made a delicious meal. At the table, he said to Wu Sanhu, "People should get married while they are young." Wang then told the two young people that they should marry at once. They accepted because they loved each other, and got married that same day.

Defying Wang's expectation, the next day Wu Sanhu again insisted on joining the army. Xuelan and Wang could do nothing but say good-bye to him.

Once in the army, Wu Sanhu showed his martial arts talents and was sent to guard the beacon tower of Dongjiakou. He did his duty zealously and patrolled day and night.

Xuelan and Wang missed Wu Sanhu very much. One day, Wang became deathly ill. He told Xuelan to take care of herself and to go to look for her husband. Saying this, Wang passed away. Xuelan choked back tears and buried her father. She then set out to look for Wu Sanhu.

After experiencing a long journey and many difficulties, she reached Dongjiakou and finally found Wu Sanhu.

It was night; the couple had much to share. While they were talking, enemies secretly entered Dongjiakou. Wu Sanhu discovered them and then to warn the army with a beacon fire, he rushed with kindling to the tower. Unfortunately, it was raining heavily. Struggling to set a fire in the beacon tower, Wu Sanhu was found by his enemies who killed him with arrows.

When Xuelan came to the beacon tower, the sight of her fallen husband stunned her. Suppressing her sorrow and anger, she took the kindling and ignited the fire using her dry underclothes. Seeing her flames, the army advanced rapidly to Dongjiakou to hem in the enemy.

One of the enemies slipped away, trying to escape. Suddenly he heard a sneer in front of him. In the dim light, he made out a young woman, spear in hand. That was Xuelan. The enemy was frightened, but on second thought believed a weak woman could not harm him. So he picked up his spear and thrust it at Xuelan. She stood calmly, and then lashed out with all her martial arts skills, defeating the enemy in minutes.

According to law, she deserved a prize for stopping the enemies' sneak attack. Xuelan refused. Instead, she begged Qi Jiguang to let her stay at the boundary to continue her husband's work.

From then on, Xuelan guarded the beacon tower day and night. In her honor, local people named it the "Wife Tower" of Great Wall.
 

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 modified on Aug. 30, 2019 -
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