The Great Wall of China is one of the most iconic landmarks in the world. It is a symbol of China’s rich history, culture, and heritage. The Great Wall is not just a wall, but a series of walls, fortifications, and watchtowers that span over 13,000 miles across China. It was built over 2,000 years ago to protect China from invasions by nomadic tribes.
Legends of The Great Wall of China
There are many interesting stories and legends associated with the Great Wall of China. Here are some lesser-known stories that you might find fascinating:
Meng Jiang Nü Weeping Over the Great Wall:
The legend of Meng Jiang Nü Weeping Over the Great Wall is a heart-breaking story that took place during the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC). Meng Jiang Nü was the daughter of Meng and Jiang, two old men who found her inside a bottle gourd. She grew up to be a beautiful and industrious young woman. She married Fan Qiliang, but shortly after their marriage, he was taken away to work on the construction of the Great Wall. Meng Jiang Nü, devastated by her husband’s death, traveled to the Great Wall and wept bitterly.
Her cries caused a section of the wall to collapse, revealing her husband’s body. Emperor Qin Shihuang, attracted by her beauty, asked her to marry him, but she jumped into the nearby Bohai Sea instead. This legend highlights the hardships faced by Chinese commoners and the cruel system of hard labor during the reign of Emperor Qin Shihuang. The story of Meng Jiang Nü Weeping Over the Great Wall is one of the most famous and widely spread legends about the Great Wall of China. It tells of the separation of Meng Jiang Nü and her husband, Fan Qiliang, due to the construction of the wall.
Meng Jiang Nü, filled with grief, embarked on a journey to find her husband and ended up at the Great Wall. Her intense weeping caused a section of the wall to collapse, revealing her husband’s body. Emperor Qin Shihuang, who was touring the wall at the time, was captivated by her beauty and proposed marriage to her. However, she chose to jump into the Bohai Sea instead. This tragic story sheds light on the hardships faced by Chinese commoners and the oppressive labor system during the Qin Dynasty.
In memory of Meng Jiang Nü, later generations built a temple called the Temple of Mengjiangnu at the foot of the Great Wall, where a statue of her is located. Her story has been passed down from generation to generation and continues to captivate people’s hearts. The legend represents the struggles of ordinary people and the relentless pursuit of love and justice in the face of adversity.
The ‘Metal Soup’ Great Wall — Huanghuacheng:
The Metal Soup Great Wall Huanghuacheng is a popular tourist destination in China known for its beautiful scenery and unique architectural features. What sets this section of the Great Wall apart is the use of sticky rice flour as a binding agent instead of mortar. This traditional technique has been passed down through generations and is believed to make the wall stronger and more durable. To construct the wall, sticky rice flour is mixed with water and other ingredients to create a dough. This dough is then shaped into bricks and used to build the wall. The sticky rice flour gives the wall a distinct texture and taste, adding to its charm and historical significance.
Signaling with Colored Wolf Dung Smoke:
During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), soldiers stationed along the Great Wall of China utilized a unique method of communication known as signaling with colored wolf dung smoke. This method allowed them to transmit messages back to the military command quickly and efficiently. By employing smoke during the day and fire at night, the soldiers were able to send messages at a rate of 620 miles per day, surpassing the speed of a man on horseback.
Not only did these smoke signals convey messages, but they also indicated the degree of threat. Different numbers of plumes of smoke and cannon shots were used to indicate the size of the incursion. The tallest and straightest columns of smoke were produced by burning wolf dung, which is why the outbreak of war was often described as “a rash of wolf smoke across the land.” This unique method of signaling played a crucial role in the defense of the Great Wall during the Ming Dynasty.
The Day the Great Wall Failed for Good — the Qing Entered Via Shanhai Pass:
In 1644, the Great Wall of China failed to protect the country from invasion, as the Manchu Qing Dynasty breached it at Shanhai Pass. This marked a significant turning point in Chinese history, as the Qing Dynasty went on to rule China for nearly three centuries. The events leading up to the breach of the Great Wall involved the fall of the Ming Dynasty and the rebellion led by Li Zicheng. The Ming Chongzhen Emperor, seeing the progress of the rebels, requested urgent help from military commandants, but many of them surrendered to the rebels. However, one powerful Ming general named Wu Sangui decided to take action. He left his stronghold and marched towards the capital, Beijing.
Unfortunately, upon hearing that the city had fallen, he returned to Shanhai Pass. Li Zicheng, the rebel leader, sent armies to attack the pass, but Wu’s troops easily defeated them. Realizing the dire situation, Wu Sangui wrote to Dorgon, a Manchu prince, requesting the Qing’s help in ousting the rebels and restoring the Ming dynasty. Dorgon agreed and led an expedition to attack northern China.
On May 27, 1644, the Qing forces, led by Dorgon, defeated Li Zicheng’s rebel forces at the Battle of Shanhai Pass. Wu Sangui eventually surrendered to the Qing, and they captured Beijing on June 6. This marked the moment when the Qing Dynasty seized the Mandate of Heaven and began their rule in China. The breach of the Great Wall at Shanhai Pass was a significant event in Chinese history.
It highlighted the weakness of the Ming Dynasty and the effectiveness of the Manchu Qing Dynasty in seizing power. The Qing Dynasty would go on to rule China until the early 20th century, leaving a lasting impact on the country’s culture, politics, and society.
The Legend of Jiayuguan Pass: This legend tells the story of how Jiayuguan Pass was built by a woman named Meng Liangnu during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). She was married to an official who was sent to build the pass but died before he could complete it. She took up his work and completed it herself.
False Alarms: During times of peace, soldiers stationed on the Great Wall would sometimes light signal fires to create false alarms in order to receive extra pay.
Tricking the Marquess with Beacon Fires: During the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), General Pang Juan tricked Marquess Zhao into believing that his army was much larger than it actually was by lighting beacon fires along the Great Wall.
Zhaojun Departs the Frontier: This is a famous story about Wang Zhaojun, one of China’s four ancient beauties. She was sent by Emperor Yuan to marry a Hun leader as part of a peace treaty between China and the Huns. She left China via Yumen Pass on the Great Wall.
These are just some of many fascinating stories about The Great Wall of China that have been passed down through generations.
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