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The goddess, rabbit and other lunar tales: the folklore surrounding China’s moon exploration (4)

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    10:00, January 11, 2019

The reunion of the couple of The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd on the bridge of magpies. Artwork in the Long Corridor of the Summer Palace in Beijing.

Queqiao: A bridge through space and time

The relay satellite for the Chang’e 4 lunar probe is named “Queqiao” (magpie bridge), via which the images of the dark side of the moon are sent back to earth. The satellite is designed to allow radio communication between the far side of the moon and earth without any interference.

In Chinese folklore, Queqiao also serves as a bridge of communication, but for a separated couple, rather than for the earth and the moon.

In the story of The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, one of China’s four Great Folktales, the love between the two characters was not allowed, as the weaver girl was a heavenly goddess, while the cowherd was a mere mortal. Though deeply in love, they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River, or the Milky Way. Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies is said to form a bridge, over which the couple can be reunited for a single day. 


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(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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