Friday, February 5, 2010

Shiwa and Humei

There is a hill near Lingyin Temple, west of West Lake in Hang Zhou. This hill, called by the local people “the hill that flew from afar”, is riddled with caves and covered with flowers, trees, and shrubs. One of the caves has a hole in the ceiling, where one can see “a beam of light from heaven”. This is the story of the hill:

Shiwa and Huamei

Shiwa was a farmer, known for his strength and wisdom, and an excellent stone carver as well. After working in the fields during the day, he would join the other young men, carving niches in the barren hill to plant flowers, and carving Buddahs to decorate the hill. Beautiful Huamei was known for her beautiful embroidery and for her singing.When Huamei sang, Shiwa felt stronger and his work went more smoothly. It seemed natural that the two should fall in love. Before they would marry, though, Shiwa set himself to finish beautifying the hill, and Huamei declared she would embroider all the flowers of the four seasons.

At last they were finished, and their wedding day was set for the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. They walked in the moonlight together, and their happiness was so complete, that the heavenly fairy maidens watched from the sky, enjoying their happiness.
The Thunder God was not happy. He felt that such a beautiful woman should belong to him! Though Shiwa and Huamei clung together, the Thunder god separated them with lightning, striking the earth and splitting the ground between them. As the abyss between them grew, the Thunder God blew on the rock Huamei was standing on, and it rose into the air. Shiwa jumped and caught a tree branch. As the hill rose, he felt himself turning into a bird. Then the hill fell with such force that Shiwa was knocked unconscious.
When Shiwa came to, he recognized the hill he was on as the one he had carved so carefully. Desperately, he searched for Huamei. At last, he heard, from somewhere under the earth, the sound of a familiar song, the song Huamei sang to him so often. He dug and dug with his beak, until sparks flew, trying to reach her. She heard him digging and sang louder. At last, he dug a hole, just big enough to squeeze through into a cave, and there was Huamei! He flew joyfully around her and she, too, turned into a beautiful exotic bird.
Together they flew up to where the Thunder God was preparing for his wedding with Huamei. The two birds pecked out the Thunder God’s eyes, so that he could never again come to earth to separate lovers. All he can do now is flash lightening and roar thunder.

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