Monday, November 19, 2012

Allegory — Dance of the magpies

Dance of the magpies
Dance of the magpies | oil on canvas | 30 by 24 inches
New painting I've created that is based on popular Chinese folklore — Niulang & Zhinu (Cowherd & Weaver Girl). Here's the original tale.

"This is a love story between a weaver and a cowherd.

The young cowherd had came across a beautiful weaver girl, who was the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven. The weaver had escaped from the heavens in search of earthly delights and had fallen in love with the cowherd. They later got married and bore two children.

But the Goddess of Heaven upon discovering that her daughter had married a mortal, became furious and ordered for her to return to heaven. The weaver was thus forced to abandon her mortal family and resumed her former duty of weaving colorful clouds in heaven.

Back on earth, the heartbroken cowherd poured his woes to an ox and to his astonishment, the animal replied telling him that its hide has magical powers and could enable the cowherd to go to the Heavens.

The cowherd killed the ox, put on its hide and carried his two beloved children to Heaven in search of his wife. His appearance in the heavens angered the Goddess. Taking out her hairpin, the Goddess scratched a wide river in the sky to separate the two lovers forever. This was later known was the Milky Way between Altair and Vega.
The weaver must sit forever on one side of the river, sadly weaving on her loom, while her husband watches her from afar while taking care of their two children.


Touched by the couple's love for each other, it was said that the Goddess of Heaven decided to let them unite once on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month.

It is also during this day that all the magpies in the world would take pity on the couple and fly up into the heavens to form a bridge, so as to enable the lovers to unite. This is the reason why many magpies are seen bald the next day, because the weaver and cowherd walked and stood too long on the heads of their loyal feathered friends. There is another belief that sometime during this night, the two stars Altair and Vega will actually unite on the same side of the Milky Way."

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