Chinese Folk Tales: The Chinese Cinderella (Part 1)

The tale of Cinderella is famous all around the world, and almost every country has a different version of the story. The Chinese version is the story of Ye Xian (in Chinese: 叶限 Yè xiàn), first written down around 860AD. 

Read on to find out more about the story and listen to our narration!

Zhuang women in traditional clothing

Press play to hear AJ narrate part 1 of the story to you!

The tale of Cinderella is thought to have originated in Egypt, and the earliest record of it is from sometime between 7BC and 23AD. The heroine was a Greek courtesan called Rhodopis.

In China, the story of Ye Xian was originally told by the Zhuang people, who live in  southern China in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Area. Since trade routes between the Mediterranean and China have been open for at least 2000 years, it’s possible that the story of Rhodopis was transmitted to the Zhuang by merchants. 

In the late Tang dynasty, a government official named Duan Cheng Shi (段成式 803-863AD) heard of this story from his servant Li Shi Yuan (李士元) who was from the south of China, and he recorded it in his book. The book was Miscellaneous Morsels from Youyang (酉阳杂俎), a collection of stories about the lesser-known, mysterious or supernatural. Youyang refers to the south slope of Mount You, a small hill located in what is now Huaihua, Hunan Province, where Duan spent a lot of his life. 

A village near Huaihua, Hunan

Will Ye Xian make it to the festival and there find her true love? Find out in Part 2, coming after Halloween!

Which classic Chinese tale should we read next? Let us know in the comments below. We always love hearing your thoughts and insights! 

Photo Credits
– Gao Jialiang; 人音渺淼

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