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15 July 2015

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[Literature] Legend of "Liu Hai Cuts Firewood"

Area: Wuling District, Changde City, Hunan Province

Name: Legend of "Liu Hai Cuts Firewood"

No.: I-8

Category: Folk Literature

Year of Application: 2006

Applicant: Wuling District, Changde City

Level: Provincial

 

Liu Hai Cuts Wood, a flower drum opera known by every household in Hunan, is also familiar to audiences nationwide. Still, few people know about the authentic version of the legend and its origin, Changde. Early in the Northern Song Dynasty(960 A.D-1127A.D.), the legend of Liu Hai cutting Firewood had already taken shape. The version we know today is believed to have originated in the middle of Qing Dynasty (1636AD-1912AD).

 

Long time ago, near the Tower Gourd Well (named for the tower gourd images in the well) in Wuling District of Changde, there lived a young man Liu Hai and his mother. Liu Hai was very diligent and dutiful to his mother. In the hills where he often cut firewood, a fox fairy Hu Xiuying admired him for his kindness and insisted to marry him. Liu Hai hesitated first, because he was afraid that his poor living could not secure a happy marriage for Hu Xiuying. However, he was moved by her love after all. The marriage was also approved by Liu Hai's mother. Unfortunately, when they bought wedding supplies in Ji’er Alley of the downtown, the tenth Bodhisattvas in the adjacent temple (eighteen Bodhisattvas in total) wanted to rob Hu’s pearl, with which he could become immortal. Without her pearl, Hu would immediately show herself as a fox. She told Liu Hai the truth and he forgave her. Thanks to the help of the God Axe and Hu’s sisters, Liu Hai defeated the Bodhisattvas with his axe and got the pearl back. They lived together happily ever after.

 
The myth tells about a love story between Liu Hai and a fox fairy. According to the tale, Liu Hai is a diligent, upright and filial character who remains loyal to his lover and courageously pursues happiness. Even today, the legend holds profound realistic significance, vividly representing a common man's love for goodness and benevolence. The legend also made records of the local life conditions and folk customs of ancient Changde. The spirit of this story has been handed down for generation from father to son.   
 

In Changde, there is a well named "Tower Gourd Well", which was documented in the legend, though dilapidated with wild grass due to air-slake and erosion. However, the "Liu Hai Temple" where Liu Hai is said to have fought the tenth Bodhisattvas for the love, was completely destroyed.