Tian Xian Pei

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Tian Xian Pei (Chinese :天仙配; pinyin :Tiānxiān Pèi), sometimes translated as Fairy Couple, is a Chinese legend that existed in oral tradition before any written versions. It has since become a major subject of several Chinese opera, films and TV series.



The seven daughters of the Jade Emperor travel to the mortal world. The youngest of the seven fairy maidens was in search of her lost weaving equipment and her "coat of feathers," without which she was unable to fly. Another version of the story states that the seventh fairy's feather coat was actually stolen by a mortal named Dong Yong, advised by one of his cattle who happened to be an exiled fairy as well and disguised as a normal, aged bull. During the stay, the maiden falls in love with Dong Yong. He is a poor worker who had sold himself into servitude to pay for his father's funeral. With help of the other fairies, the seventh fairy managed to weave ten pieces of brocade for Dong Yong to pay off his debt, shortening his indenture to 100 days. Before the couple can begin their life together, the Jade Emperor orders his daughters to return home. However, he is kind enough to allow the couple to reunite once a year on the 七夕 (the 7th Evening) -- later known as the traditional Chinese Qixi Festival—by crossing the Milky Way. [1]

In memory of this story, ancient Chinese astrologers named two prominent stars that stand at a distance from each other 牛郎, "cowherd man," and 織女, "weaving girl." These are the stars Altair in the constellation Aquila and Vega in Lyra.




YearProductionAdditional information
1956Mainland ChinaFairy Couple (天仙配)
1963Mainland ChinaA Maid from Heaven (七仙女)

Television series

YearProductionAdditional information
1997Mainland ChinaNew Fairy Couple (新天仙配)
2005Chinese Entertainment Shanghai (Mainland China) The Little Fairy (天外飛仙)
Beijing Advantages Competition International Culture and Arts & Jiangxi TV Co., Ltd. (Mainland China)Huan Tian Xi Di Qi Xian Nu (歡天喜地七仙女)
2007Mainland ChinaFairy Couple (天仙配)
2010Mainland ChinaTian Di Yin Yuan Qi Xian Nu (Tian Xian Pei II) (天地姻缘七仙女(七仙女2))


The tale has also been subject matter of literary adaptations and retellings:

See also

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  1. Shang, Biwu. "Unnatural narratology and Zhiguai tales of the six dynasties in China". In: Neohelicon 45, pp. 179–190 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11059-018-0421-5

Further reading