The romance of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, the butterfly lovers, looms as one of the four major legends of China and one precious masterwork of Chinese culture. For thousands of years, it has remained enduringly impressive among people for the exploration of knowledge, pursuit of love, and tribute to life. The thrilling plot, remarkable characters, and ingenuity of structure are well received by the masses. The artistic charisma revealed in the legend and other artistic adaptations has enabled it to become a rarity of the Chinese folklore literature.
Ever since it took shape in the Jin Dynasty 1,600 years ago, the Legend of Butterfly Lovers has been circulating in Ningbo, Shangyu, Hangzhou, Yixing, Jining and Runan while spreading further to other areas and ethnic groups of the country. Through the ages, the content has got enriched by people in various regions with even many tombstones engraved and temples built for the butterfly lovers. In addition, the legend has spread to South Korea, Viet Nam, Burma, Japan, Singapore and Indonesia. The widespread influence is hardly seen among the Chinese folktales indeed.
The artistic works adapted from Butterfly Lovers including Yue Opera, violin concerto, and film and the exclusive ideology for pursuit of knowledge and love derived from them have combined to make up the enormous Butterfly Lovers culture system.
Just like other dictation literature and non-material cultural heritage, over the past 20 years, the dictation-based Legend of Butterfly Lovers has undergone unprecedented impact due to modernization and urbanization factors. The original story-tellers passed away one by one yet the younger generation is reluctant to pass it on, so it is faced with the crisis of survival. Urgent preservation and salvation is being called for so that the fine cultural tradition can be handed down to the upcoming generations.