The myth of the original star-crossed lovers - Shannon Zhao
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Like mythical Greek heroes who have been immortalized as constellations, the story of the weaver and the cowherd is also reflected in the stars. In western constellations, the weaver star is Vega (part of the Lyra constellation), and the cowherd star is Altair (part of the Aquila constellation). However, ancient Chinese had very different concepts of the night sky, which you can see in the Suzhou star chart. The weaver and cowherd stars sit on either side of the Milky Way, and are likely the inspiration for this tale.
According to ancient Chinese belief, the weaver may have been one deity who taught the art of weaving to us on earth. Historically, young women would visit temples on this day to make offerings to the weaver, since they believed that she could bless them with her own cleverness and skill (See the encyclopedia Religions of the World). Numerous ancient Chinese poets have also written poems based on the story of the weaver and cowherd, or referenced the stars they represent, such as the Tang Dynasty poet Du Mu. You can read a translation of his poem here. This story is also the basis of a traditional Chinese opera, which has seen numerous different productions, include this performance.
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