Chinese Romeo-Juliet Birthplace Applies for World Heritage Listing

Ningbo, the birthplace of a Chinese Romeo and Juliet-type story named Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai, is to apply for United Nations World Intangible Heritage listing, an international forum on Liang-Zhu Culture has heard.

Liang Shanbo, a devoted local magistrate of the Jin Dynasty (265-420) tortured by both disease and poverty, died on his post after many achievements to benefit the people of Ningbo, a coastal city in east China's Zhejiang Province.

To commemorate him and spread his virtues, many stories were created based upon his life. The most touching is his tragic romance with Zhu Yingtai, a daughter of a plutocrat.

Despite their deep love, the two, strictly separated by the feudal hierarchy, found no way to be together while they were both alive. But after their deaths, a pair of butterflies flew away from their tombs, symbolizing their final union.

The classic story has found expression in a variety of art forms such as literature, music, film, television, Chinese opera, paper cuttings and folk customs.

The country's first park with love as its theme, the Liang-Zhu Cultural Park, was established in the city where two national festivals highlighting China's wedding customs have been held.

Scholars attending the forum said that the Liang-Zhu culture was deeply rooted in China with tremendous value in the country's unique culture and should be listed on the world heritage list.

In 1987, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization added the "intangible heritage" category to the original world natural heritage and the world cultural heritage lists.

Currently, China has only two world intangible heritage listings: Kunqu opera and the art of paper cutting.

(Xinhua News Agency May 13, 2002)

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