Stories from Ancient China: The Red Thread Brings Lovers Together

Wei Gu lived in Dulin. His parents died when he was young and as a result, he had the desire to marry at a young age. However, all of his marriage proposals were rejected.

In the second year of Zhenguan during Emperor Tang Taizong’s reign, Wei stayed at a hotel in the southern region of Song City whilst on a sightseeing tour to Qinghe. A traveler told him about a young maiden, Pan Fang, the daughter of a Qinghe government official. Wei was subsequently invited to meet the Pan family in front of Longxing Temple.

Very early the next morning Wei Gu eagerly rushed to the temple. The moon was still in the sky when he arrived. There was an old man sitting on the steps, leaning on a bag and reading a book under the moonlight. Wei Gu glanced at the book, but could not read its words. So he asked the old man, “What kind of book are you reading? Ever since youth I’ve studied many different languages, even Indian Sanskrit. Yet, I must admit I’ve never come across the language written in this book. What can you tell me about it?”

The old man smiled and said, “This isn’t a book written by humans. How could you read it?”

Therefore, Wei Gu asked, “Please tell me, where does the book originate from?”

The old man said, “It comes from the ‘invisible world’.”

Then Wei Gu asked, “Why is someone from the ‘invisible world’ here?”

The old man replied, “You arrived too early. It’s not that I should not be here. All administrators of the Yin World (underworld) administer everything in the Yang world, which is also called the human world. Why should we not come here?”

Wei Gu asked, “Tell me, what are you responsible for?”

The old man responded, “Human beings' marriages.”

Wei Gu was elated and said, “My parents died when I was young, so I would like to marry at a young age because I don’t want my family lineage to die out. However, all the marriage proposals I’ve made during the last ten plus years were rejected. Somebody told me about Official Pan’s daughter. Do you think she’ll marry me?”

The old man responded, “No, she won’t become your wife. The woman you’ll marry is now only three years old. She’ll marry you at the age of 17.”

Wei Gu asked, “What’s in your bag?”

The old man said, “Red thread used to tie together the feet of couples. Once they are destined to marry, I tie their feet together with this red thread. Whether they are foes, wealthy, or separated by a long distance, as long as the red thread is tied, they will get married. When your feet are tied to hers, it’s useless for you to search for another.”

Wei Gu asked, “Who is my wife? Where does she live?”

The old man answered, “The girl was born into a family that sells vegetables, north of the hotel.”

Wei Gu asked, “May I see her?”

The old man said, “She is always with the old woman who sells vegetables, come with me and I’ll point her out to you.”

The people Wei Gu was supposed to meet at the temple didn’t show up that morning.

The old man closed the book, picked up the bag and headed towards the market, followed by Wei gu. They saw an old woman with one blind eye who held a 3-year old girl. Both were very dirty and ugly. The old man pointed to the girl and said to Wei Gu, “That’s your wife.”

Wei Gu angrily asked, “Can I kill her?”

The old man responded, “This girl is destined to be wealthy and live an honorable life. She will find happiness with you. Therefore, how could she be killed?” Then the old man disappeared.

Wei Gu sharpened a knife after he went back home. He gave the knife to his servant and told him, “You’ve always handled matters well. If you can kill this girl for me, I’ll reward you with 10,000 coins.” The servant agreed. He went to the market, hiding the knife in his sleeve, stabbed the girl in a rush, and hurried away. The servant was then able to escape through the big crowd at the market.

After the servant returned Wei Gu asked, “Did you stab her?” The servant replied, “I tried to stab her heart but failed so I stabbed her between the eyebrows.”

Wei Gu continued proposing marriage with no success. Another 14 years had passed when, due to his late father’s contacts, he was offered a job working for Wang Tai, a defense officer at Xiangzhou. Wei Gu was put in charge of interrogating prisoners. Wang Tai gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage because he found Wei Gu to be quite capable.

Wei Gu’s wife was a beautiful 16 or 17-year-old girl and Wei Gu was very pleased. However, he found that his wife always put a little artificial flower between her eyebrows and would never remove it, even when taking a bath.

At the end of the year, he asked his wife why she always wore an artificial flower between her eyebrows. She told him, “I’m actually Wang Tai’s niece, not his daughter. My father was the head of a county and died in office. I was a baby at the time. My mother and brother died later. The only property my parents left me was a house south of the city of Song. I lived there with my nanny Chen. We survived by selling vegetables. Chen felt sorry for me and always took care of me. When I was three, Chen took me to the market where some crazy guy stabbed me between my eyebrows leaving a scar, which I cover with an artificial flower. About 7 or 8 years later, my uncle came to Lulong to take a position. He adopted me as his daughter and I moved in with him and married you.”

Wei Gu asked, “Did nanny Chen have one blind eye?”

His wife replied, “Yes, how did you know?”

Wei Gu confessed, “That crazy man was actually sent by me. This is so weird.” Then he told his wife the whole story.

The couple henceforth became even more respectful of each other. Later they had a son named Wei Kun, who took up the prestigious post of governor of Yanmen. His mother also received high honors from the throne because of him.

Destiny cannot be changed by man. The mayor of Song City heard about this destined marriage and therefore named that hotel “Engagement Hotel”. Ever since, the person who arranges marriages (the old man with the bag of red thread) has been referred to as the “Elderly Man Under the Moon” or the “Moon Man” for short.

Source: Records of Mystical and Strange Phenomena

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