Mythical Weaver

天涯织女(also known as 神話織女). This historical drama was drawn from the life story of 黃道婆, and showed the transition from Song Dynasty to Yuan dynasty. It portrayed the lives of the people, the hardships and sufferings they had to go through in the midst of the war. Qiao Er (played by Jeanie Zhang) gained a lot of knowledge through her experience and hardwork. She represents the character in history who helped develop machines for making cloth and weaving itself. Her determination has helped many people along the way. She believed that it doesn’t matter who governs the country, because the people still suffer regardless who rules. She was against betraying her friend, who is now a wife of a Mongol Prince and has helped a lot of their people as the invasion progressed. Killing one 王爺 (WangYe) – Mongol Prince doesn’t resolve anything, or chase them back to where they came from. It will only spark more hatred and ruthless actions on their part. She insisted on mass producing the cloths and sell them at a reasonable price so that everyone will have a chance to buy. She met two 师父 Shirfu (Masters) in her lifetime, first her Shirfu in the art of weaving, which was her mother’s last wish before she passed away that she go under her roof and learn to weave. Then a carpenter who builds different kinds of tools and machines. She learns fast and figures out how to design, and 改良 (gai liang) – to revise and resolve how to make the machines function much better.

Their weaving station got recognized in the competition and was given the opportunity to enter the palace and make clothing for the royalty. At one point, they were traveling from the palace grounds to the city proper to buy some cloth. A lot of people from different cities came to seek for food and shelter. Qiao Er wanted to go down to help them but her companion Xiao Yi stopped her and said that she also experienced having nothing to eat when she was young, you can save one but can you save the others? They portrayed how the royalty lived lavishly while the citizens thrive for survival. The queens and princesses in the palace seek for the best designs and good quality of clothing. General Lin Mu Fei (played by Yuan Hong) is shown to have observed mourning period for his father who died in the battle. While in the palace, he seeks the help of the consorts to ask the King to listen, but they refuse to bother with politics and governance. The King is usually busy playing around instead of focusing on the ruling. The palace is filled with envy and hatred, with that, they have encountered a number of conspiracies linking them to crimes they did not commit. At first, the Shirfu was reluctant to go to the palace because she knows that it’s a different world in there. Every wrong step corresponds to punishment that leads to death. There they met Qian Qian, who used to work with them at the Jin Xiu Fang but is now a palace maid. Princess Jia Yi (played by Liu Shi Shi) refused to marry to the Mongols as a peace offering and even tried to burn herself. The king then decided to name Qian Qian a Princess and married her off to the Mongols. Again, she part ways with her sisters from the Jin Xiu Fang.

They were once again accused and jailed. The Shirfu begged for the freedom of her disciples in exchange of sending off far away from the palace never to return again. This event contributed though to the fate of Qiao Er and being locked to the Fang family. In trying to save her Shirfu, Fang Ning, her long-time friend got involved in the rescue mission. He saved them from the hands of Zhao Ji (an official who would recur one more time later in the story) but ended up being beaten up that crippled him. The Shirfu had to leave because she has become a “Tao fan” – an escaped prisoner. Qiao Er was obligated to be his wife and take care of him the rest of her life. The head of Fang family, the mother, as well as the sister is against her at first. But gradually, the mother saw how lucky she is to have this daughter-in-law began to care for her even entrusting to her their 染布 (Ran Pu) – business of dying cloth. Xiao Mei was taken in when she has no other place to go; got pregnant and was married to Fang Bao. Qiao Er’s first love is General Lin Mu Fei, but because of her duty she cut off ties with him and decided to stay behind and take care of Fang Ning. Fang Ning feels the emptiness because he knows that her heart doesn’t belong to her ends up always drunk and eventually beats Qiao Er. She endures all the stigma and mistreatment.

When the Yuan invasion approached, the mother refused to give up her business and decided to burn the place down after giving the secret books to Qiao Er. They all got separated then. Qiao Er was with Fang Ning and took cared of him. Their relationship became better after experiencing too much hardships. This time, she was able to meet her Shirfu.

Zhao Ji showed up once again looking for a wanted man that the temple took in. In trying to save everyone, Fang Ning took Zhao Ji with him and fell off the mountain, just when his legs where about to become well. To escape, the two Shirfu brought Qiao Er with them and boarded a boat. She and her Shirfu drifted into sea and landed into an island. Ah Dong took them in. There she learned how to make cotton, and even helped the village in developing machines to make work much easier and faster. She learned that they stick together as a community and life was much simpler. Later, Qiao Er decides to go back to her hometown.

General Lin strives to fight to get their country back with a few soldiers on their side remaining. Most of them already got killed or turned to the other side. After the demise of the emperor, Princess Jia Yi follows General Lin everywhere, and even learn swordfighting to be able to help him on the way instead of be a burden. News came after some time that the young king also died, sealing the last hope of getting the Song dynasty back together.

Qiao Er saw how the Mongols forced their way of living to the people of their country. They didn’t like people to plant the fields and they are used to raising Niu Ma since their land is dry and fallow. She bravely proposed to the Mongol Prince that the people should have the chance to plant what they can, she encouraged planting cotton fields. The Prince was different from the typical Mongol, in that he reveled in the customs of the Han people. He loved taking care of flowers. In their hometown, she crossed paths again with her old friend Xiao Mei who is now married to a 色目白(Semubai )businessman.

In the end, Qian Qian is killed in saving his husband. The fight continues, General Lin’s side is being sought after by the Prince to be buried alongside his wife. In a threat of her Semubai husband, Xiao Mei told the Prince of her information about the whereabouts of the rebels. They were found out and engages into battle. The Mongol Prince was killed. They let go of their vengeance and hope to re-establish their kingdom. General Lin and Princess Jia Yi finally leaves town with no particular direction to head to and Qiao Er bids them farewell. Nian Xiang 师姐 opens up a clothing store through the help of Qiao Er. Xiao Mei realizes in the end that she no longer has anything to ask for, after surviving two fires, she thought that the fire must have consumed all her greed and cravings for money. Now she has a child on the way and she is content to be with the ones she love. Her fighting spirit is shown throughout the drama, though petulant at times, she is determined to survive, to stand up for her friends. The two Shirfu both shared a happy and serene life, also spreading the art of making machines and clothing. Qiao Er took in a lot of disciples and started teaching them continuing what their Teacher has began. In the last scene, Qiao Er stands in the field of cotton, smiling and content.

*I think what Qiao Er said was true, that in the end the citizens are the ones who are hurt the most. They work for their living, but rulers and invaders alike come to oppress them and destroy what they build with their blood and perspiration. They have to adjust by themselves and fend for their own flock.

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