I was looking for old stories about seven sisters, where the youngest is the most important, and found the English Wikipedia article on Tian Xian Pei, talking about the daughters of the Jade Emperor, but they don't seem to be referenced as his daughters anywhere else.

Checking the Chinese version of the page shows big differences in the description, 董永与七仙女, such as the first sentence not having a counterpart in the Chinese version,


The seven daughters of the Jade Emperor travel to the mortal world. The youngest of the seven fairy maidens was in search of her lost weaving equipment

Chinese, after Google Translate:

Around the Western Han Dynasty, the filial son Dong Yong sold his body to bury his father, and the Zhinv in Heaven was moved by her, so she went down to help Dong Yong privately and married him.

The Weaver Girl wove ten pieces of brocade overnight to help Dong Yong repay his debts, reducing the slave period from three years to one hundred days.

After the enslavement period expired, the couple returned home, thinking they could live a happy life. At this time, the Jade Emperor ordered Zhinu to return to the heavenly court. For Dong Yong, Zhinu had to reluctantly bid farewell to her husband.

The Chinese Wikipedia article on the story's first listed adaptation, 天仙配 (黃梅戲電影), says that it was based off "董永与七仙女" from the "Soushen Ji". Going through the Gutenberg copy, I see one instance of "董永", but no mention of seven fairies, a.k.a 七仙女.

Lastly, the Chinese Wikipedia article on the fairies, 七仙女 also doesn't mention their parentage when the Jade Emperor (玉帝) is mentioned.

  • This story is usually known as 牛郎和织女 (The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl). I found this article on Zhihu (in Chinese) that talks about the origin of this story: zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/60114707
    – alephalpha
    Nov 8, 2022 at 1:50
  • @alephalpha - Well, the English Wikipedia info about that story only mentions 7 daughters in regards to Manohara (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manohara), which is not Chinese? And that Chinese article you linked has a lot of details that don't seem to match up with the English Wikipedia, such as "七个仙女" (Seven Fairies)
    – Malady
    Nov 8, 2022 at 3:41
  • I found another answer on Zhihu with more details: zhihu.com/question/23939049/answer/35474474 According to that answer, the first version of this story that had "Seven Fairies" came from the story collection 清平山堂话本. 清平山堂话本 was compiled in Ming dynasty, but the stories in it might be from Song and Yuan dynasties. You can read that story on WikiSource.
    – alephalpha
    Nov 8, 2022 at 4:42
  • 1
    @alephalpha - That sounds like enough for an answer of "Not a modern part of the tale, it's at least as old as the Ming Dynasty"?
    – Malady
    Nov 8, 2022 at 19:33


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