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China to seek world heritage listing of "butterfly lovers" story
Latest Updated by 2004-06-14 14:21:38

A Still of China's Yue Opera "Butterfly Lovers". (File Photo)

China will seek the listing of its centuries-old folklore story "The Butterfly Lovers" as non-material world heritage, with a formal application expected to be submitted to UNESCO in 2006.

 The plan was announced at a meeting of representatives from sixcities of four east and central China provinces which concluded Saturday in Ningbo, a booming port city in the coastal province of Zhejiang. All the six cities have claimed to be the place of origin of the "Butterfly Lovers" story.

 The most popular love story in China, the "Butterfly Lovers" tells the legend of two 4th century Chinese lovers who could not get married in their lifetime due to different family backgrounds and turned into a butterfly couple after their death. The story was also called "China's Romeo and Juliet". 

 For centuries, the story has been adapted into traditional operas, movies and TV plays. A modern concerto adapted from the story has now become a music classic repeatedly played by world-class masters.

 Chinese folklore experts say that the debate over the place of origin of the story, which has heated up in recent years as several cities across the country claim to possess historical records or cultural relics relating to the story, has affected thestory's application for a world heritage listing.

As a result, the China Butterfly Lovers' Culture Research Society hosted the meeting in Ningbo, where archaeologists claimed to have excavated a 1,600-year-old tomb believed to belong to the male protagonist in the story, to help all involved parties dispel contentions and seek common grounds.

"Participants of the meeting have reached consensus that the 'Butterfly Lovers' story is a precious cultural legacy for the Chinese nation, and it's necessary and imperative to seek the story's listing as non-material world heritage for a better protection of this cultural legacy," said a spokesman with the research society.

According to the spokesman, all the regions with records or relics relating to the story have agreed to work together under the coordination of the research society and jointly prepare the application materials in the next couple of years.

"We will submit all application materials to the Chinese Ministry of Culture in 2006, which is expected to transfer them to the UNESCO," the spokesman says.

Editor: Wings

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By: Source:Xinhua
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