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The Qiqiao Festival, also known as the Qixi Festival, or Chinese valentine’s day, is a festival celebrating the annual meeting of the Cowherd and Weaver Maid in mythology. The most influential version focuses on the romance or love theme; however, it ignores its underlying historical context, gender tension and mythical belief. This paper takes the texts, rituals and materials related to the Qiqiao festival to investigate its origin and evolution. First, it takes the anthological case of the Qiqiao festival in Xihe county to explore its core image of the holy bridge and Goddess Qiao. Second, it traces the bridge image in the Qiqiao festival to the archeological evidence of the oracle Hong and Jade Huang to explore the interaction of the rainbow bridge and goddess in the Qiqiao festival. Third, it presents multiple textual evidence to explore the mythic image of the magpie bridge in the Qiqiao festival to reveal the connection between bird worship and Goddess Worship. It proposes a possible mode of evolution of the Qiqiao festival: first originated from the initial sacrifices to Goddess Qiao, to pray for the holy bridge or pray to Goddess for the craft, then to the romance of the Cowherd and Weaver Maid. This paper extends from the aesthetic narrative of the Qiqiao Festival to its mythological context, highlighting its underlying ideology and gender tension. The Qiqiao festival is not only about romance; it reveals the profound tradition of the Goddess, bridge and bird mythology before the patriarchal society. The evolution of the Qiqiao festival demonstrates the tension between man and woman, fictional imagination and mythical worship, aesthetic autonomy and embedded ideology.





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