Jingwei: The Bird Trying To Fill Up the Sea

In the mysterious geographic book Shan Hai Jing (山海经), there was a tragic myth.

Nyuwa (女娃, not the goddess named 女娲) was the youngest daughter of Yan-Di (炎帝). She was lovely and vivacious, and liked to adventure. Yan-Di was the chief of a tribal alliance, so he was very busy every day and he had no time to take care of his children. One day, Nvwa walked on the coast of the East Sea, and she saw the sea was so blue and placid that she wanted to swim. However, when she swam far from the coast, the sea suddenly became large waves rolling in immense surges. Nvwa then heard the bluster of the dragonish Sea-God. Frightened, She tried to return the coast, but her puny body was not able to resist the strength and power of the billowing waves. Nvwa unfortunately drowned.

When Yan-Di heard the miserable news from the servants of Nvwa, he rushed to the coast of the East Sea. Yan-Di cried the name of his youngest daughter, and suddenly he saw a little bird fly out the sea. The little bird flew around Yan-Di, and wailed shrilly with great lament. The bird looked like a crow. Its head had colorful lines, its beak was white, and its feet were red. Yan-Di felt the bird was from the soul of Nvwa. He wept bitter tears. However, the bird suddenly cried “Jingwei”, and flew rapidly to the West Mountain. It took a small stone from the mountain by its mouth, and then threw the stone into the East Sea.

Ever Since then, the bird would carry small stones in its mouth and throw them into the East Sea every day. The Sea-God understood the purpose of the bird. He laughed and said to the bird, “My sea is so vast and deep. You are not able to fill up it forever!” However, the bird answered, “I will try forever, and I believe your sea will be filled up in the end.”

Our ancestors saw such a bird throw small stones into the East Sea and cried “Jingwei”, so they called it “Jingwei”. For thousands of years, the story of the bird called Jingwei has encouraged people to strive for their ideals generation after generation.

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