In the Heavens there lives the Jade Emperor, the Empress, and their seven beautiful daughters. The Heavenly Kingdom is an extraordinary place full of gods, goddesses, and all sorts of immortal beings. While the Jade Emperor and Empress keep order in the Heavenly court, the sisters are responsible for weaving the clouds and rainbows of the skies. The youngest daughter Zhinu(織女) was said to be the most beautiful and talented of them all.
One day, the sisters go down to Earth to visit a sacred bathing pool. While they are playing, Niulang(牛郎), the cowherd sets eyes on Zhinu and is immediately entranced. He decides to secretly steal her wings so she cannot leave. The older sisters have no choice but to leave without her. When the older sisters depart, Niulang comes out of hiding and the two fall in love.
For years, Niulang and Zhinu live happily on Earth with their two children. One day, the Jade Emperor and Empress notice the skies aren’t as beautiful as they used to be and discover that Zhinu has been neglecting her heavenly duties and living on Earth. In their anger, the Jade Emperor and Empress send soldiers to retrieve Zhinu. Niulang chases after his beloved but the Jade Empress stops him. Using her hairpin, she creates a river(the Milky Way) through the sky, forever separating the two lovers.
Back in the Heavens, Zhinu is heartbroken and weeps, causing torrents of rain on Earth. In sympathy the Jade Emperor summons the world’s magpies to build a bridge across the Milky Way. Every year since on the 7th night of the 7th month, all the magpies of the world fly together so that the lovers can reunite. It is said that on this night, no magpies can be found on Earth.