The First Cinderella was Chinese

Since I wrote about rural children living alone yesterday, I thought I’d write about a fairy tale today and let you know that the first known literary version of Cinderella in the world was published in China.

There is a myth that an earlier version existed in Egypt around the first century. If true, since Egypt did not have printing presses then, this may have been an oral story told around camp fires.

However, in 850 AD during the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese version of Cinderella was about a girl called Yeh-hsien. Source: Tales of Faerie

Although this video claims the Chinese Cinderella had bound feet, according to Bound Feet Women, foot binding didn’t appear in China until the Sung Dynasty (960-1276 AD), more than a century after Cinderella was first published.

The French version of Cinderella wouldn’t be published by Charles Perrault until 1697 — more than eight centuries later.

Another version of Cinderella would appear in 1867 and again in 1894 in England.

In 1945, the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow would present the premiere of Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet of Cinderella.

Walt Disney wouldn’t publish a version of Cinderella until 1946, more than a thousand years after Cinderella first appeared in China.


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This edited post first appeared December 23, 2010

2 Responses to The First Cinderella was Chinese

  1. Marjorie says:

    A wonderful interesting post today. I am still horrified of the practice of foot binding. Shocking what woman went through.

    • Yes, footbinding was shocking. It is amazing what people will go through when a horrible act such as footbinding is common and part of a culture.

      Similar to today’s female genital mutilation/circumcision in 28 African countries as well as in the Arabian Peninsula, Southern Jordon, northern Iraq and maybe in Syria, Western Iran and Southern Turkey in addition to Indonesia.

      In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 100 – 140 million women and girls have suffered through this horrible cultural practice.

      At least the Chinese got rid of footbinding soon after 1949 after the CCP came to power and changed the law of China making women equal to men for the first time in China’s long history.

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