Tian Xian Pei (Chinese: 天仙配; pinyin: Tiānxiān pèi), sometimes translated as Fairy Couple, is a Chinese legend that existed in oral tradition before any written versions. It has since become a major subject of several Chinese opera, films and TV series.
The seven daughters of the Jade Emperor travel to the mortal world. The youngest of the seven fairy maidens was in search of her lost weaving equipment and her "coat of feathers," without which she was unable to fly. Another version of the story states that the seventh fairy's feather coat was actually stolen by a mortal named Dong Yong, advised by one of his cattle who happened to be an exiled fairy as well and disguised as a normal, aged bull. During the stay, the maiden falls in love with Dong Yong. He is a poor worker who had sold himself into servitude to pay for his father's funeral. With help of the other fairies, the seventh fairy managed to weave ten pieces of brocade for Dong Yong to pay off his debt, shortening his indenture to 100 days. Before the couple can begin their life together, the Jade Emperor orders his daughters to return home. However, he is kind enough to allow the couple to reunite once a year on the 七夕 (the 7th Evening) -- later known as the traditional Chinese Qixi Festival -- by crossing the Milky Way.
In memory of this story, ancient Chinese astrologers named two prominent stars that stand at a distance from each other 牛郎, "shepherd man," and 織女, "weaving girl." These are the stars Altair in the constellation Aquila and Vega in Lyra.