Thursday, April 23, 2020

T is for Tigers (Folktales of Endangered Species)

Welcome to the 2020 A to Z blogging challenge! This year my theme is Folktales of Endangered Species. I am researching cool traditional stories about rare, fascinating animals - to raise awareness of what we might lose if we don't get our collective shit together. Enjoy!

Species: South China tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)

Status: Critically endangered (possibly extinct in the wild)

Five Tiger General
Chinese folktale

This story begins with a humble woodcutter who goes out into the forest one day, and comes across a female tiger in great pain. The tigress is in labor, her intestines have come out (?), and she needs help. The woodcutter runs home and gets his mother, who is a midwife, to help. The two of them assist the tigress, and four cubs are born. Once everything is in order, the mother jokingly tells the tiger to bring a good bride for her son.
Some time later a bridal procession is traveling through the mountains, and they are caught up in a snow storm. Suddenly they hear a roar, and five tigers appear, herding the terrified procession to the woodcutter's house, where they find shelter. The woodcutter and the bride take a liking to each other, and get married.
However, the original groom's family is not pleased by this development, and they go before the magistrate to complain. The woodcutter tells them what happened, but they don't believe him. The old mother then goes to the mountains, and invites the tigers as witnesses. Once the five fully grown tigers show up, no one is contesting the marriage anymore (go figure).
Later on the woodcutter, with the help of the five tigers, fights off an invasion, and the emperor rewards him with the title "Five Tiger General."

Sources: Read the story here.

How can I help?

Read about conservation efforts here, here, or here (this last one is about Siberian tigers in China).

What animals would you choose as your companions if you were made a general?


  1. I like Chinese folktales. After watching Tiger King on netflix and see so many caged for entertainment and then see they are possibly extinct I have to feel shame for my species. How dare we.

  2. Well, that bride probably had an arranged marriage and had never met her intended anyway! I was just reading about tigers in the Bronx zoo testing positive for coronavirus.
    If I were a general, a tiger would make a great companion! Something large and fearsome.

  3. I've noticed it before that often in Chinese fairytales all characters are level. I mean, I read stories where ghosts and humans live side by side and they barely know they are different from each other.
    The same is in this story, where the tigers and the human are considered just the same.
    I like this attitude :-)

    The Old Shelter - Living the Twenties

  4. Great tale! Those animals are so beautiful, it's so sad they are endangered...

  5. The tiger is our national animal. I loved reading this folk tale. In our tales, tigers have been worshiped and revered. It's sad that they are an endangered species.

  6. Can't seem to pick just one animal to answer your question. There are so many I like.
    Wondering if the 'intestine' (?) is an error in translation for umbilical cord.
    Enjoyable tale.

  7. Love the tiger tale! And I have to say I'm grateful for the resources and ways to help you offer with each of your posts - thank you! I'm not sure I could choose a single animal companion - I'd be a more of a countless beloved creatures kind of general.

  8. Tigers make sense as companions for a general, but I'd hate to be a general!
    Black and White (Words and Pictures)

  9. so sad that they are endangered. Such a wonderful animal and all are important to the balance of nature. Unfortunately it is the humans who are at fault and seriously we should be the only endangered species as we cause most of the chaos. Hence the COVID-19 virus. Perhaps this is a wake up call for us.

  10. Save those tigers! Great post and wonderful cause. - Dragons & Spaceships

  11. In the books of James Herriot, an English veterinarian, I have read something interesting about cows. During birth, sometimes the womb is pushed out of the cow alongside the calf. It turns out the way you turn out a glove, so the inner side of the womb is exposed, and the whole organ is outside of the body. You should imagine, that without medical help in the wild, this would be lethal sooner or later - mostly sooner.
    It seems possible to me that something like that can happen to tigers - if it is so, then it can explain the story.