Monday, May 31, 2021

The beauty of kindness (Folktales of Chinese minorities 4. - Manchu)

A Népmesék nyomában a világ körül kihívás folytatásaként belevágtam a kisebbségek és bennszülött népek meséibe. Elsőként a kínai kisebbségek kerülnek sorra. A korábbi bejegyzéseket itt találjátok, a Facebookon pedig itt követhetitek nyomon a sorozatot.

The Volume of Manchu 
Classical myths of China's 56 ethnic groups
Li Xueqin & Pan Shouyong 
New Buds Publishing House, 2013.

This book is part of a 12 volume series that features myths from all 56 ethnic groups in China (I will probably read more volumes for the challenge later). It is a thin, richly and gorgeously illustrated book that contains six stories. The short introduction talks about the cultural importance of myths, and the opportunity of the series to introduce them to young Chinese and English-speaking readers. At the end of the volume we get a short chapter and pictures on Manchu culture and history. 


Since there are only six stories in the book, all of them very beautiful, I decided to consider all of them highlights.

The most beautiful tale in the book was The Forest of Happiness, in which a mute, lonely girl fell in love with a kind huntsman. When people's gossip tore them apart, the young man found his lover again with the help of a magpie. Kind magpies also starred in the tale Weaver Girls, where two birds transformed into humans to help out a poor old woman. 
The origin story of the wula sedge was a sad tale about a boy who sacrificed himself to save his younger brother from freezing to death. From his grave grew the sedge that can be woven into warm shoes. Similarly sad but beautiful was the legend of Echoing Waters, in which a father mourning his daughter filled the rivers with heartbreaking song.
The legend of the fairies of Mount Changbai was the origin story of the Manchu people. A heavenly fairy descended to earth, ate a berry and got pregnant, so she decided to stay and raise her son alone. He eventually became the ancestor of the Manchu, in the area north of Mt. Changbai where their original home was.
The story of Lady Red Silk took an unexpected turn. She was the most beautiful woman in the world, who also made herself gorgeous clothes from feathers. She asked all of her suitors what the most precious thing in the world was, and since no one answered correctly (a prince, for example, said power), she continued living happily alone by a lake.

Who's next?
The Uighurs

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