Zhuang Folk Tales from Wuming

 

This book is a good sample of the folk literature of the Zhuang people living around Wuming County.

Though formally separated in six chapters under the epigraphs of Traditional virtues, Bravery and Diligence, Cleverness and Creativity, Fairy tales, Children Stories, and Battles of Wits, all the tales included in this book reflect in a similar way a voice that come from the soul of the people. Far from complicated philosophical concepts, the stories narrated in this book reflect the every day life of the Zhuang farmers.

All these stories are told in a simple style that takes the reader, if not to the Grandfather Knee, as the title states, at least to the sacred hearth of a Zhuang home, around which their everyday life is developed.

The book dedicates a big part of its pages to the "clever" tales, a special literary genre Common to most of the Chinese minorities scarcely studied out of China. In the tales about Gam Lo and in those about the clever son-in-law we discover the humor of the Zhuang peoples, their inner feelings about the powerful that exploited them and a kind of resistance against them. Reading these tales, diligently collected after 1949 Revolution as a sample of the revolutionary spirit of the masses among the Chinese minorities, we discover not the revolutionary spirit that exploded in continuous uprising along the history but the inner resistance, in every person heart, against the injustices and unreasonable demands that the agents of the imperial power placed on them.

In these tales we find also some of the common themes of the Chinese (and world popular literature). We discover again the dogs and their relation with agriculture, the abandoned orphan, here by his older brother, that succeed in the last term, the snake that devour people, or the aquatic creature, here a clam, that transform itself in a beautiful fairy ready to help her human benefactor, etc.

The book is a trilingual edition with a version of each tale in Zhuang, Chinese and English languages. It includes several simple drawings related to the tales contents.

Bwz Licuh and Margaret Milliken. At Grand-father's Knee - Zhuang Folk Tales from Wuming. Nationalities Press. Beijing. 2001

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