Miao (specifically, Hmub) Creation Epics, III.3-5

[texts in a humorous style, publicly sung for popular entertainment : each (short) section being introduced by a quaestion]

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pp. 71-110 Part III = "Song of the Antient Sweet-Gum"

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(pp. 92-103 – III.3 Ploughing and Harrowing the Earth)

p. 92 selling food in order to buy land, by Xanb Lianx

he sold __

and bought __

fern roots

wild swine’s mountains

hazelnuts

wild pheasants’ valleys

p. 93 Xanb Lianx’s 1st "ox" (really a toad), useless for ploughing

"His ox was like a toad.

He kept it in a bamboo basket. ...

Xang Liang ... killed his ox.

He ate the ox until only its bones were left;

chewed on the jaws until only the skull was left.

Later, he threw the bones into the forest."

These toad-bones "turned into Kho Hxen. ["a ghost who specializes in making mischief." (p. 200, n. 1)]

The big hat on his head was hard to wear;

his mouth spoke endless gossip".

p. 94 metallic coin fruits used to buy bovines for ploughing

a girl named __

Gi Ni Wen

Gi Jen Ni

planted a __-blossomed tree

white

yellow

the fruit whereof was the size of __,

cooking crocks

rice-steamers

fruit consisting of __

silver

gold

which was used to buy __

ox

water-buffalo

in order to plough __

mountain[side]s

hillsides

pp. 93-96 the 2nd ox (an actual one) used by Xanb Lianx for ploughing

p. 93

the ox was named Xiu Niu.

p. 94

It was bought in the market at Nan-tu.

p. 95

Grandpa Xon Tim was go-between in buying it.

p. 96

Magpie "brought him a jug of wine, ... to toast Xang Liang’s ox" [by sprinkling wine in its face (p. 200, n. 4)], rendering the ox’s eyen bloodshot.

 

"A Dragon’s horn ... was poked" between the ox’s nostrils.

p. 96 normally, a piece of wu-bei wood would be poke between the nostrils

p. 97 normally, the plough-beam would be of willow; the share-shaft of mulberry

pp. 98-99 ploughing toward the east and toward the west, by Xanb Lianx

ploughing __

eastward

westward

he obtained 9 baskets of __

(p. 98) wild rats

(p. 99) sparrows

p. 100 how pangolins and xi-ni grass originated

Xanb Lianx’s __

became __

fishes

pangolins

duckweed

xi-ni grass

p. 201, n. 7 Whenever a pangolin is encountered, it must be regaled with a song in its honor, praising it for bestowing "the luck to ... live for a hundred years".

p. 101 animals which entered and ploughed inaccessible sites

site

was entered and ploughed by __

"the Earth God’s village, where seventy thousand persons lived."

Emmet

deep "stony gorge"

Crab

"mountain peak"

Wild Pheasant

p. 102 how various species of snakes etc. originated from the ancillaries for ploughing, by Xanb Lianx

the __

became a __

ox-hoof

wu-s^ao snake

harrow-harness

red-striped snake

ox-yoke

ge-ban snake

plough-beam

di-di bird

rope in ox’s nose

mud-dwelling eel

whip

straw-bug

The ploughshare "was taken to a mountain peak, where" it "turned into Ba Hlio ["a clever man known for his dependable wisdom" (p. 201, n. 9)], changed into Gha Xiu ["special singer who sings praise songs" (p. 201, n. 10)], who came for Ancestor sacrifices."

pp. 102-103 residual bones & paper {cf. paper worn by [Aztec] bone-god Mictlan-tecuhtli}

p. 102

"The harrow was sent to Lu Men’s ["the ghost" for whom "is buried ... the leftover bones from the sacrifice." (p. 201, n. 12)] home, where it turned into a little dog harrow and was buried crosswise in the road."

p. 103

"the ox turned into Vi Vang O Rock, and the rock wanted to eat Paper and Books." ["According to legend, when paper was first made, goupi (in Chinese) hemp (Broussonetia papyrifera) and other materials were beaten on the rock. Later, to revenge being struck, the rock began to eat paper and books." (p. 201, n. 13)]

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(pp. 103-107 – III.4 Sowing the Seeds)

p. 104 animals who reported to Xanb Lianx concerning the sprouts of the tree-seeds which he had sown

WildRat

Paddy Rat

Magpie, observing from "the top of a shagbark tree".

p. 104 similitudes of the tree-sprouts

sprouts of __ (sown by Xanb Lianx)

resembled shoots of __ (domesticated plants)

sweet-gum

kapok

fir

rice

pine

chestnuts

p. 105 builders of the 4-sided pool for Xanb Lianx

part of pool

its builder

1st side

Wan Wu

2nd side

Ghe Lu

3rd side

Ban Xan Ye

4th side

Wan Nan

"the well to flood the pond"

Bo Jen Hsa

channel (from well) to flood pond

Bo Jen Hsan

pp. 105-106 parentage of the 2 Bo Jen

"green moss and blue algae"

p. 106 locales were the trees were planted

the __ trees

were planted at __

sweet-gum

roadsides

fir

mountain-valleys

pine

hillsides

camphor

mountain-roads

non ji

mountain-saddlebacks

horse-chestnut & wu-bei

from the peaks to the feet of the mountains

thorn

feet of hills

p. 201, n. 3 "sweet gum (de mang [det mangx] in Miao; fengshu in Chinese; Liquidambar formosana) ... was ... used to fasten the horns to the main house post where the ancestral memorial tablets (for human ancestors) were set."

p. 201, n. 4 non ji leaves "produce a nice sound when blown".

p. 106 apparel worn by the trees

tree

its apparel

sweet-gums

"old-fashioned tunics"

firs

eels’

pines

pangolins’

p. 107 plants planted to accompany other plants

cogon-grass with winter-grass

bamboo with sweet-gum trees

p. 107 males & females who courted together at the sweet-gum trees

a young man of Gha Lian’s family, with a young woman of Xan Lian’s family

eagles and magpies

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(pp. 108-110 – III.5 Cutting Down the Antient Sweet Gum)

pp. 108-109 erroneous accusations made by Xanb Lianx, as to the theft of his 9 fish (from out of his 4-sided pool)

p.

accusation

108

"A boy of Niu Liang’s family came, and

a girl of Ni Liang’s family played merrily with him ...

beneath the Sweet Gum Tree,

making the ground bare with their dancing."

Xanb Lianx at first accused them of the theft; but then

 

he "looked the tree over carefully, and saw that the Sweet Gum’s leaves were covered with fish scales." [This is due to fish-eating birds "which feast on the fish and drop their scales in the tree branches." (p. 72)]

109

Xanb Lianx thereupon accused Sweet-Gum, in a law-court, of the theft.

pp. 109-110 defense-attorneys invited to defend Sweet-Gum from the criminal charge of stealing the 9 fish

p.

the invited

details

109

Jen Hson Ghan

["born in Maha (today called Majiang)" (p. 202, n. 3)]

 

Wan Lu La,

who "rode up on a male tiger ... to slaughter a cow"

 

Jen Hson Ghan,

who "came riding a great stallion,

110

 

and after arriving butchered a fat hog".

p. 100 how judgement was rendered

The judge, who was Xiu Niu, found Sweet-Gum guilty of being "the accomplice of thieves" (viz., of "Egrets and Wild Geese" – p. 109).

p. 202, n. 5 "When a wiseman decided a case he used sticks made of bamboo that he would rap on the table" {cf. European judge’s mallet}.

p. 201, n. 2 "Wisemen (lu [lul]) ... for deciding court cases."

p. 110 after Sweet-Gum was thus condemned to death and executed, there originated from that tree’s parts various species :-

from __

originated __

sawdust

fish

woodchips

honeybees

heartwood

butterflies

buds

moths

woodknots

owls

leaves

swallows, hawks, vultures

2-forked branches

Ji Wi bird

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Jin Dan ("Jenb Dangk" in Miao; compiler and translator from Miao into Chinese); Ma Xueliang (editor of the Chinese version); Mark Bender (translator from the Chinese) : Butterfly Mother : Miao (Hmong) Creation Epics from Guizhou, China. Hackett Publishing Co, Indianapolis, 2006.