The song of Zhyu-shi-lang.

Sung by Zhang Ming.


This song covers the same ground as the previous two versions, but with a number of differences of style and vocabulary. Throughout, Zhang Ming uses the name "Zhyu-shi-lang" rather than "Zhyu-shi-lao", but far more significant is his reference to Mount Ve-nzhao, a name which means "broken stone mountain".

Many of the old songs open with the conventional lines,

"When the sky began,
And on earth the ranges were set in place,"

In the Miao this is a couplet in which each line comprises five syllables. However, in the present song Zhang Ming has expanded the second line to read,

"And on earth Mount Ve-nzhao was set in its high place".

If, now, we turn back to Yang Zhiís version of this song, (M141), as it is recorded in the earlier documents A, Eí and E, it contains no reference at all to this mountain. However, in Document K, followed by Documents L and N, Mount Ve-nzhao has been introduced into lines 3, 4, 5 and 6 which accordingly read,

When the peopleís Zhyu-shi-lao first arrived at Mount Ve-nzhao,
The peopleís forests on Mount Ve-nzhao were exceedingly black,
The forests on Mount Ve-nzhao were extremely dark,
The peopleís forests on Mount Ve-nzhao whispered and sighed.

Furthermore at the beginning of Yang Zhiís song as it appears in Documents K and L there is the following introductory note, written partly on Miao and partly in Chinese.

(In Miao) "It is said that at this time they were at Mount Ve-nzhao".
(In Chinese) "This was Shi-ji mountain, also called A-ni-ma-qing mountain, part of the Kun-lun range of Qinghai Province".
(In Miao) "Zhyu-shi-lao was our Miao Grandfather, who, at the beginning, at Mount Ve-nzhao, cleared the forests and drove out the wild animals so that people had a way to find food and drink. Accordingly the old folk made a song to sing as follows". (Here follows the Miao text of the song).

It should be noted that the Miao name of this mountain is actually a translation of the Chinese name. In general Miao place names are quite unrelated to the Chinese. In cases where there is no Miao name, the Chinese is used, written with Miao letters. It is not normal to translate it.

Although there had always been debate about the place of origin of the Miao people, there had never been any general consensus of opinion. It would seem, however, that between 1949, when Yang Yong-xin published Document E, and 1952, when he issued Document K, a theory was evolved which located the ancestral home in the mountains of Qinghai Province. Yang Yong-xin obviously embraced the theory, and on the strength of it not only wrote the introductory note in Document K quoted above, but went as far as altering the text of Yang Zhiís song.

As a detailed study of his work reveals, Yang Yong-xin was quite ready, when need arose, to insert into the text in parenthesis, explanatory notes written either in Miao or Chinese, but it is entirely out of character for him to alter the text itself. He must have been fully convinced that Mount Ve-nzhao was indeed an authentic part of the tradition preserved in the songs to add the name of the mountain toYang Zhiís version in this manner.

Now there are no songs by Zhang Ming in Document E, but six in Document K, suggesting the Yang Yong-xin was only introduced to Zhang Mingís work after 1949. It seems very likely, therefore, that it was the specific mention of this mountain in Zhang Mingís song that prompted Yang Yong-xin to add the name to Yang Zhiís version, and then to adduce it as evidence that the Miao originated from Qinghai Province.

These considerations pose a further question which concerns the authenticity of Mount Ve-nzhao in Zhang Mingís version itself. Was it really there in the original tradition, or was it also added to lend support to the Qinghai theory? Since, in the circumstances, there can be no final verification either way, it has been allowed to stand in the text and translation that follow, nevertheless internal evidence casts grave doubts upon it, and for the following reasons:

  1. Zhang Mingís version stands alone. Neither Yang Zhi, Lu Xing-fu nor Pan Xie make any mention of Mount Ve-nzhao.
  2. Although not unknown, it is most unusual for a Miao name to be derived by translation from a Chinese name, especially in a traditional song.
  3. The introduction of this name disrupts the conventional opening gambit, two parallel lines of five syllables each. It gives the strong impression of being an intrusion into the text.
  4. In the introduction to Zhang Mingís version of the Flood story, (M133), it has already been noted that a small section of that Miao song had been replaced with lines in the same Miao style as the rest of the song, but based upon the Flood narrative in the book of Genesis. Mount Ve-nzhao could be a similar addition to the original text of this song.

Translation in verse
Literal Transcription

You can see the original documents for this song.

You can also see these pages as Word97 documents

Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

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