Narrated by Yang Xiu-gong.
This narrative and the song that follows, (M160), are two somewhat different versions of the same story. There is a tradition which appears from time to time in the songs that people on earth originally received seed corn from the sky. In this story, the dog was sent to fetch it, but forgot his instructions.
In the prose narrative it was specifically maize seed which had to be collected from Nzyu-fa-lao. The message which the great shaman-healer gave to the dog was quite clear, just four Miao words, and, had he got it right, cobs of maize would have grown to a prodigious size on tiny plants. The word "dlang", which is translated "fathom", is, in fact, the distance from finger-tip to finger-tip, with the arms stretched wide.
For his mistake, the dog was punished by being made to wait for his meal until everyone else had finished eating. Among the poorer people in every ethnic group in South-West China dogs were scavengers. It was the dog, which was called to clear up messes on the mud floor made by infants or young children. The words of abuse addressed to the dog in this story are as coarse as they were factual.
Translation in verse
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