Old Miao songs about marriage. 13.
Song of the old folk who had no children.

Transcribed by Yang-yung-xin.


In the elaborate similes used in this song there is artistry of considerable merit, but at the same time an element of enigma, which the listener must interpret for himself. The earth banks mentioned in the first of the two pictures of open landscape, are those which separate rice fields, and are curved because they follow the contours of the land. The absence of trees in both pictures describes an ageing couple bereft of children. Since they are called "the mother" and "the father", the assumption is that they did have children, but had lost them.

The second pair of similes concern wild animals which have found themselves trapped, the wild cat in a grain store and the fox in a fenced garden, where both were faced with starvation because they could not eat the grain and the vegetables which they found there. So, not having a son, the man felt himself trapped, and saw his food supply dwindling. Though he still had the land he was progressively less able to farm it. The water used in a Miao household was carried by the women. With no daughter to undertake this task, the woman too felt trapped. As her own strength failed she faced an increasing problem with the supply of water for the needs of the home.

In the third pair of similes the cawing of the crow reflects an idea, common in Miao stories, that this cry is one of frustration and dejection.

Literal Transcription

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