The wise goat.

Told by Yang Xiu-gong.


Among the various animals in this story it is the mother goat which is outstanding. Her concern that her youngsters were getting sufficient food, her firm discipline, her resourcefulness and her courage are all in marked contrast to father goatís timorous nature. Not infrequently in a Miao household it was the mother who played a leading role. This may explain why in common speech parents are always referred to as "mother and father" and never as "father and mother".

Of the two predators, the tiger appears as the greater coward. It was his fear that the fox would run off and leave him to the fury of mother goat that prompted the tying together of their tails, with such disastrous results for the fox. In translation the force of the personification of the animals is rather lost by the fact that in English, "coat" is regularly used for an animalís pelt, and "tail" is often used for the nether extremity of an article of human clothing. Miao does not normally use either metaphor.

Literal Transcription

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