The manís great resourcefulness.

Told by Yang Xiu-gong.


Although the initial paragraph links this story with the previous one (M424), it is in fact a separate narrative. With some such sentence as, "Once upon a time a man fell down a cliff and broke his leg so that he could not walk", it could well begin at the second paragraph.

The real reason for the man wanting a needle was that he required it for medical purposes. It was believed that the insertion of a needle would facilitate the healing process. The bear did not realise this, but accepted the suggestion that the needle was a kind of dip-stick measuring the amount of fat that the man was putting on.

The wild catís offer of help was not disinterested. He intended to get his share of the bearís meat, and arranged that the man should not kill the bear until he was on hand. This was the point of the enigmatic call to let the man know that he had arrived, but not to excite the bearís suspicions.

When asked the meaning of the wild catís call, Yang Xiu-gong said that it had none. It was simply the noise that the wild cat made. However all the syllables are recognisable Miao words. In the incantations, and in the bargaining conducted by the middlemen in fixing a marriage settlement, code words were often used instead of the name of the animal concerned, and this would appear to be the same kind of thing. Two rather archaic words are employed. "Tub", a large wooden vat for holding water, means "man", and "basket", a large bamboo basket for storing grain, means. "bear". In translation the slightly archaic form has been hinted by using "come forth" instead of "come out", and "smite" instead of "kill".

When the bear had been killed the man and the wild cat cut up the carcass into reasonable sized joints to be shared out between them. At this point the manís anger was aroused by the wild catís greediness, but the latter had the good sense to heed the warning given. The man was pacified, promising that, for the future, the wild cat might take the occasional animal from his farm in recognition for services rendered.

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

Return to Index of Songs
Return to First Page of the Archive