Three cowherds and the teacher.

Told by Yang Xiu-gong.


This is a story of honesty receiving its due reward. There is no feature which is specifically Miao, except possibly the description with which the narrative opens, of three lads, minding the cattle and enjoying themselves climbing over a great rock by the side of an ancient caravan route.

Miao has no word for taking an examination. "Kao" is borrowed from the Chinese.

The present name for Beijing in Miao is "Gi-myu lao", meaning "the Emperorís city". The traditional name, however, was "Ghai-dleu lao", "White chicken city". In Miao the sound "ing" does not occur, so that both in speech, and in writing Chinese words it is regularly shortened to a simple "i". Thus the name "Beijing", becomes "Beiji", which, if the right characters are chosen, can mean "white chicken" in Chinese, and so it was translated into Miao.

The Miao word for "slave" means not only a person who is the property of his master and may be bought and sold, but anyone engaged in servile work. So in this story the Miao lad was employed in hard labour, but remained free to move on when he wished.

Literal Transcription

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