Concerning the orphan and the deer.

Told by by Yang Xiu-gong.


Some of the song-stories of metamorphic changes are quite long and elaborate. This one is in the simplest, basic form. A young man catches an animal, which changes into a girl whom he marries.

The final paragraph reflects the Miao social custom of inviting the wife’s mother to visit when the first baby had been born, and of giving her a gift of food on her departure. The whistle used to call mother-in-law was a piece of bamboo, cut in such a way that one end was open and the other closed. When it was held vertically against the lower lip in the manner of Pan-pipes, blowing across the open end produced a soft whistling sound, the pitch and quality of the sound depending on the length and width of the tube, and the force and direction of the blowing. The young women suggested "a clump" of green grass as food for mother-in-law during her stay. The husband actually gathered "a load", that is as much as a man could carry on his back, and provided an equal quantity again as a parting gift.

Literal Transcription

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