The orphan’s song

A woman from Hmao-zu-mu.


This song is rather less full than the previous prose version of the story (M474) and, at a number of points, the listener is left to guess the relationship between different sections and also the reason for a number of the happenings. Thus, for instance, it is not explained why, when he saw the new house, the orphan immediately ran away. There is, however, some interesting new material.

The statement that the old king’s son became head of a leading family of Nosu (Yi) landowners is noteworthy. Many Nosu families embraced Chinese education, and quite a number of Nosu attained qualifications making them eligible for appointment to high office. In fact a member of the powerful Lung family became the Provincial Governor of Yunnan. The king in this story, though surrounded by all the trappings of a high ranking Chinese official, was evidently a Nosu by race, and his son succeeded him as head of the family.

No explanation is offered for Yeu-rang’s youngest daughter rejecting her twin sons at birth. It might possibly have been that, because they did not belong to Yeu-rang’s clan but to that of their natural father, she knew that if Yeu-rang discovered the parentage of his two stable lads, he would immediately send them back, mother and sons, to where they belonged, in the orphan’s palace on earth, and maybe she was loath to go. This will also explain why, having somehow been alerted to the situation, Yeu-rang was so keen to establish the two boys’ true identity. Throughout the song the twins are described as "du dlang li du si" a name used for any person having supernatural powers.

The suggestion that the sound of thunder was caused by Thunder’s two daughters rolling their drums is found only in this song. Elsewhere, in stories, songs and in common speech, it is ascribed to Thunder, himself roaring like a great beast. Thunder’s swords and spears are, of course lightning, which by the magic fan was made to strike upward instead of downward, with fatal results for the two daughters.

The idea that peace was established by bringing together sky and earth under a unified government, so that when trouble broke out in either realm, the other came to the rescue, is also peculiar to this song.

Literal Transcription

You can see the original documents for this song.

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Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

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