Manchu and Mongolian folktales in Liaoning

Source:Chinese Social Sciences Today 2021-05-27

A Comparative Study of Manchu and Mongolian Folktales in Liaoning Province

A Comparative Study of Manchu and Mongolian Folktales in Liaoning Province, authored by Qi Haiying, an associate professor from the School of Humanity and Law at Shenyang University, conducts comparative research on the content and traits of Manchu and Mongolian folktales in Liaoning Province, interpreting similarities and differences in terms of the formation, dissemination, distribution, inheritance, and evolution of the two ethnic groups’ folktales.

The author searches for commonality by comparing Manchu myth The Origin of Man and Mongolian myths to Han myths, including Nüwa Creates Human Beings, The Goddess Chang’e’s Fly to the Moon, The Cowherd and the Weaving Maid, and the “feathered maiden” in In Search of the Supernatural, excavating the intertextuality of multi-ethnic cultural fusions from these myths and legends. 

The author also distinguishes between Manchu myth Swan Fairy and Mongolian myths, unraveling the tendency of “spiritual bird–ancestor worship” that permeated Manchu myths of ancestral origins, and Buddhist worship in Mongolian ancestor myths, in which Buddha assists in the creation of their ancestors. He traces the cultural origins of Manchu’s unique worship in combination with Shaman cultures and the cultures of mountain forest dwellers.

The author gives scientific and rigorous explanations regarding the broad background of specific institutional cultures, ethical and moral cultures, national spirit and material culture, and ecological culture. For instance, many folktales surrounding inspection trips, made incognito by Qing (1644–1911) emperors, circulate in Fuxin and Chaoyang cities in western Liaoning Province where Mongolians communities reside. The particularity of these stories is twofold. First, these stories cross ethnic groups—the narrators and receivers are the Mongolian populace, while the protagonists are the Qing emperors of the Manchu ethnic group. Next, in these tales, the emperor is no longer a historical image, but a symbolic one reshaped according to the living needs of Mongolian people. 

Down to the very source of folk culture, the author clarifies the origins of folk ethics, and psychological and cultural connotations carried by the emperor’s symbolic image, which condenses the desire for a wise emperor, relief from difficulties, gratitude, Buddha worship, and an inclination towards goodness or virtue. This genre of crossed ethnic tales is a narrative embodiment of ethnic cultural exchange and fusions.


Hasibateer Xi is a professor from the School of Mongolian Studies at Inner Mongolia Normal University. 




Editor:Yu Hui

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