Few days ago I watched Disney’s “Mulan“. It is about a chinese girl who disguises herself as a man to enter the army and fight the huns in place of her father. It is very entertaining, nice music, colourful scenery,,,, very nice.
What was really surprising for me was to find out that Hua Mulan is actually a chinese legend!
In the story, Mulan disguised herself as a man to take her elderly father’s place in the army. She dressed as a man and disguised herself as a soldier. She was later offered a government post by the emperor himself after her service was up. However, unwilling to commit anymore to the forces, she turned down the position so to return to her family immediately. Her former colleagues visited her at home, they were shocked to see her dressed as a woman. The poem ends with the image of a female hare (Mulan) and a male hare (her comrades) running side by side, and the narrator asking how anyone could tell them apart.
Here is parts of the poem:
Mu-lan weaves, facing the door.
You don’t hear the shuttle’s sound,
You only hear Daughter’s sighs.
They ask Daughter who’s in her heart,
They ask Daughter who’s on her mind.
“No one is in Daughter’s heart,
No one is on Daughter’s mind.
Last night I saw the draft posters,
The Khan is calling many troops,
The army list is in twelve scrolls,
On every scroll there’s Father’s name.
Father has no grown-up son,
Mu-lan has no elder brother.
I want to buy a saddle and a horse,
And serve in the army in Father’s place.”
- Her parents hearing their girl returns, Out to the suburbs to welcome her back.
- Elder sister hearing her sister returns,
- Adjusts her rouge by the doorway.
- Little brother hearing his sister returns,
- Sharpens his knife for pigs and lamb.
- “I open my east chamber door,
- And sit on my west chamber bed.
- I take off my battle cloak,
- And put on my old-time clothes.
- I adjust my wispy hair at the window sill,
- And apply my bisque makeup by the mirror.
- I step out to see my comrades-in-arms,
- They are all surprised and astounded:
- ‘We travelled twelve years together,
- Yet didn’t realise Mulan was a lady!'”
- The buck bounds here and there, Whilst the doe has narrow eyes.
- But when the two rabbits run side by side,
- How can you tell the female from the male?