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The True Mulan Portrayed in Gala
Zhusi, Epoch Times Staff
The 2006 New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) 2006 Gala will feature a dance that gives a faithful account of the story of the legendary Hua Mulan.
Popular Versions Take Liberties
The Disney movie version of "Mulan" set the record for box office sales in 1998. But successful as the movie was, the history it told seemed to be completely altered. In the movie, there appeared a matchmaker, a grandmother, General Li, Mushu, a "squirrelly" dragon and Cri-Kee, a lucky pet cricket, etc. In the original story, Mulan returned in triumph and was summoned by the emperor. But in the movie, her triumph went a huge step further as she personally "rescued the emperor." And so on and so on. The Chinese audience was very surprised at the alterations of the story, but after all the Chinese Mulan had become widely known.
Recently, another western director, Graeme Murphy, artistic director of the Sydney Dance Company, choreographed a dance opera "Hua Mulan". In the Sydney version, the following plots were added to the original story. Mulan's little brother was held hostage because he showed off his cleverness; a female spy disclosed that Mulan was a girl; Mulan dated one of her comrades in the army. The western audience became even more confused about the story of "Mulan."
The Real Story
The audience may need to review "Ode of Mulan" from Yue-fu, an ancient collection of Chinese songs and ballads to understand the times and the inner world of Mulan. In this way they can better appreciate the popular legend that has lasted for more than 1000 years.
There are many contradictory views on Mulan's surname, where she lived, and her birth date. The more reliable version is in the book "Legend of the Very Sad Ape" by Xu Wei of the Ming Dynasty. The book says that Mulan's last name is Hua. Her father Hua Hu was an officer of the army reserve. She lived in a family of five: her elder sister Hua Mulian, little brother Hua Xiong and her Mom with a family name of Yuan. The book "On the Journey to Kangyou" says that she lived in about 1000 years ago. The Shangqiu County Records of Henan Province say that Mulan lived in the village Song.
The poem "Ode of Mulan" should be given credit for passing on the story of Mulan till today. The long narrative poem sang the praises of Mulan who joined the army disguised as a man in order to serve in her aged father's place. In the poem the emperor is referred to as Kahn and the battlefield is in the north of China. Among the places names, the Yellow River is well known and Black Mountain is called Mountain Sahu in the southeast of Huhhot of Inner Mongolia of China. Mountain Yan is Mountain Yanran, which is also referred to as Mountain Hang-Ai in Inner Mongolia.
The battle that Mulan was involved in occurred between the North Wei and Rou-ran. The North Wei was established by the Tuba Group of the Xianbei Tribe and was extinguished by Fujian of the West Jin. After Fujian lost the battle of Feishui, the Tuba people restored their nation and changed the name of the nation to Wei. Nation Wei ended the turmoil of the Ten Nations Period after sixty years of wars and united the area along the Yellow River. It had been eighty-six years with five emperors when it came to emperor Xiaowen of the North Wei. Emperor Xiaowen highly valued the Han culture in the center of China and he moved the capital to Luoyang and carried out the policy of promulgating Han culture. Most people with the last name Yuan were the descendants of Wei's royal court. Since the nation had enjoyed a long-lasting time of peace, social and economic development were achieved under the "Even Field Order" of emperor Xiaowen. At the time, Rou-rang, a strong country of northern nomads with a history of 158 years frequently invaded the Wei. The Wei regime sent an army to the far north to fight against Rourang.
"Ode of Mulan" describes the military emergency at the time at the beginning of the poem: "Emperor called on the army in an emergency" and "there were 12 scrolls of the enlistment booklets." Mulan's family only had a little brother of a young age. The father and mother were old. At this time of crisis, Mulan bravely joined army for her father. There are descriptions in the poem about how she was in a hurry to buy a horse and other equipment before leaving for the army. She left her parents in the morning, marched with great speed and camped at the shore of the Yellow River. She took part in frequent battles and endured army life for a long time while many of the solders and officers died in the battles. All along Mulan had successfully concealed that she was a girl.
After the army won the war, Mulan returned to her hometown to support her parents. Mulan, with the virtues of loyalty, filial piety, wisdom and bravery, deserved to be regarded as a remarkable girl who had a beautiful character and upheld excellent traditions.
Appendix: "Ode of Mulan"
Jie Jie, and more Jie Jie
Bought a spirited horse from a market in the east,
Travelled ten thousand li for the war.
Summoned to see the emperor,
Father and Mother heard of the return of the Daughter,
He-hare walks with hops and skips
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