History of Mulan
A HISTORY ON MULAN
|Mulan is a fictional folk heroine from the Northern and Southern dynasties era (4th to 6th century AD) of Chinese history. According to the legend, Mulan takes her aged father's place in the conscription for the army by disguising herself as a man. After prolonged and distinguished military service against nomadic hordes beyond the northern frontier, Mulan is honored by the emperor but declines a position of high office. She retires to her hometown, where she is reunited with her family and reveals her sex, much to the astonishment of her comrades.
The first written record of Mulan is the Ballad of Mulan, a folk song believed to have been composed during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-535 AD) and compiled in an anthology of books and songs in the Southern Chen Dynasty (557-589 AD). The historical setting of the Ballad of Mulan is usually the Northern Wei's military campaigns against the nomadic Rouran. A later adaptation has Mulan active around the founding of the Tang Dynasty (circa 620 AD). The story of Hua Mulan was taken up in a number of later works, including the 16th-century historical fiction Romance of Sui and Tang, and many screen and stage adaptations. The Hua Mulan crater on Venus is named after her.
Image Left: An 18th-century (Ming Dynasty) depiction of Mulan. Painted with ink and colour on silk from the School of Qiu Ying.
THE BALLAD OF MULAN (A FOLKSONG RECOUNTING THE STORY OF MULAN)
The sound of one sigh after another
As Mulan weaves at the doorway.
No sound of the loom and shuttle,
Only that of the girl lamenting
Ask her of whom she thinks,
Ask her for whom she longs.
"There is no one I think of,
There is no one I long for.
Last night I saw the army notice,
The Khan is calling a great draft -
A dozen volumes of battle rolls,
My father has no grown-up son,
I'm willing to buy a horse and saddle,
She buys a fine steed at the east market;
A bridle at the south market;
She takes leave of her parents at dawn,
No sound of her parents hailing their girl,
She leaves the Yellow River at dawn,
No sound of her parents hailing their girl,
Ten thousand miles she rode in war,
On the northern air comes the sentry's gong,
The general dead after a hundred battles,
They return to see the Son of Heaven,
The rolls of merit spin a dozen times,
The Khan asks her what she desires,
I ask for the swiftest horse,
To carry me back to my hometown."
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?
MORE DEPICTIONS OF MULAN IN ART
|Painting depicting Mulan in the album known as Gathering Gems of Beauty, by artist He Dazi. Qing Dynasty
|Depicts Hua-Mu Lan as she enlists as a soldier instead of her father. Dalongdong Baoan Temple, painted by Pan-Li.
|Painting depicts a scene of Mulan on a horse and ready for battle. Painted in 1867 CE, Dingmao, China.
Mulan ("magnolia") is a legendary character in Chinese literature who is best known in the modern day from the Disney filmed adaptations (1998, 2020 CE). Her story, however, about a young girl who takes her father's place in the army to help save her country, is hundreds of years old, most likely originating in the Northern Wei Period (386-535 CE) of China before it was developed by succeeding authors. Scholarly consensus is that Mulan is a fictional character, probably developed in Northern China in response to the greater independence women enjoyed there, whose legend was then revised in succeeding eras to reflect the values and challenges of the times.
COMPANION VIDEOS TO LEARN EVEN MORE ABOUT MULAN
RECOMMENDED READING MATERIALS @ YOUR LIBRARY
|BEFORE THE SWORD
by: Grace Lin
Call Number: J LIN
About this Book: When her sister is bitten by a poisonous spider, Mulan travels with a healer to find a flower from which the antidote can be made to save her sister's life.
|THE MAGNOLIA SWORD: A BALLAD OF MULAN
by: Sherry Thomas
Call Number: YA F THOMAS
About this Book: When her ailing father is conscripted to fight invaders from the north, Mulan dresses as a man to take his place in the army, but an old enemy and an attraction for her troop's commander complicate her mission.
|MULAN & MULAN II
Call Number: J 791.43 MUL
About this DVD: Mulan is a young Chinese woman who breaks tradition and joins the Imperial army, accompanied by her guardian dragon, Mushu, to battle an invading army. In Mulan 2, Mulan and Shang are engaged to be married and must journey to a distant city in a valiant quest to save their beloved empire.
|REFLECTION: A TWISTED TALE
by: Elizabeth Lim
Call Number: YA F LIM
Series: A Twisted Tale
About this Book: When Captain Shang is mortally wounded by Shan Yu in battle, Mulan must travel to the Underworld, Diyu, in order to save him from certain death. But King Yama, the ruler of Diyu, is not willing to give Shang up easily.
|TAMAMO THE FOX MAIDEN: AND OTHER ASIAN STORIES
by: C. Spike Trotman
Call Number: GN YA CAUTIONARY V.2
Series: A Cautionary Fables & Fairytales Book
About this Book: A collection of Asian folktales retold as comics include vengeful spirits, flying ogres, and trickster tigers from Japan, China, Tibet, India, Indonesia, and beyond.
Actor: Liu Yefei
Call Number: 791.43 MUL
About this DVD: To save her ailing father from serving in the Imperial Army, a fearless young woman disguises herself as a man to battle northern invaders in China.
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