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Myths and Legends of China

Page: 181

An axe was sent for, and the interior of the trunk thrown open, whereupon a series of galleries was laid bare. At the root of the tree a mound of earth was discovered, in shape like a city, and swarming with ants. This was the capital of the kingdom in which he had lived in his dream. A terrace surrounded by a guard of ants was the residence of the King and Queen, two winged insects with red heads. Twenty feet or so along another gallery was found an old tortoise-shell covered with a thick growth of moss; it was the Tortoise-back Hill of the dream. In another direction was found a small mound of earth round Page 419which was coiled a root in shape like a dragon’s tongue; it was the grave of the King’s daughter, Ch’un-yü’s wife in the vision. As he recalled each incident of the dream he was much affected at discovering its counterpart in this nest of ants, and he refused to allow his companions to disturb it further. They replaced everything as they had found it; but that night a storm of wind and rain came, and next morning not a vestige of the ants was to be seen. They had all disappeared, and here was the fulfilment of the warning in the dream, that the kingdom would be swept away.

Ch’un-yü Regenerate

At this time Ch’un-yü had not seen Chou-pien and Tzŭ-hua for some ten days. He sent a messenger to make inquiries about them, and the news he brought back was that Chou-pien was dead and Tzŭ-hua lying ill. The fleeting nature of man’s existence revealed itself to him as he recalled the greatness of these two men in the ant-world. From that day he became a reformed man; drink and dissipation were put aside. After three years had elapsed he died, thus giving effect to the promise of the ant-king that he should see his children once more at the end of three years.

Why the Jung Tribe have Heads of Dogs

The wave of conquest which swept from north to south in the earliest periods of Chinese history1 left on its way, like small islands in the ocean, certain remnants of aboriginal tribes which survived and continued to exist despite the sustained hostile attitude of the flood of alien settlers around them. When stationed at Foochow Page 420I saw the settlements of one of these tribes which lived in the mountainous country not very many miles inland from that place. They were those of the Jung tribe, the members of which wore on their heads a large and peculiar headgear constructed of bamboo splints resting on a peg inserted in the chignon at the back of the head, the weight of the structure in front being counterbalanced by a pad, serving as a weight, attached to the end of the splints, which projected as far down as the middle of the shoulders. This framework was covered by a mantilla of red cloth which, when not rolled up, concealed the whole head and face, The following legend, related to me on the spot, explains the origin of this unusual headdress.


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