Tag: legends

The Origins of Mulan

Mulan is a fascinating figure of legend and folklore. From the ballad, to books, and then to film, Mulan has gone through several iterations and changes throughout the years. There is so much to discuss and delve into when it comes to her story.

Let’s talk about the origins of Mulan.

 

So where do we start?

image via pinterest

Let’s start with what we know based, upon what we have been told. Since our first interaction with this story was probably through Disney’s 1998 animated film. We know the Mulan is a young woman who disguises herself as a man when she learns that her father has been drafted into the army. She runs away from home, donning her father’s armor and blade, and she joins the army in his stead. She trains, she grows as a person, and she saves China.

First, it should be established that there is a possibility that Mulan was a real person. However, this isn’t necessarily something that we can currently confirm. I, personally, love the idea of a woman gaining such prestige and adoration that she is canonized into a ballad and that tale then echoes across the centuries. With that being said though, legends aren’t always kind to their real life subjects, so perhaps it’s a mixed bag. The fact remains that, when someone becomes a legend, they become fictionalized. With that being the case, we are always going to battle with what is real and what isn’t when it comes to stories like Mulan’s.

For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the legend of Mulan and how ir’s developed. We’re going to focus on three iterations of the story, but it should be addressed here that there are many versions of this tale that can be explored. I should definitely give credit to Jon Solo’s youtube video on Mulan, as it helped me find a good chunk of the sources and material used for this article as well.

 

some historical background

While we can’t confirm if Mulan was a real individual, we can gather that the Ballad was set during the time of the Northern Wei Dynasty. This was a time where the region of Han China was often invaded by the Xiongnu (who are also referred to as the Hun). A war did take place between the Northern Wei state and a Mongolian state also referred to as the Rouran (source).

 

“the ballad of mulan”

image via pinterest

While we cannot say with all certainty that The Ballad of Mulan is the first time that Mulan’s story was ever told, we can say that it is the oldest surviving version of her tale that we have. In all likelihood, an oral tradition that precedes this ballad.

Much like what we see with Disney’s Mulan, The Ballad of Mulan tells the tale of a young woman who dresses as a man and joins the army to spare her aging father from the war that is tearing China apart, and the very real possibility that he will die. She hides her identity for over twelve years from the other soldiers in the army, and decides to tell them that she is a woman.

When the war is over and the emperor is gifting the soldiers of his army with gifts, Mulan rejects the offer to become a minister, and she returns home, where her parents, now much older, lean on one another for support as they go out to greet her. Mulan’s elder sister dresses in beautiful clothing and paints her face with makeup to welcome her sister home, and Mulan’s younger brother begins preparations for a feast in his sibling’s honor. Mulan reemerges dressed in civilian clothing, and she greets her comrades, who are shocked to discover that she is a woman.

This is the basis for Disney’s version, but there are other variations of Mulan’s story.

 

“the fierce and filial girl from northern wei”

image via pinterest

The Fierce and Filial Girl From Northern Wei introduces Mulan as a gifted young woman who is engaged to a scholar. Much like in The Ballad of Mulan, the emperor issues a draft that includes her father, a former battalion commander. Mulan takes her father’s place, much like she does in the ballad.

After she demonstrates her capacity as a warrior, Mulan is promoted in the Chinese army. Niu He, one of the vanguards in the army, comes to resent Mulan because of her skill and her unwavering bravery. In one instance, the army encampment is attacked. While Niu He flees, Mulan leaves to rescue the soldiers taken captive by the attackers. His incompetence loses him his leadership role, and he almost loses his life to the bandit leader, the Earth Master. Mulan steps in and defeats the Earth Master, who flees, and shamed by his failure once again, Niu He grows all the more envious of Mulan.

This culminates in Niu He suggesting that Mulan be sent with a letter of amnesty to meet with the enemy forces. Niu He put this idea forward purely out of dislike for Mulan, and he had every hope that this would end with her death. Mulan, aware of the fact that this mission might end with her dying, agrees to deliver the letter of amnesty to the Earth Master.

The Earth Master recognizes Mulan from their battle several years prior, and due to the Earth Master’s brother being in danger if the Earth Master kills Mulan, he holds off on causing her harm. Instead, he decides that he will marry Mulan, who is still disguised as a man, to the Princess Lu Wanhua.

Lu Wanhua discovers that Mulan is a woman, but instead of reporting this information to the bandits, she helps Mulan escape. Upon returning to her army’s encampment, Mulan is named as acting Supreme Commander.

Ultimately, Mulan returns home, and both she and Princess Lu Wanhua marry Mulan’s betrothed. Mulan gives birth to a son who becomes a minister.

This is a more complicated one, and the source video has more information.

 

“ROmance of sui and tang”

image via lee & low blog – lee and low books

This is likely the version of Mulan’s story that you have heard if you’ve ever listened to something that discusses the darker version of the tale. I want to emphasize that this is one of several versions of this story, and I also want to emphasize that this is one chapter in Romance and Sui and Tang with a distinct anti-Imperialist message. As stated by this source, “The author includes Mulan’s story as a subplot of a novel which condemns imperialism. Mulan is heralded as a hero who fiercely resists a cruel tyrant. Chu Renhuo concludes Mulan’s story with a tragic ending to comment on the wrongdoing committed by the Manchu under whom he was forced to serve.”

Much like in the other tales, Mulan’s father is conscripted, and in order to save him from an untimely death, Mulan volunteers to take her father’s place in the army.

The enemy army is quickly defeated, and Mulan rescues the khan. However, she is then captured by Princess Xianniang, who is such a kind captor, Mulan eventually reveals her true identity to her. They swear an oath of sisterhood.

The princess and Mulan do forge a friendship together, and this friendship is so strong that, when Princess Xianniang asks Mulan to deliver a letter to her betrothed, Mulan agrees to do so. Since Mulan is able to deliver this letter when she returns home to her family, she sets out for home.

However, unlike in the previous two stories discussed, this tale ends on a more somber note.

Upon returning home, Mulan learns that her father passed away and that her mother has remarried. When the khan who Mulan previously saved learns that she is a woman, he demands that she become his concubine.

Mulan requests that she be allowed to visit her father’s grave for one last time, and while she is there, she takes her own life.

The story continues on by following Mulan’s sister, Youlan, and the story ends with her.

 

To wrap up…

This is by no means a conclusive discussion of all the iterations of the stories told about Mulan (if it were, this article would be much, much longer); however, my hope is that this will encourage you to consider looking deeper into the tale of this warrior who laid down her life to protect the ones that she loved.

Featured image via the Guardian

percy jackson

Here’s What to Read if You Love Mythology

We’ve all heard mythological tales of monsters and guardians, good versus evil and so on from our parents and grandparents, regardless of what culture we grew up in.  Stories of gods, angels, and other worlds are commonplace. Mythological worlds act as a strong base for memorable fictional worlds created by authors.

 

Modern mythological fiction provides an unseen, complex, deep and often dark sides of these mythological worlds. 

 

Here are what I believe to be some of the best, most engrossing works of mythological fiction.

 

1. The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan 

 

Image Via How to Read Me

Image Via How to Read Me

 

Ordinary boy Percy Jackson finds out that the Greek Gods are not just real, but he is the son the son of Poseidon; a big responsibility rests upon the young shoulders. 

Author Rick Riordan blends the ancient Greek Myths with the modern day in a perfect harmony, the formal behind his critically acclaimed success. He also wrote about Egyptian and Norse Mythology in a similar fashion.

 

2. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

 

Image Via Goodreads

Image Via Goodreads 

 

Neil Gaiman has gathered the great Norse myths, which have inspired countless modern cultures, and retold them unlike ever before, from the dawn the the world to the halls of Valhalla.

The collection of these myths by Gaiman was somewhat essential since unlike all other forms of mythologies, Norse myths had not be compiled in any ancient scriptures. So this book acts as a hub, a compilation of the Norse Myths. 

 

3. Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi  

 

Image Via Deccan Chronicle

Image Via Deccan Chronicle

 

Shiva is one of the three main Hindu Deities. Amish imagines Shiva as a common man, and depicts his journey and rise to Godhood. Set in the Indus Valley Civilization, the world’s oldest civilization, the trilogy blends history, fiction and mythology, while exploring the lives of various less-known gods, their contributions to the world and their rise to Godhood with Shiva.

 

4. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

 

Image Via raseef5.com

Image Via raseef5.com

 

I am not certain if this book belongs in this list or is it perhaps the parent of the genre. Dante’s The Divine Comedy  is a 14th-century three-part poem, beginning with Dante’s Inferno. Dante is led through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil in the first poem. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso which tour purgatory and paradise. 

The Divine Comedy has had a lasting effect on the literature and philosophy of the world. In fact, many of depictions of Hell and Paradise common in art and literature originate from this very poem. 

 

 

Featured Image Via How to Read Me

fred and george that's rubbish

This Artist Is on a Mission to Illustrate Every Mythological Creature

Iman Joy El Shami-Mader has been drawing a creature a day since October 2017, and posting the illustrations on her Instagram

 

She told Atlas Obscura “It all started with the book Phantasmagoria—which is great—but there are many creatures that are only mentioned in passing or without any description at all.”

 

 

guys, one amazing thing after the other is happening and I’m serisouly just gobsmacked by it all?.. I cannot find the words to thank you all!❤️❤️❤️ . today another creature from the USA! here’s… Champ/Tatoskok . In American folklore, Champ or Champy is the name given to a lake monster supposedly living in Lake Champlain, a 125-mile (201 km)-long body of fresh water shared by New York and Vermont, with a portion extending into Quebec, Canada. The legend of the monster is considered a draw for tourism in the Burlington, Vermont and Plattsburgh, New York areas. Over the years, there have been over 300 reported sightings of Champ. Legends of a creature living in Lake Champlain date back to Native American tribes in the region. Both the Iroquois and the Abenaki spoke of such a creature. The Abenaki referred to it as “Tatoskok”. “Champ,” has allegedly been seen by hundreds of witnesses over the years. Descriptions of Champ vary, but most suggest a creature between 20 and 80 feet long, with a series of distinct humps on its back and a serpentine body. Some say the head looks like a snake or a dog. . Thank you Martin H. for telling me about Champ! . I was serious in my insta story btw – anyone know @realgdt … send him my way ?? . . . . . #phantasmagoria #creature #monster #champ #champy #lakemonster #monster #champlainlake #newyork #vermont #canada #serpent #snake #inkdrawing #drawing #illustration #fantasticbeasts #arkart #beautifulbizarre #blackwork #scales #bestiary #originalart #copicmarkers

A post shared by iman joy aka imi (@alch.imi) on

 

She has asked her Instagram followers to send her ideas of beasts to draw at [email protected], and has received and drawn suggestions spanning many time periods and cultures, as well as several characters from fiction such as a porg from Star Wars: The Last Jedi and an Owlbear from Dungeons & Dragons.

 

El Shami-Mader began the project as a stress reliever while working five jobs.

 

I felt extremely drained and worn-out all the time. I really needed something to balance out the lack of creative expression I was feeling and to get my mind off things, at least for an hour a day… A few years back I did a series of fairytale illustrations and came across many amazing creatures, like the Bøyg in Per Gynt. Since I always wanted to deepen my knowledge about these creatures, I ordered the book Phantasmagoria by Terry Beverton and it arrived on my doorstep on September 30, just in time for me to begin a daily monster-drawing challenge I’d set myself for the month of October.

 

She says that she feels mythical creatures show “humanity’s need to have a reason for both good and bad things happening. Sometimes they are a ray of hope, the only thing able to cure an incurable illness; other times they bring plagues and death. They are wise helpful spirits, and they are malicious tricksters. It can also be really funny—you can tell that some only exist because of the bad descriptions the scholars wrote down.” 

 

 

had an extremely stressfull day catching up on all the work that piled up while I was living the good life on my mini-break in Vienna! so today I had very little time to get a good drawing done and as often, I’m really unhappy on how this little guy turned out… I’ll re-draw it soon, ’cause I do think the general idea can look nice! The Leshy . The Leshy (Russian: Ле́ший, IPA: [ˈlʲeʂɨj]; literally, “[he] from the forest”) is a tutelary deity of the forests in Slavic mythology. The plural form in Russian is лешие, leshiye (retaining the stress on the first syllable). As the spirit rules over the forest and hunting. Leshy are masculine and humanoid in shape, are able to assume any likeness[3] and can change in size and height. He is sometimes portrayed with horns and surrounded by packs of wolves and bears. In some accounts, Leshy is described as having a wife (Leshachikha, Leszachka, Lesovikha) and children (leshonki, leszonky). He is known by some to have a propensity to lead travelers astray and abduct children, (which he shares with Chort, the “Black One”) which would lead some to believe he is an evil entity. He is however also known to have a more neutral disposition towards humans, dependent on the attitudes and behaviours of an individual person, or local population, towards the forest. Some would therefore describe him as more of a temperamental being like a fairy. . . . . . . . . . . #leshy #creature #monster #demon #evilspirit #forestspirit #darkforest #darkart #darkfairy #fairy #beautifulbizzare #fantasy #myth #folklore #mythologyart #inkonpaper #ink #blackwork #blackworknow #illustration #originalart #bestiary #humanoid #copicmarkers #copic

A post shared by iman joy aka imi (@alch.imi) on

 

El Shami-Mader told Atlas Obscura that she would love to turn her illustration into a series of books, adding, “For now there is only an idea, but a friend of mine is a composer and we were thinking of collaborating on a trilingual ‘monsters set to music’ book. My current priority, however, is finding as many mythical creatures as possible.”

 

Read the full interview here, and check out her Instagram here

 

 

Illuyanka . In Hittite mythology, Illuyanka was a serpentine dragon slain by Tarhunt, the Hittite incarnation of the Hurrian god of sky and storm. It is known from Hittite cuneiform tablets found at Çorum-Boğazköy, the former Hittite capital Hattusa. The contest is a ritual of the Hattian spring festival of Puruli. The dragon was the symbol of the goddess and she was destroyed. In one version, the two gods fight and Illuyanka wins. Teshub then goes to the Hattian goddess Inaras for advice. Having promised her love to a mortal named Hupasiyas in return for his help, she devises a trap for the dragon. She goes to him with large quantities of food and drink, and entices him to drink his fill. Once drunk, the dragon is bound by Hupasiyas with a rope. Then the Sky God Teshub appears with the other gods and kills the dragon. . what are your favourite mythologies? which ones should I still check out?? . . . . . . . #phantasmagoria #creature #monster #snake #serpent #dragon #illuyanka #hittites #mythology #fantasy #fantasticbeasts #beautifulbizzare #darkart #ink #inkdrawing #drawing #originalart #blackworknow #blackwork #scales #bestiary #creatuanary2018 #legend #mythicalcreature #mythologyart #gods #goddess #teshub #hattusa

A post shared by iman joy aka imi (@alch.imi) on

 

Feature Image Via Iman Joy El Shami Mader

selkies

5 Supernatural Creatures From Folklore You Forgot Existed

Vampires, vamoose! Here are five lesser-known but equally amazing (sometimes terrifying) mystical creatures from around the world.

 

1. Selkies

 

selkie

Image Via inwordsandink

 

Selkies live as seals but can shed their skins and become human in order to come onto land. They are native to Ireland, Scotland, Iceland, and the Faroe Isles.There are many tales of selkies. They’re said to be very beautiful, being forced into relationships with humans who steal their skins. These tales almost always end with the selkie’s retrieval of their skin, often many years later, and their immediate return to the ocean. The Irish Oscar-nominated animated film Song of the Sea centers around a young boy dealing with his selkie mother’s return to the sea, and the music is gorgeous.

 

2. Kelpies

 

kelpie

Image Via Pinterest

 

Kelpies are a shape-shifting water demon native to Scotland. Though usually appearing as a horse, the kelpie can also take a human form, retaining its hooves. The kelpie lures unsuspecting people to their deaths in the water, where it devours them. Almost every large body of water has a kelpie myth associated with it and it has been offered as an explanation for the Loch Ness Monster.

 

3. Draugr

 

Draugr

Image Via Nexus Mods

 

One of the earliest forms of zombie, Draugrs, native to Scadinavia, live in their graves, often guarding treasure which has been buried with them. Draugr have superhuman strength and they can grow at will. They’re murderous and drink the blood of their victims.

 

4. Banshee

 

banshee

Image Via Wikipedia 

 

Banshee, from the Irish bean (woman) and  (fairy), refers to an Irish spirit who announces the death of a family member by ‘keening’ or howling near the home of the deceased. She is said to haunt only five major Irish families: the O’Briens, the O’Neills, the O’Gradys, and the Kavanaghs, though other sources say she will herald the deaths of members of any families descended from the Milesian Stock, beginning with O’ or Mac/Mc. She is described as wearing red or green and having fiery red hair. Her shriek has been likened to the call of a fox. 

 

5. Bake-Kujira

 

Bake-Kujira

Image Via deitiesdaily

 

The bake-kujira, which means ‘ghost whale,’ is, surprisingly, a ghostly whale, native to Western Japan. It appears as a whale skeleton and swims accompanied by strange birds and fish and allegedly brings misfortune wherever it is spotted. 

 

Featured Image Via Karen Morrow