A tale from the Manchu Sidi Kur

Following on last post, here is a text mentioning a tree that has leaves ‘as big as cart wheels’. As in Donjina’s story, the encounter with the tree does not end well for the hero. Maybe this is just a coincidence, maybe there is some common motive behind the two stories.

The text is the 14th tale of the Manchu Sidi Kur. The Manchu translation has been traced back by its editor to a Mongol one. The tales originally came from India and reached Mongolia through Tibet. See here for more details about the different versions of the cycle.

The lustful king (summary)
Somewhere in India, there was a mountain on top of which grew a tree with leaves as big as cart wheels. In the leaves were living 500 heavenly maidens. One day, a king saw their shadow (reflection?) in the lake below the tree and ordered his ministers to bring him the girls. He then promises to make a minister of the man who will give him what he wants.

A bird-catcher then manages to catch one maiden with his net but she is only a decoy set up by the maidens in order to make fun of the king and of the bird-catcher. The girl he has caught is made of paper and will look like a real girl for seven days only.

The king is overjoyed, he expels his 500 wifes and replaces them by the heavenly maiden. Seven days later, he finds only paper in place of the girl. Ashamed and embarrassed, he puts the bird-catcher to death.

buyen de amuran han i juwan duici julen.
tereci geli nenehe songkoi genefi enduri be unufi jidere de: enduri hendume. neneme geren julen be bi alaha: bai goro de ališambi: te si emu julen ala: akūci mimbe ala seci oncohon geheše sehe manggi: han oncohon gehešehe: enduri alame. julgei enethe gurun i bade emu amba alin bi: tere alin i ninggude. emu necin bai dulimbade emu amba moo bi: tere mooi abdaha sejen muheren i gese amban: tere abdaha de abkai sunja tanggū sargan juse. inenggi dulinde jifi sebderide eficembi: tere alin ci emu amba bira eyehebi: birai sekiyen de emu genggiyen amba omo bi: tere omoi jakade. emu buyen de amuran han bihebi: emu inenggi tere han. omoi dalirame niyehe gabtame yabure de: abkai sargan jusei helmen mukei dolo sabumbi: han tere be sabufi. ambasai baru hendume: ere gese hocikon sargan juse be minde benju: benjirakū oci geren ambasa be fafun i gamambi sehe manggi: emu amban jabume: han ere sargan juse serengge. ere alin i dele emu amba moo bi: tere mooi dele abkai sargan juse eficembi: saburengge terei helmen kai: tere be adarame jafaci ombi: han geli hendume tuttu oci. yaya emu niyalma bahafi benjihede. tere niyalma de amba hafan bure seme gisun selgiyehe: tere han i gurun de. deyere gasha be asu maktame jafara emu niyalma bihebi: tere niyalma donjifi. han i jakade jifi. tere sargan jui be bi jafafi. benjire: minde šangnara wesimbure be. han sa sefi genehe: moo de hanci isiname abkai sargan juse sabufi hendume: ai. ere jalan de niyalma dule umesi mentuhun nikai: jilgan(?) buyen de amuran han muse be sargan gaiki serede: ere sui isika niyalma muse be jafafi buki. basa gaiki seme jihebi kai: ini han be geren i juleri yertebuki: ere sui isika niyalma be ineku wakini seme. ini beyei adali hoošan i hocikon sargan jui arafi. nadan inenggi dolo ergen bisire fa maktafi: tere mooi ninggude sindafi genehe: tere gasha butara niyalma isinafi; tere hoošan: araha sargan jui be asu maktame jafafi. abkai sargan jui be jafaha seme. han de benjihe manggi: han geren ambasa ambula ferguweme: han ini sunja tanggū fujin be bošofi. tere be fujin obuha: gasha butara niyalma de ambula šangnaha: tere sargan jui nadaci inenggi fa wajimbi. han i jibehun i dolo hoošan ofi bi: tere be han sabufi ambula yertefi. ere gasha butara niyalma be waha sere jakade: elhe yabungga han hendume: ini weilehe sui de bucehe nikai sehe manggi: enduri hendume: kesi akū han: angga ci jilgan tucike sefi genehe:


Donjina on the ‘cin šu’ tree

This (very) short story is taken from Donjina’s collection (1). Donjina (敦吉纳) was a Daur Mongol who spent part of his life in Xinjiang in the second half of the 19th c. after having been sent there as a soldier. Writing in Manchu, he has left us a voluminous collection of stories, part of which only has been edited and translated (2).

For more on Donjina, read and enjoy the post written by David Porter and published on the Manchu Studies Group’s blog : The righteous elephants.

Beware of the ‘cin šu’ tree!

šajilan agu i geli alaha gisun. musei girin i ba i ningguta hoton i harangga bade emu hacin cin šu sere moo bi den ici arkan ilan cy hamišame bi. uttu bime erei ilha sejen i muheren i gese (3). ilha dobori fithembi. niyalma asuru saburakū. ishunde ulandume gisurerengge. sabuha ursei dolo bucerengge labdu sembi.

‘Another story from Mr Shajilan.
Near the town of Ningguta in our province of Girin, there is a kind of tree called ‘cin šu’. It is barely three foot high and yet, its flowers are like cart wheels. The flowers blossom during the night. Few people see them. Rumor has it that many of those who have seen them die.’

It is possible that an interesting parallel could be drawn between this story and the fourteenth tale of the Manchu Sidi kur (4), more on this in the next post!

(1) The manuscript from which this story is taken is divided into five parts. Two of them are titleless while the others bear slightly different titles (Hei lung giyang goloi cicihar hoton i donjina i ejeme araha bithe ; donjina i sarkiyaha. ini sabuha donjiha babe ejeme araha bithe ; donjina i donjime ejehe hacin be sarkiyame araha bithe).

(2) Yong Zhijian (ed.), 敦吉纳见闻录, 新疆人民出版社, 1989 ; Geister, Dämonen und Seltsame Tiere: Ein Mandschurisches Liaozhai zhiyi aus Xinjiang, trans. Giovanni Stary, Aetas Manjurica 13, Wiesbaden, Harrassowitz, 2009. I haven’t been able to consult these books but the few available pages of Stary’s edition make clear that the 1989 edition is only a selection.

(3) Does this mean that the flowers were ‘as big as’ cart wheels or ‘looking like’ cart-wheels? As this sentence follows the comment on the rather small size of the tree and is introduced by uttu bime maybe the former is to be preferred.

(4) For an introduction to this text, see Manchu Folklore: Tales Told by a Bewitched Being by Hanung Kim on the Manchu Studies Group’s website.