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.