The Legend of Mulan: a Heroine of Ancient China

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  • Topic: Mulan, Woman, China
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  • Published : January 22, 2013
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The Legend of Mulan: A Heroine of Ancient China
Hua Mulan (花木蘭) was a legendary heroine from ancient China. She disguised her brother in order to take her father’s place in the army, bravely defending her country and gloriously returning home. Her story comes from a legend, which was passed down and retold over many years, so I still can’t decide whether or not Mulan was a historical person. However, I found that some of the facts in her story are based on historical events that date to the Northern Wei dynasty period (386-534). Mulan is the heroine in the Ballad of Mulan (木蘭辭). At the very beginning of the ballad, Mulan was weaving at her loom room. From the first sentence, “Click, clack. Click, clack,” I know that Mulan was weaving, when suddenly, the sound of loom and shuttle stopped, and instead Mulan sighed, because she saw her father’s name on the army notice. The Emperor was calling for troops. Her father was too old to join the army, and her younger brother was too young, so Mulan decided to go to battle in her father’s place. Then she went to four markets: east, west, south, and north. According to Chinese tradition, each of the four directions is connected with a different element, namely, wood, metal, fire, and water. The fifth traditional element is earth. Mulan, as a child of the earth, hoped the elements could give her power and courage to overcome difficulties. She took leave of her parents at dawn, and they yelled at her as she left, because they knew she would die if anyone were to find out she was a woman. In the pass, the military camp banned women from entering, so she dressed in her armor as a soldier before she rode off with others, because she could not let people find out her secret. Gradually, she no longer heard her parents’ voices, only the rumbling of the Yellow River. Crossing this, she reached the Black Mountains. Mulan couldn’t hear her parents’ voice any more, only the neighing of enemy’s horses. That was a long march. Time...
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