Learning any language means opening the path to understand a whole new culture and the best way you can do that is through the various cultural stories and tales associated to a culture.
Storytelling has always been an integral part of Chinese culture and there are plenty of myths, urban legends, and stories to read. The following are some that you might never have heard of before:
The Dragon’s Pearl
Dragons have always been a huge part of Chinese culture and mythology. Chinese culture depicts them in different roles and believes that dragons played a part in shaping the world itself. The Dragon’s Pearl is the tale of a poor mother and son who find a mysterious pearl. Initially thinking to sell it for money, they soon realise that the pearl has the ability to multiply anything, and use it to refill the depleted coin and rice boxes in their home.
Eventually, word of their new found wealth attracts robbers who want the pearl. The boy pops the pearl in his mouth to hide it but accidentally swallows it and feels a burning thirst. He drinks the well dry and runs to the river drinking it dry as well. As it begins to rain, his body undergoes a transformation and he turns into a dragon. As he thrashes away, his tail created huge mud banks that are still there besides the River Min; they are also known as “Looking back at Mother Banks”.
The Chinese Zodiac
The Chinese Zodiac is very unique, particularly since it makes use of animals. There’s a story that showcases how animals for the Chinese zodiac calendar were picked. The Jade Emperor announced that a race was being hosted and the top 12 will be picked for the Zodiac signs. The cat asked the rat to wake her up in time for it. Unfortunately, the rat forgot about the cat and went off to the races.
Once there, the rat quickly clambered up the ox’s back that was in the lead and jumped off before it could cross the line. It was counted as the first animal to reach the palace. The cat slept through the whole race and was so enraged by the rat’s betrayal that it to this day, it will still chase the rat if it sees one.
Shihan and the Snail
A hard working youth, Shihan is a farmer who happens upon a snail that is dying in the sun. Taking pity on it, Shihan saves its life. The snail transforms into a maiden who is surpassingly beautiful and stays with him to help him in his work. They eventually fall in love and she agrees to marry him.
Unfortunately, her beauty and her wits catch the eye of a magistrate who wishes to make her his concubine and kills Shihan and their children. In a bid to escape them, they jump into the Lijiang River and the snail maiden turns them all into the snail shell shaped rocks that can still be seen near the river to this day.
If you’re learning Chinese, it is a given that reading these stories in Chinese will not only let you learn the language faster, it will also be extremely enjoyable for you.