Dec 26, 2013


Historical relics - Bronze tiger

The image of tiger are seen all over ancient songs and dramas like the Vari-Drama Card of Tiger Head in Yuan dynasty, the Romance Story and Kun Qu on the Tiger bags in Qing dynasty, the Peking Opera Tiger Jail, Sleeping Tiger Channel, Tiger Beauty etc. From all of these tiger stories there are two most exciting ones which describe human and tiger fighting. One is a Wrestling Skill Drama popular at Changan Area in Han Dynasty, called The Old Huang of Eastern Sea, which was particularly recorded in Xijing Notes, written by Gehong in Jing Dynasty.

It was said, In the place named Eastern Sea there was a man called Old Huang who always wore bronze sword and bound his hair with red silk could tame tremendous snakes and tigers by magic arts in his youth. But when he got older, he drank too much to use his magic any more. In the late Qin Dynasty, a white tiger appeared in the Eastern Sea and he brought his bronze sword to kill it. For the magic failed he was killed by the tiger at last. Later this affair was made to a drama by People of Three Fu and the Emperor of Han also took it as a wrestling skill.

At this period of time people still look upon tiger with reverence and awe. Because even the magic skilled man like Old Huang in Eastern Sea is killed by the tiger at last. But the other story also describing human and tiger fighting which was changed to Peking opera and other kind of operas from Water Margin named Wusong's fight for the tiger has an absolutely different result: Wusong killed the tiger and became a hero. There are also a lot of derogatory senses for the phrases on tigers in Chinese. For example, Weihuzuochang, play the jackal to the tiger, means the people who was eaten by tigers will become a ghost to help the tiger to eat others; Hujiahuwei, bully people by flaunting one's powerful connections, tells the story of a clever fox threaten the tiger by using the tiger's power.

A wide-spread tale is called Tiger's Skill says, though the tiger is the most powerful animal in the forest, it has a biggest weakness: it can not climb the trees. That's because in the ancient times when the unskilled tiger learned from cat, the cat found it was quite inhumanity, so it didn't taught him all the skills.

After the tiger finished his courses, he really swooped to the cat in order to eat it. The cat climbed to a tree at once and avoided the attack. The tiger begged the cat to teach him the climbing skills under the tree but the cat refused. Hence from then on the tiger can't climb trees still.


Tiger in Chinese Paintings

Luyou, the great poet in Song Dynasty write in the comments of his Ridicule to Feeding Cats of Jiannan Peotry Anthology, The old saying says cats are the uncle of tigers. It taught tigers all the skills except climbing trees. This story ideally satirizes those who ungrateful to others. Other legends concerning about tigers or names of tiger are numerous in ancient China. Also, there is a Tiger Year in every twelve years according to the Chinese Twelve Shengxiao custom, meaning twelve animals representing the twelve Earthly Branches, used to symbolize the year in which a person is born.

For China has a large impact to other countries, and it also has the largest population of the world, the migration of Chinese brings Chinese custom, including the Twelve Shengxiao custom to the every corner of the world. Nowadays the custom of naming years by 12 animals has influenced not only Asian countries and Russia, but also Europe and America. Especially the derivation of the Tiger Year and its legends are widely popularized by many medias, which made the Tiger Year the real Benming Year, the birth year same with one of twelve animals representing the years in which people are born.


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