image: traditional Tujia brocade

Play All)Formal story texts: The Story of the Eight Kings

1.4: The Story of the Eight Kings

prepared by Tian Jinggui, Dianfang Township, Longshan; narrated by Lu Meiyan, Tasha, Longshan County
recorded on 28 March 2003

This text relates the legend of the Eight Great Kings, brothers reputed to be the ancestors of the Tujia in northern Xiangxi. As well as describing the origins of the Tujia, the tale explains the significance of the dragon and phoenix totems in their traditional baishouwu dance. This is a prepared text, written down using Chinese characters as phonetic aide-memoires to indicate Tujia words. The photo archive includes a photograph of the footprint reputed to have been left on a large boulder by one of the eight brothers.

01 ye3ti3ci1ba1-nie3 ze2 li3.
The Story of the Eight Kings
02 ye3ti3ci1ba1 bi2zi1ka3 ze2 li3-zu2-nie3 luo4ci1ba1, bi2zi1ka3-nie3 nie3ti3ge1ti1.
The Eight Kings are major characters in Tujia legends and are the ancestors of the Tujia people.
03 qie2long1-nie3 zi1ge1, pa2ni1 po3pa1 nie1 hu3, re1 hi2 long1 nie4 se1tong1 ta2ci1-zu2, bo1li3 tai2.
Once upon a time, there was an old couple who after more than forty years still remained childless.
04 ta1nie1 jie2ri1-hi1ce1, long4-ma1 tai2-xi2 ge4, la2 nie1 hi4lie3 zi2. ei1 la2 nie1, ma1pa3 a3si3-nie3 po3pa1cei1 lao4 pa2ni1 bo3 li3: "ni2 guo2 eng1di1 ra2gu1-bu2li1 ye3 bu2 luo2 mo3 ce3 hu3-lie3 qing2die1 xie2."
Every day they wept, afraid that when they were too old to work there would be no one to look after them. One day a white-bearded old man said to the old woman: "Take these eight tea-leaves, drink the tea brewed from them, and then you will have children."
05 pa2ni1 guo2-jiao3-lie1 ra2gu1-bu2li1 ye3 bu2 huo3-lie3 cu1 luo2 mo3 ce3 hu3-lie3, suo1 long1 wo3 si1 ye4-nie3 lang3cei1 bo1li3 long4-liao3.
The old lady took the eight tea-leaves home with her, made tea from them and drank it. One evening, after three and a half years, she gave birth.
06 po3pa1cei1 xie1hu1 cong3gao3 tie4tie3 ti2-bo3 ba4-xie2: "me2! bo1li3 he2la3! bo1li3 qian2la2bu1!" lao4 lao4 mo3 hi4-lie3, ye3 hu3-nie3 luo4bi3!
Her husband immediately lit an oil-lamp to have a look. Good heavens! Such children, so many of them! Counting them one by one, altogether there were eight boys!
07 po3pa1cei1 ge4-xi3tai2, qie4 die2ka1la1 la2 tong4 die2-lie3, guo2 guo2 rong1ti1 la2 rong1 huo3lie3 wo4-lie3 kang3ku1 ku1za4 ga3-bo3 tu2-lu3.
The old man was very frightened, wondering what kind of evil brood they might be. He carried them away in a large back-basket and abandoned them in the mountains.
08 luo4bi3 ye3 la1hu3 gua2gua2 mo3 zi2-zu2, li2 a3si3 lao4 eng3zou2, za2qi1 ga2ga1 mo3 bo1li3 ga2-zu2, pu3 tie2ba1 lao4 ra2-diu2, jie2tang1ke1 huo3lie3 bo1li3-die1 a2hu1-bo3, li2 a3si3 ge4 mo3 xi4ca3-lu3.
Whilst the eight babies were crying, a white tiger appeared. Just as it was opening its mouth wide to eat them, a big phoenix came flying down and used its wings to protect the children. The tiger ran away in fright.
09 ta1nie1, pu2 tie2ba1 lao4 eng3zou2, pu2, guo2 bo1li3-die1 bo3 mang3 a4; huan3, guo2 bo1li3-die1 bo3 suo4ti3 luo4.
Later, a large dragon also came. The dragon suckled the children and the phoenix warmed them with its body.
10 hang2la3, bo1li3 ye3 la1hu3 pu2-nie3 mang3 ku3, pu3-nie3 luo4-bo3 ong2-lie3 luo4ci1ba1 zi2-liao3.
So, drinking the dragon's milk and warmed by the phoenix, the eight children grew to adulthood.
11 ei1 la2 nie1, ye3 la1hu3 luo4bi3-die1 da1bu3 mo3 ge3ci2-la1, pu2 nie1 pu3 ge4ze1 bo3 li3: "se2 ta4 ge3ci2-gu2, xie1hu1 nie3ba3 ba4-i-duo3-hu3, nie3ba3 se2 die2 mo3 zi2 mo3 luo2bu1ta2pa4 duo3 hu3-liao3."
One day, when the eight young men were enjoying themselves wrestling with one another, the dragon and the phoenix said to them: "Don't play any more, go quickly and visit your parents, their eyes are swollen with crying from missing you."
12 luo4bi3 ye3 la1hu3 ku1za4 da3-lie3 xi4ca3 mo3 cu1-nie3 nie3ba3 yi3-liao3, ki4-bo3 mo3 a1nie3 a3ba1 jie3.
The eight boys ran down the mountain to their parents' home. When they saw them, they knelt down and cried, "Father! Mother!"
13 nie3ba3, guo2 luo4bi3-die1 song1kuo1-xi2 yi3-lie3, nie4 mo3 luo2bu1ce3 sa2gi1 duo3-diu2.
When their parents saw they had returned, they cried for joy.
14 a1nie3 a3ba1 ge4ze1 luo4 tie2ba1 bi2kui1 lao4 wa jie3-xi2 lao4 jie3: ngao3ce3huo3se4, xi1ti1lao4, xi1a1lao4, li1du1, su1du1, la1wu1mi1, long1ci1ye1suo1ye1cong1, jie2ye1hui1ye1la1hui1lie1ye1.
They then gave each of them names, from the eldest to the youngest: Ngaocehuose, Xitilao, Xi'alao, Lidu, Sudu, Lawumi, Longciyesuoyecong, and Jieyehuiyelahuilieye.
15 ge4ze1 jie3-nie3-xi2 ti3-alie3, luo4 guo2 ye3 hu3 qian1ngai4-die1 jie3.
After they had been given their names, people called them the Eight Brothers.
16 ye3 hu3 qian1ngai4-die1 cu1 jie2ri1, tuo2ga1 a3bu3 di3, kang3ku1 si3jie4, hu3pa3 song2 zuo2, la2 ye3 hi1hi1 ri1-xi2 ca2;
The eight brothers worked around the home, digging bracken and kudzu, hunting in the hills, catching fish in the rivers; whatever they did, they did well.
17 ge4ze1 xie1qi1 ca2-xi3tai2, me3guo3 wo2tu1 ze3, wu1ni3zi3 ca2, kang3ku1 ka3 wo4, ka3mong3 ci1ba1 la2 mong1 la2 mong1 mo3 be4-adi2-di1xi3, kang3ku1 si3jie4, li2 tie2ba1 jie2 huo3lie3 bi1ci4 mo3 nie1 za1 zi2.
They were full of might, both brave and resourceful. When they went into the mountains to fetch firewood, they could bring back a whole tree at a time; when they went hunting, they could tear a big tiger in two with their bare hands.
18 ge4ze1 ye3 hu3 qian1ngai4-die1 la2 ma1 nie4ka1-xi2 ca2-liao3, luo4 da4xi4 mo3, hu2ni1 nie4ka1 ca2-liao3.
The eight brothers and their parents lived happily together, and helped others to live happily too.
19 ei1 la2 long1, wo4ta3-nie3 luo4die1 ang2 guo3jia1 ha3-diu2, huan3di2 guo2 ha3 mo3 hhi2-ya1ti1, seng2zi1 da3-lie3 ye3 hu3 qian1ngai4-die1 duo3 [ha3-xie2].
One year, foreigners came to attack our country. The emperor was unable to repulse them, so he issued an edict ordering the eight brothers to go and fight.
20 ye3 hu3 qian1ngai4-die1 da4ha3-nie3 zi1gi1 ye4-lie3, jie2 nie1 ci3 huo3lie3 luo4 zuo2-bo3, la1sa1die1 kuo1ba1-bu2li1 tie2-lu3, la1sa1die1 ji3 nie1 ci3 ci1ca4-lie3 nie1 za1 zi2, luo4ci1ba1 guo2 ca3ca1ku1li1 zuo2-xi2 da4ze3, luo4 die2ka1la1 qian2la2bu1 ha3-si3.
When the eight brothers reached the battlefield, they used their hands to seize the enemy: they plucked off the heads of some and tore the legs off others, just like a man grasping a grasshopper. They put to death many of the enemy.
21 se2-da2-nie3 luo4die1 kuo1ba1 a2hu1 mo3 xi4ca3-ji2-lu3.
Those who survived fled, clutching their heads.
22 ye3 hu3 qian1ngai4-die1 guo3jia1 a2hu1 mo3 gong1 ti3-lie3, huan3di2, guo2 lao4 bo3 wan3 lao4 po1, ye3ti3ci1ba1 jie3, la2 hu3 la2 dong2 ka4, la2 dong2 la2 bu2luo4.
The eight brothers made a great contribution to saving the nation, so the emperor conferred a kingship on each of them, and called them the Eight Kings. He gave each of them a tract of land to rule, one per tribe.
23 ze2 li3, tie2ba1 long3ce1 ong3, bi2kui1 sou1ba1dong1 ong3.
According to legend, the eldest ruled in Nongche [in Longshan] and the youngest in Shoubadong [in Baojing].
24 ta1nie1-nie3 re4bi2-die1 guo2 die2-zu2, se1ba1 ri1-zu2 ge4ze1 jing2-la1.
Afterwards, their descendants wanted to commemorate them, venerating them during the 'baishouwu' dance.
25 mu2la1, bao1jing3 sui1ba1dong1 ye3ti3ci1ba1-nie3 miao2 ti2mi1 ai4duo3 xie2-nie2, long3sang1 long3ce1-nie3 se1ba1 ci1ba1 ri1-nie3-xi2 luo4 hu2ni1 ri1-de1xi3.
Today, the remains of the Eight Kings Temple still exist at Shuibadong in Baojing; and in Nongche in Longshan, people still know how to perform the large-scale 'baishouwu' dance.
26 ze2 li3-zu2, ei1 la2 a3tong1 ga3 ye3ti3ci1ba1-nie3 ji3mi2 lao4 xie2.
According to legend, one of the king's footprints can be seen on a depression in the rock there.
27 bi2zi1ka3 se1ba1 ci1ba1 ri1-zu2, wei3zi3 ka3tong3 ga3ha2 pu2 nie1 pu3 qi3 nie1 hhi1 zuo1-bo3-duo3, pu2 pu3, guo2 bi2zi1ka3-nie3 nie3ti3ge1ti1 long4-nie3 qing3 die2-xi2.
When the Tujia perform the large-scale 'baishouwu' dance, they must hang flags depicting a dragon and a phoenix on two poles, to commemorate the kindness shown by the dragon and phoenix in raising the ancestors of the Tujia.






Copyright (C) 2004 Philip & Cecilia Brassett