image: traditional Tujia brocade

Play All)Informal story texts: Tiger Stories

These texts describe three individuals' very different encounters with tigers. In earlier centuries the region abounded in wildlife, including tigers and leopards and other large game. Although their numbers had already started to decline in the early 20th century, tigers still posed a considerable threat to livestock right up into the 1960s, when deforestation rapidly destroyed the large contiguous areas of forest habitat required by the tiger. Tigers were still seen in the 1970s (Tian Shunliang, the author of the second text below, saw one as late as 1975), and tiger paw prints were occasionally found locally in the 1980s. Today, the South China tiger is almost extinct in China, although small numbers probably survive further south in the jungles along the common border of Guangdong Province with Hunan, Jiangxi and Fujian Provinces.


2.4.1: Encounter with a Tiger
2.4.2: A Tiger and Some Pigs
2.4.3: Hunting a Tiger

2.4.1: Encounter with a Tiger

Peng Wugen, Dianfang Township, Longshan County
recorded on 18 July 2002

01 na2 si3jian1 lao3gu1lie1 qi2 sui2 xie2-xi3-nie2.
At that time I was only seven years old.
02 nga2 lei4 ka3 wo4-xie2, nga2 a3nie1, guo2 nga2 jiao3: "bo1li3, ni2 lei4 ka3 yi2 kong4 wo4-i, cu1 ka3 tai2 la, ga4 zi2 ti3 ga4 zi2, ni2 wo3bi3 ca1cei1 lao4 wo4-lie3, ga4 zi2 xie2 jiu1 xing3liao3."
That day I was to go and fetch firewood. My mother called me: "Son, go and fetch a bundle of firewood today, there's none left in the house. Get what you can, take your small back-basket, whatever you find will be fine."
03 "ca2! nga2 ka3 wo4-i, nga2 lei4 wo4-i o, nga2 zao4huan3 ga2-lie3 jiu1 wo4-i-hu3." nga2 wo4-xie2, nga2 wo4-lie3 kei2di1 di2dian1 me jiu1 ti4lu3 jie3-la1.
"OK! I'll go and get firewood, I'll go today. I'll finish my breakfast and then go." So I went. I carried the firewood to a place called Tilu.
04 nga2 la2 hu3 luo, nga2 la2 hu3 luo, nga2 be2 hhi2 a, hhi2 a, ge4-dao2. da2lu1-sang1 ye4-liao3, ei1 ba3ti3 a1nie1 a1di1 li2 lao4 re4-xi3! ao1du1 qi3hua1 tong3kuo3zi1 da4ze3, lie3pong2 yi2 pai4 hhe3 xie2.
I was all alone, just me, walking along, not afraid at all. When I reached the main track, there below me was a beautiful tiger! Those eyes, bright as copper coins, made me dizzy; his tail was over a yard long.
05 nga2 da4 huo2 ba4-lie3, nga2 guo2 yi3-alie3, nga2 ge4-si3-la1-hu3. nga2 ai1lie1 xing1 li1kuo1luo1 jing1zang1 la! nga2 lei4 li2 ba4! da2-lie3!
We eyed each other, I looked at him and I began to feel scared to death. Then my heart started thumping like mad, I've seen a tiger today! I fell!
06 yao1gang1 yi2 gong1! ta2ka1 beng4 die3 nie1 zang1 hhe3 tiao2-lie3, pa3sao3sao3 la1di3 la! heng! niao3! niao3! gu1ce3 cang3cang3-liao3! ge4-si3-liao3! ge4-si3-liao3! ka3 duo3 wo4-tao1, song1kuo1-i-hu3, song1kuo1-i-hu3, song1kuo1-i-hu3!
The tiger arched its back. It jumped twenty feet right down into a pit, with a rustling sound! Oh! Oh! I was dripping with sweat and scared to death. Really scared to death. I didn't even take the firewood. I'm going home! I'm going home! I'm going home!

2.4.2: A Tiger and Some Pigs

Tian Shunliang, Pojiao Rural Township, Longshan County
recorded on 19 July 2002

01 ai1 la2 long1 si1 yi2 jiu1 lu2 ai2 nian3, cuo4-nie3 zi4-ni3ga3 long4-la1, zi4-nie3 ce3mong2-ta3. zi4-ni3ga3 nie1 long3, ai1 lao4 bi2bi1 nie1 long3 xia2-lie3. me3 ri1-la1, di2ai2 hu3 lao4 zu2-lie3 la1 ba4-lie3, lao4 yi3-da2,
It was 1962, we were raising sows, and the sty was near the well. There were two sows, and one gave birth to two piglets. I had a [bad] feeling, and when I went out to have a look the next day, one piglet was gone.
02 ai1lie1 nga2 zi2 xian4 luo4die1 duo3 hhe2-lu3. ai1lie1 lang3qi1-cai3 jiu1, nga2 guo2 ai1lie1 cong2 a la2 zi2 kuai4-xie2.
I just thought someone had stolen it. So that evening, I had slung a gun over my shoulder
03 ai1lie1 nga2 ka4-xie2, ai1lie1 zeng2zai1 guo2 zi4cuo4 ai1di1 la1meng3, ai1di1 ka1tao1 lang3gang3 ga3ha2 gu1du4-bo3 mo3 zi1-bo3-la1. ei! nga2 guo2 zun1bei3 ha3-i, hang2 xian4,
and gone out to keep watch [by the sows]. There it was, [a tiger], right by the sty, by the door, crouching on top of the railings, and staring intently. I got ready to shoot, or at least that was my plan.
04 ai! nga2 jie2 la2 ci3 le you si1lang1 la2 pi1 be4-bo3-la1, la2 ci3 le you2 jiu1 cong2 kuai4-bo3-la1. ai1lie1, nga2 ka3kei1die3 si1lang1 li4ti3 la2 po1, kuo1neng3 li2 le, guo2 nga2 hua1jiao3-liao3,
One of my hands was clutching a quilt, and the other, that was holding the gun. So I quietly put the quilt on the ground, but perhaps the tiger heard me.
05 ai1lie1 nga2 zun1bei3 cong2 bang1 du1 bang1-liao3, nga2 bang1 mo3 ceng1tu1 ti3-da2-nie2, guo2 duo3 beng4 die3 yi2 dong2 le jiu1 xi4ca3-lu3. ai, jiu1 hang2 la2 qie2 yi3.
Then I prepared the gun, loading it with powder, but I hadn't finished when the tiger jumped down and ran off. So, that was the time I saw [a tiger].

2.4.3: Hunting a Tiger

Tian Xintao, Daba Township, Yongshun County
recorded on 05 August 2002

01 nga2-nie3 a3qi4-nie3 ge4ze1 li2 ha3.
My family and my uncle's family fought a tiger.
02 a3ba1 lao4 xie2, guo2 kang3ku1 wu2 ka4, ngo1 guo2 ba4 mo3 be a, "eng nga2 la2 hu3 gei2du1 wu2 ka4, qing3mo1 wu2 nie1 la1hu3 xie2 la?"
My father was looking after his cow in the hills, "I was looking at it; here I am on my own looking after our cow, so why are there two of them?"
03 ei! guo2 la1 ba4-lie3. "li2 ou", guo2 ge4-lie3, kang3ku1-bo3 gu3, ka3mong3 ga3ha2 gu3, ka3mong3 ga3ha2 gu3-lie3,
He looked carefully at it: "Tiger!". He was really frightened, and up the hill he went, up a tree he climbed, up he went.
04 guo2 jiu1 jie3 a, jie3 a: "ei1ya1, luo4 eng3qie2, luo4 eng3qie2! kang3ku1 li2 lao4 nga2-nie3 wu2 ga2 la!"
他就喊呀喊呀:“ 哎哟!来人啊!来人啊!山里有一只老虎在咬我的牛啊!”
He shouted and shouted: "Hey! Help! Help! There's a tiger in the mountains, eating my cow!"
05 ang2 cuo4 le qi4-nie3-xi2, luo4 le a2bu1 ri3. hou ma2ni1 yi2xi1 eng1ge1 li2 ha3, li2 ha3-lie3.
Our household was a big one, with lots of people. We all went there to fight the tiger and kill it.
06 a1di1 li2 a, cong2 le yi2si1 zua3zi3cong2, guo2 le, ang2-nie3 be3be1 lao4 cong2 la1 ha3, la1 ha3 yi1hou2, a1di1 li2 ou, cong2-nie3 ke2ka4 da4ha3 mo3 eng3jiu3.
That tiger! The guns they had were a special type of gun. The tiger, one of our uncles fired a shot at it. After firing the shot, that tiger, it came towards us out of the gunsmoke.
07 guo2 ang2-nie3 a2be1 kuo1ba1 la1 za4, hao4! guo2 jiu1 se2-liao3, se2 [huo1] se2-da2, ang2-nie3 ang1bei1, guo2 jiu1 ji4-bo3 mo3 a a1di1 li2 da4 da4ha3,
The tiger took a swipe at my uncle's head, and died; but was it dead or not? There was my uncle, straddling the tiger, fighting with that tiger.
08 guo2 guo2-nie3 ma1pa3 za4-bo3, jie2 la2 qi3 li2-nie3 kong1di1 be4-bo3, guo2 guo2 da4ha3 da4ha3. yo! kang3ku1 la a3sa3 gai4 [gao1] ga3ha2 geng1ke4-lie3 geng1ke4, geng1ke4-lie3 ba3zi2, ba3zi2, ba3zi2 ri3.
He held the hair under its chin in one hand, cradling the tiger's neck with the other, struggling together. They rolled around there on the steep mountainside, rolling to and fro, there was a lot of mud.
09 hao4! a1di1 li2 ye, guo2 be4-tao1, guo2-nie3 jie2 be2 die3-la1-hu3 a. ei1ya1! ang2-nie3 la2 cuo4 ji2di1ji2ga2 ou, se2 la, li2 guo2 bo3 ga2 mo3 se2 la, li2 guo2 bo3 jie2 be2 ga2-bo3 die3 la.
Well, that tiger, it couldn't hold him, and was about to break my uncle's arm. Our household was on tenterhooks. The tiger was biting him, tried to bite his arm and break it.
10 ei1ya1! yi2xia4 la2 cuo4 ji2di1ji2ga2 ou, ang2ni1 li2 ge4di1ge4ga2, ang2ni1, li2 a xi1pa1-la1 da4ze3. qie4 hui1 mo3 li2 ha3.
Well! Our household was very anxious, we were terrified of the tiger, we, the tiger seemed to be crawling still, so we hit it with whatever we could find to hand [and so it died].
11 a4duo3 ang2ni1 be3be1 lao4 xie2, ge4ze1 a1duo1 luo4 you2 luo4 pu1ci3, ge4ze1 a1duo1 a li2 ha3-nie3 cuo4 lao4 su2. ge3di1 cuo4 wo2tu1 le a4duo3 a bi2kui1 cuo4 su2-bo3; bi2kui1 wo2tu1 le ha4lie3 lao4 ti2-bo3.
Another of our uncles came from a part where there were few people; they had built a tiger trap, inside the outer cage they built a smaller one, and put a dog inside, tied up.
12 lang3cei1, li2 eng3jiu3 hong3tong3... wa li2, guo2 ha4lie3 ga2-duo3. ha4lie3 be2 kuan3kuan3kuan3... ei!
At night a tiger came, roaring, and wanted to bite the dog. The dog was also growling.
13 ge3di1 li2 a, ei1 cuo4 wo2tu1 la hhi2, beng4, la3-zu2 la, hou ma3li2 a, cong2 a, li2 ha3, la3-bo3 mo3 cu3 li2, ni2 la1 ca3, guo2 la1 ha3, hou cong2 jiu1, li2 a jiu1 ha3 se2 la.
Well, that tiger, he went into the kennel in one bound, and they shut the kennel door. Quickly, the gun, shoot the tiger, keep the door closed, you two take turns to hit it, well, the gun, they shot the tiger dead.






Copyright (C) 2004 Philip & Cecilia Brassett