image: traditional Tujia brocade

Play All)Informal story texts: Stories from Yongshun County

This is a selection of texts drawn from Mrs Tian Xintao's memories of her early life in the Yongshun area prior to Liberation in 1949. The first two texts illustrate the rigours of life, at the hands of both men and nature. The third text provides a brief vignette of a traditional Tujia woman, accomplished in the economies of daily life. The final text describes the journey home from Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan, to Yongshun, an arduous trip of over two hundred miles. Transport in the area was very limited at that time, and rivers were important arteries of communication.


2.7.1: Attacked by Tufei Bandits
2.7.2: Accidents in the Mountains
2.7.3: My Grandmother
2.7.4: The Journey Home from School

2.7.1: Attacked by Tufei Bandits

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

01 nga2 di1ga1 ci1tu1, ye3 a4yi3-ma1 qing3nie2 eng3jiu3, ge4ze1 cong2 ha3 du1du1du1...
When I was at school, robbers found their way [into the city]. They fired their guns. Bang! Bang! ...
02 ei1ya1! ang2ni1 a ge4-bo3 mo3 xi4ca3 ou, wo4ta3-bo3 zu2 ao, ei1yo1! ge4ze1 eng3jiu3 ou! cong2 ha3 mo3 ni2 kuo1ba1 ga3ha2 a!
Oh dear! We were scared stiff and ran outside. Oh no! They're coming! Firing their guns, right over our heads!
03 nga2 da4 yi3-zu2 ou, ei1ya1! ang2ni1 ge4di1ge4ga2 ou, xie2hui1 mo3 xi4ca3 ao, xie2hui1 mo3 xi4ca3-bo3 ye4 ao! kei3-bo3 ye4 a?
When we saw them, we were so frightened, we ran off at once, straight away off to hide!
04 ei1ya1! a4duo3 suo4ti3 la1 bu1mu3, mie4 zu2 zu2-da2? eng la1 ba4, mie4 tai2 ao! you2 jie4-bo3 mo3 xi4ca3, jie4-bo3 mo3 xi4ca3.
Where should we hide? Oh! I felt my body again, to see if I was bleeding. I looked, but there was no blood! Off we ran, off we ran again.
05 ei1yo1! ai1du1 ha4lie3 nie1 long3 xie2, kuan3kuan3kuan3 kuan3kuan3kuan3 kuan3kuan3kuan3.
Look! There are two dogs over there. Woof! Woof! Woof!
06 ei1ya1! ang2ni1 a ge4 mo3 se2-liao3 da4ze3, ei1ya1! ang2ni1 ge4di1ge4ga2!
We were scared to death, we were so frightened!
07 ai! nga2 nie1 zuo1ba1 ang2 nie1 la1hu3 ba3zi2 ga3ha2 ou, nie2-bo3, ong3-bo3, nie2-bo3 ong3-bo3 be2 ge4, ge4-ji2 la.
Hey! My male classmate and I, the two of us we sat and slept on the ground. Sitting or sleeping, we were completely petrified.
08 a1di1 ye3 a4yi3-ma1 ou, luo4die1-nie3 qi3qie1 xie2 du1 wo4-ji2-i la, be4-ji2-i la. ge4ze1 zao3, ang2ni1 song1kuo1, song1kuo1-bo3, ang2 cuo4-nie3 ye3 yi2si1 a4yi3-ji2-liao3.
Those robbers, they will take absolutely everything, they will take it all away on their backs. When they had gone, we came home, and when we returned, we found that everything in our house had been stolen.
09 nga2-nie3 po3pa1 be2 [ge4-xi3], nga2-nie3 nie3ba3 [ge4-xi3]; nga2-nie3 mei3mei1 a1mi1 bi2kui1, guo2 ge4-da2,
My grandparents were very frightened, and so were my parents; but my younger sister was unperturbed.
10 guo2 ci1tu1-lie3, guo2 a4duo3 ye3 a4yi3-ma1 ba4 ou! guo2 la2bie1 duo3 ge4-da2, nga2 jiu1 li3-da2.
When she finished school, she went to watch the robbers! She wasn't the slightest bit afraid, but I didn't stop her.

2.7.2: Accidents in the Mountains

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

01 nga2 qing2die1 bi2 si3, nga2-nie3 a3ba1 nga2 jie3-bo3 mo3: "ni2 kang3ku1 hhi2-duo3, ka3 wo4-duo3, zi4xi3 wu4-duo3 a! wu2xi3 suo4-duo3 a!", la2 ze2 la2 ze2 nga2 bo3 a2yi1.
When I was small, my grandmother called to me: "Go up into the hills and fetch some firewood, You also need to get some weeds for the pigs, and cut some grass for the cows!" So she lectured me, one sentence after another.
02 nga2-nie3 ma3ma1 le, guo2 nga2 da4ha3 le, kang3ku1-bo3 hhi2 ao, ka3 wo4-i. ang2ni1 ei1-zu2 ka3 wo4, yi2xi1 ga3 ka3 wo4, ga3 ka3 wo4-lie3 ba3 gu3-lie3.
So my aunt, she went with me to the hills, to fetch firewood. So there we were collecting firewood, our backs laden with dry wood. With that on our backs, up the hill we went.
03 tong3 ka3mong3 lao4 pu2ta1 yi2xi1 bie4-la1-hu3, tong3 pu2ta1 xing2ga1die3 ga4 [hhi1] tao2,
There was a tung tree which was beginning to shed all its leaves, with no green leaves left at all.
04 nga2 ji4-bo3 mo3 ka3mong3 gu3, ka3mong3 gu3 a, gu3 a wa, guo2duo3 ka3mong3 ga3ha2-lie1, ka3mong3 geng1ke4 la! ei1ya1! nga2 ka3mong3 da4ha3 geng1ke4 la, sa3 la2 ze2 be2 li3-ta1ti1.
I began climbing the tree, up and up I went, to the top of the tree, and then the tree fell down! Oh no! Down I came with the tree, there I was, utterly speechless.
05 nga2-nie3 ma3ma1 jie3 a, jie3 a: "kang3ku1 li1 se2 la! geng1ke4-lie3 se2 la! qing3mo1 ri1 a? qing3mo1 ri1 a?" guo2 ji2-bo3 mo3 jie3, ji2-bo3 mo3 jie3, jie3-lie3,
My aunt was screaming: "Someone's died in the mountains! Tumbled to her death! What shall we do, what shall we do?" She shouted and wept, shouted and wept, shouted and shouted.
06 luo1you1-nie3 pa3pu1 a, ang1bei1-die1, qian1ngai4-die1 eng3jiu3, nga2-nie3 pa3pu1 be2 eng3jiu3, nga2-nie3 nie3ba3 be2 eng3jiu3.
My grandfather, my uncles, and brothers came from the village, my grandfather and my parents all came.
07 ei1yo1! ba3 gu3-lie3 nga2 be4, be4-bo3, nga2 a4duo3 sa3li3-ta1ti1, be4-bo3 mo3 song1kuo1 la.
Well! They crossed the mountains, carrying me, and I still couldn't speak, and so they carried me home.
08 ge3di1 ce3 hu3, ai1di1 ce3 hu3 ao, hu3-ji2-lie3, a! ca2 la! li3-de1xi3 la!
Drink this medicine, drink that medicine - I drank them all up. Ah! That's better! I could speak again.
09 nga2 ong3-nie3 a1di1 kuo1 a yo, a3sa3 gai4 qi4, kang3ku1 hhi2 a.
Where we lived, when you went up in the hills, there were big cliffs.
10 nga2-nie3 a3kuo1, guo2 qi3 long1 kang3ku1-bo3 ye3 se1, la2 wo3 se3 wo4, wo4-bo3 mo3, wo3sa3 gai4 qi4!
My brother, one year he was in the mountains planting crops, with a load of manure on his back, what a huge back-basket it was!
11 guo2, guo2 ga3ha2-lie1 geng1ke4-lie3 ba3ti3 hhi2 yo, sa3 be2 li3-ta1tiu1, qing3mo1 guo2 ri1-ta1ti1, ga4 nie1 duo3 se2-liao3 da4ye2ze3.
He, he fell down from the top, and couldn't speak any more, nor could he do anything else. For several days he lay there as though dead.
12 nga2-nie3 a4duo3 ma3ma1 lao4 xie2, guo2 cu1 a ye3 xie2. guo2 le, wo4ta3 ge3ci2 ei, ra3ki1ci3 xi3, guo2 kang3ku1 hhi2-lie3,
I also had an aunt, from a rich family. She went outside to have fun and to pick some wild onions,
13 ei1ya1! hhi2 a hhi2, geng1ke4-le, gai3di1 a3sa3 ga3ha2 ba3ti3 geng1ke4, geng1ke4, eng1di1 a3sa3 ga3ha2-bo3 zao3.
off she went up into the mountains. As she was walking, she fell down from this cliff, down she tumbled, down onto the cliff-face.
14 ei1ya1! ge4 cuo4 a, ji2di1ji2ga2 ao, ke4-bo3 mo3 song1kuo1, guo2 be2 se2 la!
Oh! Her family, they were very upset, carrying her back home, but she was already dead.

2.7.3: My Grandmother

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

01 nga2 bi2kui1 si3, nga2 a3ba1 da4ha3 ong3-bo3.
When I was small, my grandmother lived in our home.
02 nga2 a3ba1 qi3qie1 xie2 be2 ri1. guo2 pa1ruo1gu1 ga2, mi4 wo2tu1 la1 wu2, wu2-ji2-lie3, se3si2 la2bie1 po1, la1 bu2, ga2-ji2-lie3.
My grandmother could do everything. She used to eat chilli peppers, she would cook them in the fire, and when they were done, add a little oil, crush them a little, and then eat them up.
03 guo2-nie3 qie3bi2 a, guo2-nie3 a, [wo1-ta1-duo3] a, qie3bi2 [wo1-ta1-duo3] a, [wo1-ta1-duo3] a, qing1mo3nie3? se3si2 la2bu1 xie2.
Her bowl, her bowl, she wouldn't wash it, she wouldn't wash it, why? Because there was both salt and oil left [which she wanted to save for the next meal].
04 guo2-nie3 xi1ba1, a2xi1 mo3 guo2 wo4ta3 da2-ta1; guo2 da2-bo3 mo3 xi1ba1 a2pei1-liao3 ba, guo2 wo4ta3-bo3 da2.
Her clothes, the ones she considered new she wouldn't wear outside: when the clothes she was wearing began to wear out, then she would wear them outside.
05 guo2 a4duo3 kang3ku1 a ka3 wo4, a4duo3 kang3ku1 a ye3 ni1, guo2 a4duo3 ce3ku1 ce4, ma3ma1 long4, guo2-nie3 ye3 la2be1 duo3 bie4-ta1.
She would go up into the hills for firewood, and would look for useful plants too. She also spun hemp fibre and looked after my aunts, she never wasted a single thing she had.
06 guo2 nga2 bo3 a2yi1-bo3, a2yi1-lie3 ri3di2ri3ga2, nga2 yi2xi1 die2-bo3-la1.
She taught me, taught me many things, all of which I can still remember.

2.7.4: The Journey Home from School

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

01 nga2 di1ga3 ci1tu1, wo4ta3 ci1tu1, a4duo3 la4 hhi2-duo3. ang2ni1 cang3sa1-bo3 ci1tu1, ang2ni1 la4 hhi2, hi2 ong1 nie1 mo3 hhi2 mo3 cang3sa1 ye4,
When I was a student, I went away to study, and had to walk there. We went to Changsha to study, and we walked, walked for a full fifteen days to reach Changsha.
02 ei1ya1! ji3 a, di2di1di2ga2, jie2 be2 di2di1di2ga2, hhi2 du1 hhi2-ta1tiu1.
Oh! Our feet were ever so painful, our hands were also painful, we couldn't have walked any further.
03 ai1du1 ye4, nie2-bo3 be2 di2, ong3-bo3 be2 di2, hhi2 be2 hhi2-ta1ti1, ei1ya1! ang2ni1 ya du1, ma2ni1 duo3 ji2di1ji2ga2.
When we got there, our feet hurt even while we were sleeping, when we sat they hurt, and we couldn't walk. Well, we were all totally worn out.
04 ang2ni1 song1kuo1-bo3 la2 long1 tu1 la, tu1 la, [cang3sa1-lie1 ying1seng3-bo3] song1kuo1, song1kuo1-bo3, la4qiu1-lie1 ye3 a4yi3-ma1 ri3di2ri3ga2.
We went home after a year of studying, coming back to Yongshun from Changsha, coming back, there were bandits everywhere on the way.
05 ei1yo1! yan3leng3 ying1seng3 du1 hhi2 a, ang2ni1 bu4 ong3, bu4 le, la4qiu1-lie1 luo4die1 cu4-ma1 yi2xi1 ha3 mo3 pie2 la,
Well, we had to go through Yuanling and Yongshun. We got on a boat, on the way, the boat was overturned [by bandits] and everyone was thrown into the water,
06 luo4die1 be2 yi2xi1 zao3, luo4 be2 yi3-bo3-da2 la! nga2 bo3 a qi3qie1xi3 du1 tao2, ang2ni1 ge4di1ge4ga2, song1kuo1-diu2 ba. nga2 duo3 la2bu1 be2 ga2-ci3 tai2, la2bu1 la2 qi1, tong3 se3si2 hi2 qi1 mo3 a4yi3.
everybody ran away, there was nobody in sight! We were left with nothing and we were all very frightened, so we set off back home. As a result, we didn't even have any salt to eat, not even a pound, and they took all ten pints of tung oil.
07 a1di1 nie4 ka1-ta1ti1 a, ka1-ta1ti1 a, la2 nie1 la2 long1 da4ze3-bo3 hhe3!
Those days were unbearable, unbearable, one day as long as a whole year!
08 zao4gu1die1 zi3 ga2 la, lang3cei1 zi3 kei2-bo3 ga2, a4duo3 a4yi3-nie3 luo4 ye4-duo3. zao4gu1die1 a4yi3 luo4 luo4 ti2 la, lang3cei1 a4yi3 luo4 luo4 bu2 la!
Breakfast, evening meals, where could we eat - we still had to hide from the bandits. They tied people up in the daytime, and slaughtered people at night!
09 a1di1 nie4 ka1-ta1ti1, ka1-ta1ti1 a! a3se4 li3 be2 ka1-ta1ti1 a!
Those days were unbearable, unbearable, everyone said they were unbearable!






Copyright (C) 2004 Philip & Cecilia Brassett