2017/02/15

The Legend of the Hundred Birds Costume


Hundred Birds Costume is a well-told story in the folk life of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, most typical of the Baiyue ethnic minority group. The story reflected the happiness and sorrow of people in the Zhuang autonomous region, their fighting against the oppressors and their wish for beautiful life through the depiction of the love between two unyielding young lovers. Early in the Song Dynasty, the story of Hundred Birds Costume was quite popular among the people of Zhuang minority in Xiaoyi Township, Henxian County of Guangxi Province and its surrounding areas. It is handed down from generation to generation and favored by the Zhuang people, enjoying a long history.

Hundred Birds Costume is a folklore story full of fantastic myth among people of Zhuang ethnic minority in Xiaoyi Town, Henxian County. It has been continuously enriched with the development of the history.

As the story goes, there was a young man named Zhang Yayuan who was born in a poor family. His father was tired to death when working for the Tusi (an official title). Thus, he and his mother relied on each other, making a living by working for Tusi and gathering firewood to exchange for rice. Zhang Yayuan was very good at gathering firewood and hunting and built a robust body since he started doing these at a quite early age. One day, a rooster jumped onto his basket for holding the firewood when he was homebound, so he brought it back. After half a year, the rooster became a fairy beauty and married him. They lived happily with each other. Later, the Tusi learned of this and tried every means to break their happiness, as he coveted for the beauty of Zhang Yayuan's wife and wanted to make her his concubine. Despite the intentional hindrance of the Tusi, Zhang's wife always won the battle with her wisdom. At last, Tusi finally forcefully grabbed Zhang's wife. Before the departure, his wife told Zhang Yayuan to shoot a hundred birds and find her at the yamun with the clothes made by the feathers of the birds. At that time, nothing was left for him with his wife being grabbed, mother died from anger and family utterly shattered.

Yayuan went into the remote mountain to shoot birds with hatred, sorrow and hope as well. The lady in the yamun was full of sorrow and languished day by day. In order to see a moment of her smile, Tusi promised to grant three hundred silver coins for the one who could make the lady smile. While Yayuan went through all the hardships by passing 99 rivers and 99 mountains to shoot down 100 birds in order to save his wife. At the 100th day, Yayuan wore the clothes made by a hundred birds' feathers and went to the yamun as his wife told him to do. The unhappy lady smiled happily when she saw Yayuan waving his Hundred Birds Costume. Tusi, avid for the costume and eager to please the lady, took off his official robe in exchange for the costume, thus giving Yayuan a chance to kill Tusi when he helped the latter to put on the clothes. Then, they fled from the yamun to a very far place and led a blissful life together.

There is the Hundred Birds Costume in a branch of Miao ethnic minority group. A lot of legends were about it and the origin was from the worship for the bird of the Miao minority. During the migration and after they settled down, they would hunt all kinds of birds as their food. Out of gratitude, they began to worship the birds. They not only embroidered bird patterns on the clothes, but also decorated the lap with all kinds of feathers. The cloth of the Hundred Birds Costume is self-spun and self-dyed and altogether 16-18 embroidered color band for a skirt with feather balls attached to the lower end of it. Nowadays, the feathers are all from the domestic poultry. The costume features various color and bird patterns up to 100 of different sizes.

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