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Chinese Literature
Ashima 阿詩瑪

Ashima is a traditional story of a girl from the national minority of the Yi 彝族. This story, in circulation among the tribe of the Sani 撒尼 living in the village of Azhudi 阿著底 district of Lunan 路南 in the province of Yunnan, was brought into the literary form of a poem in 1953 by Huang Tie 黃鐵, Yang Zhiyong 楊知勇, Liu Qi 劉綺 and Gong Liu 公劉, which were members of the provincial Renmin gongwentuan gongzuozu 人民文工團工作組. The story was first published in 1954 by the newspaper Yunnan ribao 雲南日報, and in the next years as a book by several publishers, namely Yunnan renmin chubanshe 雲南人民出版社, Zhongguo qingnian chubanshe 中國青年出版社 (republ. 1980), Renmin wenxue chubanshe 人民文學出版社 and Zhongguo shaonian ertong shubanshe 中國少年兒童出版社. A revised edition, produced by Li Guangtian 李廣田, was published in 1960 by the Renmin wenxue chubanshe 人民文學出版社出. The story was also transformed into a theatre play that was often performed in the area of Jiashan village 圭山, where the story had it origin. In 1964 Ashima was picturized by the Shanghai dianying zhipian chang 上海電影制片廠. The book has been translated into several foreign languages.
The story narrates the resistance of beautiful and virtitious Ashima, daughter of the peasant Geluriming 格路日明, to the enforced marriage with Azhi 阿支, a son of the rich, powerful and cruel landlord Rebu Bala 熱布巴拉. Because Ashima firmly resists the proposed marriage she is abducted and imprisoned, but does not comply to the demands of Azhi. Her brave brother Amoji 阿黑 rushed to free her. He defeats Rebu Bala in a duel and liberates his sister from the hands of the tyrant. On the way back home the family of Rebu Bala commands a mountain ghost to raise a fatal flood wave that carries Ashima away. Yet she is transformed into an echo by a mountain fairy. In search for the two young persons, the people of their tribe over and over again called the names of the two young people, but they only respond in the shape of an echo, reminding them of her brave and unbending spirit.
The story has the form of a ballad written in rhymes, with a length of 13 stanzas. It begins with a preface (xuqu 序曲). Stanzas 2 to 4 introduce the main persons. Parts 5 to 9 narrate the plan of the marriage, the abduction, and Amo's plan to rescue her. Stanzas 10 to 12 describe Amo's fight with Rebubala and his son and his victory. The last part is dedicated to Ashima's death and her transformation into the mountain echo.
The Communists interprete the story as a report of the heroic resistance of the working class of the Yi people against their exploitaition by the rich and powerful landowners.

Yang Liangcai 楊亮才 (ed. 1989). "Ashima 阿詩瑪", in: Zhongguo minjian yishu cidian 中國民間文藝辭典, p. 6. Lanzhou: Gansu renmin chubanshe.
Sun Yijun 孫宜君 (1990). "Ashima 阿詩瑪", in: She Shusen 佘樹森, Niu Yunqing 牛運清 (eds.), Zhongguo dangdai wenxue zuopin cidian 中國當代文學作品辭典, p. 671. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe.
Cai Caibao 蔡才寶 (1989). "Ashima 阿詩瑪", in: Wu Weimin 吳偉斌, Zhang Bing 張兵 (eds.), Wenxue renwu jinshang cidian 文學人物鑒賞辭典, p. 1018. Shanghai: Fudan daxue chubanshe.

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February 13, 2013 © · Ulrich Theobald · Mail