Friday, October 19, 2018

Fairy Tale and Folktale Fridays #33: The Five Chinese Brothers

Hey there!  Welcome to "Fairy Tale and Folktale Fridays," a new feature on my blog where I discuss about some fairy tales and folktales I have read throughout the years. 

The Five Chinese Brothers


Type: Folktale

Country of Origin: China

Main Character Hero or Heroine: Heroes

Recommend?: Yes! 

Summary from the original story:

Once upon a time in China, there lived five brothers, who all look exactly alike and each brother also possess a special ability.  The first brother can swallow up the whole sea with no problem; the second brother has a neck that cannot be cut by swords; the third brother can stretch out his legs to long distances; the fourth brother cannot be burn by fire and the fifth brother can hold his breath for a long time.  One day, the first brother decided to go fishing and he decided to let a young boy go fishing with him.  As soon as they got to the sea, the first brother than started drinking up the sea so that the little boy can get the fish and treasures.  Unfortunately, the first brother was having trouble holding the sea in his mouth and he tried to alert the boy to come back to the shore, but the boy ignored the first brother and the first brother ended up spitting out the sea, drowning the boy.  When the town finds out what happened to the boy, the first brother is accused of murder and he is sentenced to death.  But then, the second brother ended up secretly taking the first brother's place and saves him from being beheaded.  But then the judge continues to try to execute one of the brothers, but each time, the brothers ended up taking each other's places, preventing the other from being executed.  Finally, the judge decided that the brother is innocent of the crime and the five brothers were able to go back home to their mother and live happily ever after.

I honestly really enjoyed this story, although my favorite version of this tale has always been the Rabbit Ears version!  I loved the fact that each Chinese brother is able to possess a different ability that is able to save each of them from being executed, as it reminded me a bit of the companions that accompanies the Fool in "The Fool and the Flying Ship!" As for the controversy surrounding the original book, I can understand why the original book drew so much controversy from some readers, as it seems to show a stereotypical depiction of the Chinese people in this story.  However, I still really enjoyed that story, even though I understand about the issues surrounding the stereotypical artwork.  If you want to check out a less controversial version of this story, check out the Rabbit Ears' version that has artwork by Kurt Vargo and "The Seven Chinese Brothers" by Margaret Mahy.

1. What kind of special abilities do you want to possess?

I definitely would like to possess the ability to fly since it would be pretty handy in getting to work on time!

2. Do you have any siblings?

Yes, I actually have a twin sister and a younger sister!

3. Do you think that the original story had some controversial artwork?

In a way, yes, I do think that the original story had some controversial artwork regarding how they portrayed the Chinese people, but I still enjoyed the story despite that.

The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop; illustrated by Kurt Wiese

The Seven Chinese Brothers by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Jean and Mou-sien Tseng

The Five Chinese Brothers by Jonathan Rodgers; illustrated by Kurt Vargo

The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship


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