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Legends

Nezha

Folklore:

The next folktale is titled Nezha and is originally from China. The tale tells the story of a man names Nezha who was the son of a military commander. Before he was born his mother was pregnant with him for three years and three months. Immediately after birth Nezha was able to walk and talk having skipped infancy. As he was born under unusual circumstances his father believed he was a demon and attempted to murder him at birth but failed. One day Nezha and and his friends were playing by the ocean when the Underworld King kidnapped one of his friends. Enraged Nezha searched for his friend and fought with the Underworld King’s son severely injuring him. When the Underworld King hear of Nezha injuring his son he went to the emperor and threatened to dishonor Nezha’s family. To not bring dishonor to his family Nezha dismembered himself. Later his mother build a temple for Nezha, which became well known for granting miracles and wishes to its visitors.

Background & Context:

This story was collected in a casual lunch setting. The informant was a 21 year old junior at USC. She is ethnically Chinese but has grown up in New York her entire life. The way she found about this folktale was by watching a popular Chinese from several years ago, that is a remake of this traditional tale.

Final Thoughts:

I thought this story was interesting because it could be conveying a message about someone who might not fit into the standards set by society and be considered abnormal. Like Nezha someone could suffer discrimination from others only based on their differences from the norm. The story’s message  focuses on how someone who does not fit societal norms can be more severely punished for their mistakes than others and is consequently more likely to suffer from suicidal thoughts and depression. However an aspect I found interesting is how the informant originally heard about this folktale. As she learned about it through mass media. I think learning about folklore through media is unique and good way to teach the newer generation about old traditional folktales.  

 

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