Author Archives: Wanlu Ni

Gatto Mammone

Gatto Mammone, meaning Mammon cat, is one of the creatures of myth in Italy. Long time ago there was a woman who had two daughters, one is ugly and one is very beautiful. Surprisingly, the woman loved the ugly daughter more and they were jealous of another daughters’s beauty. One day they decided to sent the beautiful daughter to a curse fairy to ask for a sieve. On her way to the castle of the fairy, she met a man who helped her and told her how to behave to find the object she sough after. In the castle, she must help the cats to do housework. The Gatto Mammone, who lives in the castle, is thankful and gives her what she asked for, along with a warning: on her way back home, she must not turn at the call of the donkey, but only when she hears a rooster. As she does so, a beautiful star is magically embedded in her forehead. After she came back, her sister also wanted to get the beautiful star so she went to the castle as well. However, she was shunned away by the cats. On her way back, she turns at the bray of the ass, and a donkey’s tail is magically embedded in her forehead.



Original Script: Ikebana is the art of arranging flowers. In Japan, women who are trained in Ikebana are thought to be virtuous. Ikebana also represents the arrangement of three elements–heaven, earth, and people. Rather than using a large variety of flowers, ikebana is minimalistic. Only a few flowers are arranged sparsely in a shallow vase. The arrangement often takes on the shape of a scalene triangle.

Background information: Ikebana is an art in which the arrangement of flowers represents a balance where nature and humanity are brought together. It also indicates a closeness with nature.

Thoughts on this piece: Ikebana is an example of a folk tradition that is elevated to an art form.

Feng Shui

Informant: my mother

Original Script: Feng Shui is a practice of arranging furniture for good luck in Chinese folklore. Doors, windows, and other types of furniture need to be balanced so that energy can flow through the house without stopping. For example, it is not good to have your bed facing the door of the bathroom, and doing so will weaken your luck. And crystals can be used to deflect negative energy. Putting a crystal figurine on your desk is beneficial.


Background information: Feng Shui is a superstition in Chinese folklore. Some people extremely believe in that so in China there is professional Feng Shui consultant that tells you how to arrange your home.


Thoughts on the piece: I did not hear any American or Western folklore that related to the arrangement of the furniture. But my friend once told me that McDonald’s use a lot of red colors in the interior because red makes people agitated so that they won’t stay in the McDonald’s for too long. The theory of color in Chinese Feng Shui is more about superstition. For example, green stimulates business and helps you earn money, and violet gives peace and insight.


Italian Proverb

Original Script: Nel vino c’è la verità

Translation: In the wine there is truth

Background information: I was in the study abroad program in Italy last year. When I stayed in Italy, I realized how wine has always been an important element of the Italian culture, deeply rooted in the history and the land.

Thoughts about the piece: This proverb indicates how wine helps us reveal our inner thoughts and feelings that we would otherwise keep to ourselves if we were sober.

Italian Proverb

Original Script: Nella botte piccola c’è il vino buono

Translation: In the small barrel, there is the good wine.

Background information: This Italian proverb refers to the fact that the finest wine is usually produced in limited quantities. It’s in contrast to the thought that “big” necessarily means “better,” suggesting that the concept of quality often doesn’t coincide with that of quantity.

Thoughts about the piece: Like lots of provers in Italy are related to wine, this one uses wine as a metaphor to talk about people and things in general.