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Comics give mythology new lease of life
2005-01-24 00:27:25 XinhuaEnglish

BEIJING, Jan. 24-- What do Pan Gu, who separates the sky from the earth, Nu Wa, who patches up the sky and Kua Fu, who chases the Sun, have in common?

All are forgotten heroes from ancient Chinese mythology. Or so it would seem. Their stories have been spreading from mouth to mouth for thousands of years.

But today their enchanting influence is weakening as Chinese children turn instead to the likes of"Harry Potter" and"The Lord of the Rings" for their fantasy fix.

"Many primary and middle school students know little about ancient Chinese mythical characters and their tales," said Cui Changle, a Chinese Literature Ph.D.

Cui is co-author of"Chinese Mythology", a comic series in China.

The series, published by the Yanbian University Press, tells the mythical stories of the ancient Middle Kingdom in cartoon form.

"Having spoken to many children and finding their little knowledge of this old tales, the reasons for compiling the comic series was very simple: to help Chinese children learn more about Chinese mythology," explains Cui.

The origin of most Chinese myths dates back to before the first dynasty, the Xia(21st-16th century BC).

Similar to legendary fables from other civilizations, the life-blood of early Chinese myths are the themes upon which they are based. The origins of the world and humans, the arcanum of the sun, moon, and the stars and other natural phenomena and parables were all told through such bewitching mythological tale.

According to Cui, in spite of a rich tradition of mythology, China is not regarded as one of the great myth-creating civilizations.

In contrast to the highly developed mythology of ancient Greece, ancient Chinese myths are fragmentary and laconic.

They were scatterly recorded in many ancient books."This has actually caused a great deal of difficulty for today's readers to understand the stories, especially for children," said Cui.

His comic series tears down the confusion.

With vivid and colourful and appealing cartoon figures, the characters and their lives come to life.

Together with the other co-author Ge Hui, Cui spent a great deal of time compiling the myths from the poor record.

It was challenging task.

Many myths appear in several versions, sometimes even under different names.

The relationships between different characters are also very complicated.

For example, the relation between Huang Di and Yan Di, two tribal chieftains causes confusion.

While it was universally acknowledged that the two were half brothers, different versions disagree on whether they were born to different fathers or different mothers.

Cui is hoping his comics will erase the difficulties. And he hopes the publishing of his comics here will follow the success of its Korean editions.

There, the comics series has been thrilling young readers and ranked 8th on the bestseller list two weeks after its launch.

(Source: China Daily)

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