Warning: This blog post includes scenes of an adult nature and foul language… In Mandarin.
It’s rare to be able to witness the origins of a mythical creature, so I just had to share this with you. This is the kind of thing that makes me wonder how myths start in the first place… Are we watching one being created right here, today?
There’s a long tradition of word-plays in Chinese literature and language, and it’s spawned a couple of mythical creatures over the centuries. In my research for the Qilin, which I’ll talk about later, I found out that the Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese–it wasn’t specific) characters for “reed pipe,” “lotus,” and “osmanthus blossom” are the same characters in the phrase “May there be the birth of precious sons one after the other.” So, families that wanted sons hang up pictures that include a reed pipe, lotus and osmanthus blossom.
As we speak, right now, today, there are a couple Chinese songs (Wired.com says they’re in Mandarin.) about the “Grass-Mud Horses,” (Entirely mythical, they look like Alpacas) that live in the “MaLe Desert” and have to fight against the “River Crabs” to protect their “Grassland.”
But in Mandarin, each one of these words sounds soooo close to other words. The only two I will (but I could, I really could) say on this blog are “River Crabs,” which is “Harmonization,” a euphemism for censorship, and “Grassland,” which means “Free Speech.” The other two phrases are… well, let’s just say that they wouldn’t be out of place in Pulp Fiction. “Horse” sounds like “Mother.” “Grass-Mud” sounds like “<insert foul verb here> your”. It’s actually a protest song about censorship, but the clever double-meaning makes it hard to censor.
The grass-mud horse has even become a plushie you can buy for your kid:
Here’s a video without the translation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2Fl3q5gZNc
Okay, here’s a link to a YouTube song with translation. Please understand that you might be offended: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wKx1aenJK08
I am thankful every day that I live in a country where I have lots of grassland.
In two hundred, five hundred years, will the Grass-Mud Horse be featured on someone else’s ‘blog’ as a magical creature of unknown origins? Hard to say. And I’ll never know. Unless my plans come together and I am preserved as an animated head floating in ether.