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About Chinese Folktales

Chinese tales are many and varied. Myths, legends, fables are among them. Some come down to us from ancient Taoist writers like Lieh Tzu and Zhuangzi, and others from Chinese myths, Confucianism and Buddhism. How humans are, the supernatural and stories explaining natural phenomena are also told of in some tales.

Some folktales may have originated in India and been transmitted along with Buddhism. Other tales that are widespread throughout East Asia are without any known counterparts west of China.

Chinese traditional tales inspired Chinese writers and poets for centuries. In the 1910s, a rising sense of national identity also spurred interest in traditional folklore. Further, to help improve the condition of people, it was believed to be necessary to understand their ideas, beliefs, and customs.

Many stories were collected by Communist thinkers and scholars. Many such stories were reinvented and reinterpreted to emphasise such themes as the virtue of the working commoner, while stories with praise of the emperor were often left out of Communist collections.

[WP, "Chinese folklore"]


Chinese tales, folk tales and fairy tales of China, Literature  

Birch, Cyril. Tales from China. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Brown, Brian, ed. Chinese Nights Entertainments: Stories of Old China. New York: Brentano's, 1922.

Davis, Mary Hayes. Chinese Fables and Folk Stories. New York: American Book Company, 1908.

Fielde, Adele Marion. Chinese Nights' Entertainment. London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1893.

Giles, Herbert Allen. Chinese Fairy Tales. London: Gowans and Gray, 1920.

Liyi, He, tr. The Spring of Butterflies and other Chinese Folk tales of China's Minority Peoples. Ed. Neil Philip. London: William Collins Sons and Co, 1985.

Ma, Tom Te-Wu. Chinese Fables and Wisdom: Insights for Better Living. New York: Barricade Books, 1997.

Macgowan, John. Chinese Folk-Lore Tales. London: Macmillan and Co., 1910.

Moss, Robert, tr., ed. Chinese Fairy Tales and Fantasies. New York: Pantheon Books, 1979.

Moule, Arthur Evans. Chinese Stories for Boys and Girls and Chinese Wisdom for Old and Young. London, Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1880.

O'Brien, Joanne. Chinese Myths and Legends. Tr. Kwok Man Ho. New York: Arrow Books, 1990.

Pitman, Norman H. A Chinese Wonder Book. New York. E. P. Dutton, 1919.

Raju, P. V. Ramaswami. The Tales of the Sixty Mandarins. 2nd ed. London: Cassell and Co, 1886.

Werner, Edward T. C. Myths and Legends of China. London: G. G. Harrap, 1922.

Wilhelm, Richard, ed. The Chinese Fairy Book. Tr. Frederick Herman Martens. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1921.

Yuan, Haiwang. The Magic Lotus Lantern and Other Tales from the Han Chinese. Westport CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.

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