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Dungan Folktales and Legends


Kenneth J. Yin

Dungan Folktales and Legends is a unique anthology that acquaints English-speaking readers with the rich and captivating folk stories of the Dungans, Chinese-speaking Muslims who fled Northwest China for Russian Central Asia after failure of the Dungan Revolt (1862–1877) against the Qing dynasty. The most comprehensive collection of Dungan folk narratives, available now in English for the first time, this volume features translations of oral narratives collected in the former Soviet Central Asian republics of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in the twentieth century, and first published in Dunganskie narodnye skazki i predaniia (1977), which was edited by the internationally renowned Russian sinologist Boris L. Riftin and compiled by his prominent Dungan colleagues Makhmud A. Khasanov and Ilʹias I. Iusupov. The Dungan folk narrative tradition is a vibrant and fascinating tapestry of Chinese, Islamic, and various Central Asian cultural elements.

The present volume is comprised of a chapter introducing the Dungan tale and three chapters containing 78 folk stories organized in the following categories: wonder tales and animal tales; novelistic tales, folk anecdotes, and adventure stories; and legends, historical tales, and narratives. Also included are appendixes, a glossary, an index, the original notes to the texts, and translator’s notes aimed at an English-reading audience. This volume will be of interest to general readers, as well as students and scholars of folklore, ethnography, anthropology, comparative literature, Chinese studies, and Central Asian studies.

“With his Dungan Folktales and Legends, Kenneth J. Yin contributes a valuable chapter to Dungan Studies by making available in English translation a substantial body of interesting folk tales of a people who, though small in number, offer important material for the study of Central Asian culture and literature. Expertly translated, the stories in this collection open our eyes to a broad and unexpected vista of human experience. Highly recommended for anyone who is engaged in the study of Sinitic language and literature.” —Victor H. Mair, Professor of Chinese Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania “ Dungan Folktales and Legends opens a new page in the English-language scholarship on the folklore and popular literature of the Chinese and their neighbors. Being a reader of these tales in Russian translation since the age of ten (they made a part of my collection of favorite Asian tales), I am delighted to learn that they are now available in a superb English translation, with the necessary introduction and comments, by Kenneth J. Yin. This collection also reflects the personal experience of Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Boris L. Riftin (1932–2012), who started to collect and study Dungan folklore in situ during his student years and continued to analyze it later from the perspective of an expert in Chinese folk literature. Many figures of Chinese traditional literature, some of them perhaps already known to English-speaking readers as Yu Boya, Han Xin, Su Qin, Xue Rengui, and the like, appear here in a new and often unusual guise.” —Rostislav Berezkin, Research Fellow, National Institute for Advanced Humanistic Studies, Fudan University