The Chinese story, “The Legend of the Panda” seeks to explain the reason why the panda is covered in black spots. The story revolves around a young Shepherdess, Dolma, who lived with her sisters in the Wolong Valley. The shepherdess comes across a white panda cub and she asks it to join her flock.
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The young cub agrees to the invitation and from then, it feeds and plays happily with Dolma’s Flock. However, one day the flock is attacked by a snow leopard which singles out the little cub and wounds it. Dolma rushes in to protect the hapless cub and at her efforts, the angry leopard claims her life.
The whole village mourns kind Dolma’s death and her four sisters in particular are heartbroken by the events. The pandas are also greatly distressed by Dolma’s death as she died protecting the cub. They smear themselves with ashes and as their sooty paws touch their bodies, the black soot permanently stains their previously snow white fur.
Dolma’s sisters also wept bitterly convinced that they could not live without her. The earth in an act of benevolence opens up underneath their feet and swallows them up. At the same sport, a mountain of four peaks rises and it is named “the Mountain of the Four Sisters”.
There exist some similarities between Greek Myths and this Chinese Legend. The first striking similarity is the incorporation of the supernatural. The Greek myths in particular are full of gods who rule over the mortals. In the Chinese legend, the presence of the supernatural can be felt as the earth speaks out to the mourners and swallows the sisters.
Another similarity is that both Chinese and Greek myths in some cases serve to explain the origin of things. For example, from the Greek myths, we discover that fire was given to mortals by Prometheus who stole it from the gods. An explanation of why echoes are heard in caves is also given by the legend of Echo and Narcissus.
The myths tells of a sweet voiced nymph, Echo, who was robbed of her voice and only left with the ability to repeat the last syllable spoken to her. She then retreated to a cave explaining why we hear echoes in caves.
From the Chinese legend, the mystery behind the black marks on the Panda’s fur is explained. The origin of the mountain of four peaks is also explained by the panda legend.
Despite these similarities, there are some pronounced differences between the Greek and Chinese myths. The Chinese myth for instance lays an emphasis on the females as can be seen from the main character who is a woman, this is unlike the Greek myths which are characterized by powerful male figures ranging from the all powerful lord of the gods, Zeus, to Hades and Cratos.
While the Greek also do feature females, they mostly play a secondary role to the males. Another difference is that the Chinese myth showcases the Earth spirits as being benevolent in nature as can be illustrated from their kind act of taking in the four mourning sisters so that they can be rejoined with their departed sister.
While the Greek also do have benevolent gods such as Angelynn who is in a quest to put an end to the evils that have befallen the earth, the Greek myths also have their fair share of malevolent gods who are vengeful such as Hara, the wife of Zeus.
I found the Chinese tale particularly engaging and a pleasant read. Despite the story line being fairly simple, the story is profound and carries within it the deep underlying themes of bravery and love as can be seen from Dolma’s actions.
The story also succeeds in telling a significant tale in a short span and by use of a limited number of characters. This is an aspect of the story that I find appealing since my attention to the message that the story is trying to convey is not sidelined by long irrelevant narrations or a surplus of characters.