海洋動物故事 Stories of Ocean Animals
Inscribed list: National List, Third Batch
Inventory no.: I-111
Nominating unit(s): Zhejiang Province, Dongtou County
Stories of Ocean Animals are a series of short stories and fables on some of the ocean animals, as told by the fishermen of Dongtou County, a district consisting of 168 islands and therefore surrounded by ocean, where it was surrounded by the ocean, and possessing the second-largest fishery in Zhejiang.
Through the method of oral storytelling, the stories are passed from generation to generation. There was a time when these imaginative stories almost reached the point of being lost forever. Fortunately, the government of Dongtou county embarked on archiving the Stories of the Ocean Animals, an effort initiated by Qiu Guoying in 1979. The task is still being carried on by some of the local story tellers and collectors, like Xu Gencai, who describes having listened to his parents tell him these stories during fishing. His father passed on the reins as a fisherman to Xu when he reached adulthood, and Xu proceeded to collect stories from other senior fishermen, saving these legends from the risk of disappearing. Meanwhile, some stories have been adapted into different genres for further promotion, such as musical and stage productions.
One of the stories is that of Lady Jellyfish (), which tells of a kind, brave lady jellyfish who, when protecting a married prawn couple from being sized by an evil sea snake (or squid in some versions), had her beautiful pair of eyes poisoned or injured, thus losing her sight. This story of bravery and sacrifice was transformed into a musical in Zhejiang by local cultural institutions and was performed by children in 2016. Other well-known stories include an arrogant shark attempting to eat a seagull. Although the seagull was captured by the shark at one point, he ended up tricking the shark and managed to dump sand on his enemy from the sea, blinding him for a short time, and then escaped. The moral of the story is that over-confidence will lead to failure. As some of these stories creatively explained the curious situations of different ocean animals, they also served an educational purpose, teaching children a moral message.
Till now, the collection work on these Ocean Animals Stories is ongoing, and the government of Wenzhou continues to try to promote these stories through various activities, like the storytelling and comic competition they held in 2012.
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