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A Historical Taxonomy of Parrots in Chinese Literature: From Mi Heng's Rhapsody on the Parrot to Prime Minister Parrot
Starting from Mi Heng’s Rhapsody on the Parrot this colorful and eloquent bird has been prominently present in Chinese literature, not only in various genres of poetry but also in anecdotes and tales, precious scrolls and other forms of prosimetric storytelling. From a very early daate Chinese parrot lore was enriched by parrot tales that reached China from South Asia in Buddhist contexts. While some South-Asian themes were quickly incorporated into Chinese elite literature, other themes only reappeared after centuries in popular genres. Among Chinese animal tales parrot tales stand out because these birds can engage in dialogue with human beings without needing to take on a human shape. In these tales their intelligence makes them not only receptive to morality and religion, but also allows them to become effective preachers, versatile entertainers, and effective statesmen.

Wilt L. Idema (Ph.D. Leiden University 1974) taught Chinese literature at Leiden (1970-1999) and Harvard (1999-2013).


Feb 16, 2023 10:00 AM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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