Beauty and Pock Face

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Beauty and Pock Face is a Chinese fairy tale collected by Wolfram Eberhard in Chinese Fairy Tales and Folk Tales.[1]

It is classified as Cinderella, Aarne-Thompson type 510A, the persecuted heroine; others of this type include The Sharp Grey Sheep; The Golden Slipper; The Story of Tam and Cam; Rushen Coatie; The Wonderful Birch; Fair, Brown and Trembling and Katie Woodencloak.[2] Indeed, it is sometimes titled Cinderella in English translation.[3]

Synopsis[edit]

Once upon a time, a man married two wives, and each bore a baby girl. The child of the first wife was beautiful and was called Beauty, but her younger sister, born a year after her, the child of the second wife, had a pocked face and was called Pock Face. The wicked stepmother was jealous of her stepdaughter's loveliness so she abused Beauty and made her do all of the dirty tasks in the house. Beauty's mother, who died of childbirth, returned in the shape of a yellow cow. The yellow cow did all of the work for her, but the stepmother found out and had the cow killed. Beauty collected the bones and put them in a pot.

One day, there was a festival in town. Her stepmother clothed Pock Face nicely, but refused to take the poor Beauty along with her. Beauty broke everything in house, even the pot, and when she did that a horse, a dress, and a lovely pair of shoes came out. She put on the clothing and rode the horse, and off she went to the festival.

She lost one of her lovely shoes in a ditch, and asked three men to get the shoe. Each one agreed if she would marry him. She refused a fishmonger for smelling of fish, a rich merchant for being covered with dust, and an oil trader for being greasy. But she consented with a wealthy scholar, for he was neither smelly, dusty nor greasy, but just right.

Three days after the wedding, Beauty went to pay her respects to her parents. Pock Face lured her near a well, pushed her in, and then sent word to the scholar that Beauty had caught small pox. After a time, she went herself and explained her looks by the illness. Beauty, however, shapeshifted into a sparrow and came to taunt Pock Face while she was combing her hair; Pock Face taunted her back. The scholar heard Beauty and asked her to fly into a golden cage if she were his wife; she duly came. Pock Face then killed the sparrow and buried it. Bamboo shot up on the grave. The shoots tasted delicious to the scholar but gave Pock Face ulcers on her tongue. Pock Face cut the bamboo down and had a bed made from it, but though the scholar found it comfortable, it poked Pock Face with needles, so she threw it out. An old woman took it home. The old woman found that dinner was cooked for her whenever she came home. In time, she caught Beauty's spirit at work. Beauty then had the old woman give her some magical ingredients: a bowl for her stomach, some chopsticks for her bones, and some juice for her blood. Beauty thus, became flesh and blood again.

Beauty gave the old woman a bag to sell by her husband's mansion. When she did so, the scholar questioned Beauty and brought her back home. Pock Face proposed tests to determine who was the genuine wife. First they walked on eggs; Beauty did not break any, and Pock Face broke them all, but she would not admit it. Then they climbed a ladder of knives; Beauty did not cut her feet, and Pock Face did, but she would not admit it. Finally, they jumped into boiling oil; Beauty emerged alive, but Pock Face died. Beauty sent her body back to her stepmother, but her stepmother thought it was carp. When she saw it was her daughter, she fell down dead.

Motifs[edit]

The series of transformations can not be found in other fairy tales, such as A String of Pearls Twined with Golden Flowers and The Boys with the Golden Stars; Sweetheart Roland includes fewer transformations, but also has the heroine appearing secretly to do housework for a benefactor.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Angela Carter, The Old Wives' Fairy Tale Book, p 200, Pantheon Books, New York, 1990 ISBN 0-679-74037-6
  2. ^ Heidi Anne Heiner, "Tales Similar to Cinderella"
  3. ^ Wolfram Eberhard, p 235 Folktales of China. Desmond Parsons, translator. Folktales of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.