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A Visit to Mulan's Hometown
Materials are provided by "Travel China weekly newspaper"
Text by Zhang Yibing

Disney Company spent US$60 million and produced a cartoon feature named Mulan. Based on the story of a heroic Chinese woman of 1,300 years ago by the name of Hua Mulan, who disguised herself as a man and took her father's place to join the army, the cartoon feature soon aroused a fever in the US to visit Mulan's hometown.

Where's the hometown of Mulan? It's in Henan Province.
During the Sui Dynasty some 1,300 years ago a woman named Hua Mulan who disguised herself as a man, took her father's place to enlist in the army and again on battlefields. Her story was later widely spread among the people in forms of epic, opera and folk tale. So legendary was this ancient heroine that Disney has recently made a huge investment to produce its first Chinese-theme cartoon feature, Mulan, based on the story of this heroic woman.

A series of questions have been raised by the audience since the cartoon feature came out--Was there in deed such a person in Chinese history? Where is her hometown and what does it look like today?

To answer the questions, this reporter made a visit to Yucheng County, Shangqiu Prefecture, in eastern Henan Province. The hometown of Hua Mulan is located 30 kilomters south of the county seat. It is an ordinary small village on the central plain of China. At the entrance of the village sits a courtyard with a hall at the center. The inscription above the door reads, "Temple of the filial and heroic general." In the hall a statue of a pretty and graceful young woman stands in the middle while on the altar in front of the statue are burning incense sticks and various offerings by pilgrims. Out side of the hall there are two stone tablets erected during the Yuan and Qing dynasties respectively. The inscriptions on the tablets record Mulan's life story, her heroic merits and details about renovations of the temple, which provide important evidence for contemporary research.

According to local folks, during the Sui Dynasty (581-618)there was a man by the name of Wei living in Weizhuang. One day he brought home a lily magnolia tree from the nearby mountains and planted it in front of his house. Ten years later just when the tree began to put forth its blossoms his wife gave birth to a girl. Lily magnolia (Mulan in Chinese) then became the name of the new-born baby. Later when the imperial court was recruiting soldiers to fight against invading enemies, Wei was put on the list. Seeing her father worn with age and her brother still young, Mulan made up her mind to take her father's place. She disguised herself as a man and fought bravely and established unusual merits repeatedly during the 12 years of service. When she finally returned after defeating the enemies, Mulan refused the high post offered by the emperor so much that he had her detained at the court. To express her strong protest, she hung herself.
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