The Saint Euplus Miracle in China: The Local Version of a Motif Complex


  • Aglaia Starostina Institute of Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences


migration of plots, Chinese folklore, Tang literature, cross-cultural study, Taiping Guangji


A Eurasian motif complex built around the illusion of a flood was described by Artёm Koz’min in 2011 under the preliminary name of the Saint Euplus Miracle. Subsequently, this discovery proved to be productive in the understanding of the development of some Chinese plots including the image of a magic paintbrush. This article deals with a combination of the magic paintbrush image and the borrowed motif complex centred around water that apears miraculously, or the illusion of it, in Chinese tradition. The image of a magic brush has been widespread in the literature and folklore of China for centuries, although this combination, which underlies the famous tale Ma Liang and his Magic Brush, remains unnoticed. The aim of the article is to describe the Chinese version of the Saint Euplus Miracle and to point out its characteristic features.In all the Chinese examples analysed, the role of the magic helper was prominent, while in the non-Chinese cases the helper was generally absent. Another feature specific to the Chinese cases was the helper giving the hero a magic object for use in drawing.


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