I’m in the middle of writing a post about the first couple of episodes of “The Story of Mulan” (also known as The Legend of Mulan / Hua Mu Lan Chuan Qi / 花木兰传奇 / the Dylan Kuo version) and it occurred to me it would be a lot easier if I start translating the episodic summaries found on Baidu Baike (aka Chinese Wikipedia) so I can get the names / places / terms at least in a consistent manner. Since I’m pretty unfamiliar with Chinese history and the historical figures mentioned, I had to
research Google/Wikipedia on A LOT of things. I hope *most* of them are correct, if you spot any errors – let me know!
Note: I have thought about whether Mulan is a seamstress, weaver or embroiderer. (omg what a mouthful) Ultimately I decided on using the term ’embroidery’ – it’s just my opinion. They’re using silk threads to stitch patterns on silk cloth? So it could also be called stitching?
Yes that means I strangely like this drama at the moment – my judgement has *not* been (completely) clouded by my fangirl ways though, I think. But I’m pretty much a blank page in terms of Mulan stories / ancient dramas in general (now counting the ones I’ve watched I know it’s all because my bias are in them, HA) Although I just hope at 48 (!!!! who said it was 30 before??) episodes, it doesn’t drag later on.
Please credit if reposting elsewhere! Common sense, no?
423AD, Tuoba Tao – Prince of the Northern Wei Dynasty is at war with Da Tan, the leader from Rouran.
As Tuoba Tao was winning convincingly, he received news of his father’s death. To prevent civil war, Tuoba Tao signed a peace treaty with Da Tan, with the condition that six months later, the Princess from Northern Wei Dynasty will marry a Rouran prince. She will bring with her an embroidered picture as her dowry.
At Wu Feng Gu (aka Five Winds Valley), Hua Mulan’s father has been conscripted to war. Mulan is very worried for her father. Their neighbour Zhu Zi had nine members in his family, seven of them had already sacrificed themselves for their country. Their family only has Zhu Zi and their blind grandmother left.
When news of the King’s (Tuoba Tao’s father) death spreads, someone has smuggled an embroidery of the Xin Yi flower amongst the silk bought for the Ruoran royalty. This embroidery was discovered by the chief minister/advisor for Ruoran, Jin Can Zi. He is extremely alarmed. Many years ago, because of the Xin Yi flower he experienced a deep and unforgettable love. And because of the Xin Yi flower, a shocking murder had occurred inside the Northern Wei’s palaces. From then on, the Xin Yi flower had become taboo in Northern Wei. Jin Can Zi believes if Ruoran is to fight against Northern Wei again, the owner of the Xin Yi flower will become very useful.
The second prince of Ruoran, Duo Lun disguises himself as a horse trader from Gaoche and appears in Five Winds Valley. He is now “Mo Jiang” and his mission is to find the owner of the Xin Yi flower embroidery.
When news of Northern Wei and Ruoran’s truce by marriage spreads, Mulan is overjoyed that her father does not have to be in the army anymore.
General Xie Qi Chen declares that Five Winds Valley will be responsible for the making of the “Marriage Truce Embroidery”, and its maker will be entitled with “The World’s Best Embroiderer”. The titleholder’s father and brothers will never have to be conscripted, so Mulan decides to try for the title.
Knowing that Five Winds Valley will be responsible for the “Marriage Truce Embroidery”, Mo Jiang is very concerned. He knows that if he can find a chance to disrupt its making, a war will break out. With a new King in its helm Ruoran has a good chance of winning.
Mo Jiang gifts his highly valued white horse to General Xie, putting him in favour of the man who is supervising the making of the “Marriage Truce Embroidery”.
At the suggestion of a highly respected elder in Five Winds Valley (Ba Bei Can / Grandfather Ba / The Eighth Grandfather), General Xie created a competition to pick the best embroiderer. The four best embroidery houses in Five Winds Valley all had representatives in the final round, including Mulan from Hua Er Jin, Fu Ling from Jin Xiu Mountain Villa, Zi Su from Huan Hua Garden and Chun Chou from Luo Shen Villa.
In the arena, Mulan has been leading from the start and looked to be the winner…
In the last round when Mulan displays her completed embroidery of a Paeonia, she was shocked to discover it had been switched to a Xin Yi flower. Everyone is surprised and General Xie immediately ordered guards to take Mulan to prison. The Xin Yi flower reappears after a 15 year absence, General Xie is reacting like he just met his archenemy.
Mo Jiang however, is excited by this revelation. He concludes that Mulan holds the clues to the owner of the Xin Yi flower embroidery that Ruoran received.
Mulan protests that she is innocent and all of the embroidery houses in Five Winds Valley, headed by The Eighth Grandfather are willing to guarantee that she is not guilty of this crime. But this is a serious incident, General Xie can only do one thing, sentence Mulan to death!
At noon, Mulan is about to be executed when a senior minister of Northern Wei, Cui Hao arrives with the King’s decree. Mulan is finally freed.
It was Ruoran minister Jin Can Zi’s plan, using the “Marriage Truce Embroidery” to put Northern Wei in a difficult situation. To keep the peace, the new King Tuoba Tao abolishes the ban on the Xin Yi flower. Mulan escaped death in the nick of time.
Raoran minister Jin Can Zi personally designed the layout for the “Marriage Truce Embroidery” (aka A hundred flowers contend for beauty) and his plans are delivered to Five Winds Valley. Everyone discovered that this embroidery will be extremely difficult and none of the embroidery houses can complete it on their own.
The Eighth Grandfather suggests the embroidery should be split into the four seasons, with each house responsible for one season and Jin Xiu Mountain Villa’s Si Niang (aka Silk Lady) as the overall supervisor. Mulan’s mother Jia Yun has an old grudge with Si Niang so she does not want to work with her. However, after some words of wisdom from the blind grandmother and Zhu Zi, Mulan persuades her mother to put away the past for the country. Mulan’s father Hua Hu also supports his daughter. As the silk dyer he will also do his best to colour the silks for their use.
To halt the making of the “Marriage Truce Embroidery”, Mo Jiang orders his subordinates to steal all the minerals used for yellow colouring from Mulan’s home. At the same time, his men will also buy all the minerals from the markets and transport them back to Ruoran. As this mineral is only available in Ruoran, it will be extremely difficult for anyone in Five Winds Valley to make yellow silk as they have cut off the supply.
As the yellow silk cannot be made, Si Niang suspects it’s part of Jia Yun’s plan to takeover the supervisor position. But Jia Yun suspects the missing yellow mineral and Mulan’s Xin Yi flower incident are part of a greater conspiracy to destroy the Hua family. And the biggest suspect is Jin Xiu Mountain Villa.
Hua Hu decides to use the Feng Lei rock to dye the silk, but using this rock causes great harm to the human body, even death. Jia Yun strongly objects. However, when Jia Yun went out, Hua Hu dyes the silk. Before the colouring can be complete, he has already been poisoned. After Mulan rescues her father, she disregards her own safety and enters the dye room to continue the colouring process. The yellow silk is finally complete, but Mulan is left unconscious.
With the help of Doctor Luo from Tian Xing Clinic, both father and daughter escaped death. Finally, Si Niang no longer doubts the Hua family’s sincerity so she invites them to Jin Xiu Mountain Villa to work on the “Marriage Truce Embroidery”.
Seeing that Mulan and her father are willing to sacrifice their lives for the “Marriage Truce Embroidery”, Mo Jiang questions his previous impressions of the Zhong Yuan people.
Finally, work on the “Marriage Truce Embroidery” begins. But Si Niang and Jia Yun clash again due to creative differences. Persuaded by Mulan, Jia Yun goes to apologise to Si Niang. They reminisced about childhood times and promised never to doubt each other again. But suddenly, Si Niang drops to the floor. She is dead.
Jia Yun tries to explain she is innocent but she is the prime suspect. She is taken to prison.