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he story of Hua (Fa) Mulan comes from a ballad written between 5th and 6th century A.D..  When Mulan's ailing father was called into the army, Mulan decides to disguise herself as a man and serve in the place of her father.  Details of her military exploits are sketchy in the poem, but apparently she must be quite sucessful.  At the end of the war, the emperor offered Mulan a minister's post, which she declined in favor of a steed to take her swiftly home.  Later, she surprises her comrades by reappearing in her feminine clothing.
     Much has been speculated about whether Mulan was an actual person. There is no consensus on the era in which she lived, her birthplace, or even her name.  Depending on the source, her surname could have been "Wei," "Zhu", or "Hua."  She was likely from the Central Plains, though as many as three provinces - Gansu, Hebei, and Henan - are cited as her home (all three provinces are in the nothern half of China.  But whereas Hebei and Henan may catch a breeze from China's Pacific coast, Gansu has a more central locale). As to the period in which she lived, the Sui Dynasty (589 - 618 A.D.) and the T'ang Dynasty (618 - 906 A.D.) seem to be the favored choices.

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Qick click, and click click click,
by the doorway Mulan weaves.
When all at once the shuttles cease,
A sigh is heard with solemn grief.

"O my daughter who is on your mind?
O my daugher who is in your heart?"
"I have no one on my mind,
I have no one in my heart."

But last night I read the battle roll,
A roll consisting of twelve scrolls.
The Khan is drafting an army of awe,
My father's name on each beadroll.

Alas Father has no grown son,
Alas Mulan has no elder brother.
But I will buy a saddle and a horse,
And join the army in place of Father.

In the East Market she buys a steed,
From the West Market she buys a saddle,
From the South Market she buys a briddle,
In the North Market she buys a long whip.

At dawn she bids her family farewell,
At dusk she camps by the Yellow River.

She no longer hears her parents calling,
Upon her pillow the waters whisper.
At dawn she departs the Yellow River,
At dusk she arrives at Black Mountain.

She no longer hears hear parents calling,
But Tartar horses wailing from Yen Mountain.
She gallops ten thousand miles,
For the war she has to honour.
She crosses lotty hills,
Like an eagle soaring over.

From northern gusts, through biting chills,
Echoes the watchman's clapper.
With wintry glow of icy hue,
Light glimmmers on her armour.

Generals die in a hundred battles,
Our warrior's back, how ten years fly.

Upon her return she is summoned to see
the Emperor,
In the Hall of Light,
she recieves the highest honor.
She is awarded a promotion to top rank.
The Emperor bestows hundreds of thousands
in prizes.

"Mulan has no use for a Minister's post,
Mulan has no other extravagnt want.
I wish to borrow a swift-footed mount,
To take me back to my home."

When Father and Mother hear she's coming,
They watch by the gate, bracing each other.
When Elder Sister hears she's coming,
She runs to her room and dabs on rouge powder.
When Little Brother hears she's comming,
He whets his knife, flashing like a light,
And prepares pig and sheel for dinner.

"O let me push open the door to East Chamber,
O let me sit on my bed in West Recess.
So switty comes off the warrior's vesture,
And siliently I put on my old-time dress.

Beside the window I dress up my hair,
in front of a mirror, I rouge my face.
And when I walk out to meet my compeers,
They are perplexed and amazed.
"For twelve years,
we fought as comrades-in-arms,
The Mulan we knew was not a lady of charm."

They say to choose a hare,
you pick them up by the ears.
There are telling sign to compare:
While females stare with bleary eyes,
But if both are set to the ground,
And left to bounce in a flee,
Who will be so wise as to observe,
That the hare is a he or she?