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  • I once asked my mum about our family history.

    I'm the youngest, and the most educated in the family. So I reasonably thought, the oral history of my family would be on my shoulders.

    It was actually very confusing to record as mum's stories involved characters of Pig, Cow, Dog for men, also some Lotus, Flower, Leaves, Phoenix for women.

    While girls were given elegant names, in the old days, boys were given nicknames (literally, Milk Names) such as pig, cow, dog, bird, wood. These referred to cheap objects or animals not worthy of attention.

    To call a boy a pig or a cow, it would avoid potential jealousy or wrath from the Heaven. The Heaven would be fooled. The Heaven would not be interested in cheap animals, so the boys could survive, as cheap, uncared for animals would in harsh conditions, and the boys' lives would be spared.

    Image via Flickr by thornypup:
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