Volume 16, Issue 2, 2019
Conceptual History: China, Asia, and the Global
Between Animal and Human
The Evolving “Mouse” in Successive Versions of Fifteen Strings of Cash
This paper focuses on the change of the image of “mouse” which was transformed from the legend of Fifteen Strings of Cash to the other versions. The legend of Fifteen Strings of Cash, written by Zhu Suchen, was a story of the vindication of defendants in a court case and formed the basis for a series adaptations. The legend of Fifteen Strings of Cash provided a frame of imagination about the image of a “mouse”. Meanwhile, the adaptation of the legend in folk opera provided a more ethical narrative than the original. The folk versions not only strengthened the “evil” of the “mouse”, but also heightened the suffering of innocent scholars. In the contemporary versions after 1949, the “mouse” as an animal disappeared in the story, and Lou Ashu (“shu” means “mouse” in Chinese) became a pure villain in this play, which also symbolized “evil” and pointed to the feudal and backward old society.