38 Mulan – 木蘭 (Mùlán)

Nathan Abarca

simplified Chinese: 木兰; pinyin: Mùlán


Mulan is a mythical person based on a story that was produced in the fourth or fifth century A.D that tells of a Chinese woman who was being drafted to fight a war because her family did not have a son who can take her father’s place instead, so Mulan decided to disguises herself to look like a male to serve in her father’s place in the ancient Chinese army to avoid having her father to fight in the war. After Mulan fought 12 years of the war against the Rourans, Mulan was honored and was given a position to become one of the top government officials of the state department due to her service in the ancient Chinese military, but she rejected the offer because she desired to return to her home. Mulan’s full name in the mythical story is Hua Mulan. The meaning of the name of Mulan is “magnolia,” and the meaning of Hua means “flower,” thus, “Magnolia Flower.” Also, the Chinese symbols of Hua Mulan’s name in simplified Chinese is 花木兰 and in traditional Chinese is 花木蘭. The pinyin of Hua Mulan is Huā mùlán. The cultural phenomenon of Mulan was her bravery especially in the myth of Mulan tells that she was confronting danger by fighting in the rigors of war for 12 years and perform brave acts that she has gained the admiration from her military officers, as well from the Chinese emperor that made the myth of Mulan more unique than other myths about women being heroic because ancient China along with other ancient civilizations and cultures did not spread myths of women being heroic very often. In the following centuries in after the myth of Mulan was produced, Mulan’s cultural phenomenon of bravery was being share with the ancient Chinese army because when the Tang Dynasty was founded in the sixth century, the founder was using the myth of Mulan to enhanced the morality of the Chinese soldiers to be motivated to gain success while fighting against their enemies. In the seventeenth century, the myth of Mulan has another cultural phenomenon was changing the story from the original myth of Mulan because the novel called “Sui-Tang Romance” tells that Mulan who was being forced to become the Khan’s concubine, but she committed suicide instead of being the Khan’s concubine as brave act of sole loyalty to her father and resistance against the Khan. What extended more of Mulan’s cultural phenomenon of her bravery to serve in the military in the twentieth century was that the Chinese created the film “Mulan Joins the Army” to serve as nationalism motivation widespread in China to encourage the Chinese to enlist in the Chinese military to liberate themselves from the Japanese occupation in China because film showed the story of the myth of Mulan and that she has gained fame through her military services, which has encouraged the Chinese to join the military to gain fame as well.


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Naudus, Philip. “Mulan Joins the Army (木蘭從軍, 1939)”. “MULANBOOK”. https://mulanbook.com/pages/post-imperial/mulan-joins-the-army-1939-film. Accessed 12 March 2023.

Naudus, Philip. “Romance of Sui and Tang by Chu Renhuo (隋唐演義, 1695)”. “MULANBOOK”. https://mulanbook.com/pages/qing/romance-of-sui-and-tang . Accessed 12 March 2023.

WORLD HISTORY EDU. “Hua Mulan: The Legendary Chinese Heroine”. “WORLD HISTORY EDU”. updated 14 Nov. 2022. https://www.worldhistoryedu.com/hua-mulan-chinese-heroine/. Accessed 11 March 2023.

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Mulan - 木蘭 (Mùlán) Copyright © 2023 by Nathan Abarca is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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