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A fondness for folklore

A fondness for folklore

Updated: 2012-04-06 07:40

By He Na and Han Junhong in Changchun (China Daily)

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While collecting folklore in Northeast China, Cao Bao-ming has nearly drowned in a river, been bitten by snakes, lost in the mountains, poisoned by carbon monoxide and robbed.

He's even been thrown out of people's homes.

Cao, 63, has spent the past 40 years trotting through almost every corner of Northeast China to record folklore before it is lost.

"In many people's minds, Northeast China is a place without culture, but to me that's totally not true," the scholar told China Daily in his study, where notebooks are stacked up on a bookshelf that reaches the ceiling.

Inside the books are years worth of handwritten notes from his field trips, ranging from the work songs of loggers in the Changbai Mountains to tales of traditional ice fishermen in Chagan Lake.

"I'm not good at computers, so all of my original manuscripts and notes of interviews are written in pen," explained the tall and burly scholar in his strong northeast accent.

Cao cherishes one particular water-stained notebook most, as it almost cost him his life.

It was in the spring of 1994, when Cao was collecting forest workers' songs in the Changbai Mountain area. To record the original life of these workers, Cao spent a few days living, eating and working with them.

 A fondness for folklore

Folklore collector Cao Baoming stands beside a farmer who continues his family's century-old tradition of training eagles near the Changbai Mountains in Jilin province. Provided to China Daily

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