Gouyu: The Tale of a Clever Myna Bird and Its Owner’s Journey

Discover the fascinating story of Gouyu, a clever myna bird, and its owner's remarkable journey through Chinese folklore.

Wang Fenbin once told a story: In his hometown, there was a man who raised a myna bird. He taught the myna bird to speak, and it learned exceptionally well. Their relationship was very close, and the owner would always take the myna bird with him whenever he went on trips. They lived this way for many years.

One day, while passing through Jiangzhou in Shanxi, far away from their hometown, the owner ran out of money. He became worried and helpless. The myna bird said, “Why don’t you sell me? Take me to the Wang’s Mansion, and you’ll surely get a good price for me. Then, you won’t have to worry about not having enough money to go back home.” The owner replied, “How can I bear to sell you?” The myna bird said, “It’s okay. Once you get the money, leave quickly and wait for me under the big tree twenty miles west of the city.”

The owner followed the myna bird’s advice. He brought the myna bird to the city and, in front of a crowd, engaged in a question-and-answer session with the bird. As more and more people gathered to watch the spectacle, a eunuch serving in the Wang’s Mansion noticed and reported to the lord. The lord summoned the myna bird and its owner to the mansion, expressing interest in buying the myna bird. The owner said, “I and this bird have been inseparable. I can’t bear to sell it.” So, the lord asked the myna bird, “Do you want to stay here?” The myna bird replied, “I’m willing to stay.” The lord was delighted. The myna bird added, “Give him ten taels of silver, no more.” The lord, even more thrilled, immediately gave the myna bird’s owner ten taels of silver. The owner pretended to be very disappointed and left in a huff.

The lord conversed with the myna bird, and it responded quickly and cleverly. The lord had meat fed to it. After eating, the myna bird said, “I want to take a bath.” The lord ordered his attendants to fill a golden basin with water, opened the cage, and let the myna bird bathe in the basin. After its bath, the myna bird flew to the roof, used its beak to groom its feathers on the wings, shook its entire body, and kept chatting with the lord incessantly. After a while, when its feathers had dried, the myna bird gracefully took flight and, in the local Shanxi dialect, said, “I bid farewell!” In the blink of an eye, the myna bird disappeared without a trace.

The lord and the eunuchs looked up and sighed. They immediately sent people to search for the myna bird’s owner, but in the end, they couldn’t find a single trace of him. Later, someone from Shaanxi saw the man with the myna bird in the bustling market of Xi’an. This story was recorded by Mr. Bi Zaiji.



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