CTHD: What kind of barbarian was Lo?

Saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon for the second time. This time I wondered what ethnic group the barbarian bandito “Lo” was supposed to belong to. It’s probably stated outright in the original novel by Wang Dulu, Wo Hu Cang Long, but the book hasn’t been translated into English. Anybody read it in Chinese?

In the film’s dialogue, Lo makes it plain that he’s different from the Han Chinese. I caught hints that he might be some sort of Turkic rather than Mongol. The desert badlands sequence was filmed in Xinjiang, the land of the Turkic Uyghurs, in the Taklimakan Desert (but some of it was also filmed in Inner Mongolia’s Gobi Desert). When Lo sings to Jen as she bathes, the lyrics sounded un-Chinese. Can any Chinese speakers confirm this? I thought I heard the word guzel, which is Turkish for ‘beautiful’, which would be appropriate considering he’s singing to Jen.

I had thought he was supposed to be a Mongol, but now that I think of it, I can’t think why I thought that. Where was Jen’s family going when they were attacked?

Sorry I’ve got no information, but here’s a bump.

Thanks for the bump! :slight_smile:

Another possibility is the Salar ethnic group that inhabits Gansu province. They are also Turkic and closely related to the Uyghurs. But since the scenes were obviously filmed in Xinjiang, most likely that’s meant to imply that he’s Uyghur.

IINM (if I’m not mistaken), the caravan was taking Jen’s family from Xinjiang to Beijing.

There is a modern Map of China on this page (http://sipa.columbia.edu/ICRP/map-china.html) and Beijing looks “close” to the Mongolian boarder. I can’t find a legend to tell me how far it really is.
There’s an 1801CE (was that when the movie was supposed to be? Or was it 1900?, obviously I need to go see it again. :slight_smile: ) map, http://usm.maine.edu/maps/exhibit7/69.jpg but my screen is not good enough to really make anything out of it.
There is an Ethnographic Map (1873) (http://usm.maine.edu/maps/exhibit7/55.jpg) with some visible text. Looks like the person who made it believed the Mongols were much further south than the current boarders.

xtal, take a closer look at that “ethnographic” map. It shows “Mongolians” all through China and into Southeast Asia. But look farther west. It shows “Germanics” extending from Europe all the way through Iran and India. Clearly they are not showing nationalities but “races” as defined in the 19th century. (Apparently they thought “Germanic” was synonymous with “Indo-European.”) Note their smug assertion in the text that the “Mongolian” race is “inferior” to the white race. WTF? Damn, the blatant arrogance of their racism makes me angry.

Maybe because in the final flashback scene, just before Jen goes back to her family, we see Jen and Lo in a verdant valley, standing in front of a yurt?

BTW, when Lo tried to break up the wedding, wasn’t he calling to Jen to come back with him to Xinjiang?

Good call, Zarathustra–the yurt scene. That’s the detail I was trying to remember.

Actually, the yurt as a structure is Turkic as much as Mongol. In fact, the word yurt itself is not Mongolian; it means ‘home’ in Turkish. (The Mongolian word for it is ger).

The Uyghurs are sedentary, agricultural oasis dwellers with a long history of civilization behind them. But the Kazaks are a yurt-dwelling, nomadic Turkic people who are at home in the wild uplands. There are Kazaks in Xinjiang (and Mongolia) as well as Kazakstan. The word kazak or qazaq in Turkish means ‘a wild, free horseman who is not ruled by anyone and does what he pleases’.

Lo’s yurt and lifestyle are characteristic of the Kazaks rather than Uyghurs. And you’re right, he does mention Xinjiang.