The White Ravens Database

Presented by   Internationale Jugendbibliothek / International Youth Library

Japanese / Japan

Inu ni natta ōji. Chibetto no minwa

(The prince who became a dog. A Tibetan folk legend)

Kimishima, Hisako (text)
Gotō, Jin (illus.)
Tōkyō: Iwanami shoten, 2013. – [48] p.
ISBN 978-4-00-111242-9

Tibet  | Barley  | Origin myth

Reading age: 6+

White Ravens issue: 2014


This is the story of a kingdom where the people initially nourished themselves on milk and meat alone. Their goodwilled prince embarks on a perilous journey to request barley seeds from a mountain god. That god does not possess the grain, though. The snake demon does, and he transforms the prince into a dog. On the journey home and with the love of a girl, the transformed prince succeeds in sowing seeds everywhere. Since that time, barley is a basic food of Tibetans. Jin Gotō, an artist of Japanese painting (Nihonga), illustrated this legend after a journey through Tibet. The story’s characters act in colourful garb against an unobtrusive landscape. The protagonists, finely contoured and holding graceful postures, are painted in the manner of the Bijinga (pictures of beautiful women in Japanese art). The aesthetic and quite dramatic illustrations bring to life the folk story as narrated by Hisako Kimishima, a renowned expert on Chinese folk literature.