From Ancient Zhiguai Tales to Contemporary Animation: A Study of Visual Rhetoric in ‘Yao-Chinese Folktales’ (2023)

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review


This study delves into the use of visual rhetorical strategies in 中国奇谭 Zhongguo Qitan ‘Yao-Chinese Folktales’ (2023), particularly focusing on 鹅鹅鹅 E E E ‘Goose Mountain’ (henceforth ‘Goose’) directed by Hu Rui. We assert that ‘Goose’ transcodes and reinterprets the ancient Chinese zhiguai novella 阳羡书生 Yangxian Shusheng ‘The Scholar from Yangxian’ (henceforth ‘Scholar’) for a contemporary audience through the use of visual rhetoric, leading to a compelling contemporary rendition of this tale. As a silent animation, ‘Goose’ does so by adeptly incorporating visual depictions, especially animal-related imagery and ink painting aesthetics, drawn from the broader traditional zhiguai myths, or tales of the strange and traditional Chinese culture. The core argument hinges on visual rhetoric’s transformative potential. In ‘Goose’, the connection between tradition and contemporaneity is established through metaphor and metonymy. Initially a literary figure of speech, metaphor and metonymy now encompasses ‘visual rhetoric’, widely applied in interpreting visual arts. Visual rhetoric often employs various elements such as colour, shape, size, objects, composition and texture to convey information. This study highlights the role played by the inseparable link between traditional zhiguai narratives, the minzu/national style, and the contemporary animation technology in ‘Goose’, a transformative role that revitalizes ancient traditions to resonate with today’s viewership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-75
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024


  • Minzu/national style
  • Zhiguai (tales of the strange)
  • contemporary Chinese animation
  • supernatural
  • traditional Chinese culture
  • visual rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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