Chinese Folklore Scholars Visit Historical Chillicothe

August 5, 2015
visiting scholars

On July 29, 2015 DEALL chair Mark Bender escorted a group of four visiting scholars from China on a tour of historical sites in Chillicothe, Ohio.  Zhang Yingying, Linli Chen, and Xiangzhen Li are visiting scholars in DEALL working on PhD level Chinese folklore projects. Jack Wang, who specializes in the translation of Chinese folk literature, was invited by the OSU Center for Folklore Studies and works with Prof. Bender.  Sites visited included the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and Adena Mansion and Gardens.  The earthworks site, which includes an interpretive center, is part of a much larger assemblage of earthen mounds built nearly 2,000 years ago by Native American groups in Ohio.  The visitors discussed some of the similarities between these mounds and mound cultures in ancient China. On a walk along the Scioto River they examined wild medicinal plants, buckeyes on the tree, and pawpaws. The Adena farm, which dates to 1806, was the home of an early Ohio pioneer and sixth governor, Thomas Worthington. The visitors, which included Jack Wang’s wife and daughter, toured the large stone mansion, barn, tenant farmer lodgings, and spring house. Before the visit the scholars had read an article about the Shawnee chief Tecumseh who forged alliances with numerous tribes and the British during the War of 1812 in an attempt to recover lands in Ohio and the Old Northwest.  A highpoint in the site visit was observing a tomahawk that presented to Worthington by Tecumseh during a visit to the plantation.  The scholars were also very interested in the many examples of 19th century Chinese import ceramics and the reed mat floor coverings which decorated the house in a “Chinese” theme nearly 200 years ago. The visit to Adena Mansion also included a picnic of homemade food prepared by the visiting scholars.  After a short drive through old Chillicothe, the group returned home to Columbus with a better understanding of the historical foundations of Ohio and its local folklore.