Northern Wei (386–534 AD)

The Ballad of Mulan

The oldest known version of Mulan’s story, which inspired countless retellings for centuries to come.

Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD)

The Legend of Mulan During the Tang Dynasty

As the status of women began to rise during the Tang Dynasty, an influx of female protagonists appeared in literature. Mulan was one of the heroines emphasized during this time.

Song of Mulan by Wei Yuanfu (c. 750 AD)

As one of the first retellings of Mulan’s story, the Song introduces some key elements which became intrinsic to the legend’s development.

Mulan Temple by Du Mu (c. 830 AD)

A short but vivid poem that describes Mulan’s inner struggle. Will she be true to her inner feminine nature or lose herself and become a hardened warrior?

Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368 AD)

A Memorial to the Filial General (1332 AD)

A memorial to Mulan, which was discovered next to the remains of a temple on Mulan Mountain, claims to tell Mulan’s true story.

Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 AD)

The Legend of Mulan During the Ming Dynasty

As the Ming Dynasty witnessed a decline in intellectualism and a rise in entertainment, Mulan’s story ceased being a tale of virtue and, instead, focused on humor.

Mulan Joins the Army by Xu Wei (c. 1580 AD)

This famous play is often credited with bringing the legend of Mulan into the public spotlight.

Women Generals by Zhu Guozhen (c. 1625 AD)

While addressing the topic of female soldiers, an early historian reconstructed what he believed to be Mulan’s true story.

Qing Dynasty (1644–1912)

The Legend of Mulan During the Qing Dynasty

During a time when the Chinese endured significant oppression, the legend of Mulan experienced a surge in popularity, as the people longed for such a hero.

Romance of Sui and Tang by Chu Renhuo (1695)

This famous historical fiction novel contains a subplot in which Mulan makes an unlikely friend when she is captured by a benevolent princess.

Biography of Extraordinary Mulan (c. 1800)

This novel tells the story of how Mulan's grandfather passed down the wisdom Mulan needed to become skilled in martial arts.

Fierce and Filial by Zhang Shaoxian (1850)

This novel, which unites many of the previous renditions of Mulan’s story into a single volume, emphasizes that Mulan’s brilliance and courage stemmed from her virtue.

Mulan Joins the Army (1903)

When Mulan’s cousin, Mushu, refuses to take his adopted father’s place in battle, Mulan joins the army in Mushu’s stead to fight against the Xiongnu.

Post-Imperial China (1912–Present)

The Legend of Mulan During Post-Imperial China

After the fall of Imperial China, and especially after Mulan’s story traveled to the West, the legend underwent significant alterations as numerous causes from various cultures all began to herald Mulan as their guiding hero.

Mulan Joins the Army (1939)

In addition to being the first retelling to introduce romance into Mulan’s story, this classic film helped make the story more relatable.

Lady General Hua Mu-Lan (1964)

This retelling of Mulan’s story focuses on unity. By themselves, Mulan, Ping, and Li Guang each make small contributions. Together, they achieve something great.

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston (1976)

This novel included the first rendition of Mulan’s story that achieved widespread attention in the English-speaking world.

Disney’s Mulan (1998)

This film is primarily responsible for making the story of Mulan reach legendary status in the West.

Mulan: Rise of a Warrior (2009)

After Disney’s Mulan began receiving significant attention, the Chinese people desired to see this legend retold from a modern Chinese perspective.

Disney’s live-action Mulan (2020)

This film, which is yet to be released, will be an American adaptation of Mulan’s story that draws much inspiration from previous Chinese retellings of the legend.