The Achang in the books


Wang Sidai and Cao Mingkun.- The Achangs, ancient balladeers. Yunnan jiaoyu chubanse (Yunnan Education Press). 1995. 35 pp

This book was published in 1995 as a commemoration of the Second International Conference on Women, celebrated in Beijing. It introduces the basic characteristics of Achang society, stressing the live of Achang women and their love for the music. It has 36 color pictures.

libp. 20: "The Huangge Temple fair takes place every year on January 9 of the traditional Chinese calendar. The local people call this festival "Huangge Temple bai" or "January 9 bai". The Huangge Temple is located on the gentle slope behind Languang Village at the head of the dam. Bai means all the fair activities: worshipping Buddha, receiving blessings, exchanging goods, singing and dancing, and sometimes even dating."

"On that day all the people from the surrounding areas... come to the fair. At six in the morning people gather to roast pork over an open fire and pitch tents to sell their wares... as soon as they arrive, the men will start to preparing the ingredients for rice-flour noodles... Most of the singers and dancers of the festival stage are women. In the temple, most of those burning incense and praying are women in their 60s and 70s. They worship both Buddhist icons and Chinese gods."

"The Huangge Temple encompasses both Buddhist and Taoist deities, with the Goddess of Earth and Bodhisattva most prominent, receiving the greatest amount of incense-burning. The women also offer green leaves, flowers, vegetables, polished glutinous rice and holy water to those deities, praying not only for their own aspirations and dreams, but for the happiness and peace of their husbands, children and families."

Anonymous.- Zhepama and Zhemima. In Zhang Yan "Ten Chinese Myths of the Creation" pp. 531-611. Henan Peoples Publishing. 1998

This is the most important myth of the Achang. The world was created, according to the Achang beliefs by a pair of big deities: Zhepama (masculine) and Zhemima (feminine). After the creation of the world, they created human beings. Later there were a flood, and a new creation of the world. Very interesting is the fight between Zhepama and the Devil of the Drought.

p. 533 "In the most remote antiquity
Heaven was not separated from earth
And the universe was not yet created
There was only a mass of airy Chaos
Where there was no boundary,
And no distinction
Between up and down
Light and dark
And black and white."

p. 534. "The integration of Yin and Yang
Produced Father Heaven Zhepama
And Mother Earth Zhemima."

p. 553. "Zhemima was born
At the same time as Zhepama
Zhemima was weaving earth
When Zhepama was creating heaven."

There is also some basic information in books published in China dealing with the 55 officially recognized minorities, as:

Hattaway, Paul.- Operation China. Piquant. 2000

This book have two chapters dealing with the Achang. One about the Achang properly (p. 20), and other about the Achang from Husa (p. 21).

Achang. p. 20. "In Myanmar the Achang, traditionally known as Mongsha, are culturally and historically linked to the Shan... the older generation of Achang exhibit many traits of polytheism and animism in their religious rituals and everyday lives. Most Achang homes have posters of deities painted on the walls."

Achang, Husa. p. 21. "Aproximately 6.000 Husa Achang live in the Husa District of Longchuan County in Yunnan Province... they claim to be descended from Chinese soldiers stationed in the region during the Ming Dynasty... They differ from Achang people elsewhere in their customs and religious beliefs.... The Achang in Husa speak a language distinct from other Achang people... They are said to descend from Achang women who married Chinese soldiers serving in the Ming army who were left behind to farm ang garrison this area... The military background of the Husa Achang is probablu the reason for their great skill in making knives, daggers and swords... Their religious practices are distinct from other Achang people... homes in Husa contain a memorial tablet of the Confucian type."

He Yuanzhi et alt.- The traditional Chinese Festivals and Tales. Chongqing Publishing House. 2005. pp 308-.311

Introduces one of their main festivals, Huijie Festival, where ceremonies are held to honour the White Elephant and the Green Dragon.

p. 308. Huijie Festival,... known as Aolu in the Achang language, last five days somewhere in the first ten-day period of the 9th lunar month... (309) to commemorate and thank the Bodhisattva who had saved the Achangs from untold miseries through magic arts."

p. 310. "The White Elephant Dance and the Green Dragon Dance, performed simultaneously, are two important items on the festive program, In performing them, all of a village stand in a ring around their white elephant image and green dragon image."

Lucien Miller. South of the Clouds: Tales of Yunnan. University of Washington Press.1994

In the pag. 235 there is an Achang Tale, "The girl with tufted eyebrows". As in the past any girl with tufted eyebrowns was regarded as a ghost fetus, the reincarnation of a ghost, considered to be someone who might eat people. But a corageous man fell in love with the girl with tufted eyebrowns and with the force of his love he puts an end to this taboo.

In the p. 266 a short introduction to the Achang.

Ma Yin. China's Minority Nationalities. Foreign Languages Press. Beijing. 1989. p. 308-312.

p. 308. "Achangs treasure their oral culture and ballads, stories and folk tales. Singing alternating duets is a avourite evening recreation of young men and women. Musical instruments used by Achangs include the bamboo qin (a stringed plucked instrument), the bamboo flute, the gourd-shaped sheng (a wind instrument), the sanxian (a three-stringed plucked instrument), the elephant-leg drum and the gong. Drum and monkey dances are among the most popular."

p. 309. "Achangs generally bury their dead. In Buddhist areas, funerals are scheduled on holy days and follow the chanting of scripture by monks. One monkleads the funeral procession. As he walks, he hold a long strand of white cloth tied to the coffin,as if he were guiding the dead into the "Heavenly Kingdom.The coffin is to be carried above the heads of the close relatives of the dead, figuratively providing a "bridge" to cross the river of the netherworld."

Olson, James S. - An Ethnohistorical Dictionary of China (Greenwood Press, 1998).

It has three pages (2-4) discussing the Achang and peoples with related languages.Nothing intersting enough to be quoted.

Song Liying. Indigenous Ethnic Groups in Yunnan. Yunnan University Press. Kunming. 2007.pp 269-281.

This book contains 34 short entries regarding different cultural and religious concepts related with the Achang.

p. 272. The "Woluo" Festival.
"The "Woluo" Festival, which falls on the third and fourth of the first lunar year, is the traditional new year for the Achangs in Lianghe County. During the festival, Achang people sing and dance (as calling "Woluo" dancing) to commemorate their first ancestors, the god of the sky and the goddess of the earth, for their ridding people of evils and bringing people benefits."

p. 273. The "Alu-Woluo" Festival.
"In 1993, People's Congress of Dehong Prefecture decided to integrate Achang people's Alu Festival in Longchuan County and "Woluo" Festival in Lianghe County into one estival called the "Alu-Woluo" Festival. It is celebrated on March 20-21 each year. The symbols of the festival are a green dragon, a white elephant and a bow and arrow. The ways of celebration are still of Longchuan and Lianghe styles.

Tan Leshan.- Achang. In Encyclopedy of World Cultures.

Brief but accurate introduction to the main features of the achang culture.

Ye Dabing.- The Bridal Boat. Marriage Customs of China Fifty Five Ethnic Minorities. New World Press. 1993, has a chapter dealing with the Marriage of the Achang, pp. 135-138.

p. 135. "Among the Achang, monogamous marriage is the rule. Though young people are free in matters of love before marriage, marriages are often arranged, thus giving rise to cases of bride stealing and elopment."

p. 137. "On arrival the bride is helped off her mount by a middle-aged woman who leads her around the fire pit three times and then into the bridal chamber to be dressed up for the ceremony. As she enters several young men brandish their swords behind her head to drive away evil."

Zhang Weiwen and Zeng Qingnan. In Search of China's Minorities. New World Press. Beijing. 1993. p. 213-216.

p. 213. "Some married women wear thirty-centimeters-tall turbans and on festive and jubilant occasions, women adorn themselves with various silver ornaments."

p. 214. "In the Achang language Lasa means an "exchange of handoworks" and is a special way of courting by which many young Achang men and women become husband and wife... If a young man finds a young woman to his liking at a singing party, he will use lasa to determine his chances with her."

In Spanish

Yan Ruxian's "Matrimonio y familia de las etnias minoritarias de China" (Marriage and Family of China National Minorities), Foreign Languages Press, 1991, include a chapter written by Lu Xun about the marriage of the Achang.

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