Buyi Gods and Totems


As an agricultural people, the Buyi worship the Land. Outside every village there is usually a Temple of the Land, inside which there are usually two stones that represent the Father Land and the Mother Land. They sacrifice a chicken or a hog on December 8th of the lunar calendar.

The God of the Mountain is also very important. They think he can send pests or animal spirits to spoil their crops, so they usually worship in his birthday, in some places on the third day of lunar March, in others places on the sixth day of lunar June. They also believe in a God of the Water, who is worshipped to avoid flooding and have favorable rains.

The God of the Insects (Pests) is also very important, usually worshipped on the sixth day of the sixth month of the lunar calendar; the ceremony is presided by a Bumo, who read the scriptures of the God of the Pests.

In every village there is a big tree that is considered sacred, as they think that the tree can protect the people and his crops, in every festival a small ceremony is performed to honor the village tree.

They have some sexuality cults usually performed for the women to get pregnant or to born boys. Some times the woman sex is symbolized by stone pools that never get dry, and the men sex by some stone pillars, on which they hung a red cloth as a symbol of fecundity.

The dragon is the most important totem of the Buyi. According to their legends they were originated from the mating of a man with a Dragon woman. They think there are dragons everywhere, in valleys and mountains, and the people must be careful to do not disturb dragons. Before they raise a new home, they ask the dragon to leave. When it is finished they invite him to come again. To have a boy is called to have a dragon; so many women have dragons embroidered in their clothes.

Fish is their second totem, because there is also a legend that tracks the origin of some Buyi to the mating of an ancestor with a fish. During many centuries the Buyi did not eat fish because a legend tells of a time when a mother asked her son not to catch or eat fish. He broke the taboo and many disasters happened. .
Bamboo has for them a strong generative power. Some times barren woman put a stick of bamboo in the head if their bed. Orphans usually are protected by a bamboo stick before their house. This cult maybe is related to a legend that explains how one of the Buyi former kings avoided many difficulties hiding himself inside a bamboo. After go out of the bamboo he make many contributions to Buyi welfare

They have also many ways to worship their ancestors, including the tablet of the ancestors that they keep as the most sacred and respected place in every house and the offerings of food and wine that they perform in every festival and important family ceremony, as weddings or funerals.

They worship Baoertou as the ancestor who give the Buyi people their sacred scriptures. The twelve books where is condensed all the knowledge of the human beings. All the chants read by their bumo priests are supposed to be created by him. His 12 books of scriptures later were divided between the 12 branches of their descendants.

Baogendi is a deity who protects Buyi villages. He is related with the big tree that protects every village. In former times, every village erected near the big tree, a stone house for Baogendi, with an image of him inside. Performing all the important ceremonies, as weddings or funerals, Buyi people must show up before the shrine of Baogendi. It was thought that in the New Year he can bring to the people the horses, cows, pigs and sheep they need, and some figurines of these animals were carved and placed in his shrine.

The Buyi have also some ceremonies to their mother ancestor called Yawang that according to their legends was a leader in the matriarchal times. It was the goddess worship of the former Buyi. Her cult was associated to the cult of the river god.

Their funerals have three main ceremonies:

1. Riding the dragon. The bumo calls the dragon for the dead to ride on, so they try to ensure the dragon help during the soul journey to the underworld.

2. Killing the buffalo. Whose meat is shared by everybody except the family of the deceased. It is the way to ensure the buffalo help to the dead for farming in the underworld.

3. Open the road. When the bumo priest arranges the way the dead soul must follow to arrive to the lands of their ancestors.

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