Dulong's Myths and Literature

 

The complex spiritual world of the Dulong is embodied in a rich oral narrative in which are found the myths that explain virtually every activity sanctioned by Dulong tradition. All these myths have evolved out of their original creation myth.

This myth tells how the first human beings were created and how the Dulong culture developed. It has five sections. The first section depicts how the supreme gods Gamei and Gasha created the first man and woman. The second tells the story of how the ant broke the stairs that allow human beings to ascend to heaven to communicate with the gods. Ever since, man and the gods have been separated. The third part relates how the hunter shot the suns that threatened life on earth. The fourth is about the fight between men and demons. And the fifth depicts the flood that ended with everything on the earth.

The creation of human beings starts with the two gods Gamei and Gasha fashioning out of mud the first human beings: Pu and Mu: The first father and the first mother. This creation of the two first progenitors of humanity, the work of two sexually undifferentiated gods, can be seen as reflecting a primitive dyadic society, as is depicted for the Lahu in Du Shanshan' book (1), in which we find an absolute gender equality.

Linked with this basic mythological cycle are the stories of Penggenpeng, the hero of the Dulong people. Penggenpeng was born inside a large tree. One day he met the God of Heaven, who offered him his daughter to marry. But first he had to accomplish some difficult tasks: To catch a viper without being bitten, to gather honey without suffering the stings of the bees, and to climb a large tree. Penggenpeng was successful in all of these tasks and married the god's daughter. They received all the animals on earth as their dowry, but they disobeyed the god's will and most of the animals escaped. Penggenpeng could only catch some of them, who became the fathers of the domestic animals of the Dulong. If they want to have another animal, they must go to the forest to hunt for it.

The world of the Dulong is populated be many monsters that can harm the people. They have many tales about the fight between men and giants, ogres, and different kinds of malign beings. In "Burning devils", "Pressing the devils" or "Why the people beat the devils?" we can see that these devils of the Dulong, far from be spiritual entities, have corporeal existence.

Trickster tales, love songs, fable and animal tales can help the reader to imagine the vast catalogue of the popular literature of the Dulong.

Du Shanshan.- Chopsticks Only Work in Pairs: Gender Unity and Gender Equality Among the Lahu of Southwestern China. Columbia University Press. 2002.

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