Jingpo pictographic script


Before I have in my hands this book(1) I never heard that the Jingpo had their own writing. Most of the books about them, regarding their language usually state that in the past they had no written language, and that American missionaries created a Jingpo alphabet in 1895 based in Jingpo spoken language. This alphabet was reformed after 1949 Revolution, and has been used since them in some Jingpo documents and books.

On the other way every person fond of their culture can remember the pictures of the lavishly decorated posts used by the Jingpo in the celebrations of Munao Festival, the most important of their traditional festivals.

The author of this book, Mr Shi Sui, however, through a meticulous analysis of the pictures used in the decoration of their posts and their symbolic meaning to the Jingpo religious specialists, suggest that we have, in deed, a pictographic language that leads these specialists along the ceremonies they celebrate.

Following his book we know that every drawing or symbol in their Munao posts, has not an isolated meaning, as can be supposed, but form part of a complete text that leads the shaman along the ceremony.

So, in the drawing of its first page, he informs us that the drawing with the number 1,

1. It is read "pri" in Jingpo, and means "flash". (The first analysis of sequence, pronunciation and meaning)
2. Its real meaning is "male", as "in the old times, when the heaven has not yet been formed and the earth has not yet took shape there was a man called the Man of the Obscure Times that in the middle of the dim flashed once. (Annotations about the interconnected meaning of the script).
3. This sign express the time of darkness. According to the explanations of the Munao ceremony words: before the creation of heaven, earth and all the creatures, the first that appeared was the Dark Man, he flashed once in the darkness. This is one of the earliest manifestations of the ancestor of the Jingpo. The creation of all the things in the world took consciousness from this darkness. (Complete explanation of the picture script in Munao posts).

In the same way, the more than 30 signs painted in these four Munao posts are meticulously explained, providing the reader with a complete understanding of this ceremony.

The author teaches us to read more than twenty religious ceremonies of the Jingpo. If in the section of Munao ceremonies dealing with the origin of the world the Munao script can be someway cryptic, in other, as these dealing with their funeral rites, pictographs are easily recognizable, and maybe can be more useful to convince the skeptical reader of the existence of at least, a kind of proto-script among the Jingpo.

(1) Shi Rui.- Jingpo zu yuanshi tuhua wenzi (Original pictographic script of the Jingpo Nationality). Yunnan Fine Arts Publishing House. Kunming. 2007

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