Folktales of the Lisu Nationality


This book, published 25 years ago, when the Chinese folklorists and anthropologists were striving to provide a comprehensive cultural framework for each of the officially recognized minorities, is the first and one of the most comprehensive works on Lisu popular folklore.

The book, intended to a non scholar public, translates and adapts to the Chinese language more than one hundred myths, legends and popular tales collected in the main Lisu inhabited areas in Yunnan Province. What can be a handicap to the scholar researching the Lisu mythology is a bonus for the general Chinese reader, as the literature of the Lisu people is read with the interest that can be placed in a modern novel or other kind of easy texts.

Arranged in sections that include a selection of texts broadly related, as Myths and legends, tales about the origin of the totems, legends about the scenery of their lands, heroic tales, tales of Guajiasang the Lisu trickster, tales of strong men, tales of subduing the demons, tales of the orphan, tales about the ethic of the life, and animal tales. With its broad array of contents the book provides a wide glimpse in the Lisu culture and way of life.

The fist of the texts included is "The origin of the universe", divided in sections that narrate how "Mubupa mold the earth", "the macaque changes in man", "the big flooding", "shooting the suns and moons", and "brother and sister get married."

"According to our legends in the remote times there was only heaven, no earth. Heaven has no pillars, on its four sides there were nothing that can support it, and the heaven was like the floating cloud, drifting its shine in the universe. In this time, on the heaven lived a clever and hardworking deity whose name was Mubupa¡­"

Nujiang zhou "Lisu zu minjian gushi" pianji zu.- Lisu zu Minjian gushi (Folk tales of the Lisu Nationality). Yunnan Peoples Press. Kunming, 1984

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