English books about the Naxi


Ceinos Arcones, Pedro. Sons of Heaven, Brothers of Nature: The Naxi of Southwest China Kunming. 2012.

A comprehensive introduction to the main characteristics of Naxi culture; from their natural environment, language and pictographs, to their history, religious beliefs, main deities and demons, rituals and ceremonies. The material culture of the Naxi, including the symbolism of their villages, clothes and houses; their life cycle and yearly cycle are also described in this book. The last part is an introduction to the music, dance art and literature of the Naxi: a fascinating world scarcely known outside China. Along the book about 200 Dongba pictographs are displayed, allowing the reader to know how the basic ideas in the construction of their pictographic script.

Fäldt, Anna. The Animal Symbols in the Pictographic Script of the Naxi People. 2001

A doctoral dissertation about the animal symbolism of the Naxi Dongba script.

Ge Agan.- Dongba shenpu (The genealogy of the Dongba deities) Yunnan Fine Arts Publishing. 2000. 101 pp.

This is an art book, in which the author, a renowned scholar and calligrapher introduces the writing fundaments of the Dongba hieroglyphics, and later displays his own drawings on more than one hundred of the most important Dongba deities, with their name in Chinese and English

Goodman, Jim.- Children of the Jade Dragon: The Naxi of Lijing and Their Mountain Neighbours the Yi. Asia Film House. 1997, 235pp

A nice book full of pictures that makes a simple introduction to the Naxi and the Yi; the author try to combine a fair amount of cultural and historic information and a proper doses of touristic information..

Goullart, Peter.- Forgotten Kingdom. Murray. London. 1955. 217 pp

A romantic narrative of the quiet days of Lijiang in the years previous to 1949 revolution; Goullart provides a fine description of the Naxi society in these years, useful to the researcher of different aspects of Naxi culture in Lijiang.

- Guo Dalie and Zheng Weidong.- Proverbs of the Naxi Nationality. Yunnan Nationalities Press. 1998. 138 pp

It is a selection of some Naxi proverbs written in Dongba script, with translation to Chinese and English.

Han, Carolyn, Li Ji.- Tales from Within the Clouds: Nakhi Stories of China. University of Hawaii Press (June, 1997 )

A children book with some illustrated Naxi stories.

Mette Halskov Hansen.- Lessons in Being Chinese: Minority Education and Ethnic Identity in Southwest China. Hong Kong University Press. 1999

In Lijiang, elite members of the Naxi ethnic group (minzu) have a centuries-old connection with Chinese state educational systems as avenues to social mobility, and have continued this tradition under Communist rule. They participate enthusiastically in the present system, using education to gain official and professional positions.

Hashimoto, Mantaro J. - The Naxi Language Materials: Field Data Collected By the Late Prof. M..J. Hashimoto. Tokyo, Institute for the Study of Languages and Cultures.

He Pinzheng.- Appreciation of Classic Naxi Dongba Sayings.

He Pinzheng. - Naxi Dongba Pictographic dictionary. Yunnan Fine Arts Publishing. 2004. 162 pp

A bilingual dictionary, English and Chinese, with some etymologic tips, of the Dongba pictograms.

- He Pinzheng and He Zhongze.- Naxi nationality and Dongba Culture. China Nationalities Photographic Art Press, 1999. 106pp

Most pictures in this album are the achievements of the two authors after they did more than 20 years survey in Lijiang and its surrounding Naxi areas. The album is divided into history, characters, religion, rituals, gods, paintings and construction, dress, production and life, dance, etc.

He Shangli. - A Sacred Place of Baishui Mesa (illust.) People's Fine Arts Publishing. 2000. 112 pp

Many pictures about this sacred place of the Naxi, with some captions in English and Chinese.

"I was very impressed by each photo. In the photos the artist depicted his beautiful land, ancient culture and kind people. He found grandeur in daily life, beauty in the simplexes and solemnity in the ancient customs." "This collection is a valuable collection of photos and aesthetic record of culture. The creation of each piece of works is a moving story. They derive from the artist's life and work. They are the record which the artist examined his own people and culture... I am deeply moved by the beauty, its cultural of the works and the sincerity and love of the artist." (Bai Gengsheng: Intro and postscript)

He Wanbao. - The Art of Naxi Dongba Culture. Yunnan Art Publishing House, Kunming.

He Xinmin.- Comprehensive introduction to Tourism and famous products of Lijiang. Yunnan Technology Press. 1995. 148pp.

This is a travel guide about Lijiang, with the most interesting places to visit in and around the city, and its famous products.

He Zhonghua.-The Naxis, where the goddesses live. Yunnan Education Press. 1995. 37 pp

This book was published to commemorate the Second International Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995. It has many pictures related to Naxi women. It introduces the main feminine deities of the Naxi, and shows the traces of a primitive matriarchal society. It explains their marriage and their former suicides for love.

Hilton, James.- Lost Horizon. Cleveland. 1947.

A novel about the fabulous kingdom of Shangrila, until recently everybody agreed that was based in the depictions of Naxi life of Rock's books.

Jackson, Anthony. - Na-khi religion. Mouton publishers, The Hague, 1979.

In his book, based mainly in the text of Rock, the author explores in a systematic way the Naxi beliefs and religion, as related to their life and history. He proposes that the development of the Dongba rituals must be linked to the changes that happened in Naxi society after the establishment of Chinese magistrates to govern them, and their efforts to change the role of the women in society. Faced with a new situation that tried to demote them to a sate of servitude to the men, some women choose suicide. Families of those suicide, more and more wealthy due to the development of trade, tried to avert the evil consequences of roaming ghosts making costly ceremonies to the spirits of the suicides that implied several days and the presence of up to ten Dongbas.

About this book, by Alain Peyraube

Anthony Jackson.- Mo-So Magical Texts, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. 48 (1965-6), pp. 141-74.

Jackson; Anthony.- Tibetan Bon Rituals in China: A case of Cultural Diffusion. In James F. Fisher.- Himalayan Anthropology. Mouton, 1978. 567 pp

Kelkar, Govin, Walter, Pierre, Nathan, Dev.- Gender relations in Forest societies in Asia: Patriarchy at odds. New Delhi, Sage, 2003, 325 pp

It contains two articles about the Naxi:
- Xi Yuhua.- Shu: Naxi Nature goddess archetype.
- Yang Fuquan and Xi Yuhua.- Naxi women. Protection and management of forest in Lijiang. China

Bruce Lee.- Naxi paper. Yunnan Fine Arts Publishing. 2003. 80 pp

Published in collaboration with the chain of shops selling Naxi traditional paper in Lijiang city and other touristic spots, this book consists of a series of short introductory articles (English and Chinese) related to different cultural characteristics of the Naxi, illustrated with interesting drawings.

Li Xi. - A road close to the gods- Dongba painting. "The road to heaven" of the Naxi people. Peoples Fine Arts Publishing. 2001. 50 pp

A nice book that is composed as a series of 104 color drawings showing the scrolls of the Road to the Heaven of the Naxi people. It depicts a long journey on which the souls of the departed have to be tortured in the hell before being reincarnated again. In the back there is an explanation to the drawings in Chinese, English and Japanese.

Mathieu, Christine.- A History and Anthropological Study of the Ancient Kingdoms of the Sino-Tibetan Borderland - Naxi and Mosuo. Edwin Mellen Press. 2003

One of the last scholarly works about the Naxi, an intelligent analysis that gets an overall picture of the Naxi, as a consistent ethnic entity.

Publisher's page

Oppiz Michael And Elisabeth Hsu. Pictographs By Mu Chen .- Naxi And Moso Ethnography. Zurich 1998. 396 pp

Some articles written by renowned scholars about the culture of the Naxi and the Moso that provide some interesting insights about their history, life and culture.

Review by Tetsuo Suwa

Pinson, Jacqueline.- What you can't see is Medicine - Naxi culture through American eyes. Yunnan Nationalities Press. 2006. 164pp

Pinson's book is an account of seven years of her family life in a small Naxi village. She arranged the information in nine chapters dealing with the most important events of the Naxi yearly cycle, from the winter season, the time of killing pigs, to be married and to raise a new house.

Rees, Helen.- Echoes of History: Naxi Music in Modern China. Oxford University Press, 2000.

Rock, J. F.- The ancient Nakhi Kingdom of Southwest China. 1946. 539 pp

This is the classical work about the Naxi history and culture; the first one devoted to this theme, and an encyclopedic book about them. With a lot of historical and geographical data extracted from a variety of Chinese sources and his own observations, this book, unfortunately out of print for many years, is an starting point to all those interested in research the Naxi and Moso culture and the history, geography and ethnology of northwest Yunnan.

Rock, J. F. - The Na-khi Naga cult and related ceremonies. Instituto Italiano Medio i Estero Oriente. Roma. 1951. 1100 pp

In two big volumes, full of black and white photographs, Rock studies methodically all the ceremonies related to the Naga cult among the Naxi. The cultural influences of India, via Tibet, are everywhere in the cult to some deities originated in India.

Review by J. Filliozat

Rock, J. F. - A Na-khi - English Encyclopedic Dictionary, Rome, Is. M.E.O., 1963

In this monumental work, the father of the studies on Naxi culture and religion, explains in English the Naxi pictograms.

Su Xiaobo, Peggy Teo.- The Politics of Heritage Tourism in China: A View from Lijiang. Routledge. 2009

This volume unravels the politics surrounding behind China's hegemonic project of heritage tourism development in Lijiang; It provides a compelling study of the dialectical relationships between global and domestic capital, the state, tourists and locals as they collude, collaborate and contest one another to ready Lijiang for tourist consumption. Using rich material from insightful interviews and quantitative data, the authors show how complex tourism development can be even as it strives to do good for the community.  Su and Teo investigate the practices of contestation and negotiation of identity within Lijiang; analyze the negotiations that transform material and vernacular landscapes; and suggests strategies that will enable sustained tourism interest in this location. Linking Gramsci's theory on hegemony to the cultural politics of space, this book has two major strengths: it establishes a theoretical framework to conceptualize power relations in tourism space and provides critical insights into the rapidly shifting socio-political landscape of contemporary China. Comparisons with other Chinese heritage sites are also provided.

Xu Ji.- Study Naxi in Lijiang. Yunnan Nationalities Press. 2003. 268 pp

A brief introduction to Lijiang and to the most common phrases used when traveling, in Naxi, Chinese, English, Japanese languages and Dongba script.

Yang Fuquan.- Stories in modern Naxi. VGH Wissenschaftsverlag, 1988. 309 pp.

Yu Haibo.- Identity and Schooling Among the Naxi: Becoming Chinese With Naxi Identity. Lexington Books. 2010

Identity and Schooling Among the Naxii examines the identity construction of Naxi students in Lijiang No.1 Senior Secondary School in China, focusing on the changing roles of school, community, and family in the identity construction of the students.

Zeng Weidong.- Naxi Pictograph in Chinese, English and Japanese. Yunnan Nationalities Press. 1997. 178pp.

About 1000 pictographic symbols of the Naxi's Dongba script translated to English, Chinese and Japanese. With the Naxi's phonetic alphabet.

Zhang Chunyan. -The wondrous Lijiang. Yunnan Technological Press. 2005. 241

This is the book that uses the students of local guides in Lijiang. It presents to the reader a wide variety of themes related with Lijiang and the Naxi People. Though the topics are not dealt in deep, cover so many subjects as to make useful its reading

Zheng Tongsheng. -The old town of Lijiang. 2001. 168 pp

This is a black and white photo book, with interesting explanations, trilingual, about the culture of the Naxi in Lijiang.

- Abstracts of Thesis. Lijiang, 1999. 210 pp

Abstracts of the papers presented in the International Conference on Dongba Culture held in Lijiang in 1999.

- China's Lijiang Naxi ancient music. Lijiang. 64 pp

This is an introduction to the dongjing music of the Naxi, it is simple and seems motivated to ask its inclusion as intangible humanity heritage by UNESCO.

- Lijiang: World cultural and natural heritage. China Travel and Tourism Press. 2003. 124 pp

A book of pictures about Lijiang.

- Lijiang world's cultural heritage. Yunnan University Press. 2006. 96 pp.

One more bilingual book of pictures about Lijiang, the city of the Naxi nationality.

- Lijiang Natural Scenery and ethnic customs (illust.). Yunnan Technological Press. 1993. 105

This is a photo book, with only some paragraphs of text, in Chinese and English, about Lijiang and the peoples who live there.

- Naxi Pictographs in Chinese, English and Japanese. Yunnan Nationalities Press. 1997. 178 pp

About 1,000 pictograms of the Dongba script translated to Chinese, English and Japanese, and to the Geba phonetic alphabet.

- The Baisha Frescoes in Lijiang County. Sichuan Fine arts Publishing. Chengdu. 1999. 104pp

An essentially picture book, with short Chinese and English introductions and bilingual captions, come to fill the gap existing about the picture art of the Naxi nationality, and specially about the Baisha Frescoes, the last surviving frescoes, witness of a tradition of religious pictoric art that embraced the artistic traditions of the peoples over whom the Naxi king ruled.

- The legend of Lijiang Shuhe old town. Lijiang. 2005. 46 pp

More than a book is a small booklet or brochure of this new turistic development near Lijiang. Full of illustrations, plans and schemes is interesting for show the development of the tourism business in Lijiang.

- Tour of Lijiang. Lijiang. 2005. 40 pp

A book about the most important turistic places around Lijiang.

- Tour guide to Shuhe. Ancient town of the tea-horse trade route in Lijiang. Lijiang. 2005. 50 pp

Some books with chapters dealing with the Naxi

Deng Qiyao and Zhang liu.- The Festivals in the Mysterious Land of Yunnan: The Festivals and Traditional ceremonies of the Minorities Nationalities in Yunnan. Yunnan Peoples Publishing House. Kunming. 1991

This illustrated book has one short chapter dealing with the Naxi ceremony to worship heaven, with some color pictures.

Ma Yin (Ed).- China's Minority Nationalities. Foreign Languages Press. Beijing, 1989.

From the page 288 to the 296 this book provides a short introduction to the Naxi life and culture, with only five lines to their religion but four pages to describe the exploitation suffered by the Naxi people and their liberation by the Communist Party.

Miller, Lucien (Ed).- South of the Clouds - Tales from Yunnan. University of Washington Press. 1994

Five Tales about Aydan. Aydan is the Naxi trickster that serving in the home of the Mu landlords, always find ways to mock the landlord and help the poor people. Clan-de-cline, It's a boy! It's a girl!. Gone fishing. Lord Mu Climbs the Granary, and Lord Mu eats shit.

Mitchell, Sam (ed.). Yunnan Through Foreign Student Eyes. Yunnan Fine Arts Publishing House. Kunming, 2003

The three volumes of this work contain several articles about the Naxi.
In the first volume: Tourism and Development in Yunnan.
- Spensey, Alys.- Under the Snow Mountain: Development in Lijiang and its effects on Naxi culture.

In the second, Ethnic Minority Issues in Yunnan.
Carnine, Berkley.- Chasing the Elusive Dongba. The search for the true Dongba make the writer to start both an ideological and a geographical work; the ideological one will provide insights to understand the apparently contradictory position of the Dongba religion today, and its use both as a touristic promotional material as well as in its religious context; the geographical one will carry the reader from the city of Lijiang to some of the remotest villages in Baishuidai, where the Dongba tradition is better preserved.

Greene, Catherine.- Naxi Women and the Economy of Lijiang: Past and Present.

In the third, Arts in Yunnan.
Deupress, Addie.- Falconry in China: A Forgotten World.
Hsu, Eugene.- Lost Between the lines: culture and literature of the Forgotten Kingdom.

Shen Che and Lu Xiaoya.- Life among the minority nationalities of Northwest Yunnan. Foreign Languages Press. Beijing. 1989.

Under the title "The Naxi culture and the peculiar social customs of the Mosuo Peple" there is a big chapter dealing with Naxi environment, history and religion, and their life and customs.

Song Liying.- Indigenous ethnic groups in Yunnan. Yunnan University Press. Kunming, 2006.

This book, written as a series of short dictionary-type entries related to the main features of the indigenous ethnic groups of Yunnan, deals with the Naxi Nationality from the page 184 to the 233. It has almost one hundred entries related to environment, history, culture and religion of the Naxi and Moso peoples.

Xu Yixi.- Headdress of Chinese Minority Nationality Women. China Film Press. Hong Kong 1989.

In this book there are two pages with a short text and six images describing the headdresses of the Naxi nationality

Yang Fuquan.- Naxi Women and Natural Resources. In Indigenous Asia: Knowledge, technology and gender relations. 1998

Yang Fuquan.- Reflections on the relationship between Na Mu Ji and the Naq ethnic groups. In He Ming and Li Zhinong "Review of Anthropology and Ethnology in Southwest China. Social Sciences Academic Press. Beijing, 2009

Ye Dabing (compiler).- The bridal boat- Marriage Customs of China's Fifty Five Ethnic Minorities. New World Press. 1993

From the page 110 to 113 describes in short the marriage of the Moso and that of the Naxi.

Zhang Songquan.- Lijiang and the Naxi people. In Gan Xuechun.- The Yunnan Ethnic Groups and their cultures. Yunnan Peoples Press. Kunming. 2000. p. 62-75

This paper contains information related to Lijiang city, Naxi history, religion and cultures, marriage and funeral and customs.

Zhang Weiwen and Zeng Qingnan.- In search of China'a minorities. New World Press. 1993

From the page 198 to the 202 this book has four short articles about the Naxi culture: Seven-star shawl, with a short introduction to this unique dress of the Naxi women and a myth about its origin. Three bedroom house with a screen Wall in front of the door, is a very short introduction to their living spaces; Azhu marriage, about the pairing traditions of the Moso; and Dongba dance, related more with the popularization of this sacred dance than with its original religious symbolism.

Zhao Xingwen.- Naxi Dances. In Chen Weiye, Ji Lanwei and Ma Wei.- Flying Dragon and Dancing Phoenix - An introduction to selected Chinese Minority Folk Dances. New World Press. Beijing, 1987.

With a short but interesting description of their main popular dances: Erere, Yahali and Ahlili, as well as of some animal and Dongba dances.

Zhu Liangwen, Shi Kehui and Sun Ruyan.- Folk Residences in Lijiang, Yunnan. In Wang Zhili.- Chinese Traditional Residential Architecture. Shandong Science and Technology Press. Jinan, 1998

-Oriental Rosy Clouds: Traditional Costumes of the 56 nationalities in China. Yunnan Nationality Press. Kunming. 1996

In two pages made a summary introduction to the dress style of Lijiang and Baidi's Naxi women. (With 5 pictures)

-Selected Photographs of Traditional Games of China's 56 Nationalities. Yunnan Nationality Press. Kunming. 1996.

The "games" chosen to represent the Naxi nationality are the Dongba dance and the Sanduo Dance, the first formerly used by the Dongba priest in their religious activities and the second usually performed in the festival to honour the God Sanduo on the 8th day of the second lunar month. The book include one picture of each "game".

- Stealing the Rhinoceros Pearls (Folk Tales from China). Foreign Languages Press. Beijing. 1985.

Inside this book (pages 50-71) there is Naxi tale, "Persecution", a very old, sad history which was often told among the slaves of the Naxi people. It seems that in fact is an adaptation of a Tibetan tale.

- The Slave and the Dragon Maid (Folk Tales from China). Foreign Languages Press. Beijing. 1985.

Inside this book there are two Naxi tales: The Bowl of Plenty (pages 1 to 8) and Dragon Maiden Tree (pages 40 to 51)

- The Magic bird (Folk Tales from China). Foreign Languages Press. Beijing. 1985.

Inside this book there are two Naxi tales: Zhugu and Kangmei (pages 79 to 90) and Hengmei and the Golden Deer (pages 90 to 104)

In French

He Zhiwu.- La migration: Legende de la genese des Naxi. You Feng, 1998

One of the main myths of the Naxi translated to French.

Rafflet, Annie.- Chine inconnue: Peuple Naxi du Yunnan. Soline. 2001

La province de Yunnan, au sud-ouest de la Chine est le berceau des minorit¨¦s Naxi et Moso. Issus des nomades Qiang du Tibet voisin, ces deux peuples ont su pr¨¦server des coutumes fort anciennes - une forme de matriarcat et une ¨¦criture pictographique. Entre l¨¦gendes et r¨¦alit¨¦, mythes et modernit¨¦, l'auteur nous emm¨¨ne ¨¤ la d¨¦couverte d'une Chine inconnue, loin de l'expansion bouleversante de l'Empire du Milieu.

In Spanish

Ceinos Arcones, Pedro.- Shangrila. Viaje por las fronteras chino tibetanas. Miraguano, Madrid, 2006.

One of the chapters of this book offers some information about the Naxi life and culture.

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