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Lubanlushao: A Naxi myth

Lubanlushao is one of the three main myths of the Naxi. It is the tragic romantic story of two lovers separated by the rules that regulated marriages in Naxi modern society (post Qing dynasty control over their lives in 1723). It is at the same time the tragic story of the Naxi young that, as the protagonists of this tale, commit suicide to avoid an undesired marriage.

“The marriage system of the Chinese, designed for a society where boys and girls grew spatially segregated along gender lines, was difficult to adapt to a society where boys and girls interacted freely during the age when the romantic feelings and passionate love are due to arise” (Ceinos 2012: 178). This situation is exemplified here in the story of the lovers that after enjoy a time of freedom up in the mountain, are compelled by their parents to go down to fulfill their responsibilities as adults. The negative response of the youths and their eventual migration in search of a new land where to start a new life fail forcing them to separate.

The feeling of Kangmeijiumijin, being maybe deeper than others, makes her long for her lover with all her heart. A violent feeling impossible to fulfill that leads her to harbor deadly feelings, which at the end led her to commit suicide. Later her spirit appears before her lover and makes him to suicide also.

This is one of the most comprehensives version published of the myth. Most of the previous versions, including that translated by Rock in The Romance of K'a-ma-gyu-mi-gkyi (1939) and retold by Jackson in A Na-khi Folktale, narrate only the second part of the history leaving the reader without knowing the reason of the violent passion of Kangmeijiumijin.

In fact, this first part of the story has been chanted in completely different ways by Dongbas that in the past performed the Harlaluhu ceremony for the release of the souls of the suicides to which this story belong, causing a great deal of confusion to both the researcher and the general reader; in the seven versions of the myth published in Kunming in 1962, that were collect in the previous years, both the legend and content of the narration show important differences.

Te present version will allow the readers with knowledge of Chinese language to enjoy one of the most important tales of the Naxi.

Niu Xiangkui and Zhao Zhengxiu. Lubanlushao. Yunnan Peoples Press. Kunming. 2009.

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