Researches on the Dongba mythology


Dongba mythology is the main body of the Naxi mythology. As the Dongba scriptures have included in their content older religious and mythologic traditions of the Naxi people, Dongba mythology can be considered Naxi mythology.

This book is one of the most detailed studies on Naxi mythology. According to the writer the main characteristics of Naxi mythology are its relationship to a religious tradition, to the literary works of the Dongba priests, its poetic style and its artistic value.

Mr. Bai begin his book making a historic classification of the more than 1,500 Naxi deities, which he divide in the deities of the old system, adapted from the social structure of Naxi original society. This deities include natural deities, as the god of heaven, the god of earth, and the gods of water, wind, starts, and so on; origin deities, as the couple of ancestors Congrenlien and Cunhongbaobai; creator deities, as the nine brothers that separated the heaven or the nine goddesses hat gave form to the earth; productive deities, both of the material and human organism; and life deities, as the god of longevity, god of the hearth, and doors, house and village deities. New system deities are for Bai Gengsheng those in which he discovers a moral character, as are divided in good and evil deities; and newest system deities are the deities that were adopted from outside religions.

Bai Gengsheng introduces the content of Naxi mythology, which he classify in two big categories: Nature myths include the myths about the creation of the universe and of the heaven and earth, and explanatory myths, including the myths about the origin of sun and moon, wood and water and the animal world. The second category, the myths about the society include the myths that try to explain the origin of human society, including the origin of the human beings, the flood myth, the origin of the Naxi, their language, their weddings and funeral traditions, and their migrations; the myths about production, about the life, love and war complement this section.
After this description of the Naxi mythology, Bai Gengsheng discusses the chronology of the Naxi myths. The natural chronology will include the days, months, seasons and years; the social chronology tries to fit different myths and mythic personages in different historical periods, a risky task of uncertain results, as it will be impossible to probe that the social development described in the "Creation of the World" myth after the couple of first ancestors Congrenlien and Cunhongbaobai descended to the earth lasted the 1,700 years proposed in the book. The spatial environment of Naxi mythology is studied in reference to the spatial orientation (five directions, up and down, right and left), and the sacred geography.

This book ends with a comparative analysis of the image of these myths and their relation with other mythologies (Tibetan Bon, Buddhism and Daoism) and with the Naxi oral traditions

Bai Gengsheng.- Dongba shenghua yanjiu (Researches on the Dongba mythology) Documents on Social Sciences Publishing House. Beijing.1999. 431 pp.

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