A collection of Naxi Proverbs


He Jiezhen is a Naxi teacher, researcher and culture conservationist. In the last years she has developed many activities aimed at the preservation of the Naxi culture and the propagation of the main characteristics of the culture between the new generations of Naxi youngsters. Her presence, encouraging the young people to study their traditions, recording almost forgotten speeches and dialectal forms or arranging singing and dancing groups, is well known in the most important centers of the Naxi culture.

One of her last publications is the present book “A collection of Naxi proverbs.” Readers familiar with the environment of Naxi culture already known that in the last years some books about Naxi proverbs have been published, some of them even with English translations or embellished with Dongba pictographs. The aim of these books being the visitors to Lijiang, both English translations as Dongba pictographs seems to be good marketing tools. The book of He Jiezheng however, is aimed at the Naxi youngster, it includes several hundreds of proverbs with their Chinese meaning and the original Naxi phonetic reading, in a way that the Naxi reader will find the sound and meaning of these proverbs that must sound familiar to him.

The second characteristic of He Jiezhen’s book is that it includes a real compendium of Naxi popular wisdom, as her selection of between 1500 to 2000 proverbs is a remarkable achievement in the recording and propagation of this kind of popular culture.

The third feature of this book, and maybe that that we consider less fortunate is the arrangement of the proverbs in alphabetic order according to the initial sound in Naxi. I say is less fortunate for a non-Naxi reader, which find in the same page proverbs related to different standard categories. It is possible that for the Naxi reader, to have an easy reference book of their proverbs and other samples of the popular wisdom, can make the book an invaluable tool.

Talking about a book of proverbs we cannot avoid include some of those that call our attention during our reading.

p. 13. If you have many carpenters, the house will end leaned; if you have many ideas, it would be difficult to complete your projects.

p. 81. If the wind does not blow, the leaves would not move.

p. 85. If a cat want to eat a dog, it is sure it will have problems.

A Collection of Naxi Proverbs. He Jiezhen. Yunnan nationalities Press. Kunming. 2009

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