Proverbs of the Naxi Nationality


Guo Dalie and Zheng Weidong.- Proverbs of the Naxi Nationality.

Among the effects that the touristic development of Lijiang is producing in Naxi lives, one can not deny the chance to spread the basic aspects of Naxi culture beyond the horizons usually imposed on indigenous peoples. This entity that we call "Naxi culture" is popularly defined with three main components, all them intimately linked in the mind of the travelers and on those of the people who promotes "Naxi culture" among the many touristic attractions that characterize the travel to Lijiang. These are the Naxi music, The Dongba shamans and the Dongba pictographic script.

The process of popularization of the Dongba pictographic script includes the fabrication of "old" manuscripts, the proliferation of Dongba paintings and the publication of some books that provide a simple introduction to the script in the main languages of the Lijiang tourism: Chinese, English, and Japanese.

Proverbs of the Naxi Nationlity is a trilingual (Naxi, Chinese, English) book that introduce the reader about 200 traditional proverbs of the Naxi.

The book is arranged in nine thematic chapters,

1. No obstacle can stop affine horse (Aim high).
2. Don't pick the young fruit of the tree (Take care of environment)
3. Wheat is not ripe until the weather is hot (Go with the seasons)
4. A mother's call resounds in all directions (Respect relatives and friends)
5. Shedding nine drops of sweat for a grain of wheat (Keep a family by hard work)
6. The Golden Sand River stores gold but Flows in Silence (On self cultivation)
7. Seeing the river yet beyond reach, one has no water to make tea (Plain living)
8. Toads should not aspire to consume the flesh of a swan (Life disciplines)
9. Words from Congrenli'en, ancestor of the Naxi people (National pride)


Every proverb is written first in Dongba characters, later in a phonetic notation of its Naxi language, below in Chinese characters and at the end in English.

The pictographic component of the Dongba script is so manifest that even readers without any knowledge of it, can find some connections between the pictographs and the English translation. So, in the instance introduced above. Even without further information the reader can identify the first pictograph from left with a mountain (Jade Snow Mountain), the second with a person standing, and the fifth with two eyes.

It is undoubted that these apparently innocent publications are reaching beyond the mere tourist world, as the interest of the western world in Naxi people and other stately promoted ethnic groups in China is disproportionately bigger than in those who have not enjoy the same touristic promotion.

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

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