Sons of Heaven, Brothers of Nature

The Naxi of Southwest China



Introduction 11

1. The Naxi of Southwest China 17

Population and location 17

Naxi human geography 22

Language 29

The Dongba pictographic script 31

2. Echoes from the past: Naxi History 43

The Qiang tribes of Northwest China 44

Establishment in their present area 46

The Eastern Kingdom of Women 49

Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms 50

Allied with the Mongols of Kublai Khan 53

The Naxi kings in the Ming dynasty 57

Chinese rule under Manchu emperors 62

The arrival of the modern world 67

3. Gods and Dongbas: Naxi Religion 70

Shu Spirits of nature 73

Spirits of places and Sanduo god 80

Religious specialists 81

Dongba priests 82

Llubhu shamans 91

Dongba religion and Bon 95

Dongba deities 99

Dongba Demons 103

Dongba ritual books 106

Divination in Dongba religion 108

Dongba ceremonies 112

Ceremony to Propitiate the Demons of Suicide

(Harlalluko) 116

Ceremony to the Shu nature spirits 124

4. Naxi Culture 130

The human realm: Villages 132

Hidden symbolism of Naxi houses 136

Naxi Traditional Dress 144

Women’s financial clubs 148

5. Naxi life cycle 150

Birth 151

Rites of Passage 153

Men and women 155

Love and marriage among the Naxi 158

Death and funerals 165

Land of the Suicides 178

6. Naxi Yearly cycle 184

Worship of Shu Nature Spirits 185

Sanduo Festival 188

Worship of Heaven Ceremony 190

New Year 196

Torch Festival and other minor festivals 200

Festivals in Eya County 203

7. Music, Arts and Literature 206

Naxi music: The rhythm of life 206

Remeicuo singing to drive the spirits away 210

Bashixile, a pacifist tragedy 211

Sacred sounds of Dongba Music 214

Musical instruments 215

The exuberance of Dongjing music 218

Dance of the Naxi: The road to ecstasy 224

Dongba dance 224

Secular dances and communal life 227

Naxi sacred art 229

Dongba paintings 230

Baisha Frescoes 235

Variety of Naxi sculpture 237

Masterworks of Naxi literature 238

Epilogue 245

Bibliography 247

Glossary 259

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