The religion of the Nusu of Bijiang


The Nusu believe that nature is full of spirits who can influence the live of the human beings. They think that there are 13 main kinds of spirits that can be divided in four series: the deities of the clan, the demons of the disasters and illnesses, the spirits of the nature, and the spirits of the "people."

1. The deities of the clan are some ancestor deified who are invested with the power of benefit or harm the people. Among them the most important are:


It is the spirit of the sky and of the whole village. People from every village worship him with sacrifices every year on a fixed date, requesting his protection. But his protection is requested also when something extraordinary happens, as: violent disputes, ordeals, or to find a great snake in the road.


It is the main divinity of the people who belong to the clans "Duohuo" and "Dahuo". His ceremonies are directed by two persons, one of each clan. They think that by sacrificing him they can obtain good harvest and peace.

2. Among the deities of the nature are:

Miguyu or the God of the Mountain.

Duyaoyu or the God of the Waters.

They control hunting and agriculture respectively. As these two gods have close relationship with the productive activity of the Nusu, people sacrifice them before start to cultivate or leave hunting.

3. The most important demons of the disaster and the illness are Yauyu, Yiyu, Piankongyu, Meiayu, Mituoyu.

They think that every sickness is caused by a different demon. When there are disasters or illnesses they think that one of this spirits has absorbed the person's soul. It is necessary to cook wine and to kill a cow to sacrifice to him.

4. Demons of the tribe or Moyu.

They were created as a result of the oppression by the Lisu and the Bai. If a conflict arises with the Lisu or the Bai, they sacrifice to the Moyu. If an armed fight arises between the Nusu, besides worshipping the lord of the earth, they sacrifice to the Moyu.

The Nusu of Bijiang have two kinds of shamans. One kind is named named in their language Miyalou, and the other Yugusu. They are the keepers of the sacred history and tribal knowledge. Being able to recite the names of the ancestors of each one of the clans of the village, they participate in all the important sacrifices and intervene when conflicts arise.

Pedro Ceinos

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