The religious feeling of the Wa


The Wa are one of the peoples with a deeper religious feeling in Southwest China. Some researches done in the first years of communist reforms, just when all the life and culture of indigenous peoples must be evaluated in terms of economic value, showed than more than 30% of their wealth was spent for religious activities. They devote to their gods about 60 days of work a year. In fact, they have a deep religious feeling.

The Wa life in isolated mountain ranges in the national border between China and Myanmar. Most of their lands are poor, with changing climatic conditions that put the survival of the people in the hands of a capricious nature. They believe that each object or natural phenomena have its own spirit and that people trough the adequate ceremonies, can summon these spirits for their own benefit.

Their supreme god is Mujij, whose five children created the heaven, the earth, the lightning, the earthquake and the Wa.

Other important gods for the live of the Wa are:

- Agu, the God of the Water.
- Dawu, God of the Wind.
- Dawa, God of the Trees.

They also believe that the different illnesses are caused by different gods.
In that world, populated by gods and demons, they carry out numerous ceremonies to appease the spirits.

The most important between them was head hunting, called Lafou in their language. In fact, there are several myths that supply different origins to this activity, and all they consider it like an offering to the gods. Although this activity has ceased completely in the Chinese part, it is said that there are some groups that still practice it in Myanmar, where news of head hunting raids have been in the newspapers until the decade of the sixties.

Now only chickens, pigs and cows are sacrificed. The human sacrifices have been replaced by the cow sacrifice, now one of the most important ceremonies for worship their sacred drums.

The drums have for them a sacred meaning. They think that the drum is the place where the spirits of the grain life. The ceremonies related to the drum: go to search for a new drum, cut the tree, carry the drum to the village, and sanctify the drum. All are related with the agricultural cycle of the Wa.

When they buy horses or cows, they also make special ceremonies; if not, their soul will not come, but will remain with the previous owner.

They believe that the people die because the ancestors call their soul. After death, it is necessary to request the help of a shaman to teach to the soul the road to their ancestors land. As the soul needs some days to slowly abandon the body, they fed the corpse through a cane in the mouth during these days. Then, they left a place at home for the soul, in case that it still wants to come back.

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