Interesting book about Yi nationality painting


Art of the Yi people in Northwest Guizhou - Illustrations from Na Shi and the ancient documents in Yi language. Guizhou Peoples Press. Guizhou, 1993.

A full illustrated book introducing to the Chinese and English readers the sacred Na Shi paintings of the Yi Nationality.

A Brief Introduction to Na Shi

"Na Shi", meaning drawing or painting in the Yi language, was a style of painting of the primitive Yi nationality, which was used as offering sacrifice to their gods and ancestors in funeral ceremonies.

As the outcome of sacrificial ceremony, "Na Shi" was the distinctive heritage of the Yi culture and art. It developed with social history of the Yi people.
As is recorded in "The Origins of the World", "all the images of the things in the world or whatever sages imagined were described in pictures by masterhands. These pictures were handed in funerals to relay the orders of ancestor Mobu as to comfort the soul of the deceased and repress the devil. (extracts from "Na Shi Jitou")"

Tigers controlling all things in the World (page 56)

"In the time of Hen Shichu and Tor Zhamu (500 generations back according to the family book of ancestors and descendants), when men returned triumphantly from the battle, the Yi tribe killed cattle, horses, pigs and sheep to celebrate their victory. They used the animal skin to draw Na Shi pictures on. They also used the animal blood to paint pictures on big rocks. By doing so, they expressed their gratification at the victories and the grief over the fallen in the battles (extracts from "The Origin of the Five Colours")"

And up to the time of the Six Ancestors (in Zhou Dynasty, 770-221 B.C.), they used silk cloth to draw Na Shi pictures on. It was until a later time when paper was popularized that they began to use paper to draw Na Shi on.

Line drawing and the application of black, white, red and yellow as the basic colours, are characteristic of Na Shi painting… With its strong primitive colour of painting culture, Na Shi saw a long time development to paint on from animal skins to silk, cloth and paper. However, the primitive simplicity of Na Shi such as straightforwardness and compactness in line drawing, and succinctness and distinctiveness in colour application offered an artistic treat which is unforgettable. (extracted from the page 32 of the book)

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