Yunnan Travel Guide

Yunnan Guide

Dongbaism of Naxi Ethnic Minority

Lijiang is the main settlement where Naxi ethnic minority is inhabited, which is the only Naxi autonomous county in China. The term dongba refers to priests of the Nakhi people of Southwest China, who are masters of traditional culture, literature and Dongba symbols. The dongba are Bon priests. They play a major role in Nakhi culture and preach harmony between man and nature. Their costumes show strong Tibetan influence, and pictures of Bön gods can be seen on their headgear. Tibetan prayer flags and Taoist offerings can be seen in their rituals.

Religious rituals are also conducted by the priests to propitiate the spirits, as they were believed to be living in every part of the natural world. The core of the Dongba religion is based on the belief that both man and nature are two half-brothers born of two mothers and the same father. This creates revenge from heaven, which befalls upon humans who use up too much natural resources. Prior to Tibetan influence, it is suggested that the original Nakhi priests were female llü-bu. At that time, statues or religious images could be widely seen everywhere.

Dongba Culture

Lijiang attracts numerous travel-lovers to pay a visit not only for its enchanting landscape but unique Dongba culture created by Naxi people. Dongba culture is an important part of brilliant Naxi culture. Dongba culture mainly covers Dongba character, Dongba scripture, Dongba painting, Dongba music, Dongba dance and the like. Browse for details about Dongba culture.

Dongba Character

Dongba character is a kind of picture-like hy’roglyphics both indicating meaning and sound. The shape of Bongba characters is quite primitive, which is even more primitive than oracles. Dongba character is characters used by Naxi people inhabited in western Tibet and northern Yunnan. Dongba character is originated from the Dongba Scripture, the encyclopedical religious book of Naxi people.

Dongba Scripture

Dongba scripture, also referred as Dongba jiu in Naxi language, is kind of scripture written in Dongba characters. Dongba scripture is the unique holy book of Dongbaism, the primitive religion of Naxi people. The scripture is bound in Dongba paper made o f skins of a local-grown plant, and is written with self-made bamboo pens and self-mixed inks. Dongba scripture is scattered among Naxi dialect-spoken area on the upper reaches of Jinsha River, which includes Lijiang, Zhongdian area and Weixi Autonomous County.

Dondba Painting

Dondba painting is another essential part of Dongba culture. The content of Dongba painting is mainly focused on the devotional deities and ghosts of Naxi people and diversified imagined ideal world, which vividly shows the diverse social life of Naxi people in ancient times. Dongba painting is mainly applied in different kinds of ceremonies of Dongbaism.

Dongba Music

Dongba music is a kind of tone chanted by Naxi people on religious sacrifice and usually accompanied by other musical instruments, which cannot be neglect when mentioning Dongba culture. Dongba music is usually verbally sung by Naxi people or sporadically preserved in Dongba scripture and Dongba painting.

Dongba Dance

Dongba dance is a kind of dance of performed by Naxi people when the religious rite of Dongbaism is going on. Dongba dance is originated from the social life of Naxi people in ancient times and many poses in the dance is just imitated the actions of different animals, which is very vivid and life-like. Dongba dance is an important component of Dongba culture.

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