“Munao Zaiwa” – Epic of Jingpo Ethnic Minority in Dehong

Chinese Name: 德宏傣族景颇族自治州景颇族创世史诗《目瑙斋瓦》
English Name: “Munao Zaiwa” – Epic of Jingpo Ethnic Minority in Dehong

Munao Zaiwa (目瑙斋瓦) is a World-originate Epic of Jingpo ethnic minority, which passed on by word of mouth. It belongs to the word of mouth carrier ancient books divided by carrier. Munao Zaiwa was formed of seven chapters including song, the formation of heaven and earth, heaven and earth with smooth, heaven, floods, Ning Guandu(宁贯杜) and his wedding, the origin of munao (目瑙) and life on the earth. Thousands of lines of the poem converged into a song which shows scenes of life from the Pan Gu(盘古)epoch-making myth to making fire, collecting water, sharpening knives and clay pot making. Jingpo ancestors interpreted the origin of the universe with peculiar imagination , and recorded ancient times in the form of oral chanting

“In ancient times,
there are no the sky and the land. “
This is the first line of Munao Zaiwa(目瑙斋瓦). This sentence is a question about the formation of heaven and earth and also a earliest puzzle of mankind. When did the flat dams, the high mountains, the sky with sunrise and sunset come into being? That’s a great question which is mysterious, unsolved, and unsettling. There were wise men in every group who invented myths to make people believe that there was an omnipotent thing called god. It was god who created heaven and earth, man and all things.Mao Dun(茅盾) believed that the existence of mythology was to answer questions such as how the universe began and where humans came from.

In Munao Zaiwa , heaven and earth are originally “hazy and chaotic”, which coincides with the Pangu myth. The difference is that Pan gu(盘古)split the chaos,held up the sky with his hands and stept out of the earth with his feet. However, it was a husband and wife , the male is Neng Wanla(能万拉), the female is Nengban Muzhan(能斑木占) that split the sky and the earth. Their descendants were Penggan Zhilun(彭干支伦) and Muzhan Weichun(木占威纯). They continued the creation and reproduction as their ancestors did. In the sixth section of chapter I, The Creation and Reproduction of Penggan Zhilun(彭干支伦) and Muzhan Weichun(木占威纯) , they gave birth to cyclone, breeze, fog and dew. Even natural phenomena were born of the god. What a wonderful imagination!

Birds and clouds, rain and snow, frost and fog, beasts and fish, flowers and trees… The existence of the world creation, from have its truth in Munao Zaiwa. This simple and natural thought has the meaning of ecological balance and harmonious coexistence with nature , which exists in the ancient poems passed on by word of mouth.But some people still do not understand it. The destruction to ecological environment and animals torture often make headlines. Isn’t mankind afraid to return to the beginning of the cold and lonely world in myth?

In the second section of chapter II, Trung Thule seeds sang that Trung Thule (特荣特热拉撒树种)took seeds of trees and grass from Songjiong La(松炯拉), the father god of trees, and Songjiong Muzhan(松炯木占), the mother god of trees,and scattered them everywhere. This story reflects the beginning of Jingpo ancestors’ transformation of nature and artificial cultivation. In the section thirteen of chapter I , the creation and reproduction of Yin Zhila(尹知拉)and Yin Nuanmuzhan(尹暖木占)(尹知拉和尹暖木占的创造繁衍), human beings appeared. The gods began to make man after they made heaven and earth.

In the first section of chapter III, Ning guandu trigger flood (发洪水) tells a story about internal strife. Ning guandu(宁贯杜) was the hero of the jingp, gained the support of the people and became the first generation official of the jingpo clan. All the people had to hand in meat and grain and worked for him for free. This caused his nine nephew’s jealousy and they planned to kill Ning Guandu(宁贯杜). Ning guandu(宁贯杜) in order to punish them triggered a great flood which submerged the earth all things. This is a struggle of the upper ruling class, which also implies that human beings will be punished if they ignore the laws of nature.

Munao Zaiwa is voluminous. With the combination of Yin and Yang(阴阳), the male and female gods created everything one after another. It solves the major problems such as the formation of heaven and earth, the birth of human beings, and the origin of all things. Meanwhile, it also records the process of understanding and transformation of nature. The wisdom of human cannot be ignored. In the last chapter, life on the earth (大地上的生活) tells us that the ancestos of Jingpo constantly summarized their experiences in life and production and learned how to make fire, collect water, sharpen knives, make pottery pots, build houses, spin and weave… It also formed the custom of marriage.

There is A new day, a new earth. There were crows, eagles and hornbills flying in the sky; tigers, leopards, elephants and monkeys were running on the ground; snakes, crickets and ants were crawling in the grass, insects, frogs and pangolins were living in the soil. Nature is fertile and beautiful in Munao Zaiwa. The bamboo houses were on the hillside, the long knives on the anvil, the colorful skirts were on the loom… The earthly days are also full of poetical sensation in Munao Zaiwa.

Munao Zaiwa has two versions of Jingpo language and Chinese and I do not know Jingpo language. What I have read is the Chinese version arranged and translated by Li Xiangqian(李向前), a famous scholar of Jingpo nationality. Munao Zaiwa is a world created by the gods, the world is noisy but peaceful and the book is with a natural grace.
Translated by Wang Xuanjun/王炫匀