“Sons of Heaven, Brothers of Nature: The Naxi of Southwest China”

Writes author Pedro Ceinos Arcones in his introduction to this new work on the Naxi, renowned for their Dongba pictographic language:

Every year thousands of travelers from all around the world visit the Naxi region [of Yunnan], turning their former isolation into a permanent exhibition of their land and homes. During their stay in Lijiang they come into contact with some of the most outstanding characteristics of Naxi culture: Dongba pictographs, Old City traditional architecture, Alili popular dance, ethnic clothes, Baisha mural paintings, Dongjing music, etc., but unfortunately these dispersed manifestations of the Naxi culture fail to provide an overall understanding of the Naxi people, remaining instead as touristic activities without a link to the soul of the people who created them, and part of whose spiritual world they are.

This first and sudden contact with the Naxi culture arouses the interest of many travelers that unfortunately cannot find any materials with which to satiate their thirst. This book was written to fill this void. Blending the most interesting Chinese and western academic materials in an easily readable and understandable guide to Naxi culture and history, we want to let the outside world understand the human environment of Lijiang, to help travelers fully enjoy their visit to the lands of the Naxi, and to provide our readers with a permanent emotional link to one of the most fascinating ethnic groups on Earth: The Naxi.

The Sons of Heaven, Brothers of Nature: The Naxi of Southwest China is available here on Amazon. Read a review by Duncan Poupard at the Naxi Script Resource Center. To contact the author, e-mail him at peceinos (at) hotmail.com

And here is the Table of Contents:

Chapter 1: The Naxi of Southwest China

Population and Location

Naxi Human Geography


Dongba Pictographic Script


Chapter 2: Echoes from the past

Naxi History

Qiang Tribes of Northwest China

Establishment in Present Area

Eastern Kingdom of Women

Nanzhao and Dali Kingdoms

Allied with Mongols of Kublai Khan

Naxi Kings in the Ming dynasty

Chinese Rule under Manchu Emperors

The Arrival of the Modern world


Chapter 3: Gods and Dongbas

Naxi Religion

Shu Spirits of Nature

Spirits of Places and Sanduo God

Religious Specialists

Dongba Priests

Llubhu Shamans

Dongba Religion and Bon

Dongba Deities

Dongba Demons

Dongba Ritual Books

Divination in Dongba Religion

Dongba Ceremonies

Ceremony to Propitiate the Demons of Suicide


Ceremony to the Shu Nature Spirits


Chapter 4: Naxi Culture

The Human Realm: Villages

Hidden Symbolism of Naxi Houses

Naxi Traditional Dress

Women’s Financial Clubs


Chapter 5: Naxi life Cycle


Rites of Passage

Men and Women

Love and marriage among the Naxi

Death and Funerals

Land of the Suicides


Chapter 6: Naxi Yearly Cycle

Worship of Shu Nature Spirits

Sanduo Festival

Worship of Heaven Ceremony

New Year

Torch Festival and other Minor Festivals

Festivals in Eya County


Chapter 7: Music, Arts and Literature

Naxi music: The Rhythm of Life

Remeicuo Singing to Drive Spirits Away

Bashixile, a Pacifist Tragedy

Sacred Sounds of Dongba Music

Musical Instruments

Exuberance of Dongjing Music

Dance of the Naxi: The road to Ecstasy

Dongba Dance

Secular Dances and Communal Life

Naxi Sacred Art

Dongba Paintings

Baisha Frescoes

Variety of Naxi Sculpture

Masterworks of Naxi Literature

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