sons of heaven


Ceinos Arcones, Pedro. Sons of Heaven, Brothers of Nature: The Naxi of Southwest China. 2012.


Arranged mainly according to their pinyin transliterations, with other variants included.

Alili: One of the most famous and popular dances of the Naxi, daily performed in Lijiang and other places.

Baba: A kind of flat bread usually made of wheat with a salty or sweet filling.

Baxhishile: Music of Baisha, a long pacifist elegy.

Bimo: Traditional priest of the Yi that live east of the Naxi. They use books written in a syllabic language. Older denomination of the Naxi ritual specialists, also called biuq.

Chamu: Old dance notations of the Naxi.

Ch’er: A kind of local bacon.

Congrenlien: Charelien. The first post-flood ancestor of the Naxi; he is continuously referred to in their myths and rituals. His name is transcribed as Ts’o-za-llu-ghugh in Rock’s texts and scholars that base their works in Rock’s researches.

Cunhongbaobai. Also Cunhongbaobaiming. The celestial female ancestor of the Mu kings and human beings, she is the daughter of the heavenly god Zhilao Apu.

Dongba: Dto-mba, dtomba. Originally referred to the priests that chant their scriptures. Later it was used to designate also the scriptures (Dongba Classics), the script in which the scriptures are written (Dongba script), the individual pictographs (Dongba pictographs), the system of beliefs preserved in these scriptures (Dongba religion), and being the most outstanding part of the Naxi culture, it is used also as a synonym of it, and we heard about Dongba culture, Dongba traditions, etc., when people refers in fact to Naxi culture or Naxi traditions.

Dongba Shiluo: The patriarch of Dongba Tradition, the first mediator between human beings and the gods. He is a local transformation of the Bon ancestor with whom shares many of his characteristics.

Dongjing: Religious music of Chinese origin adopted b the elites of some districts of Yunnan, especially famous among the Naxi due to perfection that reached among them before 1949, and the resurgence in the present times. It has become an ethnic marker of the Naxi.

Ds-ler: Flat metal bell with a beetle, used by the Dongba at ceremonies. To it are tied a white or blue colored piece of silk and the claw of an eagle or blood pheasant.

Dsola: Divination books of the Naxi.

Duoge: Celestial warriors.

Duoma: Figurines of gods or demons made of dough or clay used in the Donba ceremonies.

Geba: The syllabic script of the Naxi.

Hami: Goddess.

Harlalluku: Ceremony to propitiate the wind demons especially performed after the suicide of a family member.

Hazhiphi: Road to heaven scroll. A scroll used in funerary ceremonies to guide the souls of the deceased through the punishments for the sins committed during their lives, to the paradise.

Ko: Five lobed crown the Dongba wear when performing their ceremonies, related to their supposed domain over the five directions.

K’o-byo: Wooden slats used at Dongba ceremonies, to represent gods or demons. These latter are truncated, the others wedge-shaped.

Lijiang: Likiang, Lichiang. The main city of the Naxi; seat of the Mu kings and Chinese administrations, it is their economic, political and cultural center. Called Dayan by the Naxi. Sadham by the Tibetans.

Llubhu: Leebus. Naxi shamans, originally only women can be llubhu, later most of them were men.

Lulu: Name given to some populations in Tacheng. Officially considered Naxi they show some differences in language, marriage and funerary rituals. Some writers consider that they are the product of the blending of Lisu and Naxi populations.

Moso: Moso, or Mo-so, was the traditional denomination of the Naxi. In the last years is used to name the Na or eastern Naxi, who insist in consider themselves a different ethnic entity than the “proper” Naxi.

Naheng: Naxi people living in Baishuitai, usually considered the purest of their race

Naxi: Term adopted in 1954 to designate the ethnic group previously known as Nakhi, Na-khi, or Mo-so in the western ethnography and with names related to Moso, Moxie, among the Chinese history documents. The nowadays Moso or Mosuo people, called Na in their own language, retained the traditional Chinese appellation to mark the difference with the Naxi, to whom they do not consider to be related.

Nv: The body of the deceased is represented as a pine branch into which eyes, mouth, etc., have been carved, called Nv, later preserved in a cave near the village.

Paq: Ancient woman diviners.

Pumi: One of the officially recognized national minorities, it is though that they are the descendants of the P’u or Pu peoples that inhabited Lijiang area before the arrival of the forefathers of the Naxi, and that, defeated, slowly retired to mountainous areas. Also known as Boa, Xifang, Primi.

Remeicuo: Primitive funeral song and dance of the Naxi.

Rerke: Yuanke or Ruarke, One of the branches of the Naxi inhabiting the area around Baidi.

Sashakou: The name of the procedure to send the dead to heaven, it involves inserting a red pack, made of silk or paper with certain grains of rice, some tea leaves, and few small pieces of gold and silver into the dying person’s mouth before his or her last breath

Sanduo: Ssa-do, Sa-ddo. Protector deity of the Naxi, the spirit of the Yulong Mountain, he is worshipped on Feb 8th.

Shu: Nature god. There are many Shu nature gods. A concept related to the Tibetan Klu, the Hindu naga and the Chinese Dragon.

Sv: Also Ssu. The Sv life god of a family resides in the Sv basket. The individual Sv life gods can separate from this common spirit at the wedding of the daughters and at death.

Tusi: Local indigenous rulers that governed the minority and frontier peoples during the dynastic era. They enjoyed great autonomy, were backed by imperial power, and had the duty of sending the timely tributes, assisting the imperial administration and recognizing the imperial sovereignty over their territories.

Yuma: Celestial guardians whose images are usually hung in houses and ritual places.

Zhao: Kingdoms, statelets of northwest Yunnan.

Zherkhin: One of the branches of the Naxi inhabiting the low lands of the Yangtze loop. This name means “inhabitants of the hot lands.

The book - The author about his book - Contents - Introduction - Glossary