How the Kha-woman plucked the hair from mankind.

Sung by Zhang Ming.


A number of the Miao songs and stories tell of two realms of beings, the sky-people and the earth-people. In general, the former was the dominant race, the latter, very much the poor relations.

There are also many stories concerning individuals called "kha". These were nearly always female, and, though outwardly, normal people, they had a predilection for human flesh and human blood. It was to satisfy her cannibalistic desire that the Kha-woman came down from the sky, and by her initial attacks on the human race she left people without any hair except upon their heads. Now at this point the elders of the sky intervened, and by way of reparation, required the Kha-woman to provide mankind with hemp seed which they could grow to make clothes to cover their nakedness, with seed corn to grow for food, and with fire to warm themselves. This done the Kha-woman was ordered back into the sky.

The common name for a particularly vicious stinging nettle is "kha-woman", and this song explains the origin of the name. There was, however, a very good reason for turning the Kha-woman into a clump of nettles. That she was dead, having killed herself, was not, in fact, the end of the story. Her spirit was still at large on earth and capable of inflicting, no one knew what further disasters on the human race. The action of the elders of the sky was to confine her future malevolence to an occasional sting for any one foolish enough to touch the nettle, or a cut finger for the careless handling bracken.

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