Sung by Yang Zhi.


There is a group of Miao songs about the folk-heroes who, in the beginning, initiated the people into the skills of raising crops, the arts of the shaman-healer, the pleasures of singing songs, and so forth. First among these was Zhyu-shi-lao. With creation completed, and the sequence of the seasons properly ordered, it was he who led the way in clearing the forests and swamps, and driving away the wild animals so that agriculture might begin. He is also credited with making the first roads to facilitate the spread and migration of the people.

The English form of the name "Zhyu-shi-lao" is not strictly correct. In Miao there are two quite distinct final sounds, the first of which is represented in the Miao script by a symbol resembling the letter "r", and the second by "r" written backwards. The pronunciation of the latter is similar to the former, except that the lips are rounded. When the Pinyin was adapted for writing Miao the former sound was written "i", but no spelling was allocated for the latter sound. Wherever it occurred, it was written "yu", but this is an entirely different final which in the Miao script is written using a symbol like the letter "c", but facing backwards. Now the first word in the name of the subject of this song uses the sound represented by the backward-facing "r" , and the second word uses the sound written with a forward-facing "r". Lacking a proper spelling for the former in Pinyin we have no option but to use the usual convention, "yu", although it is incorrect.

Translation in verse
Literal Transcription

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