Zhyu-shi-lang's song.

Sung by Zhang Ming.


It does not actually say who the singer of this song was, but following, as it does, immediately after Zhang Ming's version of the forest-clearing song, and using the same form of the name "Zhyu-shi-lang", it is virtually certain that this is one of Zhang Ming's songs.

As in Pan Xie's version, when the daughter of Zhyu-shi-lang was carried off by the tiger, he called upon his neighbours for help, but this time it was to kill the tiger. The neighbours are here referred to as "Hmao-byu" and "Hmao- sao" which mean "first people" and "last people", that is "the first-comers" and "the last-comers" corresponding to Pan Xie's "folk living below" and "folk living above". The first-comers having taken the better, lower land, the last-comers had to be content with the poorer, higher land. At the end of the song there is an explanation written in Miao in Documents K and L. This uses the more common form of the name, Zhyu-shi-lao, rather than that favoured by Zhamg Ming, and reads as follows,

"Of old, in the times of Zhyu-shi-lao, when the crops were ripe, we Miao had first to sacrifice to the spirits before eating the new crops. If this were not done there was fear of the spirits being offended. So it was that, at the time when the cucumbers had matured, because the daughter did not first tell her parents, but simply went and picked the cucumbers, the spirits were offended, and the tiger came and took her. Zhyu-shi-lao was infuriated and sent messengers to the first-comers and the last-comers urging them to hunt the tiger, kill it, and bring the skin to Zhyu-shi-lao. The last-comers received the message and went to hunt, but caught only a bat, killed it and brought the skin. Zhyu-shi-lao was not pleased. The first comers killed a leopard and brought the skin, still Zhyu-shi-lao was not satisfied. But there was a relation of Zhyu-shi-lao called Byu-jio.

He caught and killed the tiger, bringing the skin back. So Zhyu-shi-lao gave his second daughter to Byu-jio as his wife."

It may well be that at some period the Miao had a custom of sacrifice to the spirits before eating any of the new crops, and that failure to do so might bring retribution. This explanation is, however, very general and vague. Miao religion was concerned with many different spirits. Which spirits in particular were involved here and what form did the worship take? There is nothing at all in the song itself to suggest that the tiger had been prompted by, or was the embodiment of an offended spirit. Moreover in the two accounts of Miao spirit-worship written by Wang Ming-ji and Yang Yong-xin there is no mention of any such ritual. However, the coming of Christianity brought Harvest Festivals, and a knowledge of Old Testament Biblical usage. It could be that the explanation quoted above owes as much to the ancient Hebrew "offerings of the first fruits" as to any old Miao custom.
Translation in verse
Literal Transcription

You can see the original documents for this song.

You can also see these pages as Word97 documents

Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

Return to Index of Songs
Return to First Page of the Archive