Nzyu-fa-lao qualifies as a shaman-healer.

Sung by Yang Zhi.


The first six lines of this song are identical with the opening passage of "The work of setting sky and earth in order", M105, which was also sung by Yang Zhi. The use of this stylised passage, which asserts that Nzyu-fa-lao's mother was "chaste" and "pure", seems to conflict with the previous song, which suggests that her child was illegitimate and for that reason she tried to throw it away.

After line 17, there is a break in the text in Document N. Introduced by the Chinese character meaning "note", appear four lines of Miao, set in inverted commas, and printed as though they are a continuation of the poem. In fact they are an explanation in prose which reads:

"Before a healer of sickness becomes a shaman-healer, he must first have suffered severe illness himself which had to be cured by calling the zu-mu. Only then can he become a shaman-healer who cures sickness".

The zu-mu was the person who had to be called to officiate whenever ancestral rites were performed. These rites could not be carried out by the shaman-healer or anyone else. In his account of Miao spirit worship Wang Ming-ji explained that:

"In the main branch of the family, if the eldest brother, being a young adult, became sick, they would call the shaman-healer to investigate. If the shaman-healer spoke in this manner,

'This lad must open the door of the ancestors,

He must lead the children in the way',

they would wait until the sickness was better, then they would have to take him to learn about the spirits from those brothers who knew the incantations, so that he might return to officiate as zu-mu. So it was, whichever son, in the main branch of the family, the shaman-healer pointed out to officiate, that person officiated as zu-mu for that Miao family".

There is nothing in the account to suggest that to become a shaman-healer one must first be cured of sickness by the zu-mu. This note in Document N appears to be an inaccurate recollection of the procedure for appointing a zu-mu. There is no sign of it in Document C, and nothing in the text suggests that during his three years of probation Nzyu-fa-lao suffered any serious illness, or that he consulted a zu-mu.

In line 23 "the great village of Hmao-li-mo" is mentioned. This is, presumably, a reference to the ancient Miao homeland, which comprised "the Tracts of Mi-li and the Plains of Li-mo". It is not explained why the troops were given locusts to eat. Perhaps, since locusts destroy all in their path, so the troops, having eaten them, would likewise destroy their foes, but who these were, the song does not say.

Translation in verse
Literal Transcription

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Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

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