The descendants of the Elder Gi-yie.

Sung by Yang Zhi.


This is the first song in a group of four. It tells the story of the Chinese conquest of the ancient Miao homeland from the point of view of the Elder Gi-yie, an alternative name for the Elder Gi-vu of the two previous songs. After one successful defence of the homeland the clan was forced to abandon it to the invaders. The Elder himself was captured and executed, and after a short sojourn at Rice City (Lao-ndli), his family was compelled to flee far away to the South. The story of that flight is recorded in the songs about the migration to Yi territory.

Though swords and spears figure in the list of arms used by the Miao, there can be no doubt that the cross-bow was their most formidable weapon. Just stretching the bow called for considerable strength. The archer sat on the ground with his feet placed on the bow, one on either side of the stock, and drew the bow string back along the stock using both hands, until the string was caught in a notch cut across the stock. The arrow was then laid in a groove cut along the flat upper surface of the stock. When aim had been taken the string was released from the notch by pulling a small trigger, and the arrow, metal tipped and fletched with feathers, was propelled at its target with very considerable force. It was rendered more lethal by the deadly poison applied to the arrow head. Handling the cross-bow required both skill and care, but much of its effectiveness depended on catching the enemy unawares, so grass capes were worn as camouflage over the brightly coloured tribal costume. If the wearer of such a cape rode his horse at a gallop, this garment billowed out behind like the wings of a great bird.

Literal Transcription

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