The descendants of the Elder Gi-yie and the Elder Gi-chi.

Sung by Zhang Ming.


This is another version of "The descendants of the Elder Gi-yie" as sung by Yang Zhi. The sequence of events in the two songs, the execution of the Miao leader on the top of a great rock, the places through which the fleeing Miao passed and their eventual settlement in the people's twelve villages, are identical. The major difference is that this version by Zhang Ming concerns both the Elder Gi-yie and the Elder Gi-chi. On closer examination, however, it becomes obvious that the Elder Gi-chi is very much the "poor relation" who appears to have been dragged into the story without any specific role to play, and who can as easily be dropped out again, leaving scarcely a trace in the narrative. Thus lines 5 to 8 extol the wisdom of the Elder Gi-yie and praise his prowess with the cross-bow, but there is no corresponding stanza, in fact, not a single word, of appreciation of the Elder Gi-chi.

In Yang Zhi's sequence of conflict songs there are two traditions preserved, namely that the Elder Gi-vu lived at Lao-gu (Golden City), and the Elder Gi-yie lived at Lao-u. Now since the Elder Gi-vu and the Elder Gi-yie were one and the same person, and Lao-gu and Lao-u were both half a day's journey from the great river, the Ndu-na-yi-mo, it is clear that Lao-gu and Lao-u are also identical. In the present version the Elder Gi-yie lived at Lao-o, which is presumably a variant spelling of Lao-u, but to accommodate the Elder Gi-chi, Lao-gu has been reintroduced but sited 120 li, 40 miles, away.

The description of the Miao leaders riding their steeds across the plain contains, in lines 12 and 15, a somewhat enigmatic reference to "wings spread in the blue sky". From Yang Zhi we know that the Elder Gi-yie wore a grass cape which billowed out and flapped like wings when his horse was at full gallop.

Translation in verse
Literal Transcription

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