How the Miao arrived in Sao-no land.

Sung by Yang Nggai-xing.


Although this is substantially the same story as that narrated by Yang Sa-gai, it suggests a rather different sequence of events. Here, the bridegroom, Lord Sao-no, does not figure at all in the circumstances which led up to the flight of the Miao people from the domains of Lord Byu-no. The episode which brought to a head the discontent of the Miao with the treatment they were receiving was, as before, the matter of wooden spoons which the Miao were required to prepare for the marriage festivities, but the foremen were humiliated and beaten, not because the spoons had disappeared, but because they could not manage to deliver the stipulated number on time. The bridegroom was not involved, rather it was the bride, Lord Byu-no's daughter, who encouraged the Miao to leave, and who frustrated the attempt of her father to force them to return.

Despite Lord Byu-no's displeasure, custom required that, as leading tenants on his estates, the Miao foremen should be present among the guests at the great marriage feast, and their failure to come meant that, to some extent, Lord Byu-no "lost face" before the large assembled company. This is why the stewards were sent to ensure their presence at the ceremonial "sending-off" breakfast the next morning.

Over a period of years the rent required by Lord Byu-no from the Miao had steadily increased. Originally it was measured in "shen", now in "dou", and there are ten "shen" in one "dou". These were measures of capacity used for grain. Although their actual size varied considerably from place to place, in any one locality they were constant.

The three hundred young women and young men who were required to escort the bride as she left for Sao-no were not originally expected to go all the way. They were conscripted to swell the size of the caravan departing from Byu-no, to make it look as large and imposing as possible. They would normally have returned after travelling a day or two out along the road. In the event they were an excellent cover for the Miao evacuation.

Having arrived at Sao-no the Miao needed to find a suitable district in which to settle. They eventually chose the valley of the river Gi-trao. The final section of the song suggests that this location was discovered by a hunting dog bringing back the shoot of a certain variety of bamboo entangled in its coat. This was a kind of bamboo which needed dryer and more fertile conditions than those found on the high uplands around Weining. When consulted, Lord Sao-no confirmed that such conditions were, in fact, to be found in the Gi-trao valley.

Translation in verse
Literal Transcription

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