Song of the inspired maid from Hmao-ni-geu.

Sung by Yang Wang-shi.


A note in Chinese at the head of this song says that it is "a song of recent history". In the course of the Miao text of Document A there are a number of editorial explanations, one of which says that this, and the following song, refer to fighting with the "Black Chinese". This is the Miao name for Mohammedans, but nowhere in the songs themselves are they mentioned. However, there is no reason to doubt the accuracy of the comment, since this group had a reputation for violence and brigandage, and, from time to time, the Miao did suffer at their hands. In the normal way, not being a particularly war-like people, the Miao would be more likely to flee than to fight. The background to these songs appears to have been some incident, which so incensed a certain young Miao woman, that she actually succeeded in marshalling a few rather reluctant Miao "soldiers", and led them, ill equipped as they were, over swollen rivers and steep mountain ranges, to attack the robber band. It was an heroic, but utterly futile operation, which could have but one result. Her pathetic little army was completely wiped out.

The young woman's name was "Bang-ndli" which means "Rice-flower", but this name is extended into an elaborate descriptive title which, in the text is written as a double compound name of eight syllables in each part which in English translation becomes,

The kinswoman, Rice-flower, the inspired elder sister.
The hasting wonder maid in blue.

The word "inspired" is used to translate the Miao expression, "li-su". This probably means "one who divines", and arises from the practice of divination using three arrows, the Miao name for which is "su".

In Document M this song and the one which follows are attributed to the same singer, but though there are similarities, and a few lines are common to both, the two songs seem to have come from separate traditions. The young woman's name, "Rice-flower" is the same in each, but the descriptive titles are different. In this song her home village is named Hmao-ni-geu, while in the next song she hailed from Hmao-dleu-lao. This song says that all her followers were wiped out, in the next we are told that half of them survived. The two songs could have been sung by the same person, but their style and construction suggest that he derived them from different sources.

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

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