Collected by Lu Xing-fu.
This song is another story of a woman taking command of a military operation, see M261, M262 and M263. As in the previous songs, she is characterised by a long descriptive title which is treated throughout as a proper name. The two operative words in the title are "dao", which means "able" or "strong", and "zhyu", which is regularly used for "lord" or "landlord". Applied here to a woman, it has been translated as "Lady".
The overlord in the song is called "Du-no-vang". " Du" is the definite article, "no" is the title of a small group of the most powerful Yi landlords, while "vang" which means "yellow", is possibly a translation of the Chinese surname "Huang" which also means "yellow". This individual sent an order to the Miao Elder requiring him to raise a militia to pacify the border along the Yangtse River, called in the song the "Ndu-na-yi-mo", where bandits were causing trouble. The probability is that the Elder being himself illiterate, required a "person carrying business", a kind of secretary, to read the instruction to him.
The Elder had a daughter whose first reaction was to weave rolls of material with elaborate designs, to send as a present to the overlord, presumably along with a request that the Elder Shi-byu might be excused from this duty. On second thoughts she decided to fulfil the task herself on her fatherís behalf. The song says that the campaign extended over "zhu" years, that is a cycle of twelve years. In English one might say "a decade".
The Miao word "ngha" is much used throughout this song. It means, "to drive" when applied to animals, but it is also regularly used of soldiers, where its meaning is "to raise" a troop, or "to lead" or "to command" a detachment.
When the Miao lived in the Yellow River basin of north China, they were no doubt familiar with camels from the desert regions further north, and a number of the songs preserve the old name "niu nca". When they were driven from their ancient home into the mountains of south west China, the camel was forgotten, and the name fell out of use. Thus, in the early twentieth century, the missionaries translating the Gospels into Miao, faced wit the word "camel", had to borrow the Chinese name "lo to". It is not impossible that, as a curiosity, the paramount Yi landlord had a camel, but to get it from north, to south west China would have been a journey considerably in excess of a thousand Chinese li.
You can see the original documents for this song.
You can also see these pages as Word97 documents
Return to Index of Songs
Return to first page of the archive