A song of spirit worship.
Devoting an ox and a pig to the ancestors.

Collected by Wang Ming-ji.


In this song, it was the calling of a flock of birds, which prompted the man to seek the shaman-healer. The expression used to describe the bird-calls means "to wail" or "to lament", and refers in particular to mourning for the dead, hence the translation "keening". To the mind of someone who was probably already anxious about his lack of posterity, the bird-song sounded like a dirge, and it seemed to him that, in their lamentation the birds were repeating his name over and over. Accordingly the shaman-healer directed that the ultimate offering, that of the ploughing ox, was called for, that is the ritual called "zr" should be performed. Before the ox could be offered, as Wang Ming-ji explained in his account of Miao ancestor worship, M352 to M354, the regular offering of a pig was required.

The zu-mu came and performed the incantations devoting the sacrificial animals to the ancestors, although the sacrifice itself would have to wait until the proper time of year. He then used divining sticks and ascertained that the ancestors were contented with the promises made, and by means of a further incantation sent the spirits of the ancestors back to their dwelling place. The song does not continue and describe the actual sacrifice, which ultimately took place.

Literal Transcription

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