Song of the spirit woman and the widower.

Sung by Tao Zi-gai.


Behind this song is the story of a married couple in the full vigour of youth, but the wife was struck down by some wasting disease from which, in the space of a short time she died. Shortly after, the same fate overtook her husband.

The Miao believed that each person possessed a spiritual element called, in common speech, the "a-dli", or, in the songs "dli-a-dlo", as well as a physical body. The a-dli was free to wander away, or could be frightened away from the body, so that if a person had any traumatic experience, especially while away from home, the two might get separated. In these circumstances a ritual had to be performed to call back the a-dli to the body.

In the present song the a-dli of all the people in a community are described as climbing upwards swiftly together, rather like a herd of deer ascending a mountain side, but where they were going and why is not explained. Nzyu-gi-niao is the name of the abode of the spirits of the dead. Here it is personified and pictured as a hunter setting snares to catch any unwary a-dli that might be passing. Once caught, the a-dli was confined in nzyu-gi-niao, and the person concerned, bereft of his a-dli, would sicken and die.

This song falls into two exactly parallel sections each containing 14 lines. In the course of transmission some disruption has occurred in the text of the second section. A full discussion will be found in the notes (M385NT).

Literal Transcription

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Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

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