Song of Hmao-chi borrowing a drum for spirit worship.

Collected by Wang Ming-ji.


In the two accounts of the old spirit worship, M351 to M380, the use of a drum is only mentioned once, and although drums do feature in two or three of the songs, references to them are quite rare. This song says that the Hmao-chi clan originally had no drums of their own and if they wanted them for ancestral rites they had to borrow from their Hmong, or Chuan Miao cousins.

A time came, however when having migrated, "crossed over", to a new locality, the Hmao-chi family inadvertently felled a sacred tree in the course of procuring timber for a new house, and discovered that the wood was good for making drums. The approval of the ancestors of the introduction of drums into the traditional worship was at once demonstrated by an increase in the clan.

There was, nevertheless, danger in the possession of drums, for they were not regarded simply as things, but were believed to embody spirit messengers. Thus if the drums were beaten by unauthorised persons or at the wrong time, the spirits of the ancestors, being disturbed, might wreak vengeance on the people. This explains the violent reaction of the Chuan Miao when the inquisitive Chinese began beating the drum which the man Chi had borrowed.

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