Bitterness for the zu-mu of the plain.

Told by Yang Xiu-gong.


The background to this story is the old Miao spirit worship, in which, very occasionally, a special sacrifice called "zi" was offered to the ancestors. The ritual had to be carried out by the zu-mu, a member of the clan who, chosen while still a youth, had been specifically instructed. He, and he only, might officiate, and tradition demanded that he should be lavishly entertained. The knife which the man seized, was that which, his incantation completed, the zu-mu would have used to dispatch the victim of the sacrifice.

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