The witch and the Miao lad.

Told by Yang Xiu-gong.


This is a fairy tale. The "witch" in the story is called "a-bo bi-dlang" which means "spirit woman". She must be distinguished from the shaman-healers, once common in Miao society. These people might be male or female and were known as "a-yeu nw" and "a-bo nw" respectively. In missionary writing they were sometimes referred to as "witch-doctors", "wizards" or "witches". Again she is not the same as the "a-bo kha" who figure in some songs and stories and fed on human flesh. This "witch" appears to have been a kindly old lady, who can hardly be blamed for retaliating when she was being robbed.

In the translation the object which the witch used to perform her magic, is called a "bowl", but the Miao text is not so specific. The expression used is "dlang-nw" which simply means "thing". The only description is the classifier used, which indicates that it was a small one of its kind. When pressed for more detail Mr.Yang said he did not know, but thought that it was some small bowl or basket into which the rice and the meat materialised.

Literal Transcription

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