Ndlie-jia and Nggu-ra-jio-ni-bang. (1)

Collected by Wang Ming-ji.


Wang Ming-jiís song version of the Ndlie-jia story exhibits a certain economy of wording and expression. This sometimes gives the impression that descriptive material has actually been left out, and is particularly true of the conversation near the beginning of the story about the erection of a grain store and a building to house cattle. It is again evident in the exchanges between Ndlie-jia and Nggu-ra-jio-ni-bang as she waded deeper into the pool.

No attempt has been made to translate the names into English, but it should be remembered that they do have meanings of which a Miao listener would be immediately aware. Ndlie-jia is, of course, the name of a bird with a white cap on its head, which is constantly seen flitting back and forth across rivers and streams. Nggu-ra-jio-ni-bang means "Young woman plum blossom", while Nggu-gu is "Young woman gold".

The passage describing how, instructed by Nggu-ra-jio-ni-bang, Ndlie-jia approached her father, is a little obscure. In the second song version of this story it is quite clear that Ndlie-jia went and requested that Nggu-ra-jio-ni-bang be given him for his wife. Presumably that is also the meaning in this song. Here, however, he was not permitted to say so directly, but rather had to ask for her fatherís "silk rat, his silken rat" (There are two different Miao words for silk in this name.) This was apparently a code word meaning "his daughter". The use of such code words was not uncommon particularly in making marriage arrangements. However, in the Miao text Wang Ming-ji has added an explanatory note which says that the "silk rat" was the old gentlemanís beard, and the song goes on to say that in fact Ndlie-jia was actually given the "silk rat" and carried it home. It would appear then that "silk rat" was a code name for the beard, which was in turn a symbol representing Nggu-ra-jio-ni-bang, and with the beard came a rich dowry of livestock and corn.

Literal Transcription

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