The song of Nggu-nza and Ndrao-jio-shi-nang.

Singer not recorded.


There is no indication in Document K, which alone records this song, as to its origin. At the head of the song there is a note in Miao saying that the Chinese king was called,

"Shi-niao-no", and at the close, also in Miao, a further note, which reads, "We Miao were literate and educated up to the time of Nggu-nza only. Afterwards we had no books at all until 1905. From this year we gradually acquired writing".

In 1952, when Document K was compiled, no doubt driven by the political upheaval of the time, it was felt important to establish the fact that once, long ago, the Miao had writing but it had been lost. The song about the ordering of sky and earth, M105, and the present song, both of which speak of Miao people writing, were adduced as evidence. The attempt to fix the date by naming the Chinese king, is however of little value. Without corroborative evidence it is only a guess, for there is no suggestion of a name in the song itself. Moreover the whole narrative is obviously a piece of fiction.

The stone tablet, specially cut and smoothed, provided a good firm surface on which to do her writing, though why it was so important for Nggu-nza to get it back, when it had been lost, is not exactly clear. Surely a small slab of stone was not irreplaceable. It almost looks as if the original singer thought that the writing was somehow engraved in the stone. It says that the writing was "inside" and "within" the stone tablet. (The Miao words are "ndlo" in line 24, and "ndrai" in line 29.) In the English translation these words have been "glossed" as "on" and "upon". What the writing actually contained is quite vague, "All kinds of matters concerning the people".

The expression translated "creature", also means "spirit" or even "devil". Left to their own devices the superstitious soldiers would doubtless have killed it on sight. Thus, when Nggu-nza gave the word, they were ready to despatch the creature the moment it got back from its short run, not aware that it was the king they were actually killing.

Literal Transcription

You can see the original documents for this song.

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Word97 Introduction
Word97 Translation
Word97 Transcription
Word97 Notes

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