The Cosmology Presented in Oral Tradition: The Floral Belt Dai’s Epos and Folklore
Author: Wu, Qiao
Affiliation: Institute of Sociology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

1. Fragment of Ethnographical Movie “Moon Mistress Rite of the Floral-belt Dai”, 7:50;

This documentary describes an animism rite “Moon Mistress” held by the Floral-belt Dai people in Yunnan Province of China at the second full moon of spring. The rite lasts three continual nights, during which women of the whole village gathered on the dancing ground to call the Moon Mistress spirits (called “phe”) with a chorus. Some adult female in traditional dress will be entranced soon with the spirits fall from the night sky. They tremble and cry, dance and sing madly for hours, with an umbrella shaking in hands. At the climax of the séance, these female conjurators compose lovers’ couples beneath the moon light. Some women play the role of inamoratos, others act as mistresses. They perform antiphonal ballads. The mistresses propose conundrums in their songs and promise intimacy with right answer. The inamoratos try to resolve in response. This repartee mostly in routine with a little impromptu is called “fruit and worm riddle”. At middle night, sending the spirits back with another chorus, the entranced ones wake up. They have no ideas on what happened just now, and may chuckle bashfully while learn from the un-possessed ones. During the daytime, the whole village comes back to everyday life. But at the following three nights, the same farce launches as well. On the fourth day, each family of the village pool money, eggs and rice. In the evening, villagers gather at the dancing ground to enjoy a feast in memory of the descent of the spirits and complete the rite. The documentary displays the process of the rite with explanation of its cultural meaning, demonstrates the role of lyric and epic in rite as well.

2. Fragment of Audio Record “ The Love story of Nangwo and Samno”, 1:10;

This mythic story in traditional context takes 3 days to be present. It describes a legendary tragedy of the ancestor heroes and heroines of Floral-belt Dai people. The story combines narrative and poesy.

3. Speech,10:00;

Introduce Dai People’s Cosmology as the structure of the world, life circle, kinship and the relation between human and the spirits, and how they are present through rites and stories.