People and Customs

Like those in other Tibetan regions, the major local residents here are Tibetan. There are also many other nationalities like Menba, Luoba and Nu whose living customs differ from each other. The local Tibetan’s dialect is close to that spoken in Lhasa though; their dressing style is more like that of the “warrior at the border”. Both men and women wear “Guoxiu”, a sort of long shawl and Gongbu hat, which seems to tell their long national history. But today less and less people have such hats. The young generations are fonder of the Shanglin hat learned from Shangangqulin, Shanna and made of colorful satin. Another typical traditional dressing is the Gongbu boot, but it is also out of date now.

The Luoba People consists of over 20 tribes like Mixinba, Miguba etc in the Grand Canyon area. The historical record suggests that “Luoba” in the ancient time referred to those living in Luoyu and meant “the people from the south”. As a very old nationality, Luoba has a lot of strange and inviting customs.

Worship of Procreation

There may hang a one-meter long wooden penis in front of many Luoba people’s houses with the glans painted red. Walking inside visitors may also see such things on the ceiling. The locals are convinced that to worship the penis can ward off the evil, bring about prosperities and have a big family.

Eat Grilled Rat Meat While Drinking Wine

The Luoba People often uses the grilled rat meat to entertain their distinguished guests. This special dish is made before the guests and eaten with plenty of spices and the chicken feet grain wine. To show their hospitality and respects, the hostess kneels on the ground to fill the cup once it is empty. Interestingly before serving, she will taste a little bit of wine on her palm to show that it is clean and not poisonous. On the dining table fingers are used to get food directly from the bamboo bowls.

The Soul of Everything in the World: Wuyong

The Luoba People believe that everything in the world has a soul called “Wuyong” and all their activities such as wedding, funeral etc. are associated with soul, Wuyong. Wuyong is ubiquitous so when people go hunting, they should worship the God of the mountain; and whenever they are seeding, plowing or harvesting grain etc they would always sacrifice for god. The Luoba also have many totem worships and taboos. For instance, they are not allowed to hunt for tigers that are deemed to be their ancestors.

The Mysterious Koradji

There are two sorts of koradji: “Miji” for divination and “Liubu” for conducting sacrifice rituals for the God. Miji kill the chicken and get its liver. From the color, shape and grain of the chicken liver they tell the future. In addition to the responsibilities of Mji, Liubu also dance and sacrifice to ward off the evils for the people. Whether a Luoba people kill others or get killed, or unintentionally kill a totem animal, a religious ritual would be conducted to see off the ghost, which can bring peace for the whole family.

The Thousand Years Old Taboo

The locals strictly abide by some thousand years old taboos and below are some important ones: Women are forbidden to eat chicken; the distiller’s yeast and foodstuff for brewing should not be touched otherwise “Wuyong” or the soul will be taken away and the wine will go sour; before the umbilical cord is cut off in the childbirth, the husband should avoid working outside; after being pregnant for three months one’s husband should avoid touching any dead body, pig and cattle, and killing livestock.

The Wedding and Funeral Customs

The Luoba People have very unique wedding and funeral customs. Apart from commercial marriage (people view this kind of marriage as a piece of commodity) and marriage determined by one’s parents, they also adopt the trial marriage. In the trial marriage, after the husband living in his wife’s home for a certain period of time (normally three years), if both sides are satisfied, they will get married officially; otherwise the man will leave the woman after paying some economic compensation to her. As regards funeral customs, besides inhumation the tree funeral is also popular. The dead is put in the vine gabion that he used when alive and the gabion is suspended in the tree sheltered with a grass tent.

The Menba Folk Customs

The Menba people have a very long history. Around 300 hundred years ago, they migrated from Menyu, Zhuyu to Motuo and engaged in agriculture, hunting and fruits picking. Being very advanced craftsmen, they produced sophisticated bamboo, wood, metal and stonewares as kitchen utensils or ornaments.

They have religious believes in both primitive witchcraft and Tibetan Buddhism. In their belief that the heaven, earth, mountain, wood, insect, wild animals, bizarre rock and queer trees are all gods. In a word gods, spirits and demons are ubiquitous and they are the source of all the human sufferings and natural disasters.

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