The Nuosu Book of Origins

A Creation Epic from Southwest China

by Jjivot ZopquMark BenderAku Wuwu

The Nuosu people, who were once overlords of vast tracts of farmland and forest in the uplands of southern Sichuan and neighboring provinces, are the largest division of the Yi ethnic group in southwest China. Their creation epic plots the origins of the cosmos, the sky and earth, and the living beings of land and water.

 

Transmitted in oral and written forms for centuries among the Nuosu, The Book of Origins is performed by bimo priests and other tradition-bearers. Poetic in form, the narrative provides insights into how a clan- and caste-based society organizes itself, dictates ethics, relates to other ethnic groups, and adapts to a harsh environment.

 

The original text in Northern Yi romanization is also available here.