Heaven Worshipping Ceremony of Naxi Ethnic Minority

Chinese Name:纳西族祭天
English Name: Heaven Worshipping Ceremony of Naxi Ethnic Minority in Lijiang

On August 15, the fifth day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar, which is the traditional day for naxi people to worship the heaven, a worship ceremony was held at dongba school of the xinzhu(新主)village committee of ludian(鲁甸) town, yulong(玉龙) county, lijiang(丽江)city. Twenty participants from the non-material heritage center training class in yulong(玉龙)conty, gucheng(古城)district and some villagers from xinzhu(新主) village attended the ceremony.


Heaven worshipping is a folk activity of naxi nationality. The main activity area is yulong(玉龙) county, lijiang(丽江), yunnan(云南), and the ancient city. It is also distributed in the scattered areas of sichuan(四川) and Tibetan(西藏) naxi nationality.


The worship heaven culture of naxi people from the outward, or to the deep connotation show its completeness, systematicness, and profound cultural deposits. It has a rigorous procedure, ceremonious sacrificial rites; Have the inheritance unchanged altar setting; There is a fixed community of worshipping heaven based on blood ties; There are rules and times of worship to be observed; There is a common sacrificial object and god system; There are numerous volumes of heaven worship hieroglyphic dongba scriptures; The sacrificial ceremony has the specific sacrifice god song, the dance and so on; Having a priest specially to preside over the ceremony; The ideas of inheritance are immobile and so on. All kinds of surface folk customs and deep cultural connotation of worshipping heaven embody the integrity and nationality of naxi culture of worshipping heaven.

There is a naxi folk adage saying, “naxi meng ben de”, which means that the biggest festival in naxi is to worship the heaven and “naxi benuo”, which means naxi people is the person who worship the heaven. These idioms reflect the naxi nationality is very appreciate to the worship ceremony , ancestor worship as the most solemn traditional festival of naxi, The main purpose is to tell the history of our nation in the form of chanting sutras in the activities of worshipping heaven, to recall the merits of our ancestors and the heroic history of their hard work, to educate and inspire future generations. To the ancestors of heroes as an example, fighting heaven and earth, enterprising, self-improvement. At the same time, through worshipping the heaven, maintain the blood relationship between relatives, strengthen the unity within the clan, and safeguard the interests of the nation.Therefore, the sacrificial activities are usually carried out by clan. So worship is progresses with prominent national psychological and spiritual festival.


In recently years, In the worship of heaven, many rely on oral and behavioral inheritance of various skills, customs, etiquette and other cultural heritage,as folk artists age old and died, It is on the verge of extinction. Now, due to the increasing the levels of heritage protection work, many parts of the county back to worship the heaven. At present the ancient city zhulin(竹林) village, tianhong(天红),taian(太安)township,yulong(玉龙)conty, xinzhu(新主)ludian(鲁甸)township, and toutai(头台)village are the better villages to preserved heaven worship customs.

The naxi custom of worshipping heaven is the spiritual product of primitive nature worship and ancestor worship. the purpose and significance is to pray for blessings from god and ancestors,  pray for the prosperity of descendants, family harmony and national prosperity. Worship of naxi culture system, full, rich and deep culture accumulation, related with GuHuaXia worship culture, and even to the preservation of the ancient cultural factors in Asia and Europe. Show her precious value. In 2014, the naxi custom of worshipping heaven was included in the fourth batch of provincial intangible cultural heritage lists in yunnan province.

Translated By Hu Jiarui/胡佳睿
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