by Jim Goodman
|first view coming from Shangrila|
Then it spills out over a spacious flat section while the flow on the upper right section passes through several shallow turquoise pools with gray and white walls. This latter water flows down the entire right side of the rock, where the terraces are usually a pale shade of green. On the left side of the rock they are bluer, with streaks of yellow.
|Sanba Valley from the edge of Baishuitai|
|dongba dance for Saimamie in Shangrila|
The most famous aspect of Naxi culture was its dongba tradition. The dongba was the village ritual specialist, carrying out his duties with the aid of pictographic manuscripts. These contained the instructions for several dozen complex rites dealing with a wide variety of spiritual problems, as well as Naxi history, mythology, folk tales, medical advice and other subjects. Naxi tradition ascribes the creation of both the pictographic script and the rituals to a Naxi resident of the Sanba area named Dongba Shilo. He is supposed to have lived in a cave near Baishuitai, where he meditated and conceived his system.
|Sanba Naxi woman in Shangrila|
No written evidence exists as to whether anyone actually achieved this, and the claim is not made for Dongba Shilo. His chosen cave was actually more of a sub-surface grotto, accessible through a hole in the ceiling. Until recent times dongbas from other Naxi-inhabited areas would visit this spot, lower themselves inside and take away one of the rocks, believing them sacred. The dongba tradition was pretty much suppressed in the Lijiang Plain after 1949, but survived in outlying areas like Sanba. Active dongbas from here perform at Shangrila’s Horse Races Festival and continue doing the traditional rites in their communities. But no more pictographic manuscripts are left to guide them, for they were all destroyed by Tibetan marauders even before 1949.
|Sanba Naxi troupe at the Horse Races in Shangrila|
natural models for Naxi terraces