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The Bi-mox in The Liangshan Yi Society
Publication time:2010-07-21  | Author:Ayi Bamo

Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture lies in the Southwest of Sichuan Province, China. To the North of it flows Dadu River, and south, Jinsha River (the upper section of the Yangtze River). Its 60,000 km 2 territory is the home of 1,610,000 Yi people in Liangshan, the single largest Yi community in China.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The ethnonym of the Yi in Liangshan is Nuosu. Until the democratic reform in 1956, no united regiment had evolved and the Yi community split itself into numerous patrilineal lineages. The estate-and-slave system with lineal descents and personal dependence as characteristics constituted the traditional Yi social institution. With high mountains and deep valleys as natural barriers and hostile relations to other communities around, especially to those of the Han, the traditional Liangshan Yi society developed a unique culture, including religious belief, in its own way. Believing in gods and ghosts, worshipping ancestors and a mixture of witchcraft with sacrificing ceremonies constituted the man content of traditional Yi belief.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

I. Bi-mox, Religious practitioner mediating the Relations between Human and Spirits by Reciting ScripturesbhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

To approach the nature and function of bi-mox in Liangshan Yi social-cultural context, we can start with the connotation of bi-mox as a word. This word, in turn, is closely related to su-nyit, another kind of religious practitioners in Yi society. As two kinds of religious practitioners Liangshan, the names bi-mox and su-nyit are divided by the characters of their activities. In the Yi, bi in bi-mox means to recite. It indicates how a bi-mox acts in a ceremony. This bi can be extended to refer to all the activities characterized by scripture-chanting in ceremonies, such as ge-fei-yi-tsi-bi, a ceremony to invite the spirit for birth; ma-du-bi, a ceremony to pacify the spirit (of the dead): ni-mu-tsuo-bi see the spirit off. So, bi-mox refers to a man who engages in the religious activities by reciting scriptures.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Meanwhile, the su in su-nyit means a person and sanyit means shaking while dancing and beating a drum. That is the act of su-nyit in religious ceremonies. Broadly speaking sv-nyit is very much similar to shaman a religious practitioner who in ceremonies beats drums and shakes while dancing.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Thus in religious practice, the function of a bi-mox is different from that of a su-nyits. The action of a bi-mox is more tranquil and quiet he just recites with mouth. In contrast, a su-nyit employs more body language. He beats drum and shakes in a crazy and violent manner, as if a spirit has possessed him. The etymological comparison between bi-mox and su-nyit reveals that a bi-mox is characterized by chanting scriptures. Thus, we can say bi-mox as a term refers to those religious practitioners who communicate with gods and ghosts by means of reciting scriptures.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

From the "Bi-mox Scripture for Offering Sacrifice to Ancestors", we know that in the origin and early stage of development, bi-mox had no written scriptures. Their chanting was handed down by word-of-mouth. It was not until the time of Qiongbu. A legendary figure in the Yi tradition, that bi-mox began to document their scriptures down in black and white, and the history of bi-mox entered the period of literature from that- of the oral. From then on, scriptures became the groundwork of the performance of bi-mox. according to a Yis saying, there are 120 scriptures for incantation and 48 scriptures for sacrifice offering. Therefore, being literate, together with mastering written scriptures and being excellent in all the oral ones, has become a pre-requisite for a bi-mox to carry out his work and to comminicate with gods, ghosts, and ancestors.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

A bi-mox communicates with gods, ghosts, and ancestors by reciting scriptures. But he is much more than a mere mouthpiece or a media between people and the supernatural spirits. Rather, he is an effective mediator, an arbitrator h the conflicting relations between people, gods, ghosts, and ancestral spirits. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

It is a deep rooted Yi belief that ancestors, gods and ghosts are able to influence the thriving of population, the bumper harvest, the multiplication of cattle, the prosperity of lineage, etc. If the relationship between mankind and gods, ghosts, and ancestors breaks or becomes unbalanced, it will not only endanger the people’s belief and mentality, but also effect their material production and daily life. Gods, ghosts, and ancestral spirits are manifolds. They are good and evil. They can bless or curse people; it all depends on time and occasion. So, people praise spirits, appreciate they hate ghosts and fear gods and ancestors. In the interaction between human and various spirits, the latter do influence the life of the former. However, it is more important that the former can control the latter through the mediation of bi-mox that can dispel disasters, invite fortunes, and turn disasters into fortunes.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

A bi-mox is able to predict the intention of gods and ghosts and, is familiar with ancestor’s desires. Through scripture-chanting and with the magic power of language reinforced by rites of sacrifice-offering and witchcraft with strong symbolic connotations, bi-moxes mediate the relationship between people end supernatural spirits by means of praising, appreciating, persuading, or warning, cursing, etc. Just as Chubi Somo, a famous bi-mox in Meigu county said: we bi-moxes are just like ndep-ggu, judges in the Yi folk society. The difference is that- a ndep-ggu mediates between people and/or between lineage, while a bi-moxes mediates between human and supernatural spirits. But the function is the same. The purpose of a bi-mox mediation is to serve the people. The aim of his mediation is not only to promote people’s reconciling with their faith, but also to detach people’s bonds to the supernatural spirits, including that of their ancestors’, so that they will not interact with each other.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Bi-mox has derived from Yi society since very early time end evolved into a separate order of religious practitioner. This is reflected both in the bi-mox genealogy and the standardization end normalization of the bi-mox reward as an institution. Before democratic reforms, besides cash in the form of silver, the kind in the form of animals, grain and cloth, and Yi services such as labor, such items as guns, slaves, land and even opium had entered the inventory of bi-mox’s income. A Yi saying indicates that: tiger and a leopard may fail in food-hunting, but a bi-mox and a su-nyit never returns with empty hand after performing a ceremony Up to now, reward for ritual activities still contribute total or part of a bi-mox’s livelihood in Liangshan.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

In brief, bi-moxes in the Yi society are a class of people specializes in religious activities dealing with people’s faith-pertaining affairs. They mediate the relations between human and supernatural beings including their ancestral spirits by reciting scriptures. For this service, they earn payment as total or partial resources of their life.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

II. The Special Bi-mox Faith relating to Their Professional ActivitiesbhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Believing in supernatural spirits is common to all the Yi as an ethnic group. But on top of this, bi-moxes have their own faith. Since the formation and development of bi-mox as a religious profession, the ideology of bi-mox has gradually established and some special supernatural spirits emerged to suit the needs of the profession and to protect bi-mox activities and interests. These spirits are the objects of bi-mox’s adoration. They can be roughly classified into the bi-mox gods, the guardian gods and the souls of the bi-mox instruments and scriptures.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The common Yi name of bi-mox gods is bilu. It refers to all the spirits of bi-mox ancestor’s traceable back in the genealogy. Traditional Yi society recognized only a small number of lineage that has ever engaged in the bi-mox practice, such as the lineage of Jike, Shama, Jili, Di-re, etc. These lineages, each having whose first ancestor engaged in the practice, are called bi-mox lineages. Bi-mox lineages have the tradition of inheriting the practice of their forebears. They have carried on the career from generation to generation. The bi-mox gods include all the first ancestors in those lineages, who in their lifetime had tutored their children end grandchildren of the performance. Their souls are respected as gods and worshipped by their descendants. They are thought, on one hand, to bless their descendants multiplying and prosperous: on the other hand, to be guardians to ensure the success of their offsprings ceremonial performance. In short, the bilu have double characters: the ancestral gods and profession guardians.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

As Yi society attaches great importance to consanguineous lines and blood inheritance, it is natural that each lineage has it’s own bilu. This is demonstrated clearly in bi-ci-e-yi-mu, a Yi scripture meaning The scripture of bi-mox genealogy. It is essential for every bi-mox lineage. The scripture begins with the first bi-mox ancestor of the lineage. In the form of chain-of- names between master and disciple (usually father end son, occasionally, uncle and nephew), it enlists all the bi-moxes in the lineage, down to the one who possesses and uses it today. This scripture, on one hand, is the certificate of a bi-mox’s lineage background that provides him with credit. On the other hand, it enables a bi-mox, by means of its reading or chanting, to recruit whatever reinforcement from their bi-mox ancestors to bless the success of a ceremony.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The belief of bilu (bi-mox gods) emphasizes consanguineous heredity and continuity, and stresses on believing n the ancestors to whom the bi-mox has blood ties with. This is obviously the combination of the Yi ancestral spirit belief with the bi-mox religious profession. It functions to identify and strengthen consanguineous relations between father and son, to guarantee tile heredity and continuity of bi-moxe religious status and identity.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Besides the ancestral bilu who has blood relation with them, bi-moxes also share a common belief of that famous bilu in history and widely celebrated in the Yi community. This kind of bilu usually made special contribution to their career in their lifetime. They all have the outstanding achievements, super power, profound knowledge, and lofty morals in the Yi folklore. For example, Tibi Zhamu and Haibi Shizu contributed especially the establishment of ceremonial rules. Bia Sula standardized writings and sorting out the religious scriptures. Age Emo brought a high mountain down by chanting incantation. However, from different lineages, these bilu are regarded as heroes and spiritual leaders by all the bi-moxes in Liangshan, especially the younger generation. For this reason, whenever a ceremony is held, bi-moxes would recite bi-bu-te-yi (Bi-mox Sacrifice-offering Scripture), and invite these bilu to enjoy the offerings and to ensure the success of bi-mox performance.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The Common faith to these famous bilu is a special type of belief among bi- moxes. It transcends the consanguineous limitation of lineage. In stead, it bases on personal achievement and religious practice. We can say it is a combination of hero-worshipping and professional identity. It functions to stimulate and intensify bi-mox dedication to their profession, and to encourage them following the their heroic forebearers’ example, improving themselves in knowledge and practice.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The guardian gods refers to spirits who help bi-moxes when they during their performance. In the Yi, it is called mulu musi, meaning all the spirits in nature, including the god of the sky, of the earth, of mountains, wind, rock, thunder, tree, eagle, etc. Originally, they are the natural gods commonly believed by Yi people, each for its own divine duties. But bi-moxes integrate them into a belief end respect them as guardian gods. In each ceremony, bi-moxes establish divine seats by erecting magic branches, inviting gods to come and help. As for whom and how many to be invited, it is determined by the nature and scale of ceremony, or kind and amount of the sacrifices. For example, xuo-bur, a counter incantation, is but a small one in which only a cock is sacrificed; thus only some mountain gods nearby are invited. If the occasion is big, such as co-ssy (evil cursing) on which cattles and goats are sacrificed, the god of sky, earth, rock and tree would be invited to share the offerings and help the performance. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Still another special bi-mox belief is tile belief in spirits of instruments and scriptures. Instruments and scriptures are means and bedrock of bi-mox performances. According to a Yi scripture, in the remote times of Nuili, Shisou, Momu, Ge-e, bi-moxes had come into being. But they did not have such instruments as golden water drum, divination bone, cedar container of divine slips, divine bamboo fan, divine bamboo hat, divine bell, etc., so they could not expel ghosts, bring fortunes end heal patients. Not until the time of Qiongbu when bi-moxes were equipped with all the instruments and scriptures. From then on, bi-moxes became omnipotent.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

It is a bi-mox understanding that the magical power of the instruments and scriptures do not lie merely in their forms. In stead, a lively soul is embodied in each of them. If the soul is lost or polluted, the power will vanish, or weaken down. Ceremonies as sacrifice offering to the souls of instruments and scriptures con invite the souls back and have them purified. The same belief is expressed in the rules and taboos for making, using, collecting and keeping the instruments, and in duplicating and circulating of the scriptures.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

In summary, it is a peculiar bi-mex belief in bilu, guardian god, and the souls of bi-mox instruments and scriptures. All bi-moxes must observe it. It gives religious power to bi-moxes for carrying out their religious activities and a spiritual support for bi-moxes to exist and develop.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

III. A Set of Special Institutions for Bi-moxes to SharebhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

In the long periods of religious practice, a set of special religious institutions have evolved gradually for the sake of sustaining the bi-moxes community and conducting their religious activities. We can classify the conventions into two kinds: the customary rules and “the bi-mox rituals.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The bi-mox customary rules include all the conventional regulations that define bi-mox themselves and their activities. My tentative research witnesses that following conventions concerning the bi-moxship inheritance, initiation (bi-jjie), renouncing (bi-cip), and practicing bi in tour (bi-ji) are strictly observed by all the bi-moxes in Liangshan.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The inheritance of bi-moxship comprises the passing down of both status and identity of a bi-mox. When a bi-mox is old and become feeble. He will yield his bi-moxship to a young one in the lineage. Then, who has the qualification and thus will inherit the status and identity from him? There are some special principles in this relevance:bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

1. Only a male descendant can inherit bi-moxship. This is in strict accordance with the patrilineal nature of Yi society. The profession of bi-moxes is soared and highly respected. The lineage wants to keep this status and honor within itself. Therefore, it should only to be inherited by a male descendant in the lineage. A female can not inherit it. When a girl reaches seventeen, she is -thought no longer a member of tile lineage whether she is married or not.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

2. The family of bi-mox enjoys the primary position. This is the dominant form of bi-moxship inheritance. It can guarantee the lineage of bi-mox to possess the privilege of the profession.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

3. Inheriting by a non-bi-mox lineage is subsidiary. Under certain circumstances, a person from a non-bi-moxlineage can learn the craft from a bi-mox. In the Yi, this is zzyt-bi, which means inauthentic bi-mox. The status of a Zzyt-bi in Liangshan is much lower, for he has no assistance from his patrilineal bi-mox ancestors, no ancestrally inherited scriptures, so his power is inferior. He is not able to carry out such major ceremonies as sacrifice offering to ancestors, cursing evil people and ghosts, and inviting spirits. Moreover, a zzyt-bi can not pass his status and identity to his descendants. For this reason, his lineage can never become that of a bi-mox. These principles reveal that the dominance ideology behind bi-moxship transfer is the discourse of consanguinity and professional privilege. It is different from the professional identity in modern society.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The conventions of bi-jjie and bi-cip refer to the starting or ending of bias a profession. The profession of bi-mox is a holy one that communicates with spirits for human. For this reason, it can not be entered and pitted at one’s will. Special conventions with certain ceremonies have to be involved for its entrance and quitting.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Long and special education is required before bi-jjie, the initiation to the profession. During tis period, the apprentice learns the moral norms of bi-mox, as well as knowledge and skill. This is to ensure their consciousness of the role. Only when the master thinks his apprentice can carry out religious rites independently, can the latter become a novice bi-mox, after a ceremony called bi-jjie-bi-hlo (sacrifice offering to gods at bi-jjie). All the bi-moxes, relatives and friends near and far are invited. In the ceremony, the new identity and status of the novice is announced publicly. The master hands over bi-mox instruments and scriptures to the novice, and entrust bilu, the guardian gods, and the souls of the instruments and scripture to bless his disciple in his religious performance. Acknowledged by the mater, the gods and society, the novice is recruited and the team of bi-mox is reinforced.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

On the contrary to bi-jjie, bi-cip means to end or give up bi as a career. Bi-mox is a lifelong profession, but two situations will lead to the halt of it: bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

1. A bi-mox’s soul cannot get along well with bilu, guardian gods and the souls of his, instruments, scriptures, and thus he cannot perform bi successfully. Such a failing bi will not bring safety and luck to the client Moreover; it will invite disaster to the bi-mox himself or his family. In this ease, the bi-mox must halt his career of bi, though his offspring can succeed his profession.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

2. Due to any reason, the bi-mox lineage has no descendant to inherit his profession for three generations. In this case, a bi-cip ceremony must be held by the lineage to declare quitting the status and privilege of bi-mox for good. A bi-sha ceremony is added to bi-cip for sending all the gods that have helped the bi-mox away. A bi-sha has to be presiding over by another bi-mox. The function of it is to extricate the relations of S bi-mox with all the gods and spirits to announce the ending of a bi-mox, and to get its approval from bi-moxs, gods and society. After an offering of sacrifices, the divine branches standing for all kinds of gods, together with the bi- mox instruments and scriptures will be sent to a remote mountain, and thus the career of the bi-mox comes to an end.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The function of bi-ji (customary rules concerning practicing him tour) is to adjust the relations between bi-mox and between a bi-mox and other social organizations. As we know, a bi-mox religious practice is independent, mobile, and extensive. A bi-mox roams about from village to village, to perform A at the call of his clients. It is usual for him to stay away home for several months. When he is away from his lineage context, how can he coordinate the relations between different territories and lineages? Can a bi-mox depending on one lineage lord visit -territories under the control of another, even a hostile lineage of his? All these have been arranged conventionally in the Yi society.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

If bi-mox A is invited to perform religion rites temporarily in the house where bi-mox B acts as bi-si (the regular family bi-mox), he has to yield part of his rewards in kind or cash to B according to the rules of bi-ji (a reward convention). However, if he does this regularly and gradually replaced B h the house, he and the client family must pay some compensation to B. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

In Greater and Lesser Liangshan area, Yi people settlement clustered according to lineage. Each nuohuo (black Yi) and zimo (chieftain) lineage has its own domain. Usually, every bi-mox lineage depends on one of them. A few bi-mox lineages are responsible to perform religion rites for every lineage and family all over Liangshan. According to the bi-ji rules, a bi-mox is entitled carry out religion rites in every village end lineage in the Yi area. So long as they wear or carry on his shoulder a divine bamboo hat, hold a divine fan, carry a bag of scriptures; no one should interfere or prevent him. Anyone dares to interfere a bi-mox performances or injure him personally will be punished severely. In extreme cases, all bi-mox lineages will unite to curse the enemy with reliable means until the death of the offender and his people. Therefore, a bi-mox can safely tour in the Yi area. They and their activities are respected and protected all over the society.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The bi-mox rituals, (addressed as bi-je-mop-jie in bi-mox terminology), refer to all the procedures and rules a bi-mox must observe whenever he carries out his activities. It is the standard procedures of ceremony and rules of bi-mox activities. In history, the procedure of Yi religious ceremonies is well known to be complicated, mystical and over-elaborate. In the long period of practices, bi-moxes have established a standard for various performances, and thus formulated a set of stable procedures and norms. As for as procedures are concerned, the following items are more or less universal:bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

1. Mu-gu-cyt, welcoming the assistance from gods by lighting fire;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

2. Lur-ca-su, the rites of purification;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

3. Yie-lyt, prologuizing or delivering opening speech;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

4. Te, the rites of reconciling different gods and spirits;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

5. Mux-lup-mu-se-bi, inviting gods for help;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

6. Sacrifices-offering in the form of live animals or birds;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

7. Chanting scriptures and perform crafts;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

8. Sacrifices-offering in the form of killing on the spot but uncooked;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

9. Chanting scriptures and perform crafts;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

10. Sacrifices-offering in the form of cooked (boiled or roasted);bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

11. Comforting gods and spirits and seeing them off;bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

12. Ka-bba-qip, paying bi-mox in the name of reword.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

There are other strict conventional rules for ceremonies, such as the requiry of selecting the date and choosing the form of sacrifices. Major ceremonies not only involve date selecting, but also the hour, the month and the year. The sex, color, age, quality, and kind are all-important and have specific regulations. The ways of animal sacrificing includes that- of the alive, the uncooked, the cooked, the blood, and the horn, etc. Many ceremonies require a ground for performance that is fenced by erecting branches. In the respect, different ceremonies require different kinds, quantities, and ways of erecting the branches for different symbolic connotations.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The bi-rewarding institution is also important. There are three ways to acknowledge the religious performances: cash, kind and service. The ways and quantities vary. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

hese conventions about bi-moxship inheritance, initiation, renounce, touring service, procedures and reward regulate the bi-mox behaviors and activities in a united, standard, ordered, and identical way. They are essential to guarantee the existence and sustaining of bi-moxship as a religious practice.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

IV. Professional Ethics of Religion Observed by Bi-mox as a ClassbhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Besides the conventions and rituals, the bi-mox community norm is also reflected in the form of bi-mox moral or ethics. By nature, the bi-mox moral is the moral of religious practitioners. In their professional activities, a bi-mox contact with other bi-moxes, as well as with gods, ghosts and humans. We can say that three relations are essential to the normal practice of a bi-mox: with god and ghost, with vi-si (clients), and with other bi-moxes. In order to adjust all these relations for protecting the reputation and dignity of religious practitioner, a set of morals has gradually evolved to adjust, conduct, and restrain bi-mox professional behaviors.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

It is a known fact that Yi religious belief has a strongly connotation of utilitarianism. People worship their ancestors, believe in gods, ghosts and spirits for safety and happiness. As a religious practitioner, a bi-mox task and mission is not to help people extricate themselves, save their souls, ensure them to go to a paradise after death. Rather, he is to fulfill people’s actual needs, such as avoiding disaster, approaching fortune and luck, ensure the harvest of crops, prosperity of animals, end to demonstrate the power and strength of their lineage, etc. In short, he is responsible for providing people with spiritual support and satisfaction for their existence and development. As bi saying goes: The fortune and peace of a client should be revealed in three days of the ceremony. Therefore, it is reasonable to say that bi-mox is responsible for human and work his clients, rather than for gods, ghosts and spirits of any sort. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The bi-mox ethics is constructed on the basis of the professional duties. It is interrelated closely with the nature and characters of the profession. It includes the following contains:bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

1. Dedication to the profession and faithfulness onte the duty. As said, bi-mox performance is the spiritual pillar of people’s physical existence and development. It requires all bi-moxes to have a full recognition of the profession and its social values. Bi-moxes must keep on strengthening his love to the profession, and continuously develop his sense of professional honor and firm aspiration. A bi-mox must take the matters of his clients as his own, and always eager to help his clients and be mindful of their interests. They we to be conscientious, dutiful, and considerate in their activities. Even a minor error due to the bi-mox’s carelessness and negligence will bring misfortune and disaster to his client, and consequently to the bi-mox himself. As bi saying goes as follows: “Inadequate scripture-chanting harms bi-mox, while insufficient divine-branches harms client”. Therefore, it is basic for a bi-mox to love and dedicate to his religious practice.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

2. Treating all clients equally. Every estate, lineage, family and person in the traditional Yi society needs the service of bi-mox. The requirement is widespread. A client can select a bi-mox with high power and moral performance. Nevertheless, a bi-mox is not allowed to select rite or client. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

3. Acting in good honor of his promise. This is determined by the nature of bi-mox profession, as well as minimum demands by the society. The Date of a Yi religious rite must be calculated and arranged several days or more in advance, and is forwarded to bi-mox by the client or his trustee. When time comes, the bi-mox brings scriptures and instruments to perform crafts. His activities are considered to resolve problems and dispel worries for people. For this reason, he must come on time regardless of road, weather conditions, and family duties. A bi-mox must keep his words. It is a shame to break a promise. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

4. Respecting colleagues and learning from each other. This is the norm of relations between bi-moxes. In congregation, they are encouraged to learn from each other to make up deficiencies. Many bi-moxes roam around Liangshan several, or even dozen times in their lifetime for visiting famous bi-moxes, collecting scriptures, and obtaining knowledge extensively from others. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

5. Proper and solemn behaviors. This is moral requirement concerning the language, diet, and sex of a bi-mox. Bi-moxes as intermediate between human and spirit enjoys some divinity. They must show refined characters in their behaviors and speeches in daily life. This is helpful to establish their divinity and gain approval from spirit and trust from people. Therefore, a bi-mox must avoid stirring things up, pronounce obscenities, aid gossip. During major ceremonies, such as soul escorting and sacrifice offering to ancestors, a bi-mox should quit sexual intercourse. Otherwise, the ancestral spirit will be contaminated and can not find their way to homeland. Excessive alcohol drinking is also forbidden, because a drunken bi-mox tends to be irresponsible. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

6. Working hard end enduring hardships. The profession of bi-mox is a hard one. Touring far from home and try to be punctuate means a bi-mox has to endure sleeping or eating in tough places, or travel day and night. It is a matter of course to travel two or three days to get the client’s home for a ceremony. I have personally followed a bi-mox to perform the practice in tour. The all daylong walking or riding and exhausted me. When dismounted from horseback, I could hardly walk with numb limbs. A major ceremony tends to last several or more than ten days without an interval. The bi-mox has to stay up night after night to endure the torture of sleeplessness. Some apprentices giving up bi-learning simply because they cannot endure hardship. A qualified bi-mox must have a strong will and lofty character.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

7. Not be greedy for money. Tradition says that in early times, bi-mox performance is voluntary and no reward is involved. Nevertheless, along with development of society and formation of bi performance as an occupation, bi-moxes gradually earns his income as, or partly as resources to sustain their lives. The quantity and form of the reward is subject to conventions. A quarrel over rewords with client is a taboo. It is forbidden for a bi-mox to extract excessive rewards. A bi-moxes must fulfill his duty in religious rite even he knows the client can not afford payment.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The bi-mox ethics is based on their religious profession. It is a special requirement to whoever engaged in the trade. In the long practice of moralities, a stable religious psychology and collective personality characterized by peacefulness, dignity, sympathy, and sense of responsibility are formed in bi-mox as a community of religious practitioners.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

V. The Bi-mox Group Identity and Sense of BelongingbhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The traditional Yi society is interwoven with consanguineous ties of lineage. The fundamental group identity is that of lineage. On top of this, the bi-mox offers an overarching cultural identity. This is due to the fact that bi-mox as a person finds his sense of belonging to his lineage as a social group, but as a religious practitioner, he transcends the consanguineous boundary and finds his identity in the religious profession, which in turn is an integral part of the Yi culture. At the same time, they identify themselves with the community of religious practitioners.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

We know the two identities are different. The latter is the extension of the former. In other words, the existence of bi-mox lineage is the basic carrier of bi-mox as a social class. The overall bi-mox group identity is rooted in the bi-mox lineage identity. Here, the two identities, the social and the religious one, find agreement mutually to some degree.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The basis of bi-mox identity as a group is their professional knowledge and practice. This is by nature a professional identity. As we said before, bi-moxes engage in the same religious practice. In a long and identical religious practice, common bi-mox values are also formulated in the form of professional conventions, moral norms, and ritual behaviors. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Owing to this, the traditional Yi society has another special taxonomy to identify people in a dichotomy: the bi-mox and the dzop-dzop. All the other people beside bi-moxes are dzop-dzop, no matter to which class or estate they belong. As said, both of qualification and identity of a bi-mox is approved by spirits, society, and other bi-moxes. Hence, the line of demarcation between bi-mox and dzop-dzop is distinctive and unmistakable. The whole society, including the supernatural beings, knows well in such matters as which lineage is a bi-mox one, which is not, who is a bi-mox, and who is not. In religious life, bi-mox and dzop-dzop have different status, responsibilities, and obligations. A bi-mox sustains his status and life by communicating with supernatural beings for the interests of clients. In providing dzop-dzop with the required happiness, a bi-mox gets his rewards. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

The identity of bi-moxes is expressed in their mutual support and aid as well. Bi-mox is a class and a professional group with special knowledge and skills. However, they have no defined religious place, no special institution, or structured organization. Their religious practice is characterized by mobility and, independence and wide spreading. They do have regular interactions and contacts, such as in training apprentice, helping each other in ceremony, exchanging skills and scriptures, and visiting famous bi-mox afar. Because of this, their group identity is developed and consolidated.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

For the sake of defending their status and benefits, bi-moxes have united themselves to a certain degree. The emergence of vut-tu mo-mgep, the congregation for bi-mox mutual help, is a good example. Vut-tu in the Yi refers to the container of divine slips of bamboo, a bi-mox hallmark and instrument in ceremony. Mo-mgep means conference or meeting. The combination of the two words means the conference of bi-moxes. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

In 1921, Tier Wuzi, Chunuo bi-mox in Mude Apu village, Yimu district, Butuo County found his Han salve girl was kidnapped and sold. He sent out an invitation for a vut-tu-mo-mgep at once. Over 100 bi-moxes came from different lineage all over Butuo County for the congregation. It was presided over by a bi-mox with higher prestige. Besides the collective rite of incarnation to curse the suspected, the participants also wrote the name of slave girl, the time and place of the accident on tso-ssy-tep-yypa, a cursing notebook. The notebook is copied and circulated to every participant. Later, when the bi-moxes perform religion rites in any house, they must curse the kidnapper according to the notebook. This was carried on and on until the kidnapper was believed died.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

Concluding Remarks:bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

1. Bi-moxes have a common belief relating to their religious activities. The belief is consisted of bilu, guardian gods, and the spirit of bi-mox instruments and scripture. It is observed by all bi-moxes and it provides spiritual support to bi-moxes in their religious practices.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

2. There exists a set of special conventions to regulate bi-moxship inheritance, initiation, and renounce, perform bi in tour and ritual practices. These conventions are strictly respected by all the bi-moxes.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

3. There is such a set of ethic codes, as all bi-moxses must obey. The codes ensure the standard of bi-moxship and its reputation. bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

4. Members of bi-mox community have a common professional identity reflecting the self-consciousness of bi-mox as a class. The identity is the moral force and psychological ties for bi-mox solidarity and cohesion.bhI彝族人网(彝人网)- 彝族文化网络博物馆

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