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Mircea Eliade – The Na-khi – The Psychopomp role

Identifier

002508

Type of spiritual experience

Background

The Nakhi (simplified Chinese: 纳西族; traditional Chinese: 納西族; pinyin: Nàxī zú; endonym: ¹na²khi) are an ethnic group inhabiting the foothills of the Himalayas in the northwestern part of Yunnan Province, as well as the southwestern part of Sichuan Province in China.

The Nakhi are thought to have come originally from Northwestern China, migrating south toward Tibetan populated regions, and usually inhabiting the most fertile river-side land, driving the other competing tribes farther up the hillsides onto less fertile land. The Nakhi, along with Bai and Tibetans, traded over the dangerous overland trading links with Lhasa and India, on the so-called Tea and Horse Caravan routes. They were brought to the attention of the Western world by two men: the American botanist Joseph Rock and the Russian traveller and writer Peter Goullart, both of whom lived in Lijiang and travelled throughout the area during the early 20th century. Peter Goullart's book Forgotten Kingdom describes the life and beliefs of the Nakhi and neighbouring peoples, while Joseph Rock's legacy includes diaries, maps, and photographs of the region, many of which were published in National Geographic. The two were friends and left the region together when the Communist troops came in.

Despite the fact Mircea Eliade describes the beliefs in his book on Shamanism, the predominant beliefs are based on Tibetan Buddhism.

A description of the experience

Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

 Hell contains nine precincts, which are reached after crossing a bridge.  The descent is dangerous, for demons block the bridge; the dto-mba’s mission is precisely to ‘open the road’.  Constantly invoking the First Shaman, Dto-mba Shi-lo, he succeeds in escorting the deceased from precinct to precinct, to the ninth and last.  After this descent among the demons the deceased climbs the seven golden mountains, comes to the foot of a tree whose top bears the ‘medicine of immortality’ and finally reaches the realm of the gods.

Source:   Rock – Studies The Zhi Ma Funeral ceremony of the Na-Khi of Southwest China

The source of the experience

Tibetan Buddhism

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image