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Mircea Eliade - The Zhi Ma Funeral ceremony of the Na-Khi of Southwest China



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Mircea Eliade – Shamanism Archaic techniques of ecstasy

Dtomba Shi-lo opens the road for the soul of the departed.  The funerary ceremony is called precisely Zhi-ma, the ‘Road Desire’, and the numerous texts recited in the presence of the corpse are a counterpart to the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  On the day of the funeral the officiants unfurl a long scroll or a piece of cloth on which are painted the various infernal regions that the deceased must pass through before reaching the realm of the gods.  This is the map of the complicated and dangerous itinerary along which the deceased will be guided by the shaman (dto-mba).  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

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