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Conversations with a loved one : poetry, melody and social change in Hani dialogue songs Wong, Gloria Ngar-Yan 2009

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CONVERSATIONS WITH A LOVED ONE: POETRY, MELODY, AND SOCIAL CHANGE IN HANI DIALOGUE SONGS  by Gloria Ngar-Yan Wong B.Mus., The University of British Columbia, 2000  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Music)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)  December 2009  © Gloria Ngar-Yan Wong, 2009  Abstract The Hani reside in the Red River region located in China’s southwest province of Yunnan. This study centers on dialogue forms of their oldest extant song tradition—laba. These songs are orally transmitted and composed extemporaneously using melodic and textual formulae. The study begins with an introduction to existing scholarship on laba epics, which provides the basis for an overview of Hani history and religious beliefs. This is followed by a study of the interpretation and structuring of dialogue songs based on recordings made between 2002 and 2006. There are two main types of male-female dialogues: those performed between lovers and those performed between siblings. The varied historical and contemporary social contexts in which these songs are performed give rise to multiple interpretations of song texts and to variations in the structuring of a song’s thematic content. Laba dialogues constitute both a type of verbal art and a form of conversation in which asymmetrical kinship relationships are maintained. The approach to analyzing laba texts as dialogical sites of cultural production is influenced by theories in ethnomusicology, anthropology, folklore and literary studies. This study also examines the relationships between poetic and melodic structure. Since laba is sung in a speech-like manner, its melodic contours are closely tied to the phonological qualities of the text. This study examines how recurring formulae form the basis for variation in both poetry and melody. Parallelism forms the basis of poetic structure, while a recurring phrase contour is the basis of an indigenous concept of melody called teisa. The analysis of laba melody and discussions of an indigenous one-melody concept draws upon perspectives offered by Alan Thrasher and Antoinet Schimmelpenninck on similar regional musics. Finally, this study examines how new contexts of laba performance and reception represent a lens through which the social impact of urbanization and capitalism on Hani village communities can be understood.  ii  Table of Contents #$"$ ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, $$# ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,  	#$# ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,& 	#$%"#,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, & 	#$%#$"$# ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, & $#"$" )
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PARTICLES USED IN LABA ENDINGS ...................................139 TABLE 5.1 PRINCIPLES OF LABA MOTIVIC VARIATION ......................................................................................182 TABLE 5.2 SUMMARY OF MOTIVIC CONTENT IN “WATER BUCKET” EXCERPT ...............................................191  vi  List of Figures FIGURE 1.1 TRADITIONAL HANI SONG CATEGORIES I ........................................................................................25 FIGURE 1.2 TRADITIONAL HANI SONG CATEGORIES II.......................................................................................26 FIGURE 3.1 EXAMPLE OF PARALLEL COUPLETS IN SEQUENCE .............................................................................94 FIGURE 4.1 PHONOLOGICAL PARALLELISM IN TWO COUPLETS ......................................................................142 FIGURE 4.2 USE OF ANTITHETICAL NOUNS ......................................................................................................145 FIGURE 4.3 REPETITION AND VARIATION FOR EMPHASIS ................................................................................146 FIGURE 4.4 EXCERPT FROM RECORDING AL1A ................................................................................................149 FIGURE 4.5 THREE REALIZATIONS OF A FORMULAIC COUPLET .......................................................................153 FIGURE 5.1 PITCH COLLECTION OF LABA MELODY ...........................................................................................158 FIGURE 5.2 EXAMPLES OF MELODIC DESCENT IN A LABA PHRASE ....................................................................159 FIGURE 5.3 GENERAL MELODIC STRUCTURE OF A LABA PHRASE .....................................................................160 FIGURE 5.4 WEIGHTED MODE USED IN LUCHUN LABA ...................................................................................163 FIGURE 5.5 MELODIC TENDENCIES IN F# PITCH AREA ....................................................................................164 FIGURE 5.6 EXAMPLE OF A PHRASE USING A SUBSET OF THE MODE ...............................................................165 FIGURE 5.7 EXAMPLES OF THE INTERCHANGEABILITY OF PITCHES B AND A..................................................165 FIGURE 5.8 LA MODE USED IN CHUXIONG YI DANCE-SONGS..........................................................................170 FIGURE 5.9 TRANSCRIPTION OF TWO YI DANCE-SONGS ..................................................................................170 FIGURE 5.10 EXAMPLE OF MONOTHEMATISM IN WU AREA SHAN’GE .............................................................171 FIGURE 5.11 MELODIC SCHEMATA FROM “WU-A-HEI-HEI” TUNE ...................................................................173 FIGURE 5.12 TRANSLATED TEXT OF “DEAR BROTHER” EXCERPT FROM AL2 ..................................................176 FIGURE 5.13 TRANSCRIPTION OF “DEAR BROTHER” EXCERPT FROM RECORDING AL2..................................177 FIGURE 5.14 TRANSLATED TEXT OF “WATER BUCKET” EXCERPT FROM RECORDING CP2 ............................187 FIGURE 5.15 TRANSCRIPTION OF “WATER BUCKET” EXCERPT FROM RECORDING CP2.................................189 FIGURE 5.16 TRANSLATED TEXT OF “DEAR SISTER” EXCERPT FROM RECORDING GM3 .................................195 FIGURE 5.17 TRANSCRIPTION OF “DEAR SISTER” EXCERPT FROM RECORDING GM3 .....................................196 FIGURE 5.18 MOST CONSTANT FEATURES OF LUCHUN LABA...........................................................................202 FIGURE 5.19 MELODIC SCHEMATA OF LUCHUN LABA .....................................................................................202 FIGURE 6.1 COMPARISON OF WEIGHTED TEISA MODES ....................................................................................223  vii  List of Illustrations ILLUSTRATION 1.1 THE LEONG FAMILY IN LUCHUN, 2000 ..................................................................................2 ILLUSTRATION 1.2 HANI TERRACED RICE FIELDS IN YUANYANG COUNTY, 2002.................................................4 ILLUSTRATION 1.3 LACEL (LEFT) WITH AUTHOR (RIGHT) IN DAXING VILLAGE, 2005 .........................................6 ILLUSTRATION 1.4 KUNMING-LUCHUN ROAD CONDITIONS DURING THE RAINY SEASON, 2005 .....................13 ILLUSTRATION 1.5 LUCHUN TOWNSHIP BUILT ON A MOUNTAIN RIDGE, 2005 ..................................................14 ILLUSTRATION 1.6 MAP OF YUNNAN IN CHINA .................................................................................................15 ILLUSTRATION 1.7 MAP OF YUNNAN AND HANI-POPULATED REGIONS ...........................................................16 ILLUSTRATION 1.8 ALSSIL’S FATHER PLAYING YUEQIN (LEFT), AND ALSSIL PLAYING SANXIAN (RIGHT), ALZEIV LOAMA, JULY 2002.........................................................................................................................21 ILLUSTRATION 1.9 YANG PIHEI PLAYING DIZI, DAXING VILLAGE, JULY 2005. .....................................21 ILLUSTRATION 1.10 VILLAGERS PLAYING BABI (RIGHT) AND MEIBA (LEFT) IN DAXING VILLAGE, JULY 2005 ...22 ILLUSTRATION 1.11 VILLAGER PLAYING WUBAO IN DAXING VILLAGE, JULY 2005 ............................................22 ILLUSTRATION 2.1 KUZAZA FESTIVAL PIG SACRIFICE AT THE SWING SHELTER AT AQLAOQ NAHHAL, 2006 ...56 ILLUSTRATION 2.2 HANI HOUSEHOLD ANCESTRAL ALTAR (AFFIXED TO WALL ON FAR LEFT) IN DAXING VILLAGE, 2006 .............................................................................................................................................56 ILLUSTRATION 2.3 MAP OF HANI MIGRATION....................................................................................................62 ILLUSTRATION 3.1 COUPLE, SIIVQLAOQ AND SALPIEL, SINGING AZI TOGETHER IN TEA FIELDS BYALZEIV LOAMA, JUNE 2006 ...................................................................................................................................103 ILLUSTRATION 3.2 SIIVQLAOQ SINGING AZI IN A CONTEMPLATIVE MANNER, 2006 ........................................103 ILLUSTRATION 3.3 SALPIEL RESPONDING TO SIIVQLAOQ’S INVITATION TO LOVE, 2006..................................104 ILLUSTRATION 3.4 BRIDE MOURNING HER DEPARTURE FROM BIRTH KIN, JANUARY 2009..............................126 ILLUSTRATION 3.5 BROTHER CARRYING SISTER TO GROOM’S HOUSE, JULY 2009.............................................129 ILLUSTRATION 6.1 HANI WOMEN’S GATHERING, DAXING VILLAGE, DECEMBER 2008 ...................................211 ILLUSTRATION 6.2 WOMEN CONVERSING WHILE PACKAGING HERBS IN DAXING VILLAGE, DECEMBER 2008 ...................................................................................................................................................................211 ILLUSTRATION 6.3 DVD COVER SHOWING HANI SINGER, LI MINGXIU, PRODUCED 2006 ..............................220  viii  Notes on Hani Orthography and Pronunciation The Hani did not have a script until 1957, when a group of linguists in the People’s Republic of China devised an orthography in response to state policies promoting the development of minority language and culture. Included in the group responsible for this orthography were linguists: Bai Zu’e, Dai Qingxia, Li Yongsui, and Wang Ersong. The script is based on the Hanyu Pinyin system, exclusively employing letters from the Roman alphabet. Since its development, this script has been used in the publication of many books, journals and newspapers, and has assisted in the analysis of much Hani oral literature. However, written Hani is not well known among a majority of Hani speakers.1 Chinese linguists divide Hani into three major dialect groups. The Hani used in this study is part of the Hani-Yani dialect group. Because the dialect of Daxing village in Luchun was selected as the standard for this dialect group, the vocabulary and grammar found in the song texts of this study fit well within the conventions of the developed orthography. Hani has both oral and laryngealized vowels.2 Three tones are spoken in oral vowels—high, medium, and low—and two tones are spoken in laryngealized vowels.3 Tonal markers are expressed in the orthography with the placement of ‘l’ or ‘q’ at the end of a syllable to indicate high and low tones respectively. Laryngealized vowels are indicated with a ‘v’ placed before the tone indicator as shown in the chart below. Hani Tone Chart (Lewis and Bai 1996) Tone Level Oral Vowels Laryngealized Vowels High --l (bal) Medium -(ba) --v (bav) Low --q (baq) --vq (bavq) All Hani syllables begin with a consonant followed by a vowel and tone indicator(s). The tables below show the different Hani vowels and consonants and their pronunciation equivalents in IPA, with additional comments on English pronunciation equivalents. For ease of reading, I have left out tone and laryngealization markers in words that appear in the body of the dissertation with the exception of people’s names. When referring to original song texts in chapter 4 and appendices, I have retained all parts of the Hani orthography. Hani names and terms taken from Chinese sources are written out according to Hanyu Pinyin and do not follow the orthographic conventions outlined above. When referring to song names, I use abbreviated song names followed by verse numbers in the following manner (AL1:32-25). Abbreviations are based on the name of the singer or their home village. Please refer to Appendix A and B for details about singers and field recordings. For transcriptions of song texts into Chinese and English, refer to Appendix C. 1  There are both historical and political reasons for a lack of interest in Hani literacy. For Hani who have not had a formal education, there is little motivation to learn to read and write Hani since written forms of communication are so foreign to them. For Hani who are educated and literate in Chinese, there is an equal lack of interest since Chinese is the language of commerce. However, these attitudes are gradually changing among some educated Hani who are finding Hani publications to be useful sources for cultural learning. 2 Laryngealized vowels are also known as ‘tight’ or ‘creaky’ vowels, which are spoken with a tightening of the larynx. 3 Linguists describe the high tone and mid tone as having level contours (55 and 33). Although some Chinese scholars hear the low tone as going from mid to low (31), Lewis hears it as a tone that is closer to 21 in utterance initial positions (1996: 11). The Laryngealized high, mid and low tones are described as two level (33 and 11) contours and a low to mid rising contour (24) respectively.  ix  Table of Pronunciation for Hani Consonants Vowels  IPA  -i  [i]  as in 'bee'  -yu  [] [Ø]  as in 'said' similar to the German 'ö'  -ee; -ii  []  as in 'quilt' with prolonged vowel sound  -e  []  as in 'the'  -a  [a]  as in 'cat'  -u  [u]  as in 'too'  -o  [o]  as in 'note'  -ao  []  as in 'dog'  -ei  English Approximation  Table of Pronunciation for Hani Vowels Consonants bdgszx-  IPA [b] [d] [g] [s] [dz]  jssy m nng hhl-  [j] [z] [j] [m] [n] [] [] [l]  []  English Approximation most consonants have similar pronunciation to English  as in 'grads' as in 'banshee' as in 'zoo' as in 'yellow'  as in 'sing' as in the Spanish pronunciation of 'g' in 'la guerra'  x  Acknowledgements Like a child playing with watercolors, I began this project seven years ago not quite knowing what shape it would take and at many points not having the confidence to continue productively. Fortunately, the colours on my easel eventually did take the form of a work that was found worthy of a place in the world of graduate theses, and for this I am indebted to many people. I would like to thank my supervisors, Alan Thrasher and Michael Tenzer for their many years of mentorship, and for their excellent advice and guidance on this particular project. Twelve years ago, your undergraduate courses left me in a tizzy of new sounds and presented me with new and more convincing ways to think about and know music. This experience led me down new paths of musical experience which I would not trade for the world. It has sharpened my musical senses and given me tools with which to explore how others know and experience music. With respect to this thesis, I thank Dr. Thrasher for reading through my work so carefully and for asking much needed questions that were fundamental to the cogency of my arguments. I benefited immensely from your expertise in this field and much appreciated your keen ability to detect and correct unclear writing. My deepest thanks also go to Michael Tenzer who later took on the role of research supervisor following Alan Thrasher’s retirement. Thank you Michael for your patience and generosity in allowing us to have weekly meetings at your home. These check-ups were essential to my progress and allowed me many opportunities to benefit from your experience as a scholar, writer and musician. Your editorial skills and input on a breadth of subject matter were so valuable to a well-rounded and succinct presentation of this topic. Thank you also for your hospitality on so many occasions. My deep gratitude also goes to Nathan Hesselink, Patrick Moore, Catherine Swatek, and John Roeder for their input especially with respect to their areas of specialization. During the external review process, Helen Rees graciously offered her expertise on minority music in Yunnan by looking through this thesis with great detail and contributing ccomments which have not only greatly improved the quality of this thesis but will certainly benefit my work in the form of future publications and further research. Thank you to all the Hani musicians and singers who generously shared their knowledge of Hani music and song with me. Although my language abilities kept us from the immediacy of untranslated conversation, your songs were enough to give me a taste of your culture’s creativity, imagination, and love for life. I hope that our conversations will continue into the future and that our voices will become more intelligible to each other with years to come. Thank you to Chen Lacel for her many hours of translation help and for acting as my language teacher and host during my visits. I owe much also to the hospitality and assistance of Nina and Brian Leong, and Keem and Nan Leong. Thank you for patiently looking through earlier drafts of chapters 3 and 5, and giving helpful comments. My gratitude goes to Karen Gainer who answered many of my questions about Hani grammatical usage and verb particles. Without this shared knowledge, I would have missed much of the subtleties of laba poetry. The work of editing and formatting the many translated song texts was aided by Zheng Mingfang, Joyce Chung, Rita Chung and Ariah Wong. Thank you also to Joyce for helping me review earlier drafts of chapter 2. There are also many people whose friendship and encouragement I could not have done without during this time. I would like to thank my husband Robert for his love and unwavering support through many difficult deadlines and trying months apart. Than you for helping me to keep my computer healthy and buying me a battery of back-up infrastructure in case there was a meltdown. Thankfully, our little MacBook xi  Pro toughed it out very well. The arrival of our daughter Hannah two years ago has given us so much joy. Others thought you might be a burden to my research, but you turned out to be a delight and a catalyst for the completion of my writing. You are so precious to us. I thank my family, especially my parents and my in-laws for their constant encouragement and practical support. Thank you for sending us food and helping us to care for Hannah so that I could be free to concentrate on my writing. I am grateful to my UBC friends for their great sense of humour and kind words. I thank my friends at CCC for their prayers and care for us as a family. Lastly, I would like to thank God, my Lord Jesus Christ for giving me the emotional stamina and intellectual insight to conduct and write up my research. Thank you for sitting beside me and encouraging me when I sat typing for long hours in front of my computer. Without you I would have never begun this project. Thank you for being my Creator, Sustainer, and the allknowing One. I worship you.  xii  Dedication  To Robert and Hannah  xiii  Chapter 1: Introduction First Encounters I was first introduced to the Hani and their oral song genre of laba in the summer of 2002 through some contacts that I had made at the Central University for Nationalities in Beijing during a language exchange the previous summer.4 I saw this as an invaluable opportunity to visit the area and encounter its regional musics firsthand. Previous to this, I had taken some undergraduate ethnomusicology courses, which had piqued my interest in the music of China’s southwest minorities. On arriving to Yunnan for the first time that summer, my goal was to travel widely and be exposed to many different minority musics and cultures, in hopes that the contacts developed in one of these settings would open doors to future research. This coincided with the first year of my graduate studies, during which time I had only the modest intentions of developing a master’s thesis project. Fortuitously, circumstances in the field and at home coincided such that this project expanded in its breadth and scope. Spurred on by the enthusiasm of Brian and Nina Leong, American linguists and aid workers who had then recently moved to Luchun to work among the Hani, I decided by the end of that summer to develop a graduate project focusing on Hani folksongs (see illustration 1.1). My initial reasons for choosing Hani folksongs out of the many other minority musics encountered that summer were purely practical—I met expatriate colleagues who were willing to support my research by hosting me and helping me to establish local contacts. Being a young single woman with little experience on the field, the invitation extended by the Leongs was a major factor in my decision to conduct my graduate research among the Hani.  4  Central University for Nationalities (Zhongyang Minzu Daxue).  1  Illustration 1.1 The Leong Family in Luchun, 2000 Since this first trip, I have returned for further fieldwork in the summers of 2005, 2006 and in the fall of 2008. The trips combined represent a series of first encounters, a set of experiences that caused me to continually revise my perception of Hani cultural attitudes toward laba—the song genre at the centre of this study—and kinship values observed through laba texts. I was not able to piece together the many apparent contradictions that I encountered between Hani views of their music and cultural identity until much later. Furthermore, during this six-year period, many changes took place in my main location of research in Luchun township—sweeping changes brought on by urbanization and the introduction of mediated global musics that caused me to reconsider the transformative state of laba as a song genre. Coinciding with these events in the field were also changes taking place in my own personal life, which heightened my sensitivity toward social dynamics within the Hani family. The following is a reflexive account describing some key individuals and social circumstances shaping my  2  fieldwork as well as issues of representation and self-representation that emerged from these contexts. Laba is the oldest extant song genre of the Hani. It is composed and performed orally in a variety of ritual contexts and can be sung as a solo or in dialogue. Laba poetry has distinct narrative structures and themes; its extemporized texts feature canonical parallelism based on a large repertoire of stock phrases. Similarly, laba melody is also extemporized based on a melodic structure that is recurring at the phrase level. Laba is sung in a speech-like manner, in which melodic contours conform closely to the phonological qualities of the text. When I first heard about this tradition through a friend, I was eager to seek it out. To my dismay, after arriving to Luchun, I discovered that many of the locals held low views of their music. As Jiuqsal, a village elder, stated: “We do not really have our own music or songs. The only thing we have is laba but their tunes are the same. Plus very few people can sing it nowadays.” Even though I knew not to take these words at face value, the prevalence of such attitudes of inferiority regarding indigenous musicmaking were nevertheless discouraging words to a young ethnomusicologist looking for a dissertation project. I was familiar with the globalizing effects of mediated music on indigenous forms of music-making from a theoretical standpoint but seeing its effects on local attitudes at the ground level was still a jolt to the system. If the locals claim that their music is dead, who was I to refute it? And how was I to conduct a research project among people who had so little interest in their own music? Ironically, I received the most encouragement to continue in my study of laba through the Leong’s who had some experience of the genre’s social importance. With additional time in the field, I soon learned that local claims of musiclessness were responses to musical assessments from without. The Hani were assessing their own indigenous traditions using other state-sponsored forms of minority music as their measuring stick. Because Hani laba melody does not lend itself easily to repackaging as  3  a staged performance, or a pop tune, it has received relatively little popular acclaim compared to the music and dance of other southwest minorities. 5 Rather, what has gained the Hani people national and international acclaim in cultural tourism is their expansive development of terraced rice-fields along the Ailao-Wuliang mountain ranges (see illustration 1.2). These outward assignments of cultural value by officialdom and the tourism industry play a major role in defining the way Hani view themselves, and how they portray themselves to others. Unbeknownst to me, my status as a graduate researcher, and my connections to Brian and Nina Leong who worked closely with local governments, linked me to officialdom in a way that caused them to respond in a conditioned manner to my questions on local music. While it was true that this region of Hani practiced very few forms of traditional instrumental music, the performance of laba and its various forms of instrumental performance continue to be very popular amongst a certain age population.  Illustration 1.2 Hani terraced rice fields in Yuanyang county, 2002 5  While Hani music of Honghe county has recently received national and international attention among the academic community, my interlocutors were not aware of these activities, and also do not recognize the Hani music of Honghe as being related to their own local music.  4  The second disappointment that I had to come to terms with during my initial trip was my hope of approaching the study of Hani music through some personal involvement in the music-making itself. Mantle Hood’s ideals of acquiring some degree of bi-musicality as an approach to understanding music and musical experience proved less feasible when dealing with a partially improvised song tradition (1971). When I first broached the subject of studying laba with my translator, Lacel, she shook her head at me as if I were asking for the sky: “Laba is impossible to learn, my dear! You either are born knowing it or you don’t know it. Besides, laba poetry is difficult to understand even for a native Hani speaker…and you want to learn to sing it when you can’t converse in Hani yet? Impossible!”6 While I have since found out that the informal process of learning laba for a native Hani involves stages of development and practice, Lacel was right in that my learning to sing laba would require additional time and effort that lay beyond the scope of this dissertation project.  In the end, the bulk of my research was done through interviews and the transcription and analysis of recorded laba texts and melody. The process has involved close work with my translator, Lacel, who spent several months helping me to translate materials, going back and forth between different laba aficionados and singers to verify the meanings of obscure metaphors and terms used in song texts (see illustration 1.3). A 6  I speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese, and have reading ability in Chinese characters. Since beginning this project, I have a learned some basic Hani vocabulary, but am not fluent in conversational Hani. I am now quite familiar with laba texts in terms of their grammatical structures and vocabulary, but am unable to understand them on first hearing. While it is true that learning to sing Hani would require many years of intensive study of Hani language and poetry, I continue to hold on to this aspiration. Pertaining to language use in my fieldwork, a majority of Hani in their thirties and below could converse with me in Mandarin or in the local Yunnan dialect. (I could understand most of their Yunnan dialect but could not speak it, while many of them understood Mandarin but could only speak in the regional dialect.) When speaking to the elderly and those who only knew Hani, I had to rely on my translator, Lacel, or on others who were present at the time and could speak some form of Chinese. Hani is significantly different from Chinese, although recently the language has adopted many more Chinese loanwords. The Hani language is a member of the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Lolo-Burmese subgroup of the Tibeto-Burman linguistic family. The language has oral and laryngealized vowels in three tones (Lewis 1996:6-11) (See also Notes on Hani Orthography and Pronunciation).  5  second part of the research, involved interviews with Lacel’s friends, during informal house gatherings, where women sat embroidering or wrapping herbal crops and men sipped ziba, a strong rice wine, around a low table. During these meetings, I asked many questions regarding cultural values, in particular relating to gender dynamics, kinship relationships and obligations, as touched upon by laba texts.  Illustration 1.3 Lacel (left) with author (right) in Daxing village, 2005 The translating portion of this project has been a learning experience for Lacel also as she understood only about three quarters of the content of laba texts at the start of the project.7 Since the completion of this work, Lacel claims to understand almost all laba content with ease, and her recently acquired skills have helped her to secure 7  I met my main research collaborator, Chen Lacel, through Brian and Nina Leong, who initially employed her as a Hani language teacher. Lacel grew up in Daxing Zhai, a village that has since become part of the larger Daixing Township. Despite her modest education (she finished junior highschool), Lacel is quick to learn and a naturally gifted teacher. She is fully literate in Hani and Chinese, is a fluent mandarin speaker, and has developed the skills to type on a word processor as well as conduct email correspondences. At the same time, she is fully immersed and knowledgeable about Hani village life, having spent many years as a farming peasant. In many ways, Lacel has been a cross-cultural agent that has met me “part-way” and helped me in translating and negotiating issues of representation in the field. Her entry into teaching and research avenues of work for foreigners like myself and the Leong’s has radically changed her life in both positive and negative ways. To an extent, she is still working out these changes as they relate to future employment and career opportunities.  6  contractual employment with laba collection projects organized by the Honghe People’s Research Institute (Honghezhou Minzu Yanjiusuo).8 Many of my observations on the laba learning process, and the use of stock phrases, and metaphors came as points that emerged from our discussions on specific texts. To a large extent, my research benefited from the fact that Lacel was engaged in the learning process herself during our collaboration. First, her position as a learner, gave her the ability to ask elders many questions without reproach. Second, she made no assumptions about what I already new and used basic language to explain concepts that she grasped. Third, I was able to track her increasingly refined understanding of laba narrative through our repeated conversations about texts and their meanings. Her process of learning provided me with insights into how others within the culture may also learn to understand and conceptualize laba narratives, metaphors and parallelisms. Because of the schedule of my studies at the university, all but one of my trips to Luchun were taken during the spring to summer months of May to August. This coincided with their rainy season and the celebration of the Swing Festival. Conducting fieldwork during only one season of the yearly cycle presents obvious barriers to wellrounded research. (I made efforts to compensate for this by requesting detailed local accounts of other festivals of the year, and by observing various videos that the Leong’s had taken of rituals that took place outside of the rainy season.) My difficulties were compounded by the fact that the rainy season marks an inauspicious period in the Hani calendar, during which time labas are not customarily sung.9 Fortunately, my research participants were most understanding of my time constraints and the exigencies of my project, and were happy to perform on request. However, this meant that I had very  8  Honghezhou Minzu Yuanjiusuo (	). The rainy season is thought to be a spiritually dark period brought on by continuous rainstorms—a time associated with mourning and funerals. For this reason, singing laba as part of life-giving rituals such as courtship and laba are discouraged. Evidently, these prohibitions were not so strong that local singers felt that they could not make exceptions for an academic requesting special performances. 9  7  little opportunity to experience spontaneous sessions of laba performance, and the social dynamics at work in such sessions. Throughout my time in Luchun, my close associations with the Leong’s and their long-term presence in Luchun played a key role in shaping local perceptions of me as a foreign scholar. I am greatly indebted to the Leongs for their continued hospitality and interest in my work. I benefited greatly from their official affiliations, as well as their close associations with villagers in Luchun. Not only did they have a convenient office set-up in the heart of a village, where I was able to conduct many of my interviews and recordings, but the timing of their travels abroad often coincided perfectly with my time in Luchun such that I was able to work closely with their main interpreter, Lacel. Furthermore, their continued association with Lacel allowed me to continue email and phone correspondence with her throughout our six years of collaboration. This was extremely useful to the process of studying and understanding laba, as I was able to return frequently (however remotely) to my research participants to clarify meanings and ask further questions about issues that cropped up during further analyses. At some points in my research, however, it was necessary for me to make distinct my research goals from the activities and programs of the Leongs. This meant communicating clearly with them also about decisions that I came to in the process of research.10 Clarifying my desired goals with my other research participants did not prove to be very difficult, though, as Lacel was very skilled at acting as my representative. The main clarifications of expectations took place between Lacel and myself in terms of how I wanted texts to be translated, and what types of questions I wished to ask of individuals during interviews. Lacel was also very helpful in teaching 10  During the beginning of my fieldwork, the Leongs were enthusiastic about my presence and the potential that my work had in assisting their projects, through applied uses of music in medical clinics and literacy workshops. In the end, I had to let them know that I was not yet ready at that stage of my research to begin an applied ethnomusicological project of that scope. Fortunately, they were able to find another local musicologist, Li Mingxiu, who helped them to compose and record a set of folksongs for use in disease prevention clinics for villagers. The song topics covered AIDS prevention and the treatment and prevention of other common health concerns such as dyssentry and eye infections.  8  me socially appropriate behavior, and helped me work out many issues of compensation and payment of singers. In some cases, I would offer a monetary gift to singers, relative to their skill and time spent. In other cases, I was shown that a gift of fruit or food was more appropriate. In regard to my payment of Lacel, I followed the payscale worked out by the Leongs, which I believed to be at par with standard wages of clerical work in the town. Throughout the years, I have also given gifts to Lacel according to her expressed needs, mostly in the form of household appliances and technical equipment that would help her in future clerical work. My position as a foreign researcher gave me close associations with officialdom that I came to accept as being unavoidable and in many ways advantageous to my research. The Luchun Hani often expressed appreciation and respect for local government administration, both in speech and practice. Although, my limited language abilities may have prevented me from noticing more subtle undercurrents of dissatisfaction, the sum of my experiences have led me to believe that many villagers feel sincerely loyal to Chinese officialdom. This is because most villagers have benefited immensely from the infrastructure development that the government has introduced to this region over the last three decades. Technological conveniences such as electricity, running water, sewage systems, and roads are changes that many Hani have seen in their lifetime and have come to appreciate as indications of good governance. In the words of one singer: It happens that in this month, on this year: Because governance is good, then everything is improving, Because the people are intelligent, then all things go well. Because of good officials and good leaders, We brothers and sisters can be together. Because of good governance, we are able to gather together. We, the eldest sons, will love each of our younger siblings, In the same way that water loves fish. (GM1: 4-9) The singer continues in the song to welcome me as the “little official from the north”. I was welcomed on numerous occasions in this manner. However, the Hani were  9  not only responding to my official status, but they considered it an honor to welcome guests who had come to visit from afar. Whenever I arrived in a new home, the host would inevitably ask where I came from, and how long the journey was. After, I explained to them the different steps of my journey, they would laugh incredulously and take my hand, saying, “What trouble you have taken to come see us. Come and stay awhile.” It was under many such circumstances that I was able to oblige laba singers and audiences to perform and speak to me about laba and how its words speak about their life. My Chinese-Canadian identity, while it raised occasional questions about my appearance, did not become a point of confusion in how others perceived me. Luchun is not a big tourist town, and so the Hani there do not see many foreign tourists. Rather their exposure to foreigners has been shaped by interactions with the Leong’s and other foreign development workers. Since Nina, a Caucasian, and Brian, a Malaysian Chinese, both portray themselves as American, my Hani friends were accustomed to meeting foreigners of mixed ethnic backgrounds and citizenship. They were quick to accept my mixed Chinese-Canadian identity once I explained to them my Chinese ancestry. What were perhaps larger issues of self-representation shaping the outcome of my research was that of gender and age. As a young woman doing laba research, I was often confronted by an age and gender barrier when speaking with men. While most men were respectful and courteous, many would answer my questions with short, general responses while the women spoke at length and with enthusiasm about both the meaning of song texts, and how these illuminated kinship values. I soon came to the conclusion that these differences in conversational dynamics were a result of gender segregation in conversations. Also, mature men likely felt less at ease with my mixed status as a foreign researcher, and also as a junior female member of society. Often my youthful appearance and perhaps seemingly naïve line of questioning caused them to place me in the latter category.  10  Other times I faced difficulties in conducting research with male singers because they misinterpreted my eagerness to hear laba, especially laba courtship songs, as an invitation to romance. Furthermore, my status as a foreign visitor who was presumed to have some financial means also at times attracted unwanted attention, not so much from singers but from their relatives and friends. Fortunately, Lacel was skilled at helping me handle these awkward social situations, and I grew increasingly adept at avoiding them also. Later in my research, I learned some ways of crossing gender boundaries through active musical exchange, but these opportunities were rare, and I inevitably found myself turning more frequently to Hani women for answers to the deeper social implications of laba texts.11 My resultant research findings are undoubtedly affected by this heavy weighting toward the female perspective. My awareness of this imbalance has caused me to strive for a more balanced portrayal of gender experience—as much as is possible given my position in the field. From an alternate perspective, studying laba as a young female was a boon. My frequent and extended stays with Lacel’s family, gave me the opportunity to join in many casual conversations and social functions. It also allowed me entrée into Lacel’s circle of female neighbors and kinswomen who saw me as a younger sister, and felt obliged to teach me many things. In this way, I was able to learn about family obligations and female experience within a male-dominated kinship structure. These fieldwork experiences also coincided with my own marriage into a Chinese family that upheld stronger views of traditional gender roles and kinship obligations than I had experienced in my birth family. These personal experiences gave me a heightened sensitivity toward the female identity in Hani kinship hierarchies, and how these are portrayed in laba dialogues. Furthermore, my period of research coincides with a time in 11 There were several occasions when I mustered up the courage to respond to a laba performance with a song of my own. Such displays were well received as gestures of hospitality and friendship. In particular, the men at the dinner table seemed to open up in conversation after these exchanges, perhaps because they felt that my musical response was a display of leadership and hospitality, which demonstrated my ability to respond socially on an equal plane with them.  11  which laba, a traditionally male-dominated performance genre, is developing new contexts of performance that are female-dominated. My female identity has allowed me to interact closely with the singers and audiences at the centre of this burgeoning revival, and to examine in depth what new meanings accrue to these new performative contexts. Hani Culture in the Ailao Mountains The town of Luchun lies 450 km from Kunming, Yunnan’s provincial capital, and can be reached by an overnight bus. In early May of 2001, I entered Kunming’s bustling Nanyou Station with two friends to board a rickety sleeper bus bound for the terraced rice-fields of Luchun. Sleeper buses are common fare for Yunnan locals who travel back and forth between the village and Kunming for work, school, medical trips, and shopping. An experienced team of drivers navigates the windy roads of the Ailao Mountains through the hours of the night, while the passengers shift about on rows of bunk beds that line the side and back of the bus. The bus rides are usually eventful affairs, with a variety of people and goods boarding and exiting throughout the night. In my earlier trips, local travelers frequently brought with them livestock such as chicks and dogs kept in baskets and bags. As the years progressed, the bus aisles were more frequently filled with large appliances and televisions sets, an indication of growing wealth and consumerism in the village.  12  Illustration 1.4 Kunming-Luchun road conditions during the rainy season, 2005 The trip during the rainy season can prove to be troublesome if not dangerous, as roads are often blocked or washed away by mud and rock slides (see Illustration 1.4). We arrived that May in the morning hours to a town built along the ridge of a mountain, with an expanse of green terraced rice fields on either side, descending to rivers encircling below (see illustration 1.5). The town itself is superimposed upon a cluster of villages. The town name of Luchun is actually a dialect pronunciation of the characters liucun, referring to the original six villages that made up the town.12 When the town was assigned its official name, alternate characters meaning “green spring” were adopted to refer to the temperate climate and greenery of the locale.13  12  The Chinese term liucun () was used used to refer to the original “six villages” that were assigned a part of the town area. Before this the villages existed separately with no Hani term referring to their collective entity. 13 Luchun (), meaning “green spring”. The origins and evolution of the town name, Luchun, seemed to be common knowledge among the townspeople. Those individuals who provided the information above included: Chen Lacel, Jiuqsal, Pilsal, Bai Zhehei (2002, 2005: personal communication).  13  Illustration 1.5 Luchun township built on a mountain ridge, 2005 Luchun township, also known as Daxing zhen, is the governing centre to the county of the same name.14 Luchun county has nine other townships, of which Luchun is the most densely populated. The county covers an area of 3096 km2 and has a population of approximately 205,000, of which 88.5% are Hani.15 Luchun county is one of thirteen counties belonging to the Honghe Hani-Yi Autonomous Region, an administrative region just below the provincial level of government.16 Luchun lies at the southwestern corner of this prefectural district and shares a southern border with Vietnam (see Illustration 1.6 and 1.7).  14  The name, Luchun, is actually commonly used to refer to both the town of Luchun and the township, which includes the town and its more remote surrounding villages. The township level of government is usually referred to as xiang (), but in the case of Luchun township, the same level of local government is called zhen (). Hence the name Daxing zhen (). County is referred to as xian (). 15 Luchun county government website, http://www.lvchun.gov.cn/dwjj.asp?dwjjid=1 (accessed December 15, 2009). 16 Honghe Hani-Yi Autonomous Region is known as Honghe Hani-Yi Zizhi Zhou ( 
	). The prefectural districts of Yunnan are known as zhou (	) or diqu () and are equal to some large civic administrative regions, known as shi ( ), such as that of Kunming and Yuxi.  14  Illustration 1.6 Map of Yunnan in China  15  Illustration 1.7 Map of Yunnan and Hani-populated regions The Hani once lived in the more fertile plains of the Kunming plateau, but were pushed south into semi-mountainous terrain by stronger tribes beginning from the 7th century (Shi 1999: 55). By the 13th century, Hani communities were well-established throughout the Ailao-Wuliang mountains, and further southwest into Xishuangbanna (57). The Aini of Xishuangbanna, and the Akha of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos share a common ancestry with the Hani of Honghe. Most recently these commonalities of language, history and culture have been celebrated in a number of academic conferences purposed to promote intercultural exchange and research among the Hani and Akha.17  17  The Sixth International Conference on Hani-Akha Culture (Diliuzhou Guoji Hani Wenhua Xueshu Goulunhui) took place in Luchun in November of 2008, to coincide with their annual Tenth Month  16  The Honghe Hani are best known for their development of extensive networks of terraced rice fields along great expanses of steep mountain terrain. Each year, thousands of tourists flock to see the terraced rice fields in Yuanyang county, where they cover a particularly steep and open expanse of mountainside (see Illustration 1.2). The Chinese government has recently applied to have these Hani terraces named as a UNESCO World Heritage site.18 Luchun is located only 140 km southwest of Yuanyang. Its rice terraces, built at more modest altitudes, have not drawn nearly as much tourism attention, leaving its townspeople to develop the local economy through more diversified means (see Illustration 1.5). While many Hani in Luchun are subsistence farmers, others participate also in the commercial export of tea and wild herbs.19 In addition to wet rice farming, other types of agriculture include the farming of tea, herbs, spices, and vegetables. Luchun villages are located at an altitude of between 1300 to 1600 metres above sea level. Its tropical, moist climate is ideal for the growth of wild medicinal herbs, mushrooms, and rare fungi. The harvesting of these wild crops contribute significantly to the distinctiveness of the local diet, and to commercial export. The Hani also raise a number of livestock in the courtyard of their homes, the most common being pigs, ducks, and chickens. The water buffalo is also a common sight in Hani villages. It is a revered animal in Hani mythology, and known to be a man’s indispensable companion in plowing the rice fields.  Festival celebrations. This last conference was jointly sponsored by the Honghe Prefectural Government and the Honghe Prefecture Ethic Affairs Commission. These conferences began in 1993 and are jointly organized by academic institutions in Thailand, China, and the International Institute for Asian Research (IIAS) in Leiden. (http://hanitalan.yxtc.net/yinyu/qita/hnyj_0001.htm viewed September 8, 2009) (http://www.hani-akha.net/mpcd/international/4th.html viewed September 8, 2009) 18 http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5346/ viewed August 5, 2009. 19 The Hani are renowned for their commercial tea industry. The world famous Pu’er tea hails from the Hani region of Pu’er in Simao, a region west of Honghe.  17  Traditionally, the Hani village leadership consisted of three individuals: the chief (zima), the priest (mopi), and the craftsman (laqi).20 Today, the Hani in Luchun have replaced the position of the chief with a group of male leaders representing elders from the various village clans. Often, clan leadership structures overlap to an extent with official government positions. The position of the priest has remained the most intact, while the role of the craftsman has been done away with due to the availability of commercially manufactured products. The Hani are a patriarchal society in which properties are passed down from father to son(s). In some cases, positions of leadership, both political and religious, are also hereditary. Male heirs are also considered important because they perform rituals to ensure their parents’ arrival to a safe resting place in the afterlife. These are all important factors shaping gender ideologies discussed in later chapters. While the Hani follow essentially the same lunar calendar as that of the Han Chinese, their observance of the months and 12 zodiac animals is markedly different. Traditionally, the Hani celebrate the tenth month of the Chinese lunar year as the first month of their calendar year. Their new year festival, which usually takes place around November, is called Zateitei. Because of Chinese cultural influences, most people today refer to Zateitei by the Chinese name shiyuenian, roughly translated to mean ‘Tenth Month Festival’, while reserving the term, New Year, to refer to celebrations surrounding the start of the Chinese lunar new year, which typically take place in early February.21 A second festival, which takes place around July of each year, is Kuzaza or liuyuenian, ‘Sixth Month Festival’.22 During this time each village and household set up swings on which children play and swing as a form of deity worship. The festival also celebrates the successful transplanting of rice seedlings. Hani religious leaders are relied 20 zima (
); mopi (); laqi ( ) (Shi 1999, 476). Although these terms are Han transliterations of the original Hani terms, they also correspond closely to the original Hani words with the exception of the tonal indicators being left out for ease of reading. 21 shiyuenian (	). 22 liuyuenian (	  18  upon to determine auspicious days for the celebration of festivals and weddings. This depends both on reading natural signs, and calculating the auspicious intersection of zodiac signs in the overlapping cycles of years, months, and days. The Hani practice a combination of animism and ancestor worship. During festival days, the most solemn rituals revolve around ancestor worship at household altars, and worship of the village god through large-scale animal sacrifices. Within recent years, infrastructure development in the town of Luchun has grown exponentially. Since my first visit to Luchun, the main street, on which most businesses are located, has nearly doubled in length. State-owned town property now boasts a large underground supermarket, condominium developments, a hospital, police station and soon-to-be-completed indoor gymnasium. All this is being erected within metres of village boundaries where traditional village housing is located. Within the village, many families are being encouraged through government grants to rebuild their homes using concrete and modern building methods. Luchun’s commercial district has brought an influx of Han Chinese entrepreneurs who have set up furniture shops, bakeries, pharmacies etc. While some Hani have had the resources and skills to benefit from this economic growth, the majority continue in forms of traditional farming. Unfortunately, social problems have arisen due to the inability of the majority functioning within the traditional economy to keep up with new consumer appetites. The economic disparity between the Han Chinese and Hani also encourage the Hani toward sinicization, particularly in the area of language. Many people admit that within the last decade the proportion of Chinese borrowed words used in daily Hani speech has multiplied severalfold compared to the past. The rapid language loss of recent years has resulted in the marginalization of laba performance. Language loss among youth, in particular, constitutes a significant barrier to the transmission of laba to successive generations.  19  Laba and the Wider of World of Music in Luchun Among the Hani in Luchun, the majority of music-making revolves around vocal song forms. Instrumental music is most often associated with courtship song traditions, functioning either as a form of accompaniment or as a type of speech surrogate. Instruments that are associated with courtship song accompaniment include the sanxian (long-necked three-stringed plucked lute), yueqin (short-necked plucked lute with three or four strings), erhu (two-stringed fiddle), dizi (transverse flute) and bawu (a free reed transverse flute) (see illustrations 1.8 and 1.9).23 Less permanent wind instruments that are used both as instrumental accompaniment and as speech surrogates in courtship songs include the babi and meiba leaves, as well as the wubao reed stalk (see illustrations 1.10 and 1.11)24  23  I have provided the names of Hani instruments in Chinese because they are most widely known by these names and because the Hani themselves often identify them using their Chinese names. The Hani names for some of these instruments are: lahe (sanxian) long-necked threestringed plucked lute; cihhao (erhu) two-stringed fiddle; and bice labi (dizi), transverse bamboo flute. 24 Although I did not have a chance to study the technique of making and blowing on the wubao, it is likely that the Hani construction and playing of the reed stalk follows closely similar practices among the Naxi as documented by ethnomusicologist Yang Zenglie (1995: 71). The reed is knotted at one end and the section below the knot pinched so that the stalk splits into multiple reeds. The end with the knot and reeds is inserted into the mouth, with the hands cupped around the part that protrudes. Blowing the tubes causes the reeds to vibrate, while the pitch is controlled by a combination of the speed of the breath, the distance of the hands from the lips and the distance of the tip of the tongue from the reeds (see also Rees 2000: 64-65).  20  Illustration 1.8 Alssil’s father playing yueqin (left), and Alssil playing sanxian (right), Alzeiv Loama, July 2002.  Illustration 1.9 Yang Pihei playing dizi, Daxing village, July 2005.  21  Illustration 1.10 Villagers playing babi (right) and meiba (left) in Daxing village, July 2005  Illustration 1.11 Villager playing wubao in Daxing village, July 2005 The babi is a small citrus leaf that is held width-wise with the top edge of the leaf held to the mouth and blown to produce a buzzing, high-pitched tone. The meiba is a larger, longer leaf that is rolled into a cone and blown from the narrow end. Both the babi and meiba have a nasal timbre, although the meiba leaf is lower pitched than the babi. Although the technique for playing each leaf is slightly different, both instruments use the same basic means of sound production: a player sets a leaf into vibration by sending a fine stream of air onto the leaf surface; the pitch is changed through a combination of  22  adjusting the embrouchure, strength of breath, and taughtness of the leaf (see also Thrasher 1990: 57-59). The wubao is a third speech surrogate instrument, which is made out of a rice or barley reed stalk. Although I did not have a chance to study the wubao closely, it is likely that the Hani construction and playing of the reed stalk follows practices similar to those of the Naxi as documented by ethnomusicologist Yang Zenglie (1995: 71). The reed is knotted at one end and the section below the knot pinched so that the stalk splits into multiple reeds. The end with the knot and reeds is inserted into the mouth, with the hands cupped around the part that protrudes. Blowing the tube causes the reeds to vibrate, while the pitch is controlled by a combination of the speed of the breath, the distance of the hands from the lips and the distance of the tip of the tongue from the reeds (see also Rees 2000: 64-65). The wubao has a high pitch range and a sharp, piercing timbre. Based on similarities of instrument construction, it is quite likely that many instruments now recognized as being of native Hani origins were first borrowed from Han music traditions. Common-practice instruments such as the erhu, sanxian, yueqin, and dizi were likely introduced to this area by the Han Chinese as early as the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) during a time of government-sanctioned migration into the Red River region (Shi 1998: 42). Likewise the common use of the sanxian, leaf, and reed stalk among courtship song traditions of several of China’s southwest minorities suggests that this musical traditions have been an areal feature of this region for some time (Catlin 1982; Rees 2000: 61-65; Thrasher 1990: 43-60). A particularly strong case can be made for musical exchange between the Hani and Yi of Honghe county, who share a similar dance instrumental traditions.25 However, this type of dance is not practiced among the Hani of Luchun township.  25  The circular social dances of the Hani of Honghe county, Azhahe township are very similar to the dage of the Chuxiong Yi, in both melody and use of instruments (Thrasher 1990). In the Hani dance tradition, the dance songs are typically led by a male on the sanxian or xianzi with the erhu, dizi, and voice as accompanying parts.  23  In Luchun, aside from a knobbed gong and drum ensemble which is used for social dance, and a percussion and suona ensemble which is used during funeral processions, most instrumental music is inextricably tied to vocal music. Since as early as the 1960s, the world of Hani folksong has included both traditional Hani songs, as well as popular Han Chinese folk tunes, political songs, and pan-minority songs introduced through local song and dance troupes.26 However, singers and music enthusiasts draw a clear distinction between the categories of traditional Hani folksong and more contemporary compositions. As Jiuqsal, an elder of Aqlaoq Nahhal explained, “the Hani only have one type of song that is really ours—that is laba. Other songs, like those of Alssil—they are composed songs. They are new songs that have a bit of the old language…but the tune is entirely different.” This elder was comparing traditional songs to those of Alssil, a blind musician and composer from Alzeiv Loama whose songs are extremely popular in Luchun.27 Although the term laba does not in fact cover the entirety of traditional Hani folksong, it is often used in this way to generalize about Hani traditional songs because laba repertory is among the most wide-ranging in thematic content and rich in religious and historical significance. Furthermore, it represents over 90 percent of commonly heard traditional Hani song repertoire. 28 Laba, also known in some regions as haba, is an orally composed song genre in which all songs are based upon the same melodic structure. The Hani recognize it as the oldest form of traditional song, which covers a variety of topics ranging from the telling of long epic narratives on mythological and historical subjects to communicating immediate concerns such as teaching children and welcoming guests. These songs are 26  Lacel explained that his mother and father had met through watching films together in the local town hall in the 1960s. She explained that most villagers had access to Chinese popular music by the early 1970s through radio and film (2008: personal communication). 27 For an introduction to Alssil (Long Aying) see Appendix A. His songs have been recorded extensively on cassette and in video format on VCD, as well as published in cipher notation in a song anthology (Long 1997). 28 I arrived at this conclusion based on local surveys of folksong repertories, as well as a survey of songs found in Zhongguo Yunnan Honghe Hanizu Minge, a Hani folksong anthology edited by Li Yuanqing (1995). In the Luchun town area, only children’s songs and a type of ritual chant performed by mopi priests are not based on laba melodic and poetic forms.  24  usually sung at the dinner table, and are performed amidst much toasting and drinking. Hence, they have been frequently referred to in Chinese as drinking songs (jiuge) even though this term masks the plurality of song topics and their social functions.29  The Hani use the term laba to denote two different categories. The first category refers exclusively to songs sung at the dinner table and the second is an umbrella term that includes the genre described above plus two other song genres: a courtship song genre, and a funeral song genre.30 The two categorizations of laba are represented in charts shown in figures 1.1 and 1.2. 31 Figure 1.1 Traditional Hani Song Categories I (based on performance context and social function)  29  Jiuge (). It is likely that laba was chosen as the umbrella term, and not those of the other two subgenres, because it is the most functionally ‘neutral’ category in the sense that laba songs do not have associations with taboo subjects such as death and sex. Also the subgenre of laba also has the largest repertory of songs, outweighing the other two genres in importance. 31 Note that the two charts are not drawn to scale but represent an approximate representiation of the repertoire size and relative social importance of the song genres and subgenres shown. 30  25  Figure 1.2 Traditional Hani Song Categories II (based on poetic and musical structure)  In both charts above, the male-female dialogue songs at the centre of this study are outlined in red. The green sections identify subgenres that belong to the category of laba. In the first chart, the categories of azi and sibling dialogues are recognized as being part of two distinct genres, azi being a genre of its own and sibling dialogues being a subgenre of laba. In the second chart, the two are included as subgenres within the larger category of laba. The second categorization suggests that the Hani recognize the different song types as having common themes and approaches to poetic and melodic composition.32  32  With the exception of their unique opening calls, each subgenre shares the same approach to textual and melodic composition. Some writers do not consider the use of laba as an umbrella term but instead point to performance similarities using terms like ‘laba melodic style’ () (Shi 1998, 1999). However, in my view, this does not address the unity of approach to poetic  26  This study is concerned with this broader categorization of laba and the commonalities shared by the three subgenres: laba, azi, and misa.33 The subgenre laba, as described earlier, includes songs with a variety of topics—ranging from bridal laments, to festival songs—all of which are performed at the dinner table. Azi are courtship songs that are by custom only permitted to be sung outdoors away from the presence of elders. Misa are mournings songs that are reserved for funerary rituals. My research focuses on dialogue songs belonging to the categories of laba and azi.34 The study of laba, in the broad sense of the term, is significant to the general understanding of Hani music since most vocal and instrumental forms draw heavily upon the poetic and melodic resources of laba. Research Aims and Methodology My methods of laba research developed gradually in response to aesthetic priorities expressed by performers and audiences. Since the oral composition of laba poetry was recognized as being central to the performance genre, I began by making many laba recordings and working intensively on transcriptions and translations of these song texts with Lacel. During these sessions, we spoke at length about grammar, differences between laba poetry compared to daily speech, and the concepts of parallelism and metaphor. At the same time I was trying to make sense of an intriguing local concept of melody—belief that all laba songs are performed to the same teisa (the Hani term for composition found between the subgenres, which include the use of parallelism and the structuring of themes. 33 When referring to issues of poetic and melodic composition (chapters 4 and 5), I use the term laba to refer to the broader category, while in discussion of social context I revert to specific references to laba and azi as subgenres (chapter 3). In the other chapters, the term laba most often refers to the more general category, although when speaking of differences between the subgenres, I occasionally revert to usage of the more specific term. These should be clear according to context. 34 The absence of misa in this study is mainly a result of people’s reluctance to speak about funeral rites, and songs about the dead. Their fear stems from their belief in the power of dead spirits to bring bad luck upon the living, if they are not properly treated or spoken of. For a thorough study of misa and Hani funeral rituals in Xiazixiong village, Gekui, Luchun county see M.A. thesis by Cao Jun (2004).  27  melody). Since each performance of laba clearly did not share an identical melody (from the Western musical standpoint of having a common sequence of pitches and rhythms), I was interested in finding out what parts of laba melodic structure constituted this local concept of sameness, and what types of variations were allowable within this framework. In addition, the aesthetic unity of poetry and melody in laba presented a challenge and invitation to examine the relationship between two densely interwoven aspects of this oral genre. This led me further to consider the role of linguistic and melodic formulae as building blocks in interconnected generative processes. The ethnographic significance of laba texts did not emerge as a major part of this study until much later in the research process. This is because the cultural significance of laba narrative themes and rhetorical conventions only became apparent to me after having collected and studied a fairly large number of laba texts. At this point I began to make connections between cultural ideologies presented within laba performance and ways in which these ideologies are lived out and contested in actions and speech outside of laba. This made for a rich dialogical approach to ethnography as proposed by Bruce Mannheim and Dennis Tedlock (1995). Laba represents a site of cultural negotiation between gendered voices. These gendered discourses also engage in dialogue with speech and practices outside of the framed text. In my writing, I have attempted to portray the dialogical nature of these voices. My research has been influenced by writings in ethnomusicology, anthropology, folk studies, and literary studies, drawing from the theoretical perspectives of multiple scholars.  28  Close But Not the Same The first stories, the first harangues, and the first laws were in verse; poetry was discovered before prose; this had to be so, since the passions spoke before reason. The same was so for music: at first there was no music at all other than melody, nor any other melody than the varied sound of speech, the accents formed the song, the quantities formed the meter, and tone spoke as much by sounds and rhythm as by articulations and voices. In olden days to speak and to sing were the same thing…(Rousseau 1712-1778: 318). In his famous writings on the origins of music, Rousseau argues for the origins of music within speech. Music emerged naturally from the voice, in conjunction with language; its brilliance motivated by the passions. The unity between speech and song only became separate through a degenerative process that rendered song an artificial “imitation of the accents in the speaking or passionate voice” (Derrida 1976: 196). And yet, melody and language, although they share some degree of unity in song, are clearly not the same at present. As Derrida argues, if melody and language were truly united at their genesis, we have no history of its existence, and “the history that follows…is nothing but the story of the separation between song and speech” (199). Counter to Rousseau’s claims of music’s origins in nature, Derrida argues for the necessary origins of music within society. He states that “if music presupposes voice, it comes into being at the same time as human society. As speech, it requires that the other be present to me as other through compassion…Song is at the orient of music but it does not reduce itself to voice any more than voice reduces itself to noise” (196). If Rousseau had had a chance to meet the Hani, they would have had a great many things to speak about regarding melody and language. Firstly, Rousseau would probably have heralded laba as an example of the original unity of melody and language. The Hani would likely have agreed with this view, as they attribute special authority and age to laba melody and texts. When performing a historical epic, they perform in the laba genre only those events in the distant past, and revert to speech when recounting  29  events of more recent history (Shi 1998: 366-367). Secondly, like Rousseau, the Hani view laba as being on a continuum with speech. In a home setting, it is common for laba to be interspersed within conversation as a way of attributing authority, historicity, religious or honorific significance to words that could also be spoken. When outdoors, laba is sung as a form of playful banter when traveling or at work, its dialogical nature bringing it close to speech in function. Thirdly, Rousseau’s claims to the unity of melody and language are persuasive in light of the close relationship between text and melody in laba. Laba’s melodic motives and phrases conform closely to the text’s tonal contour, and its rhythms and accents outline the inherent rhythmic qualities of the text. Concomitantly, I do not think that the Hani would be unfriendly toward Derrida’s counterarguments for the necessity of a social context in which melody, like speech, is rendered meaningful. My fascination with laba as a verbal art form has been fueled by an abiding interest in text-melody relationships, particularly in cultures where the two operate in a speech-song mode that evokes Rousseau’s descriptions of primordial melody. The fact that melody and speech have evolved so closely together, and yet are such distinct modes of communication, each having its own syntax and structure, presents a challenge to the study of sameness and difference in genres where the two are closely intertwined. This study describes the types of linguistic-musical interactions that take place in performance which contribute to a sense of unity between poetry and text. It also examines points at which the unity of poetry and melody breaks down, and each articulates independent aesthetic goals. Although the close relationship between melody and language has always been assumed in Chinese music scholarship, relatively few studies have examined the verity of these assumptions based on poetic, linguistic and musical analyses. The small collection of works that examine the practical workings of text-melody relationships in East Asian languages pertain to Chinese operatic traditions. A seminal work in this area  30  of study is Bell Yung’s Cantonese Opera: Performance as Creative Process (1989). This study provides an insightful analysis of the varied and complex relationship between language tones and melodic structure found in different song forms of Cantonese opera (1989). Other scholars whose works examine the relationships between poetic structure, linguistic tones and melodic structure in Chinese opera include Rulan Chao Pian (1972; 1975), Elizabeth Wichmann (1991), and Jonathan Stock (1999). Among these works, both Yung and Stock acknowledge that in practice, there are points at which melodic structure is given priority over adherence to language tones. How these competing aesthetic considerations are worked out in practice form an integral part of performance creativity and overall style that is often not readily recognized by either performers or mainland scholars (Stock 1999: 185, 200). This study examines similar issues of adherence to and departure from tone-melody relationships in a specific genre of minority folksong. As may be presumed from the general differences between operatic traditions and folksong genres, my findings reveal that Hani singers exercise a greater degree of structural freedom when composing both poetry and melody, and that correspondence between speech tones and melody functions according to less complex rules than is the case in operatic traditions.35 Nevertheless, this research deals with similar questions of language-melody relationships, drawing from common approaches to poetic and melodic analysis. In laba poetics, parallelism emerges as the most pervasive structure ordering patterns of sameness and difference. Roman Jakobson defines canonical parallelism as existing when “certain similarities between successive verbal sequences are compulsory or enjoy a high preference” particularly “in metrically or strophically corresponding positions” (1987: 146, 145). In chapter 4, I examine the different types of parallelism that exist within laba poetry, relating these patterns to Lord and Parry’s concept of formula 35  Some obvious differences between Chinese operatic traditions and folksong genres such as laba include the use of written versus oral texts, and the use of melodic forms such as aria types and fixed tunes, which differs largely from the homogeneous melodic texture of laba.  31  in oral texts. Parry defined formula as “a group of words which is regularly employed under the same metrical conditions to express a given essential idea” (1930). With some adaptation, I have used formula in laba to refer to the linking of a specific parallel grammatical construction with a metaphorical idea or a line of argument. I posit that laba formulae are used in a similar manner to those found in Yugoslav epics by Lord and Parry, as a basis for oral composition and extemporization. In chapter 5, this same concept of formula is applied to the melodic phrase. Here I adapt concepts of periodicity as explored in recent writings on world music analysis (Tenzer 2006) as a tool for studying repetition and variation in laba phrase units. Repetition and variation in melodic phrases are shown in many cases to closely mirror aspects of phonological and syntactical parallelism in laba poetry. However, melodic phrase formulae are sometimes shown to assert their own aesthetic drive. In such cases, the importance of maintaining melodic periodicity overrides the need for tonal and rhythmic correspondence to the poetry, showing laba melody and poetry to operate by independent aesthetics that sometimes compete in their tendencies toward sameness and difference. Such instances show oral composition to involve complex processes of unconscious mediation between poetic and musical priorities, which are constituted through continual use. Dialogue and Narrative as Ethnographic Threads In The Dialogic Emergence of Culture, Dennis Tedlock and Bruce Mannheim critique a Saussurian approach to the study of culture which “focus[es] on the individual actor as the source of parole or speech” (1995: 1). In siding with Jakobson’s vehement objections to the monologic basis of language (he went as far as to declare that monologue is a social pathology) (1953: 13), Tedlock and Mannheim argue that:  32  language, as a shared system, becomes an emergent property of dialogues rather than being granted ontological priority over all speech. Dialogues no longer consist of monologues added together, but are the very scene of production for shared language structure that may later be bent to the purposes of a monologue (1995: 1). By extension, they argue for a dialogic approach to anthropology which “radicalizes the phenomenological critique, refusing to privilege disciplinary discourse and instead locating it on the same dialogical ground as other kinds of discourse” (1995: 2). I have found Tedlock and Mannheim’s critique compelling and have made efforts to present many translations of original laba texts in my cultural analyses. The inherent dialogism in laba texts made this approach to ethnographic presentation all the more natural. The discursive nature of laba texts is seen both in the way that dialogues themselves are functionally multivocal in perspective and in how textsdialogically relate to other forms of discourse. Narrative in laba is also equally open-ended in its possible interpretations. As shown in the azi narratives of chapters 3 and 6, metaphors and meanings are reworked in new social contexts to communicate messages relevant to the times. Julie Cruikshank argues for the ability of Yukon storytellers to “build connections where rifts might otherwise appear” (1998: 2). In a similar manner, laba singers use conventional themes to make links between the past and present in meaningful ways. Hence, even narrative, which may have once seemed capable of seamless closure, is more accurately viewed as dialogically constructed and contingent. Using these theoretical perspectives, the significance of micro-structures examined in chapters 4 and 5 are brought into focus in chapters 2, 3, and 6, which examine the macro framework of text as dialogue and narrative. These chapters consider the contested meanings of texts in varying social and historical contexts, in particular focusing on laba dialogue as the site of negotiation for gender identities and kinship hierarchies. Chapter 2 presents research on some mythological and historical epic labas,  33  and compares this with the short labas at the centre of this study. I argue that the continuing popularity of short labas and the gradual waning of epic labas in Luchun is not a reflection of the relative age of the subgenres but rather results from changes to village authority structures, and to the gradual secularization of laba performance.36 Chapter 3 looks at the contrasting social contexts of laba performance, and aspects of learning and transmission. This is followed by an introduction to common themes in male-female dialogue songs, and how these come together to create narrative structure in a song. This analysis focuses on the multivalence of themes as they are reinterpreted in the context of two types of contrasting dialogues: those between lovers, and those between siblings. Chapter 6 continues the study of textual multivalence by examining the use of azi courtship songs in performances that are increasingly dominated by women. The chapter looks at the social circumstances that have led to shifts in laba’s social prestige, and changes in its illocutionary force relative to other forms of discourse.37 Related Regional Studies Folksong Categories and Related Minority Song Cultures Among the three main categories of Chinese folksongs, haozi (work cries), shan’ge (mountain songs), and xiaodiao (urban tunes), laba is most closely associated with 36  Here I am referring to the fact that in the past, epic laba used to be performed by hereditary priests, beima (today’s mopi) whose prolific performances would be well known and revered by village members. In the last century, the authority and prestige of the beima has been undercut by the presence of local state authority, which in turn has led to a gradual secularization. While Hani religion and ritual continue to play essential parts in village life, their forms have changed, leading to a decrease in laba performances given by beima. Instead, shorter labas are maintained by a broader base of performers. Their songs are more pragmatically related to religious ritual, and feature kinship relationships, and village identity as main song topics. These songs also make oblique references to mythical and historical personalities which were once central narratives in beima epic labas. 37 Illocutionary force and perlocutionary effect were terms first introduced by J.L. Austin in How to Do Things with Words. They have since been used in linguistic anthropology, particularly among scholars of speech act theory and performance theory. Illocutionary force refers to the potential of a speech act in bringing about social action e.g. a promise spoken and carried out in action. Perlocutionary effect refers to action taken as a result of a speech act e.g. the act of fulfilling a promise. Both rely upon common understandings of the speech act between the speaker and addressee (see also discussion in note 141).  34  mountain songs. This is because of the popularity of the subgenre, azi, which is essentially like the shan’ge of the Han Chinese in its social function and performance context. Laba also shares broad musical similarities with other regions of shan’ge. Its flexible pulse, and frequent high sustained pitches sung on vocables resemble musical features found in Shaonian shan’ge (Du and Body 2000) as well as Wu area shan’ge in Jiangsu (Schimmelpenninck 1997). However, as alluded to earlier, laba is not exclusively a courtship genre, and differs from other shan’ge genres in this respect. Rather it defines a traditional style of oral performance that is practiced in songs relating to almost all social and ritual circumstances. Laba fulfils diverse social functions and is performed between people of differing social relationships in both outdoor and indoor settings, in public and in private. The pervasiveness of laba in Hani social life is remarkable, especially given its melodic homogeneity. The prominence of melodically homogeneous song genres among ethnic groups in Southwest China, regions of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand is an important musical phenomenon that has received relatively little scholarly attention. Alan Thrasher has written about the melodic homogeneity of dance songs among the Chuxiong Yi of Yunnan who acknowledge a stylistic unity in their songs but conceive of them as distinct tunes. In contrast, the singers of the Wu area in Jiangsu acknowledge that most of their songs are sung to the same tune, such that songs can only be differentiated by text (Schimmelpenninck 1997: 224). This is also the case with courtship songs among Han Chinese in Kunming,38 among the Hani and Miao of Yunnan, the Dong and Bouyei of Guizhou, 39 the Hmong of Thailand (Catlin 1992), and the Khmhu of Laos (Proschan 1989). In many of these song cultures, the approach to oral composition is very similar to that observed in Hani. The texts are extemporized based on a common repertoire of 38 Alan Thrasher observed courtship performances among Han Chinese in Kunming in 1988. I observed similar performances in Kunming parks in 2005. 39 I confirmed the presence of indigenous one-melody concepts while conducting brief visits and interviews with some Miao and Bouyei at the University of Guizhou in Guiyang, with the Dong of Rongjiang and the Bouyei of Duyun, Guizhou (July 2001).  35  verse formulae, and there exists a close relationship between the phonological features of the text and the melody. These songs are often sung antiphonally in courtship and have instrumental speech surrogates such as the leaf, reed, or jaw harp (Catlin 1992; Proschan 1989). This study contributes to the understanding of these song forms as a regional phenomenon. Hani Folksong Studies The 900-page anthology Zhongguo Yunnan Honghe Hanizu Minge (Folksongs of the Hani nationality of Yunnan, China), edited by Li Yuanqing (1995) represents a major contribution to the study of Hani folksongs. Li lists eight categories of Hani folksongs: haba/laba (drinking songs), aci/azi (courtship songs), anito (children’s songs), ranagucha (lullabies), ranamibi (wedding songs), misa (mourning songs), mopitu (offering songs), and luzuo (dance songs). These are further divided into subtypes based on aspects of performance and function. The anthology introduces the general features of text and melody: presenting a tripartite division of verse structure, introducing the verse couplet as a basic poetic structure, and providing a summary analysis of rhythm, mode and melodic contour among the represented regional melodies. The breadth of this collection is impressive. In addition the source of songs is well documented, with biographical information on singers, and tables listing details about fieldwork activities and participants. Li also included ethnographic information on the use of songs in festivals and rituals, documenting in detail differences between regional terminologies. Some weaknesses found in Li’s work pertain to issues of categorization and musical analysis. Firstly, Li strives to present the richness of Hani musical culture through describing the diversity of song types. However, his work does not present at length the many performative and stylistic interrelationships between the song categories. Secondly, the musical transcriptions and analyses in the anthology lack clarity with respect to rhythm and mode: (1) the use of multiple meters in transcribing  36  songs with a flexible pulse often results in overly descriptive representations that obfuscate rhythmic and melodic regularities; (2) in his analysis of mode, many sliding tones and semitones which act contextually as substitution tones for more stable pitches in a pentatonic series are considered to be functionally unique pitches in expanded six and seven tone collections. It is also unfortunate that the anthology does not contain complete poetic and musical transcriptions of a single song.40 This, again, was perhaps because Li aimed to present a maximal range of regional materials and song types. As such, this anthology does not represent an ideal resource for the comprehensive study of song themes and narrative structure. Finally, the anthology would be greatly enhanced with accompanying audio materials, especially because of the problems mentioned previously about the quality of musical transcriptions. Nevertheless this volume is valuable as the most comprehensive survey of regional Hani folksongs to date. The anthology documents regionally diverse melodies that appear to share similarities in modal make-up and melodic phrase structure, suggesting a strong historical relationship between these regional forms. Furthermore, the anthology has helped to verify the widespread presence of the Luchun melody analyzed in this study, showing its existence in parts of the county where I did not have a chance to visit. Yunnan music scholar Zhang Xingrong has perhaps contributed the most to Hani music’s reputation in international academic circles (Rees 2001: 686-688). His ongoing partnership with Hani musicians in Puchun village has made possible the dissemination of quality video and audio recordings as well as national and international touring opportunities for a group of musicians residing in Puchun village,  40  Most songs presented contain a transcription that ranges from two to four pages. Although the total length of songs is not stated, my experience has been that songs range from 15 minutes to several hours in length. Hence what has been published is merely a fraction of a song’s actual content.  37  Honghe county.41 Much of his writing focuses on the distinctive mode used in azi melodies of Puchun village, Honghe county, which he compares to the hemitonic Japanese miyakobushi mode (2003: 116-117). He has also called attention to the intricate multi-part singing of Hani azi, calling it a “new discovery of eight-part polyphonic singing” (Zhang 1997). These claims, however, have met with strong objections from some local scholars who argue that polyphonic singing among the Hani is not unique among Yunnan minority cultures, and therefore should not be declared a “new discovery”.42 While the present study does not examine Hani melody in multi-part performances, I did encounter forms of this singing in Luchun and am equally fascinated by its musical dynamics. From what I know presently, it is likely that singers conceive of both forms of singing in similar ways, relying on a melodic structure that focuses on broad contrastive movements from an unstable pitch area to arrival at a stable tonic. However, this area of research will have to be pursued in future projects (see conclusion of chapter 6). This study aims more modestly to address questions of melodic phrase structure and mode in dialogue performances involving two people. Laba and Ethnic Re-imaginings Recent ethnomusicological writings have focused on Chinese minority music as a contested site of cultural production. Sue Tuohy has borrowed Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities to refer to the fluidity of cultural representations in hua’er shan’ge.43 Similarly, Helen Rees has argued for the agency of Naxi musicians in  41  A music ensemble from Puchun village were featured at the Amsterdam China Festival in 2005 (http://home.planet.nl/~chime/). 42 Personal correspondence with Li Hanjie and Bai Xueguang (July 2006). Li Hanjie is a retired ethnomusicologist residing in Kunming. He wrote a nationally acclaimed book titled, An Outline to Musicology of the Ethnic Minorities in Yunan [sic] (Yunnan Shaoshu Minzu Yinyuexue Gailun) (2001). Bai Xueguang is a native Hani and ethnomusicologist who has a research position at the Research Centre for Yunnan Nationalities Arts (Yunnansheng Minzu Yishu Yanjiusuo,   ). He was also a contributor to Li Yuanqing’s edited volume Zhongguo Yunnan Honghe Hanizu Minge (Folksongs of the Hani nationality of Yunnan, China) (1995). 43 Tuohy describes the many ethnic groups and scholarly communities that construct varied imaginings of hua’er as a local music embodying the spirit of the Great Northwest, and as state-  38  constructing narratives that simultaneously portray Dongjing music as a precious remnant of ancient Chinese music, and as music imbued with Naxi ethnic qualities (2000: 192). The multiculturalism of communist state policy and the market forces of cultural tourism have asserted an influence on virtually all forms of minority music-making. However, surprisingly the circumstances of laba performance in Luchun have not been radically transformed by either of these forces (see chapter 6). Rather the changes that are taking place have more to do with the general effects of modernization on oral art forms.44 In many respects, laba texts celebrate continuity with past traditions and a common identity in shared ancestry. Although singers always show an awareness of present relationships and circumstances, they strive to make the past relevant to the present, using history to teach, affirm, justify, and even bless a proposed course of action. For this reason, this study focuses on laba narrative as it relates to Hani identity and cultural discourse. While laba texts deal with contested constructions of ethnic identity in relation to the Han Chinese and other ethnic groups (chapter 2), these negotiations take place in a narrower field of cultural production from those examined by Tuohy and Rees.45 Yet these local discourses are not lacking in complexity as shown in the analysis of two laba dialogues illuminating patrilineal kinship structures (chapter 3). Chapter 6 discusses the impact of modernity and urbanization on the contexts of laba performance, and examines the ways in which female-dominated performance sessions transform the social function, composition, and reception of azi texts.  sanctioned music capable of representing qualities of multi-nationality and nation-building. (1988: 6). 44 Here I refer to the effects of television and popular music in usurping the place of laba singing in the home as a regular pastime. Also Hani youth embrace modernity and seek to participate in it through the consumption of popular music over that of traditional oral song forms. The development of infrastructure has also increased the mobility of villagers, which in turn has indirectly affected the social contexts of laba performance (see chapter 6). 45 By this, I mean that Tuohy and Rees’ research deals with minority people representing themselves to national and international audiences while this study focuses on local interpretations of song.  39  Chapter 2: Laba Scholarship and Hani History Introduction When our Hani ancestors crossed the turbulent Nuoma River in the seventh month, the waters of the river were the highest in the year. The beima priest who carried the Book of Words was not careful and the river swallowed up the book. With that, the Hani written language was lost. From thenceforth, the beima was charged with the responsibility of remembering all the classic and sacred texts of the Hani. (Shi 1998: 360-361) This story from the historical epic laba, Abei Congpopo, gives an indication of the early importance that laba had as religious and historical literature. It also reveals an early awareness of differences between literate and oral traditions and the social prestige attached to the former over the latter. Although historical evidence suggests that the Hani did not use early forms of writing, this story claims that they were once literate but became a people who relied on oral texts due to an unfortunate accident. Why orality is portrayed as a lesser alternative to writing is difficult to say, but it may have been because the Hani had historical contact with literate cultures such as the Han, whose political and military prowess caused them to view their own oral cultural practices with a tinge of inferiority. Their orality is presented not as a choice, or an original state of affairs, but as an exigency befalling their migratory status. The whimsical nature of this passage curiously undercuts the usual solemnity and veneration inspired by laba performance and its carriers. The cultural inversion carries over to the status of the beima, a priest of high position in Hani society, who is instead portrayed as a clumsy fellow whose ultimate punishment is the preservation and transmission of these lost texts. Considering that beima priests are the singers of this tale, this subtle form of self-denigration was perhaps meant to be humorous and to express modesty, a desirable virtue even among the best singers.  40  The main purpose of this chapter is to survey Shi Junchao’s scholarship on epic labas, and to contextualize this study of short labas within this larger body of work. Shi is a professor of minority literary studies at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences.46 He is himself Hani. Shi is among the most prolific scholars of Hani oral poetry, having assisted in the collection and editing of numerous Hani epics since the mid-eighties. He has also written widely on the social and historical implications of these collected texts.47 In addition, Shi has also edited a significant ethnography on the Hani.48 His work is generally well respected among Han Chinese and native Hani scholars.49 Guided by his insights, this survey accomplishes two other purposes. In summarizing two major epics collected by Shi, Woguo Ceniguo50 (hereafter Woguo) and Apei Congpopo51 (hereafter Congpopo), we are presented with both major myths, which form the backbone of Hani religious beliefs and practices, and an overview of Hani migration history, which plays an important part in shaping contemporary understandings of ethnic identity. Such a portrayal of Hani history based on laba texts is not meant to be a purely factual account. Rather, laba narratives intermingle both historical and mythological events. The narratives, as a whole, represent indigenous interpretations of a group history, which is personal and relevant to contemporary views of identity and belonging. In Luchun, these myths and histories are grasped firmly by a few elderly individuals and specialists. However, most Hani have a limited knowledge of these epic texts. Instead their understandings of history and religion are shaped by the more pragmatic texts of short labas. Although Shi presents epic and short labas as two distinct 46  Shi Junchao is a professor at the Centre for Nationalities Literary Studies (Minzu Wenxue Yanjiusuo) at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences (Yunnansheng Shehui Kexue Yuan).  47 See Hanizu Wenxueshi (1998). 48 See Hanizu Wenhua Daguan (1999). 49 Shi’s work is well respected by Zhang Xingrongformer professor of minority music studies at the Yunnan Arts Institute; his work is also recognized by Hani humanities scholars Bai Xueguang and Fu Yongshou 	(2006: personal communication). 50 Woguo Ceniguo is a mythological epic whose title means approximately “twelve paths”. 51 Abei Congpopo is a historical epic whose title means ”migration history“.  41  periods of literature, I argue that the two subgenres are related thematically and are interpreted in a similar manner by audiences as a form of speech that draws continuity with the past and emphasizes the constancy and wisdom of generational practices and values. This chapter is organized in three sections. The first section presents a summary and critique of Shi Junchao’s work on laba epics. The second section compares the presentation of myths and religious themes in epic and short labas. The third section presents an overview of Hani migration history based on the historical epic, Congpopo. Following this, I discuss common themes of identity and belonging that emerge from Congpopo and compare these to similar themes found in short labas. Summary and Critique of Existing Laba Scholarship With the ending of the Cultural Revolution in 1976, the decades following marked a sharp increase of local scholarship on minority cultural studies. Such was the case for Hani minority studies. The last three decades have seen a burgeoning in government-supported initiatives for the collection of Hani oral literature and song.52 Among the most significant contributions is that of Shi Junchao, whose collection of mythical and historical epics has won him recognition in the Chinese academic community.53 Shi relies heavily on recently collected texts of Woguo, and Congpopo in constructing a literary history of the Hani people (1998). In other writings, he also combines historical information from laba texts with that of Chinese documents, working toward a general historical reconstruction of Hani origins and migration (1999). Shi applies his extensive knowledge of all major Hani literary works to drawing cross-disciplinary connections between diverse areas such as archeology, geography, 52  Bai 1991; Bai 2004; Jiu 1993; Honghe 2002; Zhang 1989; Zhao 1990; Xishuangbanna 1992. Shi edited and translated into Chinese a version of the mythical epic Woguo Ceniguo (	 ) sung by a prolific singer of Yuanyang County, Zhu Xiaohe (
). The poem is a two-part work, exceeding 280,000 lines in length. His publication of 1992 won the 2005 first prize from the Foundation of the Yunnan People’s Government for the Study of Minority Language and Arts ( ).  53  42  anthropology and history. He identifies four historical periods of Hani literary development: the Woguo-Nuju period (Neolithic Stone Age to 2nd century BC), the Migration period (2nd century BC to 10th century CE), the Beima period (10th century to 1949), and the Modern period (beginning from the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 to present). Shi attributes the development of the mythological epic labas to the first period of literary development, in which Woguo Ceniguo and Shier Nuju are representative works. Migration epic labas are the material of the second period, one of the most important being Abei Congpopo, a poem that traces Hani migration from present-day southern Sichuan to southern Yunnan. The third period is called the Beima period because of the importance of beima priests in the development of laba during this time. The labas of this period are described as being more realistic, dealing with more recent subject matter. In addition, they are shorter in length and usually serve a functional purpose in ritual. (The courtship and wedding laba analyzed in chapter 3 belong to this period of literature.) The fourth period consists of contemporary written literature, which Shi views as an extension of the traditional oral works of the previous three periods.54 This last period is the only one in which written narratives, and not orally performed laba texts are the central genre of study. The interconnections that Shi draws between Hani migration narratives and other historical evidence are extremely compelling. In his reconstructive efforts, Shi matches detailed geographical descriptions found in historical epics with actual geographic locations in present-day Sichuan and Yunnan. Using Chinese historical documents as corroborative evidence, he proposes that epics such as Congpopo, though partially mythical in nature, also retain an astounding degree of historical accuracy given their oral nature. Shi argues that these epics were developed during their migratory history between 4th century BC to 7th century CE (1998: 46). 54  Shi refers here to works written after the Cultural Revolution, from the early 1980s to the present. These new Hani writings sprung up simultaneous to a revival of folksong collection and research (47).  43  However, Shi’s account of laba literary development delves only superficially into processes of orality and its role in the development and transformation of texts. While Shi acknowledges that oral transmission has led to literary change in the course of history (1998: 45-47), in his analyses of recorded texts, he often assumes that the main essence of a text has not changed since its origins (1998: 356-410). Shi’s approach to textual analysis reflects a strong adherence to Marxist social evolutionary frameworks. Such academic framing views literary development through the lens of social progress, pointing to how literary themes reflect stages of economic and social development. The need to fit a mandated model leads to conclusions that at times oversimplify the historical processes shaping the transmission and reception of oral texts.55 Shi assumes that mythological epics, such as Woguo, necessarily pre-date historical epics, such as Congpopo, since the content of mythological epics is believed to represent a pre-historic time. This view assumes rather simplistically that mythological stories merely reference a far past that cannot be remembered factually, as in historical narrative. However, such a conclusion neglects to take into account the fact that events of a supernatural nature occur frequently in the narratives of Congpopo also. Woguo, in turn, has some narrative sections that seem quite historical in nature, such as the account of the origins of the three main village leaders. Given these observations, the mythological/historical categories that Shi assigns to Woguo and Congpopo appear somewhat forced. Since both epics appear to have different narrative sections that are mythological and historical in nature, instead of interpreting mythological material as being a distorted recollection of the past, it may be more accurate to consider mythological labas as evolving texts that are constantly being re-created in the process of transmission such that its content also reflects historical concerns of other times—  55  While modernist interpretations of social and historical development continue to inform the writing of some scholars and ordinary people, one must acknowledge that anthropological discourse at large has moved on from these theoretical frameworks as shown in the writings of He Ming (2005) and Tong Enzheng (1995).  44  possibly even those of recent times. Although Shi is aware of different versions of oral texts, he does not delve deeply into how different versions of texts might relate to each other, and how performers of different regions might change texts to fit their cultural needs. Rather, he assumes that changes in oral transmission, though present, do not significantly change the core essence of a text. While narrative accounts in Congpopo refer back to events that took place during their migratory history, it seems more likely that Congpopo only took shape in its epic form later during their settlement period in the Red River region of southern Yunnan starting from 7th century CE. The Hani were firmly established in their current homes in the southwestern region of Xishuangbanna, and the south central Red River region of Yunnan by the 9th century (Shi 1999: 55-57). It is likely that the language and performance practice of laba developed most extensively during the latter years of their settlement period, when there was relative social and economic stability to support continuous development of the arts. Assuming that a settled and stable society favored artistic growth, it may have been the case that the canonization of most of the epic labas, those mythological and historical, took place between the 9th and 17th century. (The period following the 17th century was marked by greater unrest as the Qing dynasty asserted more centralized rule over local governments in Yunnan following a regional rebellion raised by General Wu Sangui).56 There are also other reasons why Woguo and Congpopo might be considered to have developed during a similar period following the Red River settlement. Firstly, based on similarities of narrative structure, poetic language, and performance practice, mythological and historical labas appear as contemporary texts. Secondly, the fact that the Aini of Xishuangbanna (a branch of the Hani that migrated from central to 56  Wu Sangui’s rebellion was part of a larger wave of civil unrest known as the Revolt of the Three Feudatories (1674-1681). Following the unrest, tribal rule and pre-existing arrangements of suzerainty came under suspicion and the Qing dynasty government exercised greater authority over local governments of Yunnan.  45  southwest Yunnan after 7th century AD) do not have analogous versions of Woguo and Congpopo within their oral texts. This would suggest that perhaps these works were only developed as oral epics resembling their present form some time after the start of the Red River settlement. Introduction to Woguo Ceniguo and Apei Congpopo The Hani view Woguo Ceniguo as the oldest and most important song in laba repertory. This epic narrative contains approximately 28,000 verses and requires seven days and eight nights to perform in its entirety. In practice, it is uncommon to hear an entire performance of Woguo from beginning to end, but excerpts or chapter units are chosen for performance during relevant rituals and festivities. Woguo is divided into two major parts with twelve chapters in each part, totaling twenty-four chapters. These twenty-four chapter units are also sometimes conceived of as twelve pairs, a number corresponding to the twelve lunar months, symbolizing completeness and correspondence to natural order. The title, Woguo Ceniguo, can be translated “Twelve Paths”, “Twelve Streams” or “Twelve Chapters.” The Hani term, woguo, refers to small pathways in the mountain created by streams, which flow down to irrigate the rice fields. In much of Hani poetry, metaphors of nature are often used to illuminate and enliven the description of human-made objects or cultural customs. In this case, the term woguo refers both literally to twenty-four divisions of the song, much like chapter units, and metaphorically to pathways, which attributes several positive qualities to the text: the chapters are like pathways or streams that flow through mountainous terrain, covering an exhaustive range of subject matter, and expounding on knowledge that is thought to originate itself from nature. The following passage from the opening of Woguo alludes to these very qualities and explains the significance of the chapter divisions (woguo) and its paired structural groupings:  46  Remember well, children of our ancestors: How many woguo did the heaven god give us? They are like twelve broad roads that lead in all four directions. How many woguo did the heaven god pass on to us? Each woguo is like a husband and wife, forming pair upon pair, The all-powerful heaven god would not have told it wrong to us. The twenty-four woguo yet again split into two. Those that are sung in the morning are called ‘Yanben Heben’; Here, we sing about the acts of the gods. Those that are sung at night are called ‘Woben Heben’; Here, we sing about the customs and ways of the people. (Shi 1998: 169, English translation mine) Woguo is of utmost importance to Hani mythology and religion; it details the creation of the world, the origins of the Hani people, and numerous rituals relating to agricultural rites and deity worship. Although modern societal influences and political ideologies have introduced new values into Hani society, the stories of Woguo continue to be the backbone of Hani beliefs and customs in contemporary life. The myths of Woguo define the Hani people’s relationship to natural phenomenon, animals, people of other ethnic origins and the spirit world. Woguo also serves as a historical narrative, giving account of how the Hani transitioned from their reliance on hunting and gathering to farming as a means of livelihood. The second half of Woguo tells of the initial establishment of the three leadership positions of chief, beima (priest) and craftsman in Hani society. The latter part of this section describes the importance of their contributions to Hani society, especially that of the beima in establishing the calendrical festivals and ritual rites relating to birth, marriage, and death. Congpopo is perhaps best known as a historical epic because of the presence of war narratives and the featuring of heroes and heroines who act decisively in determining the fate of the people. Shi collected twenty-three different performances of this epic by performers from Yuanyang, Honghe, Luchun, and Jinping counties of the Red River region. Among the most outstanding singers were Zhu Xiaohe (who also provided the most extensive version of Woguo), Li Kaiming, and Ma Pucheng. An edited version with Chinese translation was later published, totaling 5500 lines in length  47  (Yunnansheng Shaoshu Minzu 1986). The first chapter is about their original homeland of Mount Hunihuna. Each successive chapter is about their settlement and departure from temporary homes. The sixth chapter details a long battle between the Hani and their Puni neighbours at Guhamicha. Through a series of personal betrayals, the Hani lose the battle and are forced to leave Guhamicha to settle in the Red River region, their presentday homeland. Congpopo is an important piece of oral literature that offers insight into how Hani portray themselves in relation to outsiders, and how their continual displacement and migration has shaped their self-identity. Religious Themes in Epic and Short Labas Creation Stories from Laba Epics Although much of Congpopo is thought to be historical in content, the song actually begins with a creation story that takes place in their mountainous homeland of Hunihuna. Shi’s theory is that the Hani originated from the Qiang people, who had their origins in the Tibetan Plateau. 57 Mount Hunihuna, in his account, shows a remembrance of their origins in these high plateau regions of Tibet, and their migration south down to central Sichuan. The following is Shi’s summary of the creation story in Congpopo: Many years ago, in a place far in the north there was a very tall mountain called Hunihuna. When the gods of heaven came together to sacrifice the buffalo god, they made this mountain with the thickest bones of the buffalo god. This mountain was made up of a large pile of gigantic red and black boulders. On the two sides of the mountain were two rivers that flowed down from the top: one was called Weidixiye, “river of gold” and the other was called Yidigaye, “river of silver”. On Mount Hunihuna, there grew a dense forest where plants and animals of all types thrived. After 770,000 years, from the deep waters of Huninhuna’s rivers, there emerged human seeds. At first these seeds lived as floating organisms in the 57  The earliest record of the Hani as the heyi () people appears in the Book of Shang (), a Chinese document that is dated between 5th to 3rd century BC. Although it is impossible to know precisely when laba became established as the primary performance genre for the transmission of classic texts, the content of historical epics allude to geographic and migratory events that can be corroborated by Chinese texts dating back to this period (Shi 1999: 38-39).  48  water. Then these human seeds took root in the dense forest growth. When they sprouted out of the earth, they developed the ability to walk. The first humans to ever exist were a father and son named Bujiao and Jiege. Bujiao resembled a field shrimp; his body was hard like a shell. Jiege was like a snail; his mouth spat out a sticky paste. The second pair of humans was a mother and daughter. When they ran about, they stood upright and walked busily like bees fluttering among the flowers. The third pair was Ahu and Jieni who walked together sideways with their hands and feet to the side, like beetles. Each pair of humans was unique and walked differently: one pair used their bodies, one used their hands, and one stood up straight to walk with their legs. By the twenty-third generation, the Great Mother, Tapo had begun to give birth to all the different peoples of the world. She bore children from all different parts of her body. The Hani people were her most beloved because she gave birth to them through her belly button. That is why Hani still like to live in the valley regions of mountain ranges, because they resemble the belly button of Tapo from which they came. The Hani eventually learned how to gather fruit by imitating monkeys. They learned to make clothes from leaves from the mantis, and learned to speak from the parrot. They also learned how to hunt, fish and use fire. However, the food on Mount Hunihuna eventually became scarce and they were forced to move to a place with more food called Lake Shenran.58 The above account of human origins is surprisingly Darwinian in its description of human development and differentiation. The Hani began as beings undifferentiated from other flora and fauna, originating from plant forms in the water, much like rice seedlings growing in a paddy. They learn the skills of gathering, speaking, and weaving from other animals. In yet other stories, the Hani come from the same mother who births the world’s animals. It is only in successive generations that differentiation occurs, and humans become distinct from animals, and the Hani from the other peoples of the world. Similarly, Woguo’s creation story begins in the water, featuring a large mother creature, like Tapo. Within the Woguo story, the mother is a large fish who creates all the gods of the spirit world, who in turn created the heavens and the earth, and give birth to humans and animals. While many of the gods and goddesses to whom Mother Fish gave  58  Summary of Congpopo chapter 1 by Shi, 357-358 (Translation mine).  49  birth became quickly embroiled in conflict, stirring up much chaos on earth, Ema, the goddess of heaven, remained uninvolved, turning her attention to birthing other gods and to overseeing creation. The Hani acknowledge Ema as the most powerful deity from whom the Hani descended. This all happened during a time when there was no division between gods, humans, spirits or animals: In the beginning, at a time so far back that the oldest elder can hardly recall it, the world was only an empty space filled with a dark mist. The darkness was like a dark wok lid covering the seas. During this time, the only living creature was a gigantic fish. It was 9999 feet long and its width was as far as the eye could see. The name of the fish was Miwuyixiyima, meaning “the golden mother fish who lives under the earth”. Mother Fish was the one who gave life to all the gods and created all things on the earth. Every 100 years, Mother Fish would turn over once. After turning over 77 times, Mother Fish awoke and created the heaven and earth gods. Mother Fish created the gods and goddesses in pairs, except for Michachama, the goddess of land and oceans. In her loneliness, Michachama challenged the power of the other gods and goddesses, and began a fierce battle in the sky and earth. Only the eldest child of Mother Fish, Ema, remained in Yanluo, the palace of the gods, where she carried on with her own affairs, oblivious to the turmoil that was taking place below. She gave birth to many gods, and gave life to all the flora and fauna of the earth. She first gave birth to two daughters, Yanyi and Maben, who left behind the Twelve Rituals for us to observe. Ema also gave birth to the Maguo people who were the first ancestors of the Hani.59 In contrast to the Congpopo story which points to the Hani’s origins in nature, the Woguo creation story emphasizes the identity of the Hani as direct descendants of the gods. Using oral genealogies, present-day Hani can trace their ancestry back to their earliest ancestors, who, in turn, share an ancestry with the pantheon of gods described in Woguo. While the Hani gradually become central figures in the latter narratives of epic texts, the genesis accounts offered in Woguo, Shier Nuju, and Congpopo depict the Hani as being undifferentiated from the deities and animals. The common origin of all living organisms is an important belief in the animistic practices of the Hani. They view  59  Summary of Woguo chapter 1 (Shi 1998: 173-174).  50  themselves as being intricately connected to the animals, flora and fauna of their natural surroundings, and to the spirits present in the natural world. Numerous stories are used to explain how the Hani eventually became separate and distinct from the spirit and animal world. Below is a genealogy of early generations of Hani, which describes their gradual transformation from deity and animal-forms to human form: Ema gave birth to many gods, among whom were Meiyan and Shala. She ruled over the great and small affairs of gods and mortals. She was also the first ancestor of mortals for she gave birth to a second generation of half-god, half-mortals named Maguo. The Maguo were the first deity-mortals to exist. Maguo gave birth to a third generation of deity-mortals named Majue…. …The Wutu started to learn to stand upright, but they could not stand firm, and merely scampered about in a halfupright manner. The Wutu gave birth to an eighth generation of ancestors: the Tuma. They were able to stand but their intellect was not well developed. Tuma and all their ancestors before them were able to enter heaven to petition the gods for help. However after Tuma, the ladder that went to heaven was cut down and the gods were no longer willing to come down to help the mortals. Tuma gave birth to a ninth generation of ancestors: the Mayue. This was a generation of female mortals who lived in caves. Mayue gave birth to a tenth generation of ancestors: the Yuexing who in turn gave birth to an eleventh generation: the Xingben. The Yuexing and Xingben were more intelligent than all the ancestors before them. They understood many things but the ears of Yuexing were deaf and they could not yet speak. Xingben, however, had ears that could hear and mouths that could speak. The twelfth generation of ancestors was the Shimiwu. This generation of mortals could recognize their mother’s milk and did not drink milk from the wrong creature. Before the Shimiwu, there was no distinction between mortals, ghosts, and gods, but after them, they became separate. After the Shimiwu came the thirteenth generation: the Wutuli. This was the first generation where males and females formed pairs to bear offspring…60 This genealogy shows similar features to the Congpopo creation narrative in which different generations of humans were born with unique strengths and limitations. Shi points to these descriptions of generational change as exhibiting an early indigenous awareness of evolutionary processes (1998: 185-186). Interestingly, humans are not 60  Summary of Woguo chapter 1 (Shi 1998: 174-178).  51  described as knowing the difference between the different animals and spirit forms until late into the genealogy. Likewise the male-female procreative pair does not take prominence until the thirteenth generation of humans. Rather early pairings of human forms are same-sex parent-sibling units as seen in the Congpopo creation myth. Many other Hani creation accounts show similar interest in descriptions of generations of beings with unique features, and the creative pairings of early deities and beings. One important belief that emerges from the abo