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Qha Ke (guiding the way) from the Hmong Ntsu of China, 1943.


Ruey Yih-Fu

The Qhuab Ke, or song of 'Pointing', 'Opening' or 'Guiding' the Way, is a chant sung to the soul of a deceased Hmong person just after they have died. The following version was collected and translated word for word from Hmong into Chinese by Ruey Yih-Fu in Sichuan, China, in 1943. Ruey Yih-Fu (1898-1990) was a famous Chinese ethnologist who fled from China to Taiwan with many other intellectuals and scholars just before the Chinese Revolution of 1949. He spent his life thereafter teaching and researching at the Academia Sinica (Central Research Institute) in Taipei, Taiwan. In Taiwan, as Guldin (1994) says, he helped set up the Department of Anthropology at National Taiwan University. There he influenced a whole generation of researchers, including those who were later to be my senior colleagues, Chien Chiao and Hsieh Jiann, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where I used to work. It is my great regret that I was never able to meet Prof. Ruey, as I was due to visit him in Taiwan at the time he became too ill to see anyone.

Ruey had originally trained in France. Before the Second World War he had joined Cai Yuanpei and Ling Chunsheng (Ling Shun-Sheng) at the Institute of Ethnology at the Academia Sinica, which was then based in Nanjing in China. Cai (former President of Beijing University) was the founding Director of the Academia Sinica. Ling Chunsheng, with whom Ruey studied the Qho Xiong ('Miao') people of west Hunan in 1932, was the head of the Ethnology Department. The Ethnology Department came under the Academia Sinica's Institute of History and Philology, and later Ling too became Director of the Academia Sinica (Guldin 1994). Ruey's work also covered other minorities in China such as the She. But he studied in particular both the 'Xiangxi Miao' (Qho Xiong) of western Hunan and northeast Guizhou, and the Hmong, who lived at that time in parts of Sichuan, Guizhou, Guangxi, and Yunnan provinces, as they do today.

Ruey researched these Hmong in Sichuan in 1943 and wrote a monograph from which the Qhuab Ke below is taken. The monograph is called Marriage and Mortuary Customs of the Magpie Miao, Southern Sichuan, China, and was published by the Institute of History and Philology at the Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, in 1962 (Monograph Series A no. 29). Kuan Tung-kuei was the co-author. The work is in Hmong and Chinese, with the Chinese translations underneath the Hmong. Ruey published another book with Ling in Chinese which is an ethnography of the Xiangxi (western Hunan) Miao, or Qho Xiong, in West Hunan. Besides articles in Chinese and other articles on 'Miao' history in general, he also published two good articles in English on the same Hmong of southern Sichuan (spelt Szechuan in those days). One was on their kinship system, with an account of all the kin terms they used for different categories of relative; tsi, na, to, ntshai, ti, ku, ma, ve, for example, were 'father', 'mother', 'son', 'daughter', 'elder brother', 'younger brother', 'younger sister', 'elder sister', respectively. That article was published in the Bulletin of the same Institute in 1958 (no. 29, pp.615-631), and it was followed by a comment by A.L. Kroeber, the famous American cultural anthropologist of that time. Another article, just called 'The Magpie Miao of Southern Szechuan', was published as Chapter 10 in a 1960 book edited by George Murdock, called Social Structure in Southeast Asia.

The Hmong Ntsu

In both these articles, and in the Sichuan book, Ruey confirms that these people called themselves at that time "Hmong Ntsu" (1960) or "Hmong Ntsu" (1958). However, he adds that they were sometimes called Yachio Miao ('Magpe Miao') by the Chinese, and sometimes Han Miao ('Sinicised Miao') because they were very sinicised. They were part of the same group whom Davy Crocket Graham, the Curator of the Museum at Sichuan University (where there are still many Hmong artefacts dating from this time), had described as the Ch'uan Miao ('Sichuan Miao') in his various writings (see Graham 1937; 1954). These Hmong Ntsu numbered about 10,000, and lived in the mountainous headlands of the Yongning River in southern Sichuan (28[degrees] to 29[degrees] N and 105[degrees] to 106[degrees] E). They lived in compact villages several thousand feet above sea level, interspersed with the villages of other peoples. They grew millet, barley, buckwheat, maize, kaoliang, cabbage, turnips and tea on the mountain slopes by 'slash and burn' cultivation, but they also had terraced rice fields supported by an elaborate system of bamboo pipes and water-powered mills. And they also grew beans, hemp, indigo and tobacco. They kept cattle, pigs and chickens and sometimes sheep, ducks and even bees. They wove cloth from hemp and dyed it dark blue or batiked it.

The dialect Ruey transcribes, below, despite all the differences of spelling, is clearly very close to Mong Leng as we know it, and sometimes to White Hmong too (as in the word for 'father'). It is clearly Hmong and these were clearly Hmong people. When I went to work in the same places in 1989, I met Hmong there who spoke Hmong and had just the same Hmong funeral and wedding customs I had seen in Thailand. However, the Hmong dialect they spoke in 1989 seemed to me quite different both from White Hmong and Mong Leng, and from the Hmong which Ruey transcribes. All the tones were systematically different (the high tones all became mid tones, for instance) and they used many Chinese loan words rather than Thai or Lao ones. The word for 'father' for instance was 'vaiv'; they knew the (RPA) word 'txiv', which they pronounced 'txwv' like both the Mong Leng and the Hmong Ntsu Ruey describes, but they only used that word if a child were addressing his father directly. If you spoke of your father to someone else, rather than addressing him directly, you must say 'vaiv'. That is a small example, but I think the dialect I found was different from the one Ruey describes and that the one Ruey describes (see below) was much closer to the Hmong spoken in Southeast Asia. Also the Hmong I met in Sichuan did not know what sub-group of Hmong they were and had no idea that once they might have been called Hmong Ntsu, or been called 'Yachio Miao' or 'Han Miao' by the Chinese. However, the Hmong whom Ruey worked with are clearly very close to the Mong Leng and White Hmong of Southeast Asia and the world today.

In the following I have used Ruey's own system of tranliteration for Hmong based on the International Phonetic Alphabet of the time, but I have changed some parts in accordance with RPA (see ending comments). I have not translated all the words into RPA but sometimes where I thought it was not clear I have added footnotes about the RPA. There are some strong differences, the 'ua' sound almost always becoming 'a' for instance, and writing 'u' as 'o', but it is very clearly a Hmong dialect with close links to Mong Leng. Based on the Chinese translations I have mostly been able to identify what Hmong words are being spoken despite the peculiarities of Ruey's spelling. I have added a Comment on this, and on this version of the Qhuab Ke (or Qha Ke as Ruey calls it) at the end. And in the footnotes I have also added some comments and indicated equivalent words in RPA, the romanised script normally used for Mong Leng and White Hmong, where it was not clear. FF means Father's Father, FM means Father's Mother.

Lau e lau lau e lau e,
Old Oh Old Old Oh Old Oh,

ka ta tseng, la ta txa? (1)
You die really, or die false?

Ka ta ta! Na tse,
You die really! Now,

ko ya kheu kle ko tau
I will bring water hot give

ka yo (2) ntcau
you rinse mouth

kheu kle so tau ka yo lo.
bring water warm give you rinse mouth(cl.). (3)

Na tse, ko ya ci ka mo
Now, I will lead (4) you go

ntci ke nto
travel (5) road heaven

na lo, lau!

like this, dead one!

(At this point, the Master lifts up a bowl of warm water to offer to the dead man's mouth, then spills it on the ground).

That is, if you are really dead, I will use warm and hot water to wash your mouth, Dead One, I will lead you on the Heavenly Path!
Lau e! Kle so ko kheu tau
O dead one! Water hot I bring to

ka yo ntcau
you rinse mouth

yo lo tang ta
rinse mouth finish

na tse, ko ya ci ka mo
now, I will lead you go

ntci ke nto.
travel way heaven.

Ka ya tsang (6) ntse si nong tse
You will prick up ear try listen

mo lo.
Master words.

Na lo, lau e!
Like this, Dead One!

That is, I have rinsed out your mouth with hot and warm water, O dead one, now I will lead you on the Road to Heaven!

(Then the Master throws the divination horns. If there is no xun trigram, but a yang, he will continue to sing).
Na tse, qhwa ntswa! (7)
Now, open Yang trigram!

Ka tsi ti la! Ko ya ci
You not will happy! I will lead

ka mo ntci
you go travel

ke nto, na lo, lau e! (8)
path heaven, like this, Old one!

(after this if he did not get the xun trigram, but yin, so he can sing on) (9)

That is, this Yang trigram, you are not happy, don't laugh, I will lead you on the heavenly path....
Lau e! Khu tsu tse (10) tca nro; khu
O dead one! Yin trigram then wait vein; xun

tshai (11) tse tca hmau
trigram then wait evening

ko ya ci ka mo ntci ke
I will lead you go travel way

nto, na lo lau e!
heaven, this way dead one!

That is, Oh! divining the Yin trigram, one will wait for a long time, divining the xun trigram, needs to wait till evening. I will bring you to Heaven, travelling, like this, O dead one!

(Then he throws the Yang trigram again)
Ntshai ka tsi ti lu ko i
Fear you not will wager I one

zwang. Ko ya
verse. I will
lu ka tsha pa zwang! Na lo,
wager you thousand hundred verses! This way,

lau e
dead one

(He throws again and gets yin again)

That is, I fear you do not agree with my section. I may sing you a hundred, a thousand sections. Like this, Oh! (12)
lau e, ka ya tsang ntse
Dead one, you will prick up ear

si nong tse mo lo,
try listen Master words,

tse mo ya mpang ntang (13) ri
 Master will take sword carry (14)

hneng ci ka mo ntxi
cross- lead you go along

ke nto, na lo, lau e!
road heaven, like this, dead one!

(Then he divines; if he throws a yang or a yin trigram, he must repeat the relevant above verses. If he throws a xun trigram, he may continue).

That is, you listen to the Master's words, Master will carry knife and crossbow [for you] and bring you to the road of heaven, like this, O dead one!
rhau nto ntsi tcang vong, ha
telling of (15) a bit roots (16) voice, (17) speak

te ntsi tcang lau.
earth a bit roots old.

Rhau tau ntsu nong xong (18) ke
Telling of heaven seeds bamboo cause

kang tsong ha tau
 kinds speak

ntsu nong ntong na ke ta
heaven seeds tree this way come

kang nyau. (19) So ta yo
road at. -- -- --

(If divination does not yield a xun, but a yin, he may continue).

That is, speaking of the origins of Heaven and Earth, where were the beginnings, what were the origins and [many kinds of] causes, of trees and bamboos?
Lau e! na tse, ko ha
Dead One! Now, I still (20)

tsw ka qhwa ka ke.
not can guide your way.

Ko ha qhua nong xong nong
I still point seeds bamboo seeds

ntong ke na lo, lau e!
trees road this way, Dead one!

(If divination does not yield a xun, but yang, he may continue).

That is, now I will not yet point your way, now I will [first] explain about the origins of trees and bamboos.
Lau e! Qhwa ntswa! Ka tsw
Dead One! Yang trigram! You not

ti la! Po kang
happy/laugh. FM way

yeu ke a na lo. Lau e!
FF way do like this. O dead one!

That is, O dead one, the Yang trigram! You will not be happy (21), Grandmother's and Grandfather's Way is like this, O dead one!

(After throwing the xun trigram)
Ntsu to ta e! tang i ntsu
Heaven those die Oh! finish one section

tang ta ka,
finish end,

ma i ntsu tsa ta ta.
have one section again come end.

Thau nto nyau nto klau te tca,
Past heaven in heaven desolate earth desolate,

te nyau te klau nrang nto tseng
earth in earth desolate place quietly

le nti.

nong xong tsa tsw tseu ma,
seeds bamboo still not appear have,

nong ntong tsa tsw tseu
seeds trees still not appear

pu lo pong. Hmo po tha hmo
? come fall. Seedling FM and seedling

yeu (22) le mo nong
FF just go ask

po Sau yeu Sau:
FM Saub (23) FF Saub: (24)

"Nong xong (25) tseu qha tu (26) nong
"Seeds bamboo come which where seeds

ntong tseu qha tu ta?"
trees come which where come?"

Po Sau tha yeu Sau le ha
FM Saub and FF Saub say

ta: "Nong xong tseu
that: "Seed bamboo come

te qau nto, nong ntong tseu
earth carry (27) heaven, seeds tree come

ntsu te qau pi."
heaven earth carry high up".

Hmo po tha hmo yeu tsa
Seedling FM and seedling FF still

ya nong
will ask

"Ya la tsw (28) le ma (29) tau
"Get what just (30) take to

ntsu nong xong?
heaven seed bamboo

Ya la tsw le ma tau
Will what just take to

ntsu nong ntong?"
heaven seed tree?"

Po Sau yeu Sau ha ta:
FM Saub FF Saub say that:

"Nong rhe le
"Bird name just

ma tau ntsu nong xong, nong
take to heaven seed bamboo, woodpecker

ko le ma
 just take

tau ntsu nong ntong".
to heaven seed tree".

Hmo po tha hmo yeu le
Seedling FM and seedling FF just

rau lo (31) tso.
return back to.

Hmo po le tcau mo (32) nyang
Seedling FM just take news carefully

fe (33) tau nong rhe
ask to bird name (34)

nqe (35) swa ta tso, hmo yeu
up hurriedlycome to, seedling FF

le tcau mo nyang (36)
just take news (37) careful

fe tau nong ko nqe swa ta
ask to bird name up hurried (39)

pong. (38)
come fall.

Nong rhe le yang (40) mo pong
Bird name just fly to/go fall

ntsu te qau nto,
heaven earth carry heaven,

Nong ko yang mo pong ntsu
Bird name fly go fall sky

te qau pi.
earth carry high place.

Nong rhe le ma tau ntsu nong
Bird name just take to heaven seeds


nong ko ma tau ntsu nong
woodpecker take to heaven seeds


Nong rhe le ma tau ntsu
Bird name just take to heaven

nong xong tau lo tso,
seeds bamboo return to,

nong ko le ma tau ntsuj nong
bird name just take to heaven seed

ntong tau lo pong.
tree return fall.

Hmo po le ma nong xong
Seedlings FM just take seeds bamboo

ha heu ta nta rong;
seedlings plant on in mountain;

tau nto (41) tsa, (42) nong xong ta
wait sky new, seeds bamboo grow

i tsong. Hmo yeu le
one bunch. Seedlings FF just

ma nong ntong ha heu ta
Take seeds tree seedlings(?) on

nta kleu; tso nto tsha,
within col; (43) to sky new,

nong ntong ta i zong. (44) A
seed tree grow one forest. Do

ne na, le tau
that this, just get

ntsu nong xong txau lo a
sky seed bamboo bring come do

tsu yang kwa tshi nteu, (45)
pair yang trigram bamboo divine,

tsai ka i lo lo. A
respond you one sentence. (46) Do

ne na, le tau
that this, just get

ntsu nong ntong tcau lo a
sky seed tree make do

vang (47) si tse, (48) tsai tau
garden some house, get give

ka nyau. na lo, ntsu
you live. This, sky

to (49) ta e!
person die Oh!

(Divination until the xun trigram)

That is, O dead One, now one section is finished, and one still remains! Now I will teach you about the origins of bamboo and of wood. In ancient times, nothing grew on earth, the sky was dark and the earth desolate. There were no seeds of bamboo, no seeds of trees, so ask Grandfather Saub, Grandmother Saub, 'Where do the seeds of bamboo and the trees come from?" And Grandfather, Grandmother Saub answer, saying "The seeds of bamboo and of the trees come from Heaven". So ask them (him) how to get (find) the seeds of bamboos, and the seeds of trees, and they will answer 'The ko bird, the re bird (prob. woodpecker), can find the seeds of bamboo and of the trees (wood)". So Grandfather and Grandmother invited a bird to come, to fly to Heaven and got the seeds and came back, and the seedlings of bamboo and trees Grandfather and Grandmother sowed on the mountain. Until spring (dawn?), the bamboo seeds grew up into a clump of bamboos, the tree seeds grew up into a (mighty) forest, so they got the seeds of bamboo from Heaven which can make the pair of trigrams (divining horns) used for conversation (communication), and they got the seeds of trees (wood) which can make your house (the coffin), O dead One! (50)
So ta yo! Na tse, tang
Words ... Now, finish

i ntsu, tang ta ka
one section, finish

ma i ntsu tsa ta ta.
have one section again come.

Thau ka na yeu (51) ka ta
Past your mother sent you come

nta nqeu ta,
in wear skirt (52)

ka tsi yeu ka ta nta
your father (53) sent you come inside

nqeu tshau.
wear clothes. (54)

Ka tce qang (55) lo tsw (56) po
Your leg upper -- not full

teu ri,
feet trousers,

mpang (57) lo tsw po te tshau.
arm not full hand cloth.

Ka na ka tsi ya yeu
Your mother your father will send

nyau ka tau Hong Nya Ntang
live you to PLACE NAME

te te. Ka ya nau (58) tang
some place. You will eat up (59)

ka na na
your mother cl. (60)

i tcau (61) i leu qang, ka
one ten one cl. grain, you

ya hnang (62) tang
will wear finish

ka tsi na i tcau i
your father cl. one ten one

leu tsong ta.
cl. clothes.

Na lo, ntsu to ta e!
Like this, heaven person die Oh!

That is, Now one section is finished, there is still one section left (another one begins). Long ago, your mother asked you to come inside and wear a skirt, your father asked you to come inside wearing a cloth (jacket). Your leg was shorter than the trousers (too short for the trousers), your arm was shorter than the sleeves (too short for the sleeves) (the skirt was longer than the legs, the sleeves longer than the arms). Your mother and your father ask(ed) you to come to Hong Ganba (a place, of birth?). You will eat up eleven times the grain of your mother, you will wear out your father's suits of cloth eleven times. Like this, O dead one! (63)

(Divination until xun --)
So ta yo! Na tse, tang
Words ... Now, finish

i ntsu, tang ta ka
one section, finish

ma i ntsu tsa ta ta.
have one section again come.

Thau le la tsw a te
Past that what do some

sa (64) tsw zong?
liver not good?

Qau nto ntsu Nong lau a
Behind sky sky Nong (65) always do

te sa tsw zong,
some liver not good,

lau a te sa tsw zong. Ne
always do some liver not good. He

ya tsau tso sang
will release a root(?) thread

mau ngqai la te. La te te
disease down world. World some

neng kheu tsw tau,
people pick up not to,

i nrau tceng te neng kheu tsw
all the world some people pick up not


ka i leng kheu tau.
you one person pick up to.

Ka i leng kheu tso.
You one person pick up to.

Ka ya a mau (66) ta y ta
You will get ill secretly in

nta tce (67),
inside body,

a tceu (68) ta y ta nta
do alcohol secretly in inside

ho. (69)
earthenware jar.

Tca (70) hau (71) tshwa (72) lo kho (73) tsw
Nine drink medicine cure not


yi hau neng (74) lo kho tsw fe.
eight drink shamans cure not --.

To pang lo la to (75) ntai
Cut off breath cut off in


to sa lo la to ntai
cut off heart cut off in

chest. (76)

Ka tca (77) neng tsw tau, ntse
You alive person not get, upright

yi (78) tsw nyau.
home not get.

Na lo, ntsu to ta e!
Like this, heaven person die!

////////////////////START QC 13 OF 36

That is, now one section is finished, and there is one yet to come. In the past, whose heart was not good? Ntxwg Nyug's heart was not good. He strung a thread of illness to the world. Nobody could pick it up, but you, O dead one, you were the one who picked it up! You fell ill secretly, like an earthenware jar producing wine. Nine doses of medicine and eight doctors could not cure you, O dead one! The breath is cut off in your mouth, the heart is stilled in your breast, you could not survive, your house cannot withstand, O dead!
So ta e! na tse, tang
Words ... Now, finish

i ntsu tang ta ka,
one section finish,

ma i ntsu tsa ta tang,
have one section again come to?,

na tse, ka ta tang ta!
now, you die finish!

Ka ya mo leu ntshai nqeu (79)
You will go fear couple

na tsi rong (80) tsang,
mother father door threshold,

te lo lo ta rang mpleu (81)
right hand hold a whip

tong, lo te nang ta
copper, one hand left hold

rang mpleu hlau. (82) Ne ya qhau
a whip iron. They will block

ka hau ke.
your front way.

Ne ya nong ka ta: "Ka
They will ask you that: "You

ke hau tse tse (83) neng,
is? within house -- person,

ka ya mo a la tsi?"
you will go do what?"

na tse,

ka ya qhe (84) ntcau lo ha, qhe
you will open mouth to speak, open

lo lo ntshe,
mouth to answer,

tse ka ya ha ta ke:
(then) (85) you will speak that:

"Thaum qau nto
"Past behind sky

ntsu nyong (86) lau a te sa
heaven Nyong always do some heart

tsw zong,
no good,

ne ya tsau tau tso sang
he will send (87) to thread silk

mau ngqai la te.
illness down the world.

la te neng lo kheu tsw tau,
world some people -- pick up not get

ko i leng lo kheu tau;
I one person -- pick up get;

i nrau tceng te neng lo
all the world some people

kheu tsw tso,
pick up not get,

ko na leng lo kheu tso. A
I cl. person cl. pick up get. Get

mau ta y
ill secretly

ta nta tce, a tceu ta y
on inside body, make wine secretly

ta nta ho.
on inside jar.

Tca hau tshwa lo kho tsw zong,
Nine drink medicines cure not well,

yi hau neng
eight cl. shamans

lo kho tsw fe. To pang lo la
 heal not back. Cut breath

to ntai ntcau to sa lo la
cut in mouth cut liver

to ntai nrau.
cut in chest.

Ko tcang neng tsw tau, ntse yi
I alive person not get, modest home

tsw nyau.
not live.

Ko ta tang! Ko ya mo leu
I die finish! I will go

tau e tang ta.
way that end.

Na lo, nqeu na tsi rong
Now, couple mother father Door

tsang!" a na tse,
threshold!" Do like this,

nqeu na tsi rong tsang le
couple mother father door threshold just

tsau ka mo,
let you go,

na lo, ntsu to ta e!
This way, heaven person die Oh!

That is, Oh, now one section is finished, and there is another still to come. Now, you have died. You will take the heavenly road. I fear that the two spirits of the door will block your way at the threshold, the Grandmother and Grandfather Spirits of the Door, in their right hand they hold a copper whip, in their left hand a whip made of iron, they will block your way and ask you, 'O, who are you who come here, you are an earthly person, what business do you have to go out this way?' And you must open your mouth to answer them like this, you must say, 'Long ago it was that Ntxwg Nyug in the crook of heaven had a bad heart, and span a strand of silken illness to this world, which nobody picked up, except me, I was the one who picked up that silken thread and fell ill secretly, [like] wine secretly being made in a jar. And nine doses of medicine, eight shamans, could not cure me of my illness, the breath was cut off in my throat, the heart stilled in my breast. I could not survive, my house could not stand up, I am dead, I will go along my road beyond, O door god(s). 'You answer them like that, O dead one! And the two gods of the threshold will let you pass on your way towards heaven, O dead one!

(Divination until xun, again)
So ta yo! Ka teu (88) tso
Words ... You out to

nrang na rong,
under big door,

nqeu na tsi klang (89) rong,
couple mother father spirit door,

te lo lo ta rang mpleu
hand right hold a whip

tong, lo te nang
copper, hand right

ta rang mpleu hlau, ne ya
hold a whip iron, they will

qhau ka hau ke.
block your front way.

ne ya nong ka ta: "ka ke
they will ask you that: "you is

hau tse
inside house

tse neng, ka ya mo a
 person, you will go do

la tsw?"

tse ka ya qhe ntcau lo ha,
then you will open mouth come say,

qhe lo lo
open (mouth)

ntshe, ta ke: "thau qau nto Ntsu
answer, "past behind heaven Ntxwg

Nong lau a
Nyug always do

te sa tsw zong, ne ya
some liver not good, he will

tsau tau tso sang mau
release give thread silk illness

ngqai la te. La te, te
down world. World, some

neng kheu tsw tau,
people pick up not get,

i nrau tceng te neng kheu
all world some people pick up

tsw tso;
not get,

ko na leng lo kheu tau, ko
I one person pick up get, I

na leng lo
one person

kheu tso. A mau ta y ta
pick get. Got ill secretly in

nta tceng,
in body,

a tceu ta y ta nta ho.
make alcohol secretly on in jar.

Tca hau tshwa
Nine doses medicine

lo kho tsw zong, yi hau
 cure not good, eight

neng lo kho tsw fe.
shamans heal not well.

To pang lo to ntai ntcau, to
Cut breath cut in mouth, cut

sa lo to ntai
heart cut in

nrau. Ko tca neng tsw tau
chest. I alive person not get

ntse yi tsw nyau. Ko
little house not live. I

ta tang! Ko ya mo leu tau
die end! I will go way?

e tang ta!"
that end!"

Ka ya ha nqeu na tsi
You will tell couple mother father

klang rong. A na tse,
spirit door. Do like this,

nqeu na tsi klang rong le
couple mother father spirit door just

tsau ka mo. Na lo,
let you go. This way,

ntsu to ta e!
heaven person doe Oh!

That is, translation almost identical to above.

(Divination until xun)--
So ta yo! Na tse, tang i
Words ... Now, finish one

ntsu tang ta ka
section finish

ma i ntsu tsa ta tang.
have one section again come end.

Ka teu tso nrang tshau pa,
You out arrive field grass field,

nqeu na tsi klang
couple mother father spirit

tshau pa, te lo lo ta rang
grass field, right hand hold a

mpleu tong, lo te nang
whip copper, on left hand

ta rang mpleu hlau. Ne ya
hold a whip iron. They will

qhau ka hau ke.
block your front road.

Ne ya nong ka ta: "ka ke
They will ask you that: "you are

hau tse tse neng,
inside house person,

Ka ya mo a la tsw?" Ka
You will go do what?" You

ya qhe ntcau lo
will open mouth come

ha, qhe lo lo ntshe ta ke:
speak, open mouth answer that:

"thau qau nto
"Past behind sky

Ntsu Nong lau a te sa tsw
Ntxwg Nyug Old do some heart not

zong. Ne ya tsau
good. He will throw

tau tso sang mau ngqai la te.
give thread silk illness down the world.

La te te neng
World some people

kheu tsw tau. I nrau tceng te
pick not get. All the world some

neng kheu tsw tso;
people pick not get;

ko na leng lo kheu tau, ko
I one person pick got, I

na leng lo kheu
one person pick

tso. A mau ta y ta
got. Get ill secretly on

nta tce, a tceu ta y
inside body, make whisky secretly

ta nta ho. Tca hau tshwa lo
on inside jar. Nine doses medicine

kho tsw zong,
cure not well,

yi hau neng lo kho tsw fe.
To pang lo la

eight doctors heal not good.

Cut breath (90)

to ntai ntcau, to sa lo la
cut in mouth, cut heart

to ntai nrau.
cut in chest.

Ko tca neng tsw tau, ntse yi
I alive person not get, little house

tsw nyau. ko ta
not live. I die

tang ta ka! Ko ya mo leu tau
end! I will go past way

e tang ta!
 that end!

Ka ya ha nqeu na tsi klang tshau
You will say couple mother father spirit grassy

pa. A na,
field. Do this,

nqeu na tsi klang tshau pa le tsau
couple mother father spirit grass field just let

ka mo. na lo,
you go. This way,

ntsu to ta e!
heaven person die Oh!

That is, translation almost identical, except for the substitution of the Mother and Father Couple of Guardian Spirits of the Door, for the Mother and Father Spirit who guards the grassy plains. (91)

(Divination until xun trigram)
So ta jo! Na tse, tang i
Words ... Now, finish one

ntsu tang ta ka,
section end,

ma i ntsu tsa ta tang.
have one section still come to.

Thau ka nyau ke hong nya te
Past you live Hong Gan place.

te. Ka ya nau
 You will eat

Pa Hong Nya te te na i
Hong Gan Ba place cl. one

tcau i leu qang. (92)
ten one cl. grain.

Ka ya hau Pa Hong Nya te
You will drink Hong Gan Ba place

te i tcau i
 one ten one

leu kle. Ka ya rau (93) Pa Hong
cl. water. You will burn Hong Gan Ba

Nya te te na
 place cl.

i tcau i leu teu. Na tse,
one ten one cl. firewood. Now,

ka ta tang ta ka!
you die end!

Ka ya mo leu tau e tang
ka. Ka ya mo

You will go to way that end.

You will go

a Hong Nya te te klang kle, klang qang
do Hong Gan place spirit water, spirit grain

ngqe (94) ho, (95)
debt thank you,

ka le mo. na lo, ntsu to ta e!
you just go. Like this, heaven person die Oh!

That is, in the past you lived in Hong Gan Ba, in Hong Gan Ba you ate up eleven times the grain there, you drank up eleven times the water there, you burnt up eleven times the firewood there. (96) Now you are dead, you will go along your way beyond, you should (first) go to Hong Gan Ba to show your thanks and pay your debts to the Gods of Grains and Waters there, before you go, like this, O dead One!

(divination until xun trigram)--
So ta yo! Na tse, tang i
Words ... now, finish one

ntsu tang ta ka,
section finish,

ma i ntsu tsa ta tang.
have one section again come to.

Ka lo nyau tau nta lang te
You come live to inside CITY (97) place.

te. Ka nau pa
 You eat --

nta lang te te na i tcau
inside City some place cl. one ten

i leu qang.
one cl. grains.

Ka hau pa nta lang te te
You drink -- inside City some place

na i tcau
cl. one ten

i leu kle. Ka rau pa nta
one cl. water. You burn -- inside

lang te te
City some place

i tcau i leu teu. Ka ta
one ten one cl. firewood. You die

tang ta ka!

Ka ya mo leu tau e tang
You will go to way that finish.

ta. Ka ya
 You will

a tau nta lang te te klang
do give inside City some place spirit

kle, klang qang
water, spirit grain

ngqe ho, tse ka le mo. na
debt thanks, you just go. Like

lo, ntsu to ta e!
this, heaven person die!

That is, when you passed the city, you ate up eleven times of crops/grains in the city. You drank eleven times of water in the city. You burned up eleven times of firewood in the city. You die, you will go to that world. You will go to the city and show your thanks and pay debts to the water god and the crops god.

(Divination until xun)--
So ta yo! Na tse, tang i
Words ... now, finish one

ntsu ta ka,

ma i ntsu tsa ta tang.
have one section again come.

Thau to po qa (98) tsa (99) tseu
Past cl. female chicken still will?

nte, (100) lau qa tsa tsw
lay, male chicken still not

tseu kheu. (101) Po qa nte mo na
will couple. Female chicken lay go cl.

i hno, nte tau
one day, lay get

na i lo. Nte mo na au
cl. one cl. lay go cl. two

hno, nte tau na
days, lay get cl.

au lo. Nte mo na pe hno,
two cl. lay go cl. three days,

nte tau na pe
lay get cl. three

lo. Nte mo na plau hno, nte
cl. lay go cl. four days, lay

tau na plau lo.
get cl. four cl.

nte mo na tswe hno, nte tau
Lay go cl. five days, lay get

na tswe lo.
cl. five cl.

Nte mo na rau hno, nte tau
Lay go cl. six days, lay get

na rau lo.
cl. six cl.

Nte mo na cang hno, nte tau
Lay go cl. seven days, lay get

na cang lo.
cl. seven cl.

Nte mo na yi hno, nte tau
Lay go cl. eight days, lay get

na yi lo.
cl. eight cl.

Nte mo na tca hno, nte tau
Lay go cl. nine days, lay get

na tca lo.
cl. nine cl.

Nte mo na kau hno, nte tau
Lay go cl. ten days, lay get

na kau lo.
cl. ten cl.

Nte mo na kau i hno, nte
Lay go cl. ten one days, lay

tau na kau i lo.
get cl. ten one cl.

Nte mo na kau au hno, nte
Lay go cl. ten two days, lay

tau na kau au lo.
get cl. ten two cl.

To po qa tsa pa tseu ta
Pair female chicken still born come out

nta ze, (102)
in nest,

pa po i hli pe tcau nyong,
hatch full one month three ten date,

tsa ma au lo
still have two cl?

a qai qau, ma pe lo tsa
change eggs bad, have three cl. still

a qai tau, tso (103)
become eggs yellow (104), only

klau tau na cang to. Ma i
hatch get seven. Have one

to zwa (105) tau leu,
 fox get go,

tso su na rau to. Ma i
only left six. Have one

to pli tau leu,
 wildcat get go,

tso sa na tswe to. Ma i
only left five. Have one

to klang tau leu,
 eagle get go,

tso sa na plau to. Ma i
only left four. Have one

to la tau leu,
kite/sparrowhaw get go,

tso sa na pe to. kheu i
only left three. Get one

nqeu tca ka to
couple leave to your sons

ka ki tcau lo yo tce rau
your grandsons take come nourish body turn

tau qang, tso sa
back side behind, only left

mo na i to. tse mo kheu
have one. Master bring

tau ka tcau mo.
give you take go.

Ka te lo ya ntha qa
Your hand will hold chicken

ti, (106) teu (107) lo ya ntha
wing, feet will hold

qa tu. (108) Lau qa ya tcau ka
chicken tail. Male chicken will lead your

ke, ka mo. na lo,
road, you go. This way,

Ntsu to ta e!
Heaven die person Oh!

That is, in the past [long ago], when the hens wanted to lay eggs, the cocks knew not what to do. On one day the hen laid one egg, on the second day she laid two eggs, she laid three eggs on the third day, four eggs on the fourth day, five eggs on the fifth day, six eggs on the sixth day, seven eggs on the seventh day, eight eggs on the eighth day, nine eggs on the ninth day, ten eggs on the tenth day, eleven on the eleventh day, and a dozen the twelfth day. (109) She laid eggs for one whole month of thirty days. And of these [twelve] eggs, two were laid dry, three were laid bad, only hatching seven brace of chickens. One was stolen by a fox, and then there were only six left. Another was stolen by the wildcat, so then there were only five. One was taken by an eagle, leaving only four; one by a sparrow-hawk, and then there were only three. Two of these are for your sons and grandsons [descendants] to live on in this world. And this one, the Master takes for you to go. You will hold the chicken's wings by hand and the chicken's tail by foot. The cock you ride will lead you on your heavenly road ...

Then he sacrifices the prepared rooster and shows that he has given it to the deceased. Then divination again, until a xun trigram is reached. Then the dead rooster is hung from the cross-bow, and a meal is offered to the deceased ...
Heu! Lau e! ka nyau tse tca
Yeu! Dead One! You live alive

neng, ka ta
person, you die

tse tca klang ta. Na tse, tse
 alive spirit. Now,

mo ya hai (110) so (111)
Master will offer lunch

tau ka nau, tse mo ya tcau
to you eat, Master will lead

ka mo ntci! (112)
you go travel

ke nto. Na lo, lau e!
road heaven. This way, O dead one!

That is, Heu! Oh! You were a person when you were alive, you are a spirit after you die. Now the Master will serve lunch for you and lead you on your heavenly Way!

(Divination again until xun, then the Master scoops up a spoonful of rice and offers it to the mouth of the deceased, and then sings on)--
Heu! Lau e! Ka tsw nau
Hey! Dead one! You not eat

tse tsw nau, nau tse
not eat, eat

nau pe kla. (113) Tse mo
eat three spoons. Master

ya tcau ka mo ntci ke
will lead you go travel road

nto. Na lo, lau e!
heaven. Like this, O dead one!

That is, if you don't eat, you eat nothing; if you eat, you eat three spoonfuls, etc. (Then he scoops up another spoon of rice, offers it to the dead man, then casts it on the ground)--
Heu! Lau e! ka tsw
nau nau tse tsw nau, nau

ya nau pe kla. Tse
mo ya tcau ka mo ntci

ke nto. Lau e!

That is, practically identical to the above.

(Then the rice is offered again. Now the Opening of the Way begins)--
Na tse, tang i ntsu tang
Now, finish one section finish,

ta ka, ma i ntsu
 have one section

tsa ta tang. Ka te lo
again come to. your hand

ya ntha qa ti, teu
will hold chicken wing, feet

lo ya ntha qa tu. Lau
 will hold chicken tail. Male

qa tcau ka ke.
chicken leads your way.

ka mo, ntshai ka mo tso
you go, fear you go to

nto tau nto ti na,
yonder hill and? one side this,

ma i ntau to yo yang,
have one group shepherd,

ne ya ho ka ta:
they will shout you that:

"ka ke (115) la te tse neng,
"you are earthly person,

ka ya lo nto pe
you will come with us

yo yang qha (116) na!" Na tse,
tend sheep place this!" Now,

ka tsw ti nto le
you not go (117) with that

to yo yang, na lo, ntsu
person tend sheep, now, heaven

to ta e!
person die O!

That is, take the chicken's wing by hand, the chicken's tail by feet ... the male chicken will guide your way. You go. I'm afraid you will go to a hillside, where there is a group of shepherds tending their flock, and they will shout at you, saying 'Hey, you are an earthly person, [what are you doing here?] Come with us and look after these sheep!' But do not answer them, do not go with them, go your way, O heavenly one!
Na tse, tang i ntsu tang
Now, finish one section finish,

ta ka, ma i ntsu
 have one section
tsa ta tang. Ntshai ka mo
again come to. Fear you go

tso nto kle klang kle la
to side river yellow river red

ka ya kli (118) to kle klang
you will cross that river yellow

kle la. Na tse, ntshai
river red. Like this, fear

ka na (119) tau nqau (120) tsai (121) nqau
nrau nyau na. Le to

you see boat flowery

boat flowery stay there. That person

tcau nqau, ne ya ho
leads (122) boat he will shout

ka ta: "ka ke la te
you that: "you are this-worldly

tse neng, ka lo nqe
 person, you come board (123)

ko nqau tsai, na lo!"
my boat flowery, like this!"

tse ka tsw ti nqe
 You not respond board

le to. tsu (124) nqau le nqau!
that person. Stop board that boat!

le ke mang swa le
that to Lolo (125) Han peoples'

nqau. Ka ya na tau tso
boat. You will see a

ke qeng, tso ke sw
road bad (127,) a road stony

teng; tso ke (126) ntshang, tso ke
steep; a road steep, (128) a road

sw tshwang, le yau (129)
stony toon, (130) just is

ka po ka yeu ke. Ka kli
your FM your FF road. You cross

leu nto kle nto ti
to that side river side

o, ntshai ka hnau (131) tau yeu
that, fear you hear to FF

so (132) qwa qeng, kang lau
Thunder cries pipes, insects (133)

leng qwa tsho za. Ka tsw
 crying noise mixed. You not

ti ntshai. To e ke
will fear. That is

ka tse (134) ka to ka ki.
your (lost) your sons your grandsons

ka ku ka ti rau
Your yB your eB (135) turn to

tau qang. Ne ya a tau qeng
that side behind. They will do bring pipes

nrwa nrau nreng, a ka
drum roar deep, do your

i hmau la, so vang so tse.
one evening partner, warm garden warm house.

Na lo, ntsu to ta e!
Like this, heaven person die O!

That is, I fear that when you get to the side of the yellow and red river, you will go to cross over that yellow and red river. There, you will see a flowery boat, and the boatman shouts at you 'You are an earthly person! Come and board my boat!' But don't answer him, don't board that boat, that is the boat for the Yi and the Han people. If you see a steep and rocky road that is difficult to go along, that is the road your ancestors (your paternal grandmother and grandfather) have taken. You go across to the other side of the river, I fear you will hear the sounds of Thunder roaring and the noise of the cicadas crying. But do not fear, they are the voices of those who have left behind, your sons and your grandsons, descendants and brothers. They will accompany you (partner you) with the pipes and drums for you for one whole evening, warming the house and gardens for you, O dead one! (136)

(Divine until xun trigram again)
na tse, tang i ntsu tang ta ka,
now, finish one section finish,

ma i ntsu
have one section

tsa ta tang. Ka mo tso nto
again come. You go to side

tau nto ti o,
hill (137) and? side that,

ka na tau tso ke tshai tau neng
you see a road side down track

nyo neng neng
cow track horse

lu nto hleu tse, ka tsw ti mo.
messy heel kick, you not will go.

tso o ke
A that is

nyo neng ke, tsw yau ka po ka
cow horse road, not is your FM your

yeu ke. Tso
FF road. A

ke tshai pi ke tso ke thai ze,
road side up is a road -- stone,

tso o ke
a that is

mang swa ke, tsw yau ka po ka
Lolo Han road, not is your FM your

yeu ke.
FM road.

Ka tsw ti mo. ka ya na tau
You not will go. You will see

tso ke ntang
a road middle

ke mplong xong mplong ntong swa (138) na, sang
is leaf bamboo leaf tree full of, silk

kang zwa swa
insect spider full of

tseu, tso o ke le yau ka po
everywhere, a that road just is your FM

ka yeu ke,
your FF road,

na lo, ntsu to ta e!
like this, heaven person die O!

That is, you go to that side of the hill, you will see a road kicked messy with the hoofmarks of cattle and horses on the lower level. Don't take that road. That is the road for cattle and horses, not the road your ancestors took. On the upper level, there is a stony road which is for the Lolo and Han people, not the road which your ancestors have gone through. Don't take that road. You will see the middle road full of branches and bamboo leaves covered all over with silkworms' cobwebs. That road is the one where your ancestors went, [you take that road] like this, O dead one! (139)

(Divination until xun trigram)
na tse, tang i ntsu tang
now, finish one section finish,

ta ka, ma i ntsu
 have one section

tsa ta tang. Ka ya mo
again come. You will go

nqe tau kang si, pi
up hill caterpillars (140) hill (141)

kang sa. Ntshai ke kang si
caterpillars Fear -- caterpillars

kang sa, sa seu lo
caterpillars, hate person big

la thang yang, kang si kang sa
like newborn sheep, caterpillars caterpillars

sa seu lo la
hate person big like

thang kle. (142) Ka tsw ti ntshai, tse
newborn dog. You not will fear,

mo ya kheu
Master will hold

khau mang khau nta tau ka rau.
shoe rattan (144) shoe hemp give you wear.

Ka ya khwa nteu (143)
You will stride distance

kla kli nteu nro. Na lo, ka
across distance put. This way, you

ya mo tso tau
will go to hill

yang mpo (145) klau tsw klau mpo
melt snow ice break ice snow

hlau. (146) Ka tsw ti ntshai,
big. You not will fear,

tse mo ya kheu kau tso
 Master will take umbrella satin

kau mpa tau ka ntong,
umbrella silk give you wear,

ka mo, na lo, ntsu to ta e!
you go, like this, heaven person die!

That is, now you will go to the mountain of (poisonous) caterpillars. I fear those poisonous insects will look as big as lambs, as large as puppies. Don't fear, Master will take these shoes of hemp for you to wear. You can go through, it is only a few big strides, so, you walk on the mountain of melting snows and ices. Fear not, the Master will take this umbrella of silk and satin to cover you. You go, like this, O dead one!

(Divination until xun again)--
na tse, tang i ntsu tang
now, finish one section finish,

ta ka, ma i ntsu
 have one section

tsa ta tang. Ntshai ka mo
again come. Fear you go

nqe tau ze zwang pi
up hill stone dragon up

ze tso. Tse mo ya kheu
stone tiger. Master will take

ntshwa mang ntshwa nta tau
wand (147) straw wand hemp give

ka te. Zwang rwa ntcau tso rwa
Your hand. Dragon open mouth tiger open

lo, ka tsw ti
mouth, you not will

ntshai, ka ya kheu ntshwa mang lo
fear, you will take wand straw come

nta tau zwang ntcau,
spur? to dragon mouth,

ka ya kheu ntshwa nta nta tau
you will take wand hemp spur to

tso lo. Ka ya
tiger mouth. You will

khwa nteu kla kli nteu nto. Na
straddle gap (148) across go gap put. Like

lo, ntsu to ta e!
this, heaven person die!

That is, I fear you ascend to the mountain of the Stone Dragon and Stone Tiger, the Master will give you a (bamboo) wand (wrapped with) straw and hemp to hold in your hand [Note; altogether 5 wands, 2 in the left hand, 3 in the right], Stone Dragon and Stone Tiger open their mouths, don't fear. You will use the wand (wrapped with) straw and hemp to stab the mouth of the Stone Dragon, and you will use the wand (wrapped with) straw and hemp to stab the mouth of the Stone Tiger. You will straddle across with a few big steps, like this, O dead one!

(Divination until xun)--
na tse, tang i ntsu tang
now, finish one section finish,

ta ka, ma i ntsu
 have one section

tsa ta tang. Na tse, tse
again come. Now,

mo ya tcau ka mo
Master will lead you go

nqe ntsu ntai (149) nto ntai tswa
up heaven ladder heaven ladder rock.

ta. Na tse,

nqe mo na i qe, ha
up go one step, still

ma au qe. Nqe mo
have two step. Up go

na au qe, ha ma pe qe.
 two step, still have three step.

Nqe mo na pe qe,
Up go three step,

ha ma plau qe. Nqe mo na
still have four step. Up go

plau qe, ha ma
four step, still have

tswe qe. Nqe mo na tswe qe,
five step. Up go five step,

ha ma rau qe.
still have six step.

Nqe mo na rau qe, ha ma
Up go six step, still have

cang qe. Nqe mo
seven step. Up go

na cang qe, ha ma yi qe.
 seven step, still have eight step.

Nqe mo na yi
Up go eight

qe. Nqe mo na yi qe, ha
step. Up go eight step, still

ma tca qe. Nqe
have nine step. Up

mo na tca qe, ha ma kau
go nine step, still have ten

qe. Nqe mo na
step. Up go

kau qe, ha ma kau i qe.
ten step, still have ten one step.

Nqe mo na kau
Up go ten

i qe, ha ma kau au qe.
one step, still have ten two step.

Nqe mo na kau
Up go ten

au qe, po ntau ta.
two step, full enough.

Na tse, le to ke zo (150) rong
Now, that person is watch door

nto, ne ya nong
heaven, he will ask

ka ta: "ka ke la te tse
you that: "you are earthly --

neng, ka ya ta
person, you will come

a la tsw?" Na tse, ka ya
do what?" Now, you will

qhe ntcau lo ha,
open mouth come speak,

qhe lo lo ntshe, ta ke: "thau
open mouth come answer, speak: "past

qau nto Ntsu Nong
behing heaven Ntxwg Nyug

lau a te sa tsw zong, ne
always do some liver not good, he

ya tsau tau tso
would release give thread

sang mau ngqai la te, la te
silk illness down world, world

te neng kheu tsw tau,
some people pick not get,

ko na leng kheu tau; la te
I one person pick got; world

te neng kheu tsw tso,
some people pick not got,

ko na leng kheu tso. A mau
I one person pick got. Do illness

ta y ta nta
secretly in within

tceng, a tceu ta y ta nta
body, do wine secretly in within

ho. Tca hau tshwa
jar. Nine doses herbs

lo kho tsw zong, yi hau neng
 Cure not well, eight shamans

lo kho tsw fe.
 cure not back.

To pang lo la to ntai ntcau, to
Cut breath cut in mouth, cut

sa lo la

to ntai nrau. Ko tca neng tsw tau
cut in chest. I alive person not get

ntse yi tsw nyau.
modest home not live.

ko ya mo leu tau e tang
I will go side that finish."

ta ka". Na tse,

le to zo rong nto ne le tsau
that person guard door heaven he just let

ka ke, tse
your road,

ka mo. Na lo, ntsu to ta e!
you go. Like this, heaven person die O!

That is, Now, the Master will lead you up the (stone?) ladder to heaven. Mount one step, there's the second step. Ascend the second step, there's the third step. Up the third step, there's the fourth. Up the fourth, there's the fifth. Up the fifth step, then there's the sixth. Up the sixth, and there's the seventh. Up the seventh, there's still the eighth step. Up the eighth, and then there's the ninth. Up the ninth, then there's the tenth. Up the tenth, there's the eleventh. Up the eleventh, there's the twelfth level, you are there, that's enough. Now the one who guards the gate of heaven will ask you, 'You earthly person, what is your business here?" And you will open your mouth to answer him, you will reply like this; "Long ago behind the heavens Ntxwg Nyug had a bad heart, and always did bad things, he span a silken thread of illness to this earth, and of all the people on this earth, nobody picked that thread up, except for me, I was the one who picked up that silken thread of illness, and I fell ill secretly, as alcohol is made secretly in a jar. And nine doses of herbal medicines and eight shamans could not cure me, could not heal me of my illnesss, the breath was stifled in my throat, the heart cut off in my breast, and I was unable to survive, unable to (support) my little home, I will go beyond!' Then, that one who watches the gates of heaven will let you pass on your heavenly road, you go, O dead one!

(Divination until xun trigram)--
na tse, tang i ntsu tang ta
Now, finish one section finish,

ka, ma i ntsu
 have one section

tsa ta tang. Ka mo po ma
again come. You go see have

pe lo pang kle; (151)
three well water;

lo pang lo tshai tau, nto nto
one well one side down, muddy quietly,

tseng na, tse

ka tsw ti hau, lo o ke
you not will drink, one that is

nyo neng pang kle;
cattle horses well water;

lo pang tshai pe, tse ka tsw
one well side up, you not

ti hau, lo o
will drink, one that

ke mang swa pang kle; lo pang
is Lolo Hab well water; one well

nta ntang ke
inside middle is

mplong xong mplong ntong, sang kang zwa
leaf bamboo leaf tree, silk insect spider

swa na. Lo o
full. One that

ke le yau ka po ka yeu kle
is just is your FM your FF water

yo ntcau
feed mouth

yo tce. Na tse, ka le hau. Na
feed body. Thus, you just drink. Like

lo, ntsu to
this, heaven person

ta e!
die Oh!

That is, you will see three wells along the way; down below, that well with unclear water, don't drink from that one, that is the well for the cattle and horses; up above, don't drink from that well, that is the well for the Lolo and the Chinese. In the middle place, that well full of the leaves of trees and bamboos and the cobwebs of silkworms is the well your ancestors (paternal grandmother and grandfather) drank from. So, drink water from this well, [and go on your way], O dead one!

(Divination until xun-)
na tse, tang i ntsu tang
Now, finish one section finish,

ta ka, ma i ntsu
 have one section

tsa ta tang. Ka mo tsu
again come. You go to

qau nto te te,
behind heaven some earth,

te neng nyau tcong (152) a tcong,
some people living plenty do plenty,

ka nong tau ke
you listen to

ka qa qwa leu, ne qa
your chicken cries, their chicken

tsw te; ne qa qwa leu (153),
not reply; their chicken cries,

ka qa tsw te; te e
your chicken not reply; some that

ke tsw yau ka po
 not is your FM

ka yeu. Ka ya nong tau
Your FF. You will hear to

ka qa qwa leu, ne
your chicken cry, their

qa te, ne qa qwa leu,
chicken respond, their chicken cries,

ka qa te; le yau
your chicken reply; just is

ka po ka yeu. Ka mo
your FM your FF. You go

tso ma to ta
to have person is

tau tso, ne (154) ma lo phlau
side hearth, he has a face

ro; ma to ta nta
smile; have people at inside

tang, ne ma lo phlau la, (155)
room, (156) he has a face happy,

te e ke tsw yau
some that not is

ka po ka yeu. Ka ya
you FM you FF. You will

na tau ma to ta
see at have people in

tau tco, (157) ne ma lo phlau
side hearth, he has a face

klo a klo; ma
black do black, have

to ta nta plang, ne ma
people in inside room, (158) he has

lo phlau ntswa a ntswa,
a face green do green,

le yau ka po ka yeu.
just is your FM your FF.

Na tse, ntshai ne nong
Now, fear they ask

ka ta: "ka ke le
you that: "you are who

tu (159) ci ka ta le?"
 lead you come?"

Na tse, ka ya qhe ntcau
Thus, you will open mouth

lo ha, qhe lo lo
come speak, open mouth (160)

ntshe, ta ke: "la te ma
answer, that: "world has

i tsang neng la tsw,
one kind of people what,

ntse la ntsa ma (161) la
ears like snacks (162) eyes like

khau, ne ci ko ta." Na
tumblers, (163) he lead me come." Thus,

tse, ka ya ha ne a
 you will tell them do

na. Tse ka po
this. Your FM

ka yeu le ci ka mo
Your FF (will) lead you go

na ka po ka yeu
see your FM your FF

tcheu (164) ngqau pang ngqau nrwa. Lau
place play (165) spend! Play drum. Male

qa tcau ka ke, ka
chicken lead your road, you

lo ko nyau nrau rong nto
come I live outside door heaven

tau ka. Na tse,
wait you. Now,

ka lo tso rong nto ta.
you come to door heaven.

Ya ngqai ntsu ntai nto.
Will descend heaven ladder heaven.

Ngqai i qe, ha ma au
Down one step, still have two

qe. Ngqai au qe,
step. Down two step,

ha ma pe qe. Ngqai pe
still have three step. Down three

qe, ha ma plau qe.
step, still have four step.

Ngqai plau qe, ha ma tswe qe. Ngqai
Down four step, still have five step. Down

tswe qeb, ha
five step, still

ma rau qe. Ngqai rau qe, ha ma
have six step. Down six step, still have

cang qe. Ngqai
seven step. Down

cang qe, ha ma yi qe. Ngqai yi
seven step, still have eight step. Down eight

qe, ha ma
step, still have

tca qe. Ngqai tca qe, ha ma kau
nine step. Down nine step, still have ten

qe. Ngqai kau
step. Down ten

qe, ha ma kau i qe. Ngqai kau
step, still have ten one step. Down ten

i qe,
one step,

ha ma kau au qe. Ngqai kau au
still have ten two step. Down ten two

qe, po ntau
step, full enough.

ta. Ngqai pong la te na ta. Na
 Down fall world this. Thus,

lo, ntsu to
 heaven person

ta e!

That is, you go the heavenly place which is thronged with people, heavenly hosts. (If) you hear your chicken crowing, but theirs does not reply, (or) their chicken crows and your chicken does not respond--the people in that place are not your heavenly grandmother and grandfather (not your ancestors). (If) you hear your chicken crowing, and their chicken responds, their chicken crows and yours responds--the people in that place are your ancestors. You walk into the room, where there is a person with a smiling face by the side of the fire, a person with a happy face by the hearthside--those are not your (real) ancestors. You will see a person with a black (angry) face by the hearth, a person with a green (ferocious) face by the fire--those are your (real) ancestors! Now, I'm afraid they will ask you, 'Who led you here?' Then you will answer them like this : 'There is a kind of person in the world whose ears look (as big as?) like snacks, whose eyes look like (as big as?) tumblers. It is he who brought me here'. Now, you will tell them like this. Thus, your ancestors will bring you to see your ancestors' place where there is a throng of people all playing and beating the drums with flowers....(?).

The cock leads your way. I wait for you outside the heavenly gate. Now you come to the heavenly gate and will descend again. Descend one step, there's the second. Down the second, there's the third. Down the third and there's the fourth. Down the fourth, there's the fifth still. Down the fifth and then there's the sixth. Down the sixth, there's still the seventh. Down the seventh, and then there's the eighth. Down the eighth and there's the ninth and down the ninth and there's the tenth. Down the tenth, there's still the eleventh step. And down the eleventh step, there's still the twelfth. Down the twelfth, that's all there is, tumbling (falling) into this world. (166)

(Divination until xun-)
Na tse, tang i ntsu
Now, finish one section

tang ta ka, ma i
finish, have one


tsa ta tang. Ko ci
again come. I lead

ka mo ntci ke nto
you go around (167) road heaven


ta. Ntshai ka nong tau
 Fear you hear get

nong yang qeu (168) qwa tsho
bird goose wild cry chirp?

mix, (169)

nang ci nang tca hlo
rain lead rain wind change

a hlo tse. Ka tsw
again (170) change. You not

ti ntshai, te e ke
will fear, some that is

ka tse ka to ka
you leave your sons your

SS (171)

ka ve ka ntcau (172) rau
your eZ your yZ return

tau qang e. ne hlau
side behind that. They love


hmau ka, ne ya qeng
love you, they will give

tau tsa tong, kwa ma
give money copper, tears (173)

love (174)

ha hmau ka. Na lo,
and? love you. So,

ntsu to ta e!
heaven person die O!

That is, now I will bring you on the way to heaven. I fear you will hear the chirping of wild geese and encounter wind and rain. Fear not, these (noises) are (the voices of) your sons and sons' sons and your sisters left behind (in the world). They mourn for you, they will give you copper money. They cry because they mourn for you. Like this, O dead one!

(Divination until xun-)
na tse, tang i ntsu
Now, finish one section

tang ta ka, ma i
finish, have one


tsa ta tang. Na tse,
again come. Now,

ntsu to ta e!
heaven person die O!

tse mo tcau ka mo
 Master lead you go

ntci ke nto tang ta.
travel road heaven finish.


mo ya tcau ka mo
Master will lead you go

tsong te tsong tcheu (175) tau
crowd place crowd place to

ntsang (176) lyeu (177) sa nya te.
grave flow sand crag place.

Ka rau khau nta, ka
You wear shoe hemp, you


tso ke ta; tse mo
a road death; then master

rau khau le, tse mo
wears shoes straw?, (179) Master

tseu (178)

rau (180) tse. Ka rau khau
return home. You wear shoes

tso, ka mo tso ke
satinsilk, you go a road


tse mo rau khau nyang,
 Master wear shoes reed? (182),

tse mo tseu rau kang. (181)
 Master out turn back road.

Ka ho tse mo, tse
You shout Master,

mo tsw te. Tse mo
Master not respond. Master


a tau lu (183) yang nto
make/do dew melt and (184)

ntsha rau nrau mplong mple.
spread (185) turn back outside leaf rice. (186)

Ka ya mo kleu swa (187)
You will go dig (188) fern

yo ntcau. Kleu song yo
feed mouth. Dig vine Feed/


Na lo, ntsu to ta
Thus, heaven person die


That is, now the the Master has brought you on the road travelling to heaven to the end. The Master will bring you to the country of Liu Sha Yang (?), or the lands of pouring sands and rocks (?). You will wear your shoes of hemp to travel the way of death; the Master will wear these shoes of mat (?), and return home. You will wear shoes of silk and satin, and walk your road and disappear, the Master wears shoes of grass (reed?), and so will go back on his way. You call to him, but he will not answer you. The Master will make like the dew falling from the leaves of the rice and evaporating away. You will dig ferns to feed the mouth, dig grasses to succour the body. Like this, O dead one!

(Divine until xun)
ntsu to ta e! ntsu to
heaven person die! heaven person

ta e! nrau nthang
die! voice stop

tse pong qhau (189) tcang, (190) nrau ntsa
Fall cave case, voice stop fall

tse pong qhau tsa!
cave coffin!

That is, O dead one! O dead one! [together with the music of the pipes and drum]--The voice stops, and the coffin is put into the grave. [music of pipes and drum]. The voice stops, and the coffin is placed in the grave.

(Then he covers the corpse's face with a piece of cloth). And it is ended.


Ruey Yih-Fu's word for word translation has a Chinese translation under each Hmong word, followed by a free translation. The free translation (in Chinese) seems surprisingly accurate and true to the real meaning of each stanza, and the word-for-word translation is also fairly accurate so far as I can tell. It seems Ruey must have sat for a long time with a Hmong informant who had very good Chinese who fairly carefully explained to him the meaning of each word. Of course Ruey was well trained in linguistics and careful linguistic fieldwork was a hallmark of the work done by these Chinese researchers at this time. In my English translation I have been guided by the Chinese translation and in most cases I have been able to recognise what White Hmong word it is which is spelt. Where the Chinese translation seems wrong but I am not sure of the correct translation I have followed the Chinese translation but added a query mark. The dialect here, which no longer exists so far as I could find out from my own research in Sichuan in 1989 not very far from the place Ruey records the Hmong Ntsu, is clearly very close to Mong Leng. However sometimes there are obvious errors in the word-for-word translation. For example, the word Ruey writes as tau and mostly translates as 'give' or 'to', should I think sometimes in Hmong be rau as in 'give' or 'to' but sometimes tau which, as a pre-verbal or post-verbal indicator, indicates the past tense or an action accomplished. Ruey used the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) current at that time, and uses some symbols which I have tried to find the Hmong equivalents for. So in some cases I have transliterated them into the Romanised Phonetic Alphabet (RPA) symbols normally used for Hmong. Thus I have converted his sibilant s (an s with a tail) into an RPA s, his sibilant s' into sh, his k' into kh, his t' into th, his p' into a ph, his j into a y, and his curly-tailed (retroflexive) C into a x since he spells the word for 'bamboo' (which in White Hmong would be xyong, RPA xyoob) with this character although it does not seems always to fit. Ruey's tail zed is clearly RPS z, as in zoov for forest. But his tse I think should be RPA ces; he leaves this word untranslated but I have assumed it is ces and so put 'then' for it. The long curly-tailed t he uses is an r in RPA (a retroflexive) and I have changed this to r. The symbol he uses for a palatal nasal (a curly-tailed n) is a ny, as in the Hmong word for 'to live' so I have replaced that by ny. He uses the IPA 'engma' symbol for ng (normally indicated by doubling the vowel in RPA) which I have just replaced with ng. The belted l, where the belt is combined with a retroflexive tail, is a special IPA symbol which transcribes well as hl, as in RPA (to indicate what I believe is a retroflex voiceless alveolar lateral fricative). A phonetic c I have also transcribed as c, which has the same (retroflexive) function as the c in RPA. However, in two cases (the words for 'seven' and 'bamboo') it would correspond better to the RPA x. He indicates the tones in a strange system which is now obsolete but I have been unable to determine exactly the equivalent tone categories so I have left out his tone marks altogether. This is a pity but it is better than making possible mistakes. Also the Hmong dialect here has very likely very different tone values from those of either White Hmong or Hmong Leng, so it may not matter too much that exact tone categories cannot be determined. I have left all the vowels just as he spells them, because it is not always clear whether the vowel symbols he uses represent real differences of pronunciation in the dialect he studied, or peculiarities of the transliteration system he used. In some cases I know which it is, however. The ua sound in White Hmong he has consistently transcribed as a, so that yuav becomes ya and tuag becomes ta, and ua becomes a throughout. This is very probably exactly how they spoke, much more like Mong Leng or when Hmong is spoken very quickly, since this was how the Hmong I knew in Sichuan also spoke--the 'ua' vowel was entirely missing, it was always 'a' (so that 'tuaj', come, would be pronounced 'ta'). When there does remain a clear ua sound in the dialect, he transcribes it as wa (so qhua becomes qhwa). But other vowels reflect more the system he used, than the way people really spoke. The u sound (as in RPA mus for 'go') is consistently transcribed by Ruey as o, so mus becomes mo; I do not think this particularly reflects how the dialect actually sounds since the modern romanized Chinese system for writing Hmong does exactly the same thing. So that the word Ruey writes as ko for 'I' is almost certainly not really pronounced ko but ku, as in White/Blue Hmong (kuv). Similarly what he spells as to for 'son' is probably pronounced just like White Hmong as tu (RPA tub) . Other peculiarities however may reflect the dialect itself so I have kept them all rather trying to change them, to be on the safe side; ka does seem to be the way 'you' is prononuced rather than ko (koj) as in RPA. However, I have changed what would have been a clumsy ngk into nq throughout.

One puzzlement is the translation into Chinese by Ruey of the word Hmong word Ntsu which so far as I know means spirit (ntsuj), as 'Heaven', although he also uses the normal Hmong word for 'Heaven' which he translates as 'Heaven'; nto (ntuj). I cannot explain this but the deity who appears as Ntxwg Nyoog in the Hmong we know is spelt in just the same way here (Ntsu Nyong). So maybe the first half of the name of Ntxwg Nyug really means something like 'Heaven', just like ntuj does, and so it may be that Ruey's Ntsu should be spelt in RPA as Ntsw. Other oddities are indicated in the footnotes.

The version of the Song of Opening the Way is remarkable, I think, for having no account of the deluge or the incestuous couple from the probibition of whose union (cutting up the flesh which is born) results the twelve exogamous (out-marrying) patrilineal clans of the Hmong, who of course are forbidden to inter-marry. Also there is nothing about a frog who lied to people about the size of the earth and was trampled to death, cursing humanity to die and the leaves to fall from the trees. Nor is there anything about the bird who flew across the earth to report that, contrary to what the frog had said, the earth and heavens were huge and three days were not enough to cover them all, as in the Mong Leng version collected by Lemoine (1972;1983). Lemoine notes that there may have been some 'Biblical interference' in the version he collected, and I think this is quite likely. Very probably what Ruey collected was a very pure, ancient version of the Qhuab Ke, to which since that time other elements have progressively been added. The story of the flood, for instance, was perhaps taken from another legend of the Hmong but placed in the Song of Opening the Way as a kind of response to Biblical teachings about the Flood and the Creation threatening traditional Hmong culture at that time. In other words, confronted by the increasing influence, both in Vietnam/Laos and southern China, of Christian missionaries through the twentieth century, who were providing detailed accounts of the origin of the world and the beginnings of death as the result of an original sin, the Hmong experts in death may have incorporated explanations from other parts of Hmong culture, into the Qhuab Ke itself. The frog or toad theme, for instance, can be found in legends Graham (1954) collected from the Sichuan Hmong at about the same time Ruey was working there (actually a bit before, in the 1930s), stories telling how the toad drank up all the waters of the world. But they were not in the Qhuab Ke which Ruey collected nor in Graham's brief summary version (with no Hmong, just English) at that time; they were separate legends. Similarly a story about how dogs can see spirits and the scattering of ash and bran which I have heard in folk-tales also appears in Patricia Symond's (2004) version of the song. We can see some of the end results of this process in the version Her (2005a) refers to where not only places in Milwaukee and Wisconsin are mentioned but we also have the deity Saub transformed into a kind of Creator God who grants licenses for life and death (for the full version, see Her 2005b)! Here Christian ideas have affected Hmong culture with a vengeance! In the traditional versions it is not Saub who does this, but the sinister deity Ntxwg Nyug or the companion god Nyuj Vab Tuam Teem, so far as I know (see also the versions given by Bertrais, and the abbreviated extracts and translations of qeej verses given in Falk and Mareschal). However, already in Patricia Symond's version, we find Saub seen as creating the heaven and earth, something we do not find in the earlier versions. Saub is a kind of god familiar in world mythology; he is a benevolent deity associated with the beginnings of things, who has since become disinterested in the affairs of men but can still be called upon in emergency. He is an 'idle god' or deus otiosus who has been replaced by younger and more active ones, as in Greek or Sumerian myth. And of course the idea that Siv Yis was his brother, which Her (2005a) reports, is clearly a very recent American Hmong invention!!! Her is absolutely right, then, to note the creativity of these versions of the Qhuab Ke. It is a song which may vary between descent sub-groups as well as geographically and over historical time. Yet here in the version recorded by Ruey Yih-Fu, I think, we probably have one of the earliest and purest versions of its original form.

References Cited

Bertrais, Yves 1973 Kab Ke Pam Tuag. Vientiane (2 vols. Published as Nos. 6 and 7 in the collection Patrimoine Culturel Hmong, Association Communaute Hmong, 97318 Javouhey, Guyane, France, 1985).

Falk, Catherine 2004 'Hmong Instructions to the Dead : What the Mouth Organ Qeej Says (Part One)', Asian Folklore Studies. 63.1 (pp. 1-29).

--2004 'Hmong Instructions to the Dead : What the Mouth Organ Qeej Says', Asian Folklore Studies. 63.2 (pp. 167-220).

Graham, David C 1937 'Ceremonies of the Ch'uan Miao', in Journal of the West China Border Research Society 9. Chengdu.

1954 Songs and Stories of the Ch'uan Miao. The Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. (Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections No. 123).

Guldin, Gregory 1994 The Saga of Anthropology in Chinaa : from Malinowski to Moscow to Mao. Armonk and London. M.E. Sharpe.

Her, Vincent K. 2005a 'Hmong Cosmology : Proposed Model, Preliminary Insights', Hmong Studies Journal. Vol. 6.

--2005b Hmong Mortuary Practices : Self, Place and Meaning in Urban America. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Lemoine, Jacques 1972 'L'Initiation du Mort chez les Hmong', in L'Homme. XII, nos. 1-3.

--(transl. Kenneh White) 1983 Kr'ua Ke--Showing the Way : A Hmong Initiation of the Dead. Bangkok. Pandora.

Lyman, Thomas 1970 English-Meo Pocket Dictionary. Bangkok. The Goethe Institute (German Cultural Institute).

Mareschal, Eric 1976 La Musique des Hmong. Paris. Musee Guimet.

Ruey Yih-Fu 1958 'Terminological Structure of the Miao Kinship System', Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology. Academia Sinica, Taipei. Vol. 29 (pp. 613-639).

--1960 'The Magpie Miao of Southern Szechuan', in Social Structure in Southeast Asia, ed. George Murdock. Chicago. Quadrange Books.

--and Ling Shun-Sheng 1947 Xiangxi Miaozu diaocha baogao (A report on an Investigation of the Miao of Western Hunan). Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica (Monograph Series A, No. 18). Shanghai (translated by Lien-en Tsao, Human Relations Area Files, New Haven, 1963).

--and Kuan Tung-kuei 1962 Chuannan Yaque Miao de hun sang lisu (Marriage and Mortuary Customs of the Magpie Miao, Southern Szechuan, China). Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica (Monograph Series A, No, 23). Taipei.

Symonds, Patricia 2004 Calling in the Soul : Gender and the Cycle of Life in a Hmong Village. Seattle and London. University of Washington Press.

Tapp, Nicholas 2001 The Hmong of China : Context, Agency, and the Imaginary. Leiden. Brill.

(1) RPA tseeb (true), cuav (false), contracted here to ca as in the Chinese term jia.

(2) RPA yaug.

(3) This the classifier, RPA lub, for 'mouth'.

(4) The normal word for 'lead' here seems to be ci, rather than RPA coj.

(5) The Chinese, you, means 'wander' or 'go around', or make a tour.

(6) Mong Leng tsaa.

(7) I don't understand why the Chinese glosses this as 'yang trigram/divination'. Qhwa is to 'open or guide or point', RPA qhuab. But why ntswa should translate as 'yang' I do not know since in Hmong the term for 'yang' is yaj, or yang in Mong Leng (yaaj), as in RPA yeeb yaj khiab, and later in this verse we do indeed hear about the yang kwa. The notes explain that this ntswa actually refers to the bamboo shoot from which the divination horns are made - RPA ntsuag or bamboo sprout. (In this article I mostly use White Hmong RPA since that is what I am more familiar with, although the dialect is clearly much closer to Mong Leng).

(8) The Master seems to be addressing the horns. If they are not happy, they disagree, the moment is not propitious to continue.

(9) The notes explain that two down is yin (a negative response), two up is yang (positive), one of each is xun. In Chinese the xun (sun) trigram is the one which has two yang (male, unbroken, positive) lines at the top, followed by a yin (broken, negative) line at the bottom, and it is associated with 'Wind', rather than with the 'Heaven' of the yang or the 'Earth' of the yin. See extended footnote below.

(10) Probably ces, 'and, then', a connector.

(11) According to the Chinese footnotes, it seems that khu refers to a 'couple' or 'pair', while tsu means both divination horns are down, so it should be a yin trigram, and tshai refers to one of them being up, one down, or the xun trigram. The khu may however (I suppose) derive from RPA khuj, or 'fortune'. Chindasri (1976) and others note that at Hmong funerals it is necessary to throw the divination horns so that one is up, one is down, for the rites to continue. This is of course because yin (RPA yeeb) refers to the spiritual world, yang (RPA yaj) to the mortal/human world, while one of each, a yin plus a yang, signifies that the way between the two worlds is open, and communication between spirits and men can take place. The Hmong oral system, however, is much simpler and more original than the Chinese written one, being based on pairs of opposites only. It results in a total system of three, given the possibility of a combination of positive with negative (i.e. positive, negative, or mixed), rather than the Chinese system of four. The third Hmong possibility is bifurcated in Chinese according to whether the yang is placed above, or below, the yin resulting in the eight basic trigrams of Chinese folklore, which are derived from adding either a positive or a negative to each of these four pair of basic opposites. The Hmong system has no hierarchy in it, no yang being placed above or below a yin as it must be in writing. Thus there can only be three combinations positive, negative, or a combination of both. Temporal sequence could also of course lead to such Chinesestyle combinations, with a yang preceding a yin or vice versa, but this does not seem to occur in the Hmong rituals. Now, why the Chinese translation of the Hmong term for the combination of yang and yin (that magic third combination, which permits intercourse between the living and the dead) should only refer to the Chinese xun trigram (which has two yang lines above, a yin line below them), rather than any one of the other five of the eight basic trigrams (bagua) which are defined by (three-line) combinations of yang with yin lines (arranged vertically), I have no idea.--One possibility could be that it was this very xun trigram which was indeed the origin of the derivation of the whole bagua eight-trigram system (which may be seen as the basis of Chinese medicine, astrology, architecture and martial arts) out of a simple combination of positives and negatives. That is, after the combination of yang-yang with yin-yin to produce either yang-yin or yin-yang (making 4 Chinese combinations, rather than the third Hmong alternative in which it does not matter if it is either yang-yin or yin-yang), adding a further yin or yang to each gives eight total sequent combinations. Within these, the xun (two positives above a negative) is only one out of five possible other combinations of trigrams which include both yin and yang. Why should not the third Hmong alternative, a combination of yin with yang, be represented for instance by tui (lake), a negative above two positives?

(12) The Chinese footnote confesses this translation does not seem to make sense. It sounds as if one verse is being bet against many.

(13) RPA ntaaj (ntaj).

(14) To carry as on one's back.

(15) The Chinese, lao tien, means to talk widely of many things.

(16) So this would be cag for 'roots' in White Hmong.

(17) This is what the Chinese says, onomatopoeically, but I cannot find a Hmong equivalent, except for voob which means to cover something, usually with earth.

(18) Ruey actually uses the symbol I have transcribed as RPA c here, but clearly 'bamboo' is meant.

(19) Obviously nyob, 'to live, to be, to stay'.

(20) RPA haj ('still' or 'yet'), like Chinese hai.

(21) The Chinese free translation translates this as agreeing--that is, 'you will not agree', presumably addressed to the otherworld with reference to the absence of the correct 'trigram'.

(22) Hmo po and hmo yeu are extremely suggestive phrases, as the Chinese translation for hmo is given as 'Miao'. This is the same term which is used for the Hmong and some other groups in China, which literally means seedling. So although I have translated this in English as 'seedling', in Chinese it is 'Miao'; any Chinese reader reading this would understand the grandfather and grandmother of the Hmong ('Miao') to be meant here. If that Chinese translation is correct (and it probably is, otherwise the 'ancestors of the seedlings' would be meant here, which is unlikely), then it implies that these Hmong called themselves Hmo, and that the Chinese translator assumed that hmo meant 'seedling' (miao). The tone value given to this word by Ruey is a 53, but other words in the high tone of White Hmong (a 55) are given in this song with the same tone (like sa for liver). Lyman's Green Meo Dictionary also notes that this tone can be realised either as 55 or 54 (that is, slightly falling) in Green Hmong. So in RPA it should probably be written hmob. It is possible the Chinese transcriber just did not hear the final nasalisation but this is strange since Ruey usually uses the term 'Hmong' (with final nasalisation) for these people.

(23) The name of a Hmong divinity. See Concluding remarks.

(24) FM means 'Father's Mother' (paternal grandmother) and FF means 'Father's Father' (paternal grandfather).

(25) Either the pronunciation is really like this or Ruey did not hear it as xy.

(26) Qhov twg

(27) Probably a better translation would be 'behind'; cf. RPA qaum, 'back'). Later in the text the same word is translated as 'behind' or 'back'.

(28) latswv is the Chinese Hmong pronunciation of White Hmong dab tsi I often heard in Sichuan.

(29) muaj, 'have' or 'take'.

(30) This may sometimes be RPA lawm, which would mean 'already' or act as a general post-verbal indicating an action completed if immediately following a verb.

(31) This must be rov hlos, return back, in RPA.

(32) Mong (moo) in RPA; either the final nasalisation is missing in Sichuan, or was not heard.

(33) This word must be fiv in RPA, as in compounds like fiv dab to 'make a promise to the spirits'.

(34) RPA noog tsev would be a 'sparrow', but it is likely this is in compound with noog kos, 'woodpecker'.

(35) If this is supposed to be nqes, then it is used quite differently from in Western Hmong, where the translation should be 'down'.

(36) But this is not like the RPA ceev faj or be careful.

(37) Or message.

(38) Poob in RPA.

(39) Not very like various Hmong words for 'quickly' or 'hurry' (sai sai?).

(40) RPA ya, yaa.

(41) I use 'sky' and 'heaven' interchangeably.

(42) RPA tshiab, 'new'.

(43) A col is a mountain pass, a hollow in the mountains.

(44) RPA zoov, forest, as in hav zoov; the preceding ha may be part of this compound phrase.

(45) RPA txhib ntawg, the divining horns.

(46) Ib los lus, a word, a phrase.

(47) RPA vaj, vaaj, garden.

(48) RPA tsev, house.

(49) RPA tus, classifer of a person.

(50) The reference to falling is reminiscent of the version I collected in Sichuan (Tapp 2001) where the bird flies to heaven and pecks at the seeds, which fall to earth one by one.

(51) The word might simply be RPA yug, or 'born'.

(52) This must be RPA tiab, so it is 'skirt', oddly. This may be a reference to the return of the soul to collect its placenta, sometimes referred to in these songs as a satin coat, from the place where it is buried in the house after birth.

(53) Note this pronunciation of the word for 'father' is consistently more like White Hmong than Mong Leng, although in most cases the dialect seems closer to Mong Leng.

(54) Almost certainly RPA tsho or 'jacket', since it is followed by ri for 'trousers' which must be RPA ris, whch two words often occur in combination compounds (ris tsho).

(55) That is, RPA ncej qab, qaab or 'thigh'.

(56) Note the negative is pronounced sometimes like White Hmong tsis, sometimes like Mong Leng which sounds more like tsw, and was the way I heard it in Sichuan with another Hmong sub-group (Hmoob Puas).

(57) RPA npab, npaab.

(58) Or RPA noj, again like White Hmong.

(59) Eat fully, to the finish, eat up.

(60) A number word, or classifier.

(61) If this is the number ten, rather than the normal RPA kaum or 'ten', the word normally used only for compounds of ten (as in 'thirty', 'forty', fifty', etc.) is used here (RPA caug).

(62) Here is the more normal Hmong word for 'to wear', RPA hnav.

(63) Hmong has considerable poetic licence regarding tenses. Although the verb forms throughout this stanza are all clearly in the future (ya, or RPA yuav, meaning 'will'), it is prefaced by Thaum which in all contexts in this text is transated as 'Before' or 'time past' and so I assume functions much as Thaum ub or Thaum ib would in RPA today, so that means the verse is referring to events in the past, at the birth of the deceased. It is also common to refer to the way the deceased has used up goods during his life on earth in these songs of death, the sense being one of immeasurable indebtedness and gratitude to one's parents whom one can never repay. That is the sense here, I think, so in correct English a conditional tense should be used in the last sentence, i.e, 'in Hong Ganba you were to eat up so much grain, you would use up so much clothing....'.

(64) The ia sound in RPA also often becomes elided as a; this is RPA siab, liver or (metaphorically) heart.

(65) The Chinese translation just mentions that this is the name of a god, but given that he has a bad heart and the preposition of the strange word Ntsu for Heaven, I think this should probably be read as a compound. So the name should be Ntsu Nong, or in RPA Ntxwg Nyug (Nyoog); later in this text it is spelt Nyong. That would imply that the first half of Ntxwg Nyug's name means something like 'Heaven'.

(66) RPA mob, ill.

(67) RPA cev.

(68) RPA cawv. The pronunciation must be very similar (in Chinese it is jiu).

(69) RPA hub.

(70) RPA cuaj. I am sure the consonant is the same, but the vowel has changed, so in RPA this should be written as ca.

(71) RPA haus.

(72) RPA tshuaj.

(73) The same in RPA.

(74) The Chinese leaves this blank, but going from other versions, it must mean shamans rather than shamanic spirits (neeb) although that is what it literally says. Perhaps it should be shamanic spirits.

(75) RPA tu.

(76) Possibly derived from RPA nraub qaum, which refers to the upper back.

(77) RPA ciaj.

(78) RPA yim, household or family, homestead.

(79) RPA nkawm.

(80) RPA rooj, door.

(81) RPA nplawm.

(82) The IPA symbol Ruey uses looks like an l with a cross through it; it clearly is like a Welsh L, or a preaspirated labial (?), so it is hlau in RPA ('iron').

(83) The second tse is in a different tone from the first.

(84) RPA qheb.

(85) I assume this is RPA ces, a connector or 'then'.

(86) Note that this is now spelt as 'Nyong', not 'Nong', which makes it even more certain this is Ntxwg Nyug.

(87) Or 'release', if this is RPA tso.

(88) RPA tawm.

(89) RPA (White Hmong) dab.

(90) RAP pa, 'breath'.

(91) For those unfamiliar with Hmong ritual narrative, legendary and mythic personages are often doubled as male and female in this way; they are conceived of I think as one spirit, or mythic person, yet with the aspects of both paternal and maternal ancestors. Also, in Hmong it is common for the female to precede the male so that it is always 'mother and father' who are spoken of, never 'father and mother'.

(92) The normal RPA word for this would be qoob (qong).

(93) rau ... teu, or RPA rauv taws, to make a fire.

(94) Presumably RPA nqe, a 'price' or 'cost', more than a 'debt'; perhaps best would be a 'due'.

(95) This might be RPA haum, or 'pay respects' (?), rather than 'thank'.

(96) I am sure this does not mean to imply that eleven times all the available quantity was consumed. It may be that the dead one is conceived of as having consumed eleven times more than his due. Or it may be that something is missing and it should be translated more poetically as something like 'eleven fields of grain, eleven wells of water, eleven forests of firewood', indeed this may be partially understood through the use of classifiers. The exact number is of course symbolic only; what is meant is that when we are dead, we owe a debt to the spirits of place for all that we have consumed, which is a lot, and more than our proper due.

(97) I can find no Hmong word in the dictionaries corresponding to this word for 'city', unless it is loog (courtyard).

(98) Qaib in White Hmong RPA.

(99) The same word translated above as 'again'.

(100) RPA nteg.

(101) That is, the verb 'to couple', probably RPA khawm, which Heimbach says is an expression for 'to embrace' (in sib khawm) used by young people, and 'not very elegant'!

(102) RPA zes.

(103) Probably a mis-hearing of a word more similar to RPA tshuav, 'only' or 'left'.

(104) The Chinese says yellow (RPA daj) or green but these are not the exact words used. I think the sense must be bad eggs (as in RPA qe qauj, 'eggs which do not hatch'), so tau would be as elsewhere, or a mishearing for daj, unless it is a mishearing for daug (as in qe daug) which would mean the eggs were hatched.

(105) I cannot identify this word in Hmong, but the Chinese gives 'fox'.

(106) RPA tis.

(107) RPA taw.

(108) RPA tw.

(109) This is the literal meaning, but since there are eventually exactly twelve days, it may be ordinals which are meant here, so that it should be understood as 'laid the first egg on the first day, the second egg on the second day', and so on. Or even better, 'in two days she laid two eggs, in three days she laid three eggs', etc. (see Patricia Symonds 2004).

(110) Or 'serve', perhaps.

(111) RPA su, the midday meal.

(112) From other versions, it seems this word may also mean to go 'around', to tour, perambulate.

(113) Mong Leng RPA dlav (WM diav).

(114) to yo yang is translated as 'shepherd'; literally, it must be in RPA tus yug yaj, yang, or 'one [who] raises sheep'.

(115) I do not know why this word ke, with a mid level tone rather than the falling tone given to the word ke meaning 'road' or 'path' (kev in RPA), should function throughout this part of the ritual as meaning 'is' or 'are'.

(116) RPA qhov.

(117) But I wonder if this should not be 'answer'.

(118) The normal RPA for 'to cross' would be hla.

(119) Probably RPA nuam, to look closely down upon.

(120) RPA nkoj.

(121) RPA txaij, or multicoloured, gay, beautiful, adorned.

(122) Or 'lead', so 'row'. The boatman!

(123) Or 'mount'.

(124) This must be RPA txhob! a kind of exclamation forbidding one to do something, as when one tells a child not to do something.

(125) Ruey unambiguously translates this as 'Lolo'. The Lolo one of the groups classified as Yi in today's China, particularly those who refer to themselves as No, or the Nosu.

(126) RPA txoj ke.

(127) Bad or difficult to walk on.

(128) As in RPA ntxhab, ntxhaab.

(129) RPA yog.

(130) Chinese 'toon' tree, or 'Chinese cedar'.

(131) RPA hnov.

(132) RPA Xob.

(133) Crickets, cicadas.

(134) Or 'left behind', as in RPA tseg.

(135) yB, eB, meaning younger brothers, elder brothers.

(136) The music of the pipes and drum refers, of course, to the Hmong funeral.

(137) If this means 'hill', the word should probably be toj, not tau.

(138) This has a high level tone, like the word for 'Han'.

(139) Silkworm caterpillars hatched from eggs moult several times before pupating in spun cocoons from which they emerge as moths, forming an appropriate image for transformation and rebirth.

(140) I have taken kang si kang sa to refer to poisonous caterpillars here based on other translations of this song, although other versions have kab no kab ntsig. The Chinese does not specify what kind of 'hateful bugs' these may be.

(141) The Chinese gives 'hill', but probably 'up' is the literal meaning.

(142) RPA dev (White Hmong), or klev (Blue Hmong).

(143) Probably RPA ntev.

(144) This is the normal Hmong word for 'hemp'. The Chinese has reversed the meaning, in a compound with RPA ntuag which is translated as 'rattan'. Generally, though, the compound just means 'hemp'.

(145) Sometimes this word is found as RPA npu (in the compound daus xib daus npu, for example).

(146) RPA hlob.

(147) The Chinese gives 'bamboo wand' here.

(148) The Chinese gives 'distance' or 'gap'.

(149) RPA ntaiv.

(150) RPA zov.

(151) lo pang kle = RPA lub pas dej (often a 'lake', but 'a well' is meant here).

(152) Coob in RPA, with the meaning of 'plenteous' or 'crowded'.

(153) The Chinese translates these leu as 'voice', but I am fairly sure it is just an indicator of past tense, or lawm in RPA.

(154) This could as easily be translated as 'they', given that soon male and female ancestors are referred to.

Understandings of plural and singular often depend on context alone, although White and Green Hmong do have a separate term for 'they'.

(155) RPA luag, smiling, laughing.

(156) This the main room of a house; the Chinese term tang is used.

(157) Tco and tso are clearly the same term here, heard differently by the transcriber, or cub in RPA.

(158) 'Guestroom', in Chinese; probably from RPA plag, or the uphill part of the house..

(159) RPA leejtwg, 'who' (perhaps the final nasalisation was not heard).

(160) The classifier, RPA lub, here indicates the 'mouth' already referred to.

(161) RPA muag.

(162) From the Chinese, those things you eat to accompany a drink.

(163) From the Chinese, a very small glass, of the kind sometimes used for alcohol in Japan and China.

(164) RPA chaw.

(165) Shua, in Chinese.

(166) This return of the soul to earth (and it does not seem to be the return of the Master which is spoken of) is a constant in most versions, but Lemoine's does not seem to have it.

(167) Or 'travel'.

(168) RPA qus, 'wild'.

(169) Possibly RPA xyaw.

(170) RPA ua, 'do' or 'make', here probably functioning as an iteration.

(171) SS=Sons' Sons.

(172) Ve ... ntxau corresponding to RPA vivncaus, elder and younger sisters. While Hmong in Thailand seem to restrict these terms to women speaking, in Sichuan I found Hmong men used these terms as the common terms for their own elder and younger sisters. Ntxau is given a mid level tone, like the word for 'mouth', unlike the low tone (-s) in Southeast Asian Hmong.

(173) kwa ma together is translated as 'tears'; ma (RPA muag) means just 'eyes'.

(174) Clearly this hlo is RPA hlub or 'love'. It may be that the term above, hlau, also translated as 'love' or 'care', should also have been hlo, or RPA hlub.

(175) Tsong or tcong is the RPA word coob meaning 'plenteous' or 'many', as we have seen above. Te ... tcheu is RPA teb chaws, which often means 'country' in the sense of a 'a country'.

(176) RPA ntxa, ntxaa.

(177) Lyeu sounds like a Chinese word which means 'leak', but lyeu sa nya as a whole is translated nto Chinese as a place name, Liu Sha Yang.

(178) Probably RPA tshwm, 'to appear'.

(179) Woven straw, of the type sometimes used for sleeping mats in Asia.

(180) This rau is clearly RPA rov, as in rov qab or 'return'.

(181) kang is here used for 'road, as in compound RPA kab ke, or (Blue Hmong) qaab ke, a synonym also for customs ('ways').

(182) The Chinese says this is a 'kind of grass'.

(183) RPA lwg.

(184) This word again has a mid tone, not the falling tone for the word meaning 'sky' or 'heaven', and is thus not the same term.

(185) Or 'evaporate'.

(186) RPA nplej.

(187) RPA suab, fern.

(188) The RPA for 'to dig' would be just khawb.

(189) Understood as the grave.

(190) Understood as the coffin.
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Author:Tapp, Nicholas
Publication:Hmong Studies Journal
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jan 1, 2008
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