The homeland of peacocks

In the west of Yunnan Province China, there is a beautiful piece of land, which is named Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture.

Cao Mingkuan: a Guardian of Intangible Culture



      One day in this midsummer, a chanting of “Zhe Pama and Zhe Mima” which is listed as national intangible culture heritage was performed at a small farm courtyard of Jiubao Town, Lianghe County. Usually, the chanting, which is used to deliver auspiciousness and appeal for good health, can only be heard during the most important festivals of A’chang ethnic group. The performance by Cao Mingkuan, a successor of national intangible culture heritage, this time is especially shown to guests coming for research and study on the development of A’chang culture as well as the protection of national intangible culture heritage.

  Zhe Pama and Zhe Mima, a creation myth, is the most popular and representative legend among A’chang people. It tells that there was no land and heaven, and everything was in chaos in ancient times. Later, a ray of light appeared, bringing brightness and darkness, which gave birth to Yin and Yang. The interaction of Yin and Yang finally gave rise to the birth of Zhe Pama who was the father of heaven and Zhe Mima who was the mother of land. The two later created heaven, lands, mountains, rivers, sun, moon, stars. The legend is well-known to every household among A’chang, imposing a profound influence on the development of A’chang culture. In order to commemorate the heroic undertakings of Zhe Pama and Zhe Mima, January 4 of every year is defined as the Luo Waterloo Festival, a traditional festival of A’chang.

  The legend, which is considered by A’chang people as a classic concerning the creation of heaven and land, the birth of human beings as well as the origin of A’chang ethnic group, is circulated mainly in the form of epic and will be chanted by “living necromancer” at festivals and sacrificial ceremonies.

  Cao Mingkuan, who is able to chant the legend in A’chang language, Chinese, Dai and Jingpo, began to preside over all kinds of religious rites at the age of 30. People will hear the chanting by Cao at traditional festivals, folk activities, wedding ceremonies, etc. As the presider of religious rites of A‘chang as well as a successor of national intangible culture heritage, Cao Mingkuan is regarded as an important guardian of A’chang culture.