This is an unprecedented book which provides a rare cultural and linguistic record of the Chinese ethnic minority group, the Bai people. In 1958 while conducting fieldwork in Yunnan, China, a professor came upon a handwritten booklet made of rice paper, containing what appeared to be strange combinations of Chinese characters. This booklet turned out to be a collection of Bai folksongs recorded in an Old Bai script: so-called Chinese Bai Writing. This kind of script has been used since the seventh century mainly among local elites to keep a written record of Bai texts and has not been fully deciphered by modern scholars. A rare find, the seventy-three-page booklet contains troves of valuable data pertaining to several key issues: a Bai dialect spoken as early as the 1930s, an unusually large number of "created characters," and a repertoire of more than two hundred local folk songs, some of which had been long lost. Most of the folksongs are about courtship-a taboo topic during the Mao years. The booklet thus had to be safeguarded carefully through the tumultuous Mao years until the 1990s, when the political environment had relaxed enough for full-scale ethnographic research. This book not only deciphers the text's meaning and analyzes its unique character composition, but it also contains translations of the entire booklet in both English and Chinese. This book will be an important, if not essential, addition for scholars and students of Asian studies, ethnic studies, folklore, and linguistics.
Jingqi Fu, Min Zhao, Lin Xu, Hardcover, ISBN 10: 1604978953, ISBN 13: 9781604978957