Ancient Naxi Dongba Literature Manuscripts 

"The Naxi people (today numbering some 300,000 persons) live in the upper valleys of the Yangtze River system on the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan of China. They invented a written script unique to themselves. This script is pictographic, with some 2,000 characters, and is unrelated to any other script. The date when this script was invented is not clearly known, but was at least several hundred years ago. Only the Naxi priests (""Dongba"") knew how to read this script, and only a tiny handful can still do so today. Some 20,000 volumes written in this script are known to exist and scattered in numerous libraries throughout the world.

A representative selection of 1,000 works in this script, covering Dongba religion, stories of Naxi heroes, Naxi history, lifestyle, economics, calendar, culture and politics, has been put together for nomination on the Memory of the World Register. This collection is particularly rich in books documenting Dongba religious rituals, chants, ritual dances and divination methods. These books are all handwritten on local Naxi paper, stitched together. The aesthetic quality of the handwriting and the painted booklet covers is high. These Naxi books are unique in not only illustrating the lifestyle and beliefs of a small group of farmers living in remote mountain valleys, but also in giving an insight into the early history of writing in particular, and the origins of civilization in general. They constitute a literary heritage of high aesthetic and cultural value in the world. This documentary heritage was inscribed on the International Memory of the World Register in 2003."

International Register



The collection is housed in the Dongba Culture Research Institute of the Yunnan Academy of Social Science. ~ Dongba Culture Research Institute