何兆華。〈貴州施洞苗族的儀式專家與歷史〉。《民俗曲藝》188 (2015.6): 109-76
Ho Zhaohua. “Ritual Specialists and History in Shidong Miao Society, Guizhou Province.” Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 188 (2015.6): 109-76.


This paper presents an ethnographic study of the relationship between ritual specialists and local history in Miao communities located in Shidong 施洞 Town (southeastern Guizhou Province). It describes how three different types of ritual specialists complement each other in their practices as they help people cope with life’s struggles. When facing a problem, Shidong Miao will invite a female spirit medium (wuk zangs dliangb; shenpo 神婆 in Chinese) to perform a divination ritual known as “asking the road” (wenlu 問路) in order to discover the source of the problem. If the cause is discovered to be a ghost, ancestor, or dragon, they will ask a male spirit medium (ghet xangs dliangb; guishi 鬼師) to perform an exorcism. However, if the cause stems from an imbalance of yin and yang , events taking place on an inauspicious date, or improper geomancy (fengshui 風水), people will invite a ritual specialist known as a “ghet xangs did lix” (dili shifu 地理師傅, literally “master of earthly principles”) to solve the problem. The first type of ritual specialists are considered to embody the characteristics of yin (raw, cold, darkness), and are able to transform themselves into vessels capable of containing ghosts. In contrast, the second type take on the characteristics of yang (cooked, hot, brightness), and are able to use ghostly forces to control other ghosts. Finally the third type of ritual specialist utilizes characteristics of civilization, sacredness, and masculinity to act as interpreters who carry out the principle of “dao ” according to ideas of yin-yang and the Five Elements (wuxing 五行). The reflexive expressions of these three kinds of ritual performances demonstrate the complexity of local history, particularly the Shidong Miao people’s memory of resistance and isolation. At the same time, they also reveal ideas of assimilation or submission to imperial power.
During her rituals, the female spirit medium expresses the power of resistance by embodying the spirit of the powerful ghost known as Ghet liangl 勾兩, a mythical figure who could sprint and fly, inspiring terror in the Chinese emperor, who ordered him put to death. However, while this may be necessary for the sake of the ritual, allowing both the medium and the ghost possessing her into the village is considered dangerous, so villagers also worship an earth god (tudi pusa 土地菩薩) for protection. In contrast, due to his ability to use ghosts to control ghosts, the male medium displays his administrative status in Miao society. In contrast to female mediums, who are possessed by mythical ghosts, male mediums deal with the communal dead, who are divided into three categories: those who die peacefully and become ancestors; those who die outside the community and become ghosts; those who inhabit tombs and become transformed into dragons, spirits possessing great magical power yet also reflecting “otherness”. The male medium’s rituals isolate and drive away ghosts, while also incorporating more positive spiritual forces, for example by pulling a dragon into a villager’s house in order to bring fortune and fertility. Finally, by using yin and yang, the Five Elements, and fengshui, the dili shifu are able to create good fortune and change one’s destiny. The phenomena described above reveal the diversity and complexity of religious life in Shidong Miao society, while also providing a window to understand processes of historization, thereby allowing us to trace how the Shidong Miao have negotiated different conceptualizations of power through ritual performances and in daily life.

Also in Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore:

何兆華。〈當「做花」成「做人」:施洞苗族非物質文化遺產之傳承與變遷〉。《民俗曲藝》185 (2014.9): 51-114
Ho Zhao-hua. “When 'Making Motifs' Becomes 'Making a Person': Continuity and Change of Shidong Miao Intangible Cultural Heritage.” Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 185 (2014.9): 51-114.

何兆華。〈施洞苗族剪紙圖像上的戲曲與女性形象〉。《民俗曲藝》177 (2012.9): 161-221
Ho Zhao-hua. "Theatrical and Female Figures on Shidong Miao Paper Stencil Images." Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 177 (2012.9): 161-221.

何兆華。〈找吃找穿的時間:貴州施洞苗人曆法實踐中的我群建構〉。《民俗曲藝》166 (2009.12): 7-59
Ho Zhao-hua. "Time for Food and Clothing: The Construction of In-Group in the Shidong Miao Calendar." Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 166 (2009.12): 7-59.