Gender and Religion

The male-female dyad comprises the core symbolism in Lahu religion. Lahu people across subgroups, regions, and countries share beliefs in a supreme god named Xeul Sha (Du, 1996; Lei & Liu, 1999, p. 57; Walker, 1986). According to various versions of Lahu origin myths in Lancang, Xeul Sha is a pair of cross-sex twins, representing the primordial dyad and the ultimate cosmological order (Du, 2002). The twin gods are often depicted as if they were a single joint entity who created the universe and human beings. While undertaking joint roles in creation, the dyadic supreme gods also demonstrate identical capacity, rationality, emotions, and morality. After making a few male-female pairs to serve as assistants, Xeul Sha created the earth (female) and the sky (male), the sun (female) and the moon (male), the water and the vegetation that cover the earth, and then the animals (Du & Hu, 1996; Lei & Liu, 1999, pp. 57-60). In order to solicit offerings, Xeul Sha also created and raised a pair of demigods called Xeul Sha's Senior Daughter and Senior Son, who were eventually punished with death for their rebellion (Du & Hu, 1996; Hu, 1996). To replace them, Xeul Sha then created the original humans, a pair of twins who came out of a gourd, called Only Man-Only Woman. Xeul Sha raised the first human twins, taught them how to hunt and farm, and instructed them to marry. Xeul Sha looked after the offspring of the first human couple, who became the ancestors of the human population, and taught them hunting, farming, and customs. Among the Lahu Na of Lancang, villagers also pair the guardian deities at various levels, including the guardian deities of the household, the village, and the village cluster. Villagers recognize the paired nature of these deities in their offerings, which are ritually presented in pairs, as are the offerings to Xeul Sha.

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Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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