Gender and Religion

The Na are very religious and nearly all Na practice their own religion, Dabaism, as well as Tibetan Buddhism. Na daba religion is an oral tradition which centers around life cycles, ancestors, healing, and divination. The daba are Na religious specialists, who traditionally led important annual events and well as major life ceremonies (such as naming a child, new house ceremonies, and funerals), and acted as the Na historians and cultural interpreters. Dabas also drove away evil spirits, and would be called on to assist with cases of illness as well as bad fortune. Dabas were and are male, and an aging daba generally chooses a nephew to train in his role. There are few living dabas. According to Na cosmology, the sun and other celestial bodies, the wind and the rain, mountains, and caves are all divine, and most deities are genderless. However, several important deities are gendered. The sun is female, while the moon is male. The primary Na deity is a goddess, Gemu. The large Gemu Mountain dominates the Yongning Plain and the most important Na festival involves visiting mountain and wish her well. She is believed to protect and help the Na, but she can also withhold her benevolence. The lesser surrounding mountains are male gods believed to be her lovers.

Tibetan Buddhism probably reached Yongning as early as the 14th century with the Mongol invasion. Na were converted to Gelugpa en masse after the chieftain's conversion, circa 1700, which brought Na more tightly under the aegis of Tibet (Mathieu, forthcoming 2003). Government policy forced a hiatus during the collective era, but Na are again sending their sons to train as lamas. Na women rarely become nuns, unlike in other Tibetan Buddhist areas.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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