Reverence for Bamboo
Bamboo is called "Qilao" by the Qilao people, so literally, their name can be accurately translated as "bamboo people". It is not strange to name a man with bamboo (Zhu, which means bamboo in Chinese, is a common family name), but as name of group of people it is quite rare and interesting, exiting people's curiosity, who have not heard the literal translation before. Although it is an ancient group, we can still feel it is fresh and strange, as excited as seeing spring bamboo shoots coming up in winter. The Chinese people give a variety of virtues to bamboo, such as cold resident, decent, open minded, tough, widely used, etc. Therefore it is quite elegant and meaningful to call them "bamboo". As to this custom, there are records in Nanzhong Chronicles of Huayang State Chronicles over 1, 600 years ago, and also in Southwest Minority Groups in History of the Later the Han Dynasty over 1, 500 years ago, telling the following tale. One day long time ago, when a woman was washing clothes at Dun River (today's Beipan River in western Guizhou Province), a three-joint big bamboo tube floated over between her feet, and could not be pushed away. At this moment, she caught a baby's cry coming out of the tube. She cut open the tube and found a male infant in there, who was brought up in her home and became well versed in both letters and martial arts. He named himself as Yelang Marquis, taking bamboo as his family name. Where the cut bamboo tube was left grew up a flourishing bamboo forest. Later generations built Bamboo King Temple to worship him.
Even today, legends about Bamboo King and the custom of respecting bamboo still remain widely among the Qilao people. In Meijia Village of Daozhen Qilao and Miao Autonomous County, when the first boy is born, parents would bury his placenta with some egg husks under a bamboo forest, wishing to get Bamboo King's blessing. At Spring Festival, every family would go to the bamboo forest to burn paper money to Bamboo King. In some places, people use bamboo tubes filled with rice to worship the ancestors or pray for good harvests. Some scholars assert that this reverence for bamboo originated from the worship of bamboo tattoos, which is from the importance and usefulness of bamboo to the Qilao ancients.
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