History of Pumi Ethnic Group

The Pumis have original relationship with the ancient Di-Qiang groups of our Country. According to legends of their own and historical documents and records, ancients of the Pumis were nomadic tribes living in a region where the Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan meet, and later they moved along the Crossing Mountain Range gradually from the high and cold area to the Southeastern Sichuan where it was warm and wet. In the middle of the 13th century, some of the Pumis were enlisted in the Yuan army and went on an expedition with Hubilie (one of the emperors of the Yuan Dynasty) to Yunnan. From then on, ancestors of the Pumis finished their nomadic style of “migrating with water and grass”, and began to farm.

Thousands of years have passed. But generations of Pumis have still been cherishing the North grassy plains— their birthplace. Till now, old customs of the nomadic groups still can be seen in Pumi people’s living conventions and national culture, and their diligent concern to their birthplace—-the Northern prairie can be felt.

According to the old custom, the Pumi children can only wear long gown and unlined garment, and they change to wear clothes and trousers or skirt and short gown after thirteen; Regardless of their clothes style, adult men and women all wear sheepskin sleeveless jacket or cape and tie belt around the waist; Women regard thick braid beautiful and like to braid tail of yak and silk into the hair and coil it at the top of the head; The Pumi women in Ninglang often wear long skirt with many plaits and is restrained on the waist. They embroider a horizontal line in the middle of the skirt with red thread. They say it is the route along which their ancestors migrated, and people should look for their final setting place along the route after they die or they couldn’t return to the birthplace.

In funerals of the Pumis, a rite called “giving sheep” should be held to guide the death. When the rite begins, the wizard firstly shows the death the ancestors’ names, explains the route for returning home, and leads a sheep to guide the way. He sprays some wine and Zanba (roasted highland barley) on the ears of the sheep at first, and if the sheep shakes its head, it means the death is willing to accept the wine and Zanba and the whole family would be lucky and safe. Then the family members of the death kneel down to invite the sheep to drink wine, and kowtow to the sheep. At the same time, the wizard stabs into the body of the sheep, takes out its heart quickly, puts it on the funeral table, and then begins to chant “Blazing the Trail Sutra”: “pack up your luggage quickly and go back to the place where our ancestors live by the leading of the white sheep.

There are thick white snow and the Bengbengmuzhawa Mountain where our ancestors rest. This white sheep is descendent of wild sheep captured by the ancestors. It will surely be loyal to you, heed your words and take you home.” “Only the North is peaceful and happy hometown. Go cheerfully; Go bouncingly and vivaciously; go singing and laughing.” At last, the wizard should point out detailed route that the death should walk along. The words contain consolation to the death and also reveal the hope of those still living.