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Interpretation of the Liangshan Yi die for events

Author: LuoYan
Tutor: ShaMaLaYi
School: Southwest University for Nationalities
Course: Ethnology
Keywords: Liangshan Yis Sigei Event Social Interaction Religion Practice
CLC: K892.3
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 30
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Starting from sorting through suicide study of Sociology, this dissertation comparesthe angle of Sociology with the angle of Anthropology, and points out that the angle ofAnthropology could contribute to the study of suicide. The Sigei event in Liangshan Yisociety provides quite a practical ethnographic case for Anthropologic study. In order tofree from limitation of former study focusing on individual suicide practitioner,Sociologic study of suicide appears to be more interested in suicide group and suiciderate. While Liangshan Yis’ Sigei practice makes it possible to study suicide fromindividual level in specific suicide cases, and to understand Yi people’s local knowledge,which contains local people’s cognition on Sigei suicide and their practice instructed bytheir cognition.In order to understand Sigei, this dissertation analyses firstly how local peopleexplain Sigei event and generalizes two cognitive systems from their explanation: socialinteraction and religion. On the level of social interaction system, Sigei event is causedby social interaction; the upgrading from Sigei to death dispute shows the highlight ofsocial interaction; mediating death dispute and compensation are a way of sorting out andadjusting social relationship. The author tries to point out that, firstly, what people pursuein the dispute is not economic compensation, but regaining of lost face and honor;secondly, the purpose of triggering dispute is not to raise new conflict and fight, but toprovide a way to solve problem and regain former social relationship. On the level ofreligion, people believe that Sigei is a bad way to die, and it is caused by a kind of evilnamed bbyssy. Sigei contains unclean element, and a series of rituals are needed toremove the unclean element. If not, the dead would not be able to return ancestors’paradise and become good god. Living people might also be harmed. People’s belief inbbyssy is their resource of explaining Sigei event. It reflects their world view: there is notonly interaction between living people, but also interaction between humans andsupernatural spirits. Religion is an important way for Yi people to understand their world,and it provides a system of meaning for Yis’ Sigei practice. It runs through the wholeSigei event from the beginning to the end, and its meaning in Sigei event is presented bydifferent religious rituals and compensation items specifically paid for religious rituals indeath dispute.Analysis above shows that Sigei event contains all factors of Yis’ traditional socialcultural mode: clan system, customary law, and ancestor worship. These factors explainwhy Sigei practice still exists now, and provide a basis for understanding and interpretingSigei event. On the basis of summarizing social cultural mode of Yi society, the author tries to make a further investigation on the tension between subjective activity andobjective structure, which is showed as strategic Sigei in practical Sigei cases. However,individual activity still can’t get out of the limitation and bound of social culturalstructure.In conclusion, Liangshan Yis’ special cognition on Sigei event and their practice is animportant ethnographic supplementation to the study of suicide. It expresses Yi people’sway of “pursuing happy life” and is a challenge to western values.

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