Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Guardian spirit shrine Of Lisu

Every Lisu village must have a 'village guardian spirit shrine '(Apa mu hi) above the village. The guardian spirit inhabiting this shrine protects the village by keeping out bad influences, robbers, evil spirit, drought, and disease. If villagers violate Lisu customs, such as disobeying the village priest or committing sexual sins, they believe the guardian spirit will take some kind of revenge. This roofed shrine is located in fenced area above the village, and is built underneath a leafy tree. On a shelf in the shrine are kept four small rice bowls containing water, on for each point of the compass. In addition there is a bowl of water for each clan represented in the village.

In this scared compound, which females cannot enter are two other less elaborate altars to the 'Lord of the Land' and the ruler of the area. In some case there is another altar below the shrine to Xwa suh, who is the brother of the guardian spirit.

Communal worship of the guardian spirit helps to bind the village together. There are many annual offerings at the shrine, as will as special offerings for the purification of the village whenever the priest decides they are needed. Individual families also feel a responsibility to the guardian spirit, and derive some protection from him. A new family moving into the village makes an offering to Apa mu to announce their arrival, and to ask for his protection. A family moving away also makes an offering to the guardian spirit, explaining their departure, and requesting his blessing. A special ceremony is conducted to obtain his blessing when a child is born- also for a colt or a litter of pigs. Meat is offered to him from the first pig in a litter to be butchered.

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