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Some ethnic groups have no written languages, as their cultures have been handed down orally. When a grand traditional ceremony is held, the respected master of a sacrificial ceremony or an elder would tell or chant stories of long, long ago.

For example, the Dongba, a Naxi master at a sacrificial ceremony, would tell the following story. At the beginning of life there was chaos when the earth was first separated from heaven. First, there was vapor, then fog, and then there was an egg. The egg separated into white and black, and produced gods, ghosts and all things on earth. From this tale, it seems that man’s view of the creation can be very strange.

Research has shown that all the Creation tales in the world can be traced back to Yunnan minority tales, such as the separation of earth and heaven, the birth of man and animals, the world tree supporting the heavens, and animals supporting the heavens. Other tales include the origin of man and all things on earth, the flood, the creation of culture, the Creator and the heroes, and folk customs. They all take an important position in the treasure house of Chinese fairy tales.

Folk legends are always popular. They cover the natural landscapes of mountains and valleys, people and history, religious beliefs, ethics and folk customs from very ancient times to the present. Stories covering every conceivable happening in life are told, from the origin of mountains and rivers, to the significance of the embroidery on clothes. Tales such as the Legend of the Divine Ganmunu Mountain “, which reflects the customs of the matriarchal society along the Lugu Lake, and the “Twelve Brothers of the Yulong Mountain and the Jinsha River Girls” which explains the origin of mountains and rivers, and the stories about the decorations worn on the heads of the Yi and Sani girls, are still passed down from generation to generation.

Folk people chant or recite epic stories written in poetic verses and ballads. Over one hundred narrative ballads have already been published. They include fairy tales, tales of heroes and migrations, and moving ballads about love.

The best-known ones are ” Gemei” of the Yi people, “Creation” of the Bai people, “Genesis” of the Naxi people, the Tibetans’ “Gesar”, the “Ancient Ballad ” of the Miao ethnic group,” Zhaoshutun” of the Dai ethnic group, and “Ashima” of the Sani people. Songs about love, marriage, funerals, building houses, transplanting rice seedlings, pastoral songs, fishing, hunting, praying, and songs of praise, drinking songs and cradlesongs abound.