Cosmogonic and anthropogenic myths in Sui oral literature

Kamil Burkiewicz



This article provides a brief and selective introduction to the Sui oral literature, thematically limited to cosmogonic and anthropogenic myths. An essential description is provided of the Sui living in southernChina, mainly in rural areas of the southwestern region ofGuizhouProvince, their society, numbering 400 thousand people many of whom still preserve indigenous customs and traditions, and their language which, as other members of the Kam-Sui branch of the Tai-Kadai family, possess analytic, isolating and tonal features. The description is followed by an explanation of the most popular motifs of the Sui oral literature, many of which are shared with neighbouring ethnic groups. Separate paragraphs are also dedicated to the genres and structural characteristics of Sui oral literature that have a special social function as the repository of people’s collective memory. The literature is exemplified through fragments of two songs recorded in Li Fanggui’s Studies on the Sui Language (1966), accompanied by English glosses and poetic renderings. The latter constitute the first attempt to translate Sui literature while preserving its syllabic structure and rhymes.

Słowa kluczowe

Sui; oral literature; myths

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