Ashima 阿诗玛

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Ashima is a traditional story of a girl from the national minority of the Yi 彝族. This story, in circulation among the tribe of the Sani 撒尼 living in the village of Azhudi 阿着底 district of Lunan 路南 in the province of Yunnan, was brought into the literary form of a poem in 1953 by Huang Tie 黄铁, Yang Zhiyong 杨知勇, Liu Qi 刘绮 and Gong Liu 公刘, which were members of the provincial Renmin gongwentuan gongzuozu 人民文工团工作组. The story was first published in 1954 by the newspaper Yunnan ribao 云南日报. The book has been translated into several foreign languages.

The story narrates the resistance of beautiful and virtitious Ashima, daughter of the peasant Geluriming 格路日明, to the enforced marriage with Azhi 阿支, a son of the rich, powerful and cruel landlord Rebu Bala 热布巴拉. Because Ashima firmly resists the proposed marriage she is abducted and imprisoned, but does not comply to the demands of Azhi. Her brave brother Amoji 阿黑 rushed to free her. He defeats Rebu Bala in a duel and liberates his sister from the hands of the tyrant. On the way back home the family of Rebu Bala commands a mountain ghost to raise a fatal flood wave that carries Ashima away. Yet she is transformed into an echo by a mountain fairy. In search for the two young persons, the people of their tribe over and over again called the names of the two young people, but they only respond in the shape of an echo, reminding them of her brave and unbending spirit.

The story has the form of a ballad written in rhymes, with a length of 13 stanzas. It begins with a preface (xuqu 序曲). Stanzas 2 to 4 introduce the main persons. Parts 5 to 9 narrate the plan of the marriage, the abduction, and Amo’s plan to rescue her. Stanzas 10 to 12 describe Amo’s fight with Rebubala and his son and his victory. The last part is dedicated to Ashima’s death and her transformation into the mountain echo.

The Communists interprete the story as a report of the heroic resistance of the working class of the Yi people against their exploitaition by the rich and powerful landowners.

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