Nestled against the Tibetan highlands in the remote mountains of Liangshan in southwest China, the land of the Nuosu people was until the 1950s beyond the easy reach of the Chinese government, and the culture of the Nuosu (a branch of the Yi group) developed with little Chinese influence. In the 1960s China's Cultural Revolution suppressed and eroded Nuosu culture, but since the 1980s there has been a resurgence of Nuosu ethnic identity and culture, and a revival of traditional arts.
An introductory chapter presents the history and culture of the Nuosu, and essays illustrate each of the traditional visual arts: wooden house architecture, featuring intricate post-and-beam construction and carved decoration; clothing and textiles, including elaborate needlework; red-yellow-black lacquerware, seen in both traditional village-made and modern factory-made versions; silversmithing and jewelry; musical instruments and their use; and two aspects of the ritual culture of the bimo priests -- ceremonies for the souls of deceased ancestors and rituals to expel and exorcise ghosts.
Mountain Patterns, includes photographs representing every corner of Nuosu territory and displaying a wide variety of regional styles.
Stevan Harrell is professor of anthropology at the University of Washington and curator of Asian ethnology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. Bamo Qubumo is assistant professor in the Institute for Minority Literature of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing. Ma Erzi (Mgebbu Lunze) is associate director of the Liangshan Nationalities Research Institute, Xichang, Sichuan.
AcknowledgmentsThe Survival of Nuosu CultureNuosu ArchitectureClothing and TextilesLacquerwareSilversmithing and JewelryMusical InstrumentsThe Bimo, Their Books, and Their Ritual ImplementsGhost Boards and Spirit Pictures