ANCIENT NAXI LITERATURE
This Naxi text dates from somewhere between 1500 and 1934. For a link to a magnifiable version of it, click here.
For another one in a different handwriting click here.
The Naxi Language
It is a member of the Tibetan-Burman language family.
The written language of the Naxi is called the Naxi Dongba script. It is the last of the pictographicwriting systems in the world which is still in use.
The Naxi language has four tones; each sound complex has many different meanings based on its tone.
Many of the individual symbols are 'compounds - made up of different sounds. There are 276 sound complexes in total. The meaning of a sound complex depends upon its tone. There are four tones. The compounds are read as though they were phrases. But the verbs and the other parts of speech are supplied by the speaker from memory.
It is used exclusivelyby the dongba (shamans/priests). It helps them whilst they are trying to remember the words they have to recite during various ceremonies and rituals.