For the month of June, I was in and out of Lijiang Studio absorbing, contemplating, doing. In one of my outward moments, I found myself in a Naxi mountain village in Tacheng for 5 days with Wu Zhimi and He Xiudong. He Xiudong, the presiding Dongba shaman-priest, was back in his hometown to officiate ceremonies for a wedding and baby-naming. So, I floated through the festivities with my Pleco app and a notebook while Wu Zhimi kept me abreast of conversation and fulfilled her role as Apprentice Dongba.
It is the Dongba's function to secure blessings necessary for the future of the union. But, as a spectacle, the ceremony itself takes a backseat to the laughing, drinking, and conversation of guests. Weddings take place in the bride's home along with days of cooking, feasting, and reunion. As a foreigner, I spent most of my time at fire pits around Naxi men while women handled preparation, serving, cleaning with military precision. Hundreds of friends, neighbors, and relatives came. Some people hadn't seen each other for years.
Steamed bun prep (a small moment in an enormous orchestration):