The term dongba (Nakhi: ²dto¹mba, Chinese: 东巴; pinyin: dōngbā; literally: "Ba of the East") refers to the religious priests of Dongbaism (Chinese: 东巴教; pinyin: Dōngbajiào; literally: "Ba religion of the East") or simply Dongba, masters of the culture, literature and the script of the Nakhi people, who are found in southwestern China.
Role in society
The dongba are believed to be the priests of the Bön religion. They play a major role in the Naxi culture, and preach harmony between man and nature. Their costumes show strong Tibetan influence, and pictures of Bön gods can be seen on their headgear. Tibetan prayer flags and Taoist offerings can be seen in their rituals.
Religious rituals are also conducted by the priests to propitiate the spirits, as they were believed to be living in every part of the natural world. The core of the Dongba religion is based on the belief that both man and nature are two half-brothers born of two mothers and the same father. This creates revenge from heaven, which befalls upon humans who use up too much natural resources.
Prior to Bön influence, it is suggested that the original Nakhi priests were the female Llü-bu. At that time, statues or religious images could be widely seen everywhere.
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