The term dongba (Nakhi: ²dto¹mba, Chinese: 东巴; pinyin: dōngbā; literally: "Ba of the East") refers to priests of the Nakhi people of Southwest China, who are masters of traditional culture, literature and Dongba symbols.
Role in society
The dongba are Bon priests. They play a major role in Nakhi 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 Tibetan influence, it is suggested that the original Nakhi priests were female llü-bu. At that time, statues or religious images could be widely seen everywhere.
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