Metamorpho-poetic Legending in 1950s Film: (1) Ashima

The “Da sanxian wu” or dance for self-selection of a mate. .

In many mythic narrative traditions, exogamy (broadly defined to mean extra-linial, not always extraterritorial) is the socio-cultural need that both drives the story from pastoral stasis into transactional kinesis and (the other side of the “fact”) provokes rebellion by the agents (victims) of the enterprise against contract and parental or money driven authority- meaning ultimately rejection of community tout entiere because it stands in the way of the erotic fantasy-imagination. Certainly in tne Ashima legends Azhi’s father, Abulanma I?), has chosen first to abduct the girl from her poverty-striken mother (explaining to his suspicious wife that he does this to keep her comfortable); then to settle the beauty on his son (azhi) to keep her within reach, again with some kind of promise by her (and?) to marry Azhi at an unspecified moment in the future. (as a stand-in?: Azhi of course looks like an ape etc, and seems to be physically inept into the bargain, though as cliched they explain little: rather it is her lover-brothers physical strength and excellence in archery and riding that turns her head…), ).

But Ashima’s situation as a contract bride supposed to be tempted (hooked) by money
only undercuts the appeal of tightly defined kinship: and guarantees that non-wealth and non-power (over slaves) will be a condition of her bestowing love (perhaps that is a good reason for shepherding, that is romanticing id pwoer the poorer the more given to spectacle and flamboyance) is of course not the full picture, but it surely accounts for a great deal of the appeal of romantic exoticism in opera, which is the under-genre of our film.

That is nowhere more true than in the extravagance of the communal dance-seduction scene, which
very accurately (for once…) renders the very well-known Yi Torch-Festival (“square” dance-like)
performance called “Reba Jie” (torch-fest ) -(NOT 3/3, my mistake

Torch Fest from film
Same , from film, Ashima

Recent Torch Fest, Mile , shilin, Yunnan (Sani)

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