Back to
Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Our Names in Dongba Pictographic Language

Dear families and friends,

The day before we left our homestay village, Nanyao Cun, we visited a very special person. We were told by a Naxi host, Lilly, that this gentleman  is one of the only few people who practice Dongba, a religion that used to be followed widely by Naxi people.

The gentleman we visited is a Dongba wizard, and he told us that his father, who was also a Dongba wizard taught him everything about Dongba, namely chanting, healing and pictographic language. He started to learn about Dongba at the age of 8 – he is 6th generation and the duty of Dongba has been passed on within his family for 300 years.

We also leaned that Dongba has such unique pictographic language and only a few people can read and write.

He wrote all of our names in Dongba and explained the meaning of each name. We enjoyed practicing Dongba writing with him.

Later on, he showed is how he makes paper from a kind of plant that he and his family grow. He uses this paper to teach his son to write Dongba pictographic characters.

Before we headed back to our homestay, he brought out some Dobgba musical instruments, and some of us tried to play them while others learned the dance from him.

Below is a translation of our Dongba names:
Jeffery- Someone who always finds money
Maia- Someone who like cleaniness
Noah- Someone whose parents left him lots of good luck, things and wealth
Joelle- Somone who is good at working
Salonge- Someone who does everything well and fast
Skylar- Someone who is good at art
Sydney- Someone who is free and has lots of freedom
Sawyer- Someone who plants flowers and help them grow
Asa- Someone who makes clothes
Tomasito- Someone who does business
Chatchai- Someone who likes being in a big open land it makes him happy
Caroline- Someone who is lucky and has money
Issabella- Someone who does business
Madeline- Someone who speaks well
Fernanda- Someone who likes Buddhism and worship it
Alyssa- Someone who sings well

We hope you are well,

The Mekong Crew​