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Axi Fire Worship Festival in Mile County,Honghe

In the first days of the second lunar month, the Axi people (a Branch of the Yi Nationality) living in the Xishan area of Mile County celebrate the Fire Worship Festival. 


According to their legends, long, long time ago, the people did not know how to get fire. In these times, their lives were full of hardships; without fire they can not get warm in winter, nor cook their foods. In the darkness of the night wild animals were a continuous threat. One day the hero Madeng, picked up some dry wood, started rubbing two sticks together and started a fire. From then on the lives of the Axi change completely; they did not fear cold, nor wild animals anymore; cooking their food brought great improvements to their health; they avoided sicknesses and enjoyed longer lives. 


To commemorate Madeng, deified as God of Fire, every year the Axi people carry on the Fire Worship Festival. Though this festival was forbidden during the Cultural Revolution, in the last years has become more and more important for the people of these mountains; and every year several thousand people peregrinate to Hongwan village, where the tradition is supposed to have been more thoroughly preserved. 


During the previous days some minor ceremonies are held in other villages, as the tradition is in process of being recovered in more and more villages. From the early hours of the morning of the third day of the second month, the people living in the villages surrounding Hongwan, dressed with their traditional clothes, start to walk the mountains paths that lead to this big village. More and more people arrive around noon. Most of them have friends or relatives living in Hongwan, to whom they pay a visit, having lunch together. 


In the morning, out of sight of the visitors, the pimo and some ritual specialists, sacrifice a pig and a chicken to Madeng. After lunch, some Axi men half-naked, with the body painted with the colours of the earth: black, yellow and white, dance in the main street. Then, at the shadow of a sacred tree, they perform again the creation of fire, rubbing a big wood pole with a wood with a hole in the center. The new fire is welcomed by everybody. 


In the fields near the village many improvised restaurants and stalls with popular games have been set up for the fair. A level place is reserved to the dancing, wrestling and jumping over the fire ceremonies, now more than a show for the visitors than a traditional entertainment for the local people. 


In the Axi Fire Festival some fertility elements are also present. The action of rubbing the pole with the holed wood is a symbol of the holes that will be done to the earth in the next days, and also of the sexual intercourse; the grotesque penis that some of the dancers show with pride, points out also to the relationship of this festival with old fertility cults. 

阿细祭火节是每年农历二月初三,在云南弥勒市西一镇红万村,彝族阿细人都要举行隆重而精彩的回归自然,如癫似狂,视火为万物之灵的神秘庆典。这祭火神节是祖辈留传下来的古老传统,相传已有近千年的历史。


节日前夕

节日前夕,要举办旅游长街宴,宾主间相互寒暄问候人座完毕,数十名彝簇姑娘,从厨房里端出事先准备好的一碗碗热腾腾、香喷喷的风味菜肴,以表示对长辈的祝福、敬意和感激之情。随后,大家便争先恐后地推选出本村善唱又善跳的一名英俊小伙,首先由他沿着旅游长街宴席向大家劝酒,并带领大伙一起举杯唱起旅游祝酒歌。大家边食边谈边唱,整个山村沉浸在一片欢乐之中。


节日当天

节日当天,天刚蒙蒙亮,村里的少女已经梳洗打扮完毕并穿上了自己平时精心缝制的服装,其他人则忙着为客人煮糖水鸡蛋和制作红糖粑粑。吃罢午饭,每家每户都要先把各自家中的旧火熄灭,同时备好盛新火的灶具,然后在家里耐心等候火神的到来。与此同时,由村里精选出来的祭火人员,也在老毕摩的率领下,先抬着供品祭器来到村头祭祀龙树。随着老毕摩庄严神秘仪式的结束,身着一身粗麻布衣裤、头戴铁制面具的壮士,装扮成火神模样开始取火。先取出一根松木,交给站立于两旁的人,这两人双手各执一端蹲在地下,火神双手合拢夹住一根木棍慢慢在松木下转动,大约过了十多分钟后,只见一股清烟从火神的手下升起,紧接着一团火慢慢地燃烧起来……

随着夜晚的来临,祭祀活动变得更为热烈。村里的大街小巷,涌满人群,随着一堆堆熊熊燃烧的旅游篝火,祭火狂欢的场面一浪高过一浪。跳火堆、过火栏、转火磨、射火弓、闯火阵等精彩的场面令人惊心动魄,叹为观止。

更有甚者,有的男扮女装、怀抱假娃娃,嘴里哼唱着即兴编唱的催眠曲,更是憨态可掬,令人捧腹不止,特别是红河彝族舞蹈“阿细跳月”,在铿锵有力的大三弦的伴奏下,一群群男女,里三层,外三层围着旅游篝火,纵情地歌唱弹跳,将祭火活动推向高潮。


节日传说

彝族阿细人崇尚火,从生下来在火塘边进行的命名仪式,到与火离不开的各种活动,一生都与火结缘。他们认为,火给人们带来了光明和温暖,带来了熟食,驱走了凶猛的野兽,因此把火尊为神。传说远古的阿细部落没有火,阿细的祖先过着没有光明的生活,不仅吃的是生肉,还时常遭受野兽的侵袭。

一次水灾过后,一位名叫木邓的先民坐在一根朽木上,用木棒在上面又钻又磨,渐渐地,终于在农历二月初三这天钻出了火花,取到了火种。自此,结束了茹毛饮血的莽荒时代,五色土地上的庄稼才得以熟食,火给人们带来了光明和温暖。阿细人把传说中钻木取火的发明者“木邓赛鲁”当作“火神”祭祀,一代又一代沿袭了下来。


节日过程

清早


祭火节这天清早,红万村穿戴一新的阿细妇女们把煮好的红糖,鸡蛋和糖水粑粑丝端给客人品尝,吃饱喝足。接着,各家准备好了祭火的酒肉,将家中的一切旧火熄灭,并把灶塘、火塘的火灰仔细清扫送出户外,这在当地叫送旧火送新火。每年如此,世代传承。

村里的青壮男人集中到一避静处,用代表五色土的颜色纹身纹面,绘上与火有关的奇异图案,腰部用棕叶、棕片、地板藤、麻布等编织的“裙服”围住下身,头上则用不同的野草、庄稼、野果装饰一番,也有的摹仿原始人类用树皮、树叶遮体,用粗狂跳动和呐喊,挥洒心灵的欲望,释放原始的激情。

中午时分


身挂大三弦的小伙子和打扮得象山茶花似的姑娘们在寨门和村中跳起了彝族文化的精粹“阿细跳月”,用热烈奔放的旋律迎接乡亲们和远方的客人。数百米的长龙宴顺着村中的石板路摆开,来自四面八方的客人就着青松毛铺就的长龙宴,吃起韵味独特的彝家饭。长龙宴上摆满大碗的包谷酒,大碗的腊肉和蔬菜,人们虽素不相识,但一坐在这长龙宴中,即刻融进了彝族人热情、豁达的暖流里。这时,寨子中有威望的“毕摩”引领一群阿细姑娘,沿长街唱起了敬酒歌,如醇醪一样醉人的酒歌,表达着彝家人的深深祝福。让每一位宾朋与寨中阿细人心灵相交,情感相融。


下午三时左右


祭“火神”的时辰到了。毕摩一声令下,前后两个年轻力壮的纹身男子将精心扎制的“火神”抬起,在毕摩和祭火师的导引下,由众多的大三弦队和裸身绘彩人手持木刀等“兵器”簇拥着癫狂着走向密枝林祭龙,就地用原始方法钻木取火,瞧!村里的“毕摩”带领几位长者在高大苍老的“神树”前,摆上拱桌,桌子上放两碗酒,倚着树干敬上四柱香,用一只大公鸡绕了几圈,口中念念有词,然后在制好的火神旁,将一根木头插进另一根朽木,猛烈钻动。一阵青烟后,星星之火燃起来了。“毕摩”将取得的火种移至“火神”座下的火盆之内。随着火种和“火神”被抬起,鞭炮声、锣鼓声、牛角号声轰然响起,人们欢呼着,祝贺着,以捆绑着许多木刀的树枝为“火神”开道。“火神”威风凛凛、神灵活现地穿小巷、走大街周游全村,迎接新火的村民顶礼膜拜迎接“火神”驾临,虔诚地洒酒于火上,供肉于盆中。


游走的队伍喊着“木邓赛鲁来哟喝——哟……”的变调彝语,手舞足蹈,一会走,一会跑,改变模样的丈夫逗引着认不出他来的妻子,做出夸张的鬼脸,小伙子逗着羞怯的姑娘作乐,人群到哪里,笑声就到那里。到了村旁的一块土地上,人们全都赤足俯身,叩拜生长万物的大地,与土地亲吻,感谢大地母亲的赐予,直到与土地混为一体,仿佛回归远古时代的阿细部落……


待每家每户取完火种,人们将“火种”送到村中最大的场院上,点燃篝火,纹身遮面的男人们仗着谁也认不出他来,摹仿各种动物的神态即兴表演,狂舞纵欢,有的用小筛子做月琴,短棍做笛子,长棍当二胡,不管手里拿着什么物件都成了“乐器”,而乐声都是从人们嘴里发出来的;有的男扮女妆为夫妇,怀抱假娃娃,嘴里哼着即兴自编的土著歌谣;有的呼叫着踩火堆、跨火栏、射火箭、转火磨、闯火阵,就在这种欢乐的气氛中,人们恋恋不舍地将“火神”和自己手中的“兵器”、“乐器”投入篝火。

意义


意味着污秽邪魔已被火烧尽,“火神”会保佑来年收成有余、人寿年丰。就在这时,随着粗犷奔放的大三弦声响起,不分男女老少,村民们全都跳起了这块土地上诞生的“阿细跳月”,尽情宣泄一年中最大的渴望与快乐。


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