Nuo as a Cultural Marker of the Tujia
DOI link for Nuo as a Cultural Marker of the Tujia
Nuo as a Cultural Marker of the Tujia book
Nuo has in its long history undergone major changes and has survived under vastly different social-political conditions. Initially a state religion, nuo gradually changed into a popular religion practised predominately in rural areas before being driven underground by the rise of the communist regime in 1949. Only in the recent post-Mao era has nuo revived and – surprisingly – regained political favour. The way in which popular religion has been revitalised and flourished in post-Mao China varies from one place to another, and in the case of nuo it began with the national campaign of ethnic classification which was launched in the early 1980s. In the campaign, nuo was rediscovered and manipulated by the local government officials of Dejiang as a cultural marker of the Tujia. Subsequently, the county became transformed from a Han-designated area into an ethnic minority-designated area. The transformation has allowed Dejiang to benefit from preferential socio-economic policies normally reserved for autonomous ethnic minority counties and has helped to fulfil the party-state’s political task of maintaining political stability and social order in ethnic minority regions. This also gave nuo political legitimacy and removed it from its former classification of ‘feudalist superstition’. This chapter analyses the processes by which nuo has come to play a positive political role at the local and central level by being redefined and re-categorised as an ethnic cultural marker, and examines the contribution nuo has made to the implementation of the party-state’s preferential policies on ethnic minority peoples.