Eagle-winged deities

Dongba manuscripts attest an iconography dedicated to an animal-deity, a kind of divine-bird, often represented as eagle-winged, with sharp claws, sharp eyes, iconologically characterized by very strong physical and magical powers, antagonist and enemy to serpent-like deities.

As emerged for reptile-gods, Dongba manuscript present eagle-winged deities in different iconographies, which can be gathered in three main typology respectively associated to different readings:

· iconography, associated to the reading Khyu-t’khyu

· iconography, associated to the reading Dter-gko

· iconography, associated to the reading Yu-ma

As for serpent-like deities study, identification of such 3 main iconographies derived from analysis of two kind of sources:

· the direct attestation by the study of the manuscripts actually preserved in the Naxi manuscripts collection of  Harvard-Yenching Library, available on the web,

· indirect attestation of pictographs by the study of Joseph Rock bibliography dedicated to Naga cult, both the 2 volumes of the Joseph Rock Naxi – English encyclopedic dictionary and other Naxi – Dongba related studies.

Thanks to the support of indirect attestation, it was possible to study on 33 different manuscripts, counting 729 attestations for winged-deity signs.

Winged-deities are also well represented in Naxi – Dongba art, specially for the Khyu-t’khyu and for the Yuma, which are often depicted in scrolls, mural frescoes, sculptures and is a recurring theme of the miniatures which are realized in the first page of illuminated manuscripts. The iconographic features of such artistic representations are perfectly according with the iconographic features of the
pictographs attested by manuscripts.[1]

Confronting the artistic and the manuscripts representations of the same deities it seems that the pictographs consists in a “stenographic” way to represent some iconographies and iconologies well known and important part of the core of the Naxi – Dongba culture.

Attestations could be resumed in the following plate:

[1] The manuscripts analyzed have to be considered as a sub-corpus of the wider corpus of texts belonging to Dongba pictographic manuscript tradition, but they are pilot-texts, and consist in the core of many important ceremonials of the Naxi – Dongba tradition.

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