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The “ox ceremony” is a ritual religious in nature in which the Miao peoples in western Hunan offer an ox as a sacrifice to the spirits. Seeing that cattle, especially oxen, are an important source of labor in rural areas, killing them as a sacrifice is potentially detrimental to the community and are thus not harmed without good reason. If members of the community become seriously ill or fail to bear an heir, the family may seek out ritual practitioners to consult their ancestral spirits. Upon recovering or giving birth to a son, the family then naturally has little choice but to perform the ceremony, offering thanks to the spirits regardless of cost.
The “ox ceremony” is a major event within the village and villagers from neighboring areas frequently gather at the village where the ceremony is being held. Guided by the ritual practitioner, the ox is tied to a post and relatives of the ritual host take turns stabbing the bull with a javelin until the heart is pierced and the bull is killed. This act then concludes the ceremony.
For quite some time, the Miao peoples of this region were reluctant to conduct this ceremony as its gruesomeness painted a negative image of the community being “barbaric.” The ceremony, however, ultimately reflects the history and belief systems of the people, and in this ritual practice, one can observe the conviction largely held by ethnic minorities in their ancestors, their reverence for their kin, and a certain cohesive force that unites the social group. As soon as the ox falls at the hands of the host family, it is the entire ethnic community that erupts into thunderous cheers and dance, not only congratulating the host but also revealing a collective notion of self-identity.
Item No.
A MT-050

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