Perspectives on the Yi of Southwest China

By Stevan Harrell | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Names and Genealogies
among the Nuosu of Liangshan
Ma Erzi

The Yi of Liangshan, who call themselves Nuosu in their own language, have a complex system of clan, birth-order, and personal names; terms of address; and clan genealogies. Research into names and naming, using Yi and Han language written sources, personal knowledge, and even archaeological data, can open an important window to understanding Yi history. This is a huge subject, one that cannot be treated comprehensively in a short essay. Here I will simply offer a classification of the Nuosu system of clan names, the various methods of choosing personal names, terms of address, and the topic of genealogies.


The Nuosu system of names is made up of three levels of organization: clan names, birth-order names, and personal names.

Clan Names and Surnames

In Liangshan there are only a few tens of large clans, but the clan names belonging to these large clans are innumerable. Naturally there are a few clans that have an all-clan surname, with no branch surnames below them, such as the Jjike clan. In the long course of history, the Jjike clan has produced a great many branches, and its steps have expanded to cover the whole of Liangshan, but historically and presently it has only the one surname, Jjike. The great majority of clans are not like this, however, and many large clans have produced within them a large number of branches that, because of natural, geographic, and environmental changes, have themselves become clans. The


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Perspectives on the Yi of Southwest China
Table of contents


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 321

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?