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Photo of an original Molecule-Orb, used in Indiegogo proposal. 

Photo of an original Molecule-Orb, used in Indiegogo proposal. 

  • 20150517: pitched idea to build large Orb
  • 20150519: launched fundraiser on Indiegogo with goal set to $1600
  • 20150616: goal reached (thanks everyone)
  • 20150702: Orb installed; night of full moon
  • 20150704: Lesser Heat Festival// also: Jixiang Orb Blessing + Opening Event, featuring Nature God Ritual + Tiger Dance by Dongba HeXiudong and Dongba apprentice WuZhimi


Excerpt from original proposal: 

"Lijiang Dongba identify Frog’s dodecahedral Molecule-Orbs as meditation tools that connect and resonate with higher realms. Pentagonal faces recall the five elements, while twelve faces reference the signs of the Zodiac. The Orbs symbolize blessing and protection, bestowed from the giver and onto the receiver. 

The installation of this Orb in Jixiang Village takes form as a gift- from Frog, WuZhimi and supporting Dongba, and all those who donated to the cause. Rather than gifting individuals with singular molecule-orbs each, installing a large-scale sculpture allows all villagers and passersby to contemplate and enjoy the beauty of this particular shape, up-close and in-person. 

The Jixiang Village Orb is a repository of energy. Its presence serves as a physical representation of group support for community cooperation, empowerment for farming populations and indigenous tribes, and the belief that global friendships can strengthen and empower communities on a grassroots level."

More Info:

20150702: A few villagers gather at Orb Site, moments after installation. // Photo: J. Brown

20150702: A few villagers gather at Orb Site, moments after installation. // Photo: J. Brown

WUZHIMI : Apprentice dongba // 吴知咪 : 東巴徒弟

The Apprentice Dongba project continues to unfold.

  • observed two rituals in Tacheng Village: Wedding + Baby Shower
  • accumulated beads to string a Dongba mala necklace ("(ba33 der21)")
  • acquired Dongba lambskin hand drum (gift/ loan from HeXiudong, ordered one from YanJiahua)
  • acquired Dongba cymbal (from Tibetan shopkeeper in Yongning) 
  • acquired replacement bamboo pipe
  • designed two custom robes (black, white) for female Dongba, tailored to size 
  • begin priming cloth for a new Dongba funeral scroll; learn and catalog recipe for primer
  • resume Naxi language + Dongba pictograph memorization and practice
  • begin learning Dongba Dances: Tiger Rising Tiger Sleep, God of the East, Woman Dance
  • assist with Nature God Ritual
  • perform Tiger Dance in Jixiang Orb during Lesser Heat Festival
  • assigned to color/ assemble panels for female Dongba crown 
  • begin collaboration on a Dongba Dance Book (see: below)


This session, WuZhimi helped initiate production of the Dongba Dance Book: 12 Basic Dongba Dances.

Around mid-July, after recording and practicing three Dongba dances in quick succession, we realized that Dongba students and teachers have no simple go-to source for dance lessons. Unless the instructor happens to specialize in dance choreography (and none do), each lesson requires sifting through stacks of ritual texts to pinpoint specific dance instructions within the books' unmarked pages. We saw a need to compile this information in a clear and organized fashion, stored in a singular location. 

WuZhimi and HeXiudong identified twelve basic Dongba dances and began the process of archiving them. Each dance comes with title and representative symbol, instructions in Dongba text with Naxi pinyin, descriptions of choreography/ meaning in English and Chinese, and video footage (as digital attachments). This will streamline the learning process for beginners in the future.

Final draft projected to be ready by the end of 2016. 

(last edited: 20150724// F. Wing)