The Stillbirth of The Commune-Head: The Social Change on Beliefs in a Floral-belt Dai Community

Each Floral-belt Dai village has a male “Commune-head” who take charge of annual collective ceremonies as “Village Sacrifice” and “Village Exorcism”. These are purification rituals and fete for the village’s god “Buzhaoshe”. Besides, there’s a “Village’s Chief Witch” who’s responsible for communication with the god through trance. This man and woman compose the traditional hierarchy of a Dai village. The Commune-head is picked out through a God election ritual. Every adult man of the village offers a clothes and a bowl of rice to the ritual. A presider weighs all candidates’ clothes with a steelyard. With rice putting in or out the clothes, he makes all clothes balanced. Then he prays to the god Buzhaoshe, and weighs the clothes again. This time some clothes turn heavier. The heaviest one enables its owner to be the new Commune-head. This is an old custom of the Dai people which lasts thousands years. But this year we witnessed an unprecedented challenge in the Areca Village. Through the ritual of several days, all chosen ones refused to become Commune-head desperately. The ritual could not…