The Gelao Society of Guizhou Province found "Jiutian Dapu Shilu" in Guizhou, which is also called "jiutian shu" (book of nine tiers of heaven). Recording mainly the history and culture features of Gelao ethnic group, the book is of remarkable value to the study of Gelao minority.
How was "Heaven Book" found?
According to 5th national census in 2000, Gelao ethnic group in China has a population of 589,000, mainly distributed in Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hunan, Hubei and other provinces and autonomous regions. Thereinto most Gelao people live in Guizhou, accounting for 90% of the total. As approved by the State Council in 1987, two autonomous counties of Gelao and Miao ethnic groups, i.e. Wuchuan and Daozhen, were established respectively in north of Guizhou Province.
Gelao is an ancient ethnic group with a long history. According to the literature records in the Han Dynasty, Pu people, ancestor of Gelao, were involved in King Wu's crusade against Zhou. They were a large clan in Southwest China. However, due to continuous wars, national melting and migration, the culture of Gelao ethnic group was lost completely. Written records were rare and almost lost.
According to the legend, Gelao ethnic group had a figure of miraculous power - Fu Tianguan. He had once a "Heaven Book". Fu Tianguan fought with immortals to defend the benefits of his people and always won. His legend has been told among folks after his death, but the "Heaven Book" was gone mysteriously.
Maybe, it was only an ancient legend. The Gelao people have their own unique language system and culture, but, whether they have their own written language has remained controversial. Therefore, digging and protecting ethnic and folk culture becomes the dominant task. Looking for their written language has been a long term task for the ethnology circle.
Experts conducted field study based on hearsay and clues among folks and found finally this "Jiutian Dapu Shilu" in a Li family of Gelao ethnic group in northern Guizhou in September, 2008.
As introduced by the keeper of the book, his ancestor was the descendant of Li Wentao, King of Gelao in the Song Dynasty. He didn't know what a book it was, but has been regarding it as a treasure as instructed by his ancestors. Therefore, "Jiutian Dapu Shilu" should be the "Heaven Book" lost for years in the legend of Gelao ethnic group.
What does "Heaven Book" tell about?
This book tells the history of Gelao people and their ancestors in their own language and has a total of 511 pages, which are divided into 61 entries. It was bound by four volumes with threads. Each page has five vertical lines. Except that the first page has only Gelao characters in a frame, all other pages have Gelao characters in vermillion and Chinese characters in black. The book has totally 6,000 characters, with Gelao sentences followed by Chinese translation. It recorded mainly the history that Gelao people established a state and the discovery of vermillion, wine and tea. It emphasizes the origin of Gelao ancestors, including the period when Dayuan State, Pu State, Zangke State and ancient Yelang State was established one after another, the reason of rise and fall and concept of state governance.
Significance of finding "Heaven Book"
Finding of "Jiutian Dapu Shilu" has fully demonstrated that Gelao is an ancient ethnic group with a long history and splendid culture. They not only have their own written language, but also are the earliest advocator of "harmony" concept and inventor of vermillion, wine, tea, fireworks, copper and iron. It not only provides conveniences to the study of origin of ancient civilization in southwest, rise and fall of Yelang, but is also a key to solve the mysteries of ethnic cultures in Southwest China.