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Goddess on the FrontierReligion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China$
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Megan Bryson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804799546

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804799546.001.0001

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Little White Sister

Little White Sister

Baijie Amei, Dragons, and Kingship in Ming Dali

(p.83) 3 Little White Sister
Goddess on the Frontier

Megan Bryson

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines Baijie’s next form, Baijie Amei, which developed in the fifteenth century after the Dali kingdom had become part of the Ming dynasty. Baijie Amei’s legend shows how Dali elites drew on Chinese historiographical conventions in formulating a local Bai ethnic identity. According to her legend, Baijie Amei was born from a giant plum and conceived Duan Siping, founder of the Dali kingdom, after touching a dragon. This story mirrors Chinese tales about great rulers that claim dragon paternity, but diverges from Chinese conventions by giving Baijie Amei her own miraculous birth. Chinese officials accepted that male rulers could have miraculous births, but not that their mothers could, too. Baijie Amei remained a powerful symbol for Bai elites in Dali who claimed direct descent from her and worshiped her as a goddess that linked them to the illustrious Bai lineage of Dali’s independent history.

Keywords:   Baijie Amei, dragons, Ming dynasty, kingship, Bai, ethnicity

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