Primi Puberty Rite

For the Primi, the age boundary line between children and adults is thirteen. Before thirteen, children all wear long gowns. After a special rite at thirteen called "wearing trousers" for boys and "wearing skirt" for girls is held, they can they change their clothes and join the ranks of adults. This puberty rite of Primis is often held on Big New Year's Day (spring festival). The rite is mostly directed by the mother or mother's brother, which is simple but enthusiastic.

When the time for the rite comes, members of the family sit around the fire pit with fire burning inside. The child who is the object of the rite walks by a magical post near the fire pit, and steps on some pig's fat and a grain bag. The pig fat symbolizes wealth and the grain bag represents bumper harvests, and means the child will have enough food to eat and clothes to wear when he or she grows up and will live a happy life.

The Primi People (Photo from baike.baidu.com)

If the child is a boy, he holds a sharp knife in his right hand and a silver coin in his left hand. The silver coin symbolizes wealth and the sharp knife symbolizes bravery. If the child is a girl, she holds adornments like earrings or bracelets in her right hand and flax yarn or cloth in her left hand, which symbolizes her rights and obligations as a woman. A shaman prays to the kitchen god and ancestors, the mother's brother or mother takes off the child's long gown and dresses the child with short coat and long trousers or a plaited skirt.

After the clothes are changed, everybody presents the child with gifts to show their congratulations. The new adult kowtows and offer wine to thank the kitchen god and relatives one by one in hope of receiving their protection and help in the future. From then on, the new adult can take part in adult agricultural chores and engage in boy-meets-girl socializing.

The custom of "wearing trousers" and "wearing skirt" has been around for centuries. According to legend, when the Mongol-Yuan leader Hubilie attacked Yunnan, only two only thirteen-year-old boys went to the South with his army when he passed the western Sichuan. The two boys were brave and skillful in battle and were appreciated deeply by Hubilie. Later, in order to commemorate them and also educate younger generations, the Primi decided to hold puberty rite for children who are 13 to bless them and ensure they grow up in good health and become individuals with lofty ideals.



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