The Hmong 'Dab Pog Couple' Story and its Significance in Arriving at an Understanding of Hmong Ritual
Social sciences (General)
Social sciences and state - Asia (Asian studies only)
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AbstractMany Hmong continue to believe in the efficacy, and commission the practice by shamans of, some of the more important traditional rituals, such as marriage rites (kab tshoob kev kos), "soul calling" (hu plig), healing rites (ua neeb or khaw koob), worshipping the "house spirit" (teev xwm kab), and funeral rites (kev ploj tuag). Certainly, however, there are those Hmong, especially among younger generations, who either choose not to participate in such rituals, or who participate in them without any clear comprehension of the deeper meaning or details; indeed, without any strongly held beliefs regarding the cosmological system which is the ritual's foundation, underpinning and supporting the call for the many actions, gestures, offerings and recitations which, in the final analysis, constitute the bulk of any such performance. This philosophical ambivalence on the part of modern celebrants renders the position of ritual in Hmong society somewhat problematic. In addition, the various Hmong clans have, in the past, of necessity resided in divergent geographical locales, and, as a result of this and other factors, have often espoused divergent, philosophically and culturally heterogeneous, beliefs. This, taken together with the fact that Hmong customs have been orally transmitted down the generations, has had the result that there may be several versions of the meaning, and method of performance, of any given ritual.The presentation that follows will discuss the "Dab Pog Couple" story as it bears upon the origins of Hmong cultural tradition and embedded social values. Such a consideration will, at the same time, serve to introduce and elucidate many of the meanings behind, and values attached to, Hmong rituals in general and will thus provide a contribution to the understanding of these rituals and their relation to Dab Neeg (Folk Legends) within the Hmong cultural studies scholarly literature.Briefly stated, the Hmong believe that the "Dab Pog" couple, residents of a richly detailed and highly populous spirit world, are responsible for bringing children to their parents on Earth. The pair is also charged with serving as 'guardian angels,' whose duty it is to protect those children as they mature. In the beginning of time, so it is said, this Dab Pog couple instructed the Hmong in the performance of the various rituals practiced both now and long ago,giving the Hmong assurances that the pair would bless the Hmong accordingly when these rituals were properly performed.