“Su Nie” is the name for sorcerers in the Yi ethnic group. Legend has it that Su Nie was born a common person but became mentally ill once due because he was possessed by a ghost. After a ceremony of offering sacrifices of white sheep and white cocks in the woods, Su Nie was cured and came into possession of sorcery.
With no sacred written texts, Su Nie worships many gods and use sheepskin drum on rituals. When practicing sorcery, Su Nie would jump in circles and chant mantras while hitting the sheepskin drum until he shivers all over and mouths the instruction by god. When Su Nie practices the magical arts, there is usually another man holding a wood fork jumping and spinning together with him.
In rare cases Su Nie can be a woman although most Su Nie are men. Responsible for treating illnesses and settle disputes, female Su Nie hold similar sorcery rituals with male Su Nie. While also using cocks, pigs, cows or sheep as sacrifice, female Su Nie do not attach a tree branch to the sheepskin drum while hitting it. Sometimes female Su Nie would even lick a glowing sickle or plough blades.

Quote from page 123 in A Research Report on the Yi People in Xikang by Zhuang Xueben


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