“On the day of the funeral the horse which the deceased man was in the habit of riding is brought to the door and saddled by the Pehmo. The command is then given to lead the horse to the grave. All the mourners follow, and marching or dancing in intertwining circles, cross and recross the path of the led horse until the poor creature, grown frantic with fear, rushes and kicks in wild endeavor to escape from the confusion. The whole company then raise a great shout and call, ’The soul has come to ride the horse, the soul has come to ride the horse.’ A contest then follows among the women of the deceased man’s household for the possession of this horse, which is henceforth regarded as of extreme value. It is difficult to discover much about the religion of the Nou-su, because so many of their ancient customs have fallen into disuse during the intercourse of the people with the Chinese. At the ingathering of the buckwheat, when the crop is stacked on the threshing floor, and the work of threshing is about to begin, the simple formula, ‘Thank you, Ilsomo,’ is used. Ilsomo seems to be a spirit who has control over the crops; whether good or evil, it is not easy to determine. Ilsomo is not God, for at present, when the Nou-su wish to speak of God, they use the word Soe, which means Master.
“In the independent territory of the Nou-su, to the west of Szech’wan, the term used for God is Eh-nia, and a Nou-su who has much intercourse with the independent people contends that there are three names indicative of God, each representing different functions if not persons of the Godhead. These names are: Eh-nia, Keh-neh, Um-p’a-ma. The Nou-su believe in ancestor worship, and perhaps the most interesting feature of their religion is the peculiar form this worship takes. Instead of an ancestral tablet such as the Chinese use, the Nou-su worship a small basket (lolo) about as large as a duck’s egg and made of split bamboo. This ‘lolo’ contains small bamboo tubes an inch or two long, and as thick as an ordinary Chinese pen handle. In these tubes are fastened a piece of grass and a piece of sheep’s wool. A man and his wife would be represented by two tubes, and if he had two wives, an extra tube would be placed in the ‘lolo.’ At the ceremony of consecration the Pehmo attends, and a slave is set apart for the purpose of attending to all the rites connected with the worship of the deceased person. The ‘lolo’ is sometimes placed in the house, but more often on a tree in the neighborhood or it may be hidden in a rock. For persons who are short-lived, the ancestral ‘lolo’ is placed in a crevice in the wall of some forsaken and ruined building. Every three years the ‘lolo’ is changed, and the old one burnt. The term ‘lolo,’ by which the Nou-su are generally known, is a contemptuous nickname given them by the Chinese in reference to this peculiar method of venerating their ancestors.