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Minorities of Yunnan

 

Yunnan is the province with our country most minorities, population has 25 in the minority of 5000 above, among them 15 are Yunnan particular (including Bai, Dai, Naxi, Hani, Lisu, Lahu, Wa, Jingpo, Bulang, Pumi, Achang, Nu, Jinuo, De’ang, Durung, etc.). Among 25 ethnic minority groups, the biggest population is Dai and the smallest one is Durung. The ethnic minorities spread around Yunnan with their own communities and live together over vast areas while some live in individual concentrated communities in small areas. Those ethnic minority people are live in valleys, hilly areas or flat lands.

Due to different groups, the traditional customs, cultures, languages, building styles and clothes of them are colorful and distinctive. About the festivals of Yunnan ethnic minorities are also colorful and diverse, some of the festivals are celebrated by many groups, and some are distinct.

[>> read more about yunnan fesvitals...]

Therefore, if you decide to travel Yunnan, you’d better not miss the chance to experience the diverse customs and cultures.

When you arrive at the capital of Yunnan - Kunming, except the amazing and wonderful sceneries, you will find it’s a multi-ethnic city where people live in harmonious. With long term development, the culture of Kunming is the outcome of national osmosis and affect. Here, ethnic groups are good at sing and dance, simple, honest and unspoiled. They own special favor diets, dress colorful clothes and live in unique and different style buildings. If you are interesting in the local food, Kunming must be the best place to taste the most different food of ethnic groups. You also can explore around Kunming to discover the unique style of dwellings. What’s more, if want to explore some ethnic minority groups’ festivals in Kunming, you can go to Stone Forest County on June 24th on the Chinese lunar calendar (Mid-September), that you can join in the Torch Festival of Yi minority group. During the Torch Festival, the activities go with bullfighting, wrestling, horse-racing, arrow-shooting in the daylight; however, it is highlighted by lit torches and bonfire party in the evening. If you gain a chance to join in the Yi people’ Torch Festival, please don’t hesitate, just relax you and play with those adorable and friendly people.

After leaving Kunming, you go ahead to Dali by air/ bus/ train. Dali is a multi-ethnic area where dominated Bai. Bai minority group has a long history and boast rich culture. They have their own language which belongs to Bai language of Zang-Mian of Han-Zang language family. Due to some historical reasons, nowadays, Bai people only have the spoken language. Because inhabit multi-ethnic groups, Dali have lots of festivals, such as Guanyin Pavilion Festival, Torch Festival and The Third Moon Fair.

The biggest festival is the “Third Moon Fair” which celebrated by Bai minorities between March 15th and March 20th on the Chinese calendar (April). It is a weeklong trade fair with folk song shows, horse-racing, etc. If you are lucky enough, you can experience this ethnical character feast with Bai people. When you reach Dali ancient town, you can see the unique Bai people’s buildings. If you want to discover more about the Bai people’s dwellings, besides the Dali Ancient Town, the best place should be Xizhou Bai Minority Village where owns the typical Bai People’s dwellings. During your Dali tour, one of the most important things should be eating. If you are interesting in tasting some local food, you can have a cup of three-course tea, or have tuna casserole. 

After finishing the Dali tour, go ahead to the northwest of Yunnan province, you will arrive at Lijiang next. Lijiang, the wonderful place blessed with fresh air, magnificent snow mountains, clear water. It attracts thousands of tourists travel here annual. So, if you have chance travel in Lijiang, those amazing places is worthy of visit. Besides the beautiful sceneries, when you in Lijiang, you also can experience the distinctly local customs. Lijiang where live in harmonious with many ethnic minority groups and dominated Naxi. Naxi is descended by the old Qiang people at northwest of China. During its process of social historical development, the Naxi People invented the unique pictograph and wrote a vast literature of history archives, which is renewed as ‘Ancient Naxi’s Encyclopedia’. At the Naxi groups’ residential districts, most of them have faith to Dongba Religion (it’s an original polytheism, Animist beliefs.), and some of them have faith of Lamaism. Except the Language and Character, Naxi groups also have their own music (Naxi ancient music is a blending of Taoist and Confucian ritual songs with its own unique style.) and mural. Based on the lunar calendar, most of the Naxi groups’ festivals are similar to the local Han people, such as Spring Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-autumn Day, Torch Festival, Sanduo Festival, etc. Among those festivals; Sanduo Festival is Naxi Minority group’s largest traditional festival and hold in lunar Chinese calendar 8th February. During the festival, all of Naxi people go out for appreciate the wonderful spring sceneries, and the youth men will have a horse racing. During the night, after dinner, girls will sing and dance around the campfire. You can find Naxi people and experience their life not only in the ancient town, but also in some villages, such as Shuhe Ancient Village. 
In Lijiang, if you travel to Lugu Lake, apart from its beautiful scenery, one of the special view is the local people- Mosuo People. Mosuo people are the last tribe of Chinese matriarchal society. They live round the Lugu Lake nearly 2,700 meters above sea level. Although the size of a Mosuo family varies, it usually consists of around 10 people. While some families may comprise as many as 20 or 30 members, every family is always led by a female. The head is the most capable woman in the family and is highly respected by other members. Women from the Mosuo tribe do not marry, take as many lovers as they wish and have no word for "father" or "husband." This is quite different from the modern people’s life.

In China, the foreigners get in Tibet should have the permit of the government. If you are interesting in Tibetan’s life, religion and culture, and want to explore the area where Tibetans live without getting Chinese government’s permit, the best chance is going to Diqing Shangri-la. Apart from Tibet, there are also many Tibetans live in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. When you get in Shangri-La, you will feel like strolling along in a paradise where have mysterious magnificent snow mountains (such as Meili Snow Mountain), wonderful flowers and pure-hearted Tibetan. Here, you can pay a visit to Songzanlin Monastery (often called the little Potala Palace because of its traditional Tibetan architectural style) to experience the mysterious Tibetan lamas’ life and listen their chanting. You can also go to visit the local Tibetan families, chatting and eating with them.

Apart from Shangri-La, there is an also worthy of your tour. The exotic place is Xishuangbanna where is the southernmost of China. Xishuangbanna located in the tropical area, and is the home of Dai People. It’s an area give you the feeling of not being in real China, nor real Thailand, nor real Laos, but in a big Chinese tourists attractions. Because Dai minorities are similar to Thai, and have some similar customs, in that people travel in Xishuangbanna will have a different experience to other places of China. Dai minority group have a long history and colorful culture, and famous for their rich folk literature and art. The Dai minorities like eat rice and its cuisine also exotic to other places. Dai people adore water, so, there is a festival called ‘Water- splashing Festival’. The “Water-splashing Festival” is the biggest event for them. This festival starts on the third day of the Dai New Year and lasts for three days (April 13th to 15th). They splash water onto each other meaning best wishes. If arrive in time for the Water-splashing Festival, join in the local people and enjoy in the ‘water fight’. It will give you an exciting experience.

 

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