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Eshan Culture

Eshan is a Yi Autonomous county, no doubt, it has a brilliant Yi culture, the core of Eshan Yi culture is the culture of the first Yi ancestor-Apu Dumu(阿普笃慕), which including flower-drum dance, the culture of fire, language, folk literature, customs, architecture, food, medical science, festivals, technology and so on.


Language

The Chinese government recognizes six mutually unintelligible Yi languages, from various branches of the Loloish family:

Northern Yi (Nuosu 诺苏), Western Yi (Lalo 腊罗), Central Yi (Lolopo 倮倮泼), Southern Yi (Nisu 尼苏), Southeastern Yi (Sani 撒尼), Eastern Yi (Nasu 纳苏).

Northern Yi is the largest with some two million speakers, and is the basis of the literary language. There are also ethnically Yi languages of Vietnam which use the Yi script, such as Mantsi.

Many Yi in Yunnan, Guizhou and Guangxi know Standard Chinese, and code switching between Yi and Chinese is common.


Religion

Bimoism is the ethnic religion of the Yi. Shaman-priests of this faith are known as bimo, which means "master of scriptures". Bimo officiate at births, funerals, weddings and holidays. They are often seen along the street consulting ancient scripts. The Yi worship deified ancestors similarly to the Chinese traditional religion practitioners, besides gods of local nature: fire, hills, trees, rocks, water, earth, sky, wind, and forests.

Ritual performances play a major role in daily life through healing, exorcism, asking for rain, cursing enemies, blessing, divination and analysis of one's relationship with the gods. They believe dragons protect villages against bad spirits, and demons cause diseases. However, the Yi dragon is neither similar to dragon in Western culture nor the same as that in Han culture. After someone dies they sacrifice a pig or sheep at the doorway to maintain relationship with the deceased spirit. The Yi believe that bad spirits cause illness, poor harvests and other misfortunes and inhabit all material things. The Yi also believe in multiple souls. At death, one soul remains to watch the grave while the other is eventually reincarnated into some living form.

The Nosu form of Bimoism (the religion of the Nosu or Nuosu subgroup of the Yi) distinguishes two sorts of shamans: the bimo and the suni, respectively hereditary and ordained priests. One can become bimo by patrilineal descent after a time of apprenticeship or formally acknowledging an old bimo as the teacher, a suni must be elected. Bimo are the most revered, to the point that the Nosu religion is also called "bimo religion". Bimo can read Yi scripts while suni cannot. Both can perform rituals, but only bimo can perform rituals linked to death. For most cases, suni only perform some exorcism to cure diseases. Generally, suni can only be from humble civil birth while bimo can be of both aristocratic and humble families.

In recent decades the Bimoist faith has undergone a revival, with large temples built in the early 2010s.

 

 

Torch Festival

The Torch Festival or Fire Festival (Chinese: 火把节; pinyin: Huǒbǎ Jié) is one of the main holidays of the Yi people of southwest China, and is also celebrated by other ethnic groups of the region. It is celebrated on the 24th or 25th day of the sixth month of the Yi calendar, corresponding to August in the Gregorian calendar. It commemorates the legendary wrestler Atilaba, who drove away a plague of locusts using torches made from pine trees. 

The original Torch Festival, according to some scholars, was based on a calendar used by Bai and Yi people in ancient times. The calendar included 10 months, 36 days in a month, and two Star Returning Festivals in winter and summer respectively. The two Star Returning Festivals were both considered the New Year, and the one in summer was called the Torch Festival as people often lighted a torch on that day. There are also many other legends about the origin of the Torch Festival, yet all of them have the purpose of offering sacrifice to duties and dispelling ghosts, as a wish for a harvest.


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