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Xinping Culture

Yi  Culture

Festivals

Traditional festivals include the Torch and Chahua festivals. Among them, the Torch Festival is the grandest traditional festival, held on the 24th day of the lunar month of June. It is held to celebrate the victory of a rebellion against a tyrannical landlord. It lasts for three days, where families assemble together and hold rich and colourful activities. Wearing the traditional Yi clothes, they enjoy themselves with wrestling, horse racing, bull fighting, tug-of-wars and so on. When night comes, large bonfires are lit, with people sitting around, singing and dancing for the whole night.

Chahua festival is another characteristic festival which is held to commemorate the hero, Mi Yinu, who helped the Yi people overcome the tyrannical ruler. When the Maying flowers blossom, people will wear them on their hairs or present them to each other and sing to their heart's content to celebrate their happy life.

Other festivals such as Saichuan festival (a festival during which people dress in beautiful clothes and enter into fashion competitions), and Shiyue Nian (the traditional spring festival for the Yi ethnic group held on October) are also well worth participating in.

 

Religion

Various beliefs are treasured, such as the belief of the spirit, the worship of their ancestors, and the adoration of nature, along with the cherishing of Catholicism, Christianity, and Buddhism. Amongst all these beliefs, the power of the spirit is regarded as the most magical one. Some heirlooms left to the Yi people by their ancestors are endowed with magic that can bring good will to their owners. Therefore, these highly valued possessions are carefully kept and passed down through generations.


Legend

Most Yi believe they have the same ancestor(Axpu Ddutmu or Axpu Jjutmu). It is said that Apu Dumu married three wives and had six sons: each of the wives bore two sons. In the legend, the oldest two sons leading their tribes conquered other aborigines of Yunnan and began to reside in most territory of Yunnan. The youngest two sons led their tribes eastwards and were defeated by Han, before finally making western Guizhou their home and creating the largest quantity of Yi script documents. The other two sons led their tribes across the Jinsha River and dwelled in Liangshan. This group had close intermarriage with the local

 

Dai Culture

Festivals

Their important festivals are the Water-splashing Festival, the Door-closing Festival and the Door-opening Festival, all of which are related to Buddhism. The Water-splashing Festival is the New Year of the Dai ethnic minority. On the 24th to 26th day of the sixth month of the Dai calendar, people engage in traditional activities such as water-splashing and dragon-boating, hoping to pacify evil spirits and ensure a good harvest in the coming year.

The Door-closing and Door-opening Festivals are the two longest and grandest periods--one in mid-September and the other in mid-June. People worship Buddha by sacrificing food, flowers, sutra, clothes and other wealth. They also take advantage of the holidays to preach Buddhist teachings and have a good time.

The Huajie Festival (Flower Street Festival) is held on the seventh day of the first lunar month to say farewell to the past year and to greet the new one. On that morning, men and women, old and young, wear flowery new clothes and bathe in the hot spring. Unmarried young people also sing to each other in an attempt to find their future better half.

 

Language

Their language belongs to the Zhuang-Dai branch of the Zhuang-Dong group of Sino-Tibetan languages. The written language was derived from Devanagari and differs from region to region


Arts

They are quite good at singing and dancing. Their achievements in music are well-known among all the ethnic groups. Their folk and traditional musical instruments include the elephant-foot drum, bronze gong, clarinet, and hulusi.

Xishuangbanna is the home of the peacock, which the Dai people revere as a symbol of good fortune, happiness, beauty and kindness. Thus the Peacock Dance is their most popular folk dance. Performers in clothes with peacock patterns imitate peacocks with lively, flexible and graceful movements in a dance that is a popular part of the Water-splashing Festival.

The Elephant-foot drum dance is another well known dance for men. This unique instrument is made of carved mango or ceiba trunk covered with cowhide, and looks just like an elephant foot. The drum can be long, medium-sized, or short. The dance done with a long drum appears very graceful, with the medium-sized one, it is vigorous with broad, sweeping movements; and with the short one, flexible and bright.


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