• Dali Butterfly Spring|National AAAA-Level Tourist Attraction

Ethnic cultures

2021-02-10 20:21 | View: 31

Source: Butterfly Spring

According to archaeological discoveries around Erhai Lake, Dali was inhabited long ago. A brilliant Neolithic and Bronze culture was subsequently created, signifying the region as the earliest cultural cradle of Yunnan.

Before the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC) predominated in this region, there are many tribes scattered there, leading an agricultural and nomadic life. During the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the area encountered Central China and India as it was an important transfer station of the South Silk Road from Sichuan to India.

There were six tribes rising in early Tang Dynasty (618-907), historically called Six Zhaos. Among these tribes was the Nanzhao (Mengshe Zhao) which grew most rapidly in power. In 738, it unified the other five Zhaos and was granted the title of Yunnan King by the Tang emperor. A great many sites of the Nanzhao State period are still in existence, including the Tai He City (the early capital of Nanzhao State), Nanzhao Dehua Stele, grottoes in Shizhong Mountain and Qianxun Pagoda of the Three Pagodas in Chongsheng Temple. Later, the senior governor of Tonghai, Duan Siping, breached Xia Guan with tribes in eastern Yunnan in the late 9th century and was titled Yunnan Senior Governor and Dali King by the Song (960-1279) Court. Dali city was the political, economic and cultural center of Yunnan from the 8th to 13th century, as well as a vital window of cultural exchanges and commercial trade between China and the Southeast Asia.

However, since the Yuan Troop conquered the region in 1253, the political center of Yunnan moved to Kunming. The whole Yunnan was under the control of the central regime ever since. This region was established as an autonomous prefecture in 1956 with Dali City as the center.

There are some twenty ethnic minorities now living in the region with the Bai as the largest group, accounting for sixty-five percent of the city's total population. More than 3,500 years ago, ancestors of the Bai created their own culture set at Erhai Lake. Folk oral literature and local ethnic traditions are outstanding features of the so-called 'Erhai Culture'. There are countless legends and myths about the Dragon King, old poems of ethnic favor, music, paintings, residential houses, religions, costumes and festivals. Although influenced by Indian and Chinese culture during Nanzhao and Dali periods, the ethnicity remained strongly unique, surviving today. 

Dali is regarded as an elysian Buddha land, an area in the southwest where Buddhism was introduced first a long time ago. Buddhism here was a hybrid of different Buddhist sects from India, Central China, and Tibet with local culture. After the middle period of the Nanzhao State, Buddhism became the state religion.

There are many Buddhist sights in the area that include pagodas, grottoes, temples and Buddhist mountains. Buddhism reached its highest popularity in the city during the reign of Nanzhao and Dali. Nine of the entire twenty-two emperors of Dali State became monks in Chongsheng Temple.

Among minorities in Yunnan, paintings and sculptures of the Bai are especially advanced which was initially associated with Buddhism. Decorative painting in temples gradually increased in popularity among the Bai, leaving us today to enjoy the frescoes and wood sculptures still found in gated buildings and screen walls. 

Local Dongjing music is typical Taoist music originating from rituals and the Royal Court during the Nanzhao and Dali states periods. It flourished during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and was finally perfected in Taoist rites. In the past, it was only played in Taoist temples and royal palaces. However, the pure refreshing music is now a popular folk art, appealing to both natives and visitors.

Bai Opera, formerly Chui Chui Qiang, prevailed in Bai villages. Old stages for Bai opera can still be found in some larger villages. In addition, Daben Ballad of Bai is also a popular folk musical art.

San Yue Jie

The Third Month Fair, also is called Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) Festival because of its Buddhism origin, is a traditional festival for the Bai people. It begins on the 15th day of the third lunar month (usually in April). It was, and partly still is, for commercial and entertainment purposes in this region. In recent years, the fair has become more and more grand as the government is promoting it as a platform for the development of tourism and other industries.

Rao San Ling

This means the Three Temples Festival. It is held between the 23th and 25th of the forth lunar month. The festival is also referred as the Meeting to Pray for Rain, and is one of the grandest fairs for the Bai people during the spring season. During the festival, people circle around those three famous temples and pray for good weather, prosperity and fortune.

The Torch Festival

This festival falls on the 24th of the sixth lunar month (about July). The festival itself is celebrated around Yunnan province. Legend about the Torch Festival in Dali goes like this: The festival is observed in commemoration of Mrs. Baijie, a virtuous heroine of ancient Dali. After her husband died, the enemy king forced her to get married.  Pretended to be agree, she led the remnant of her husband's army and fought against the enemy, but was killed. This festival is one of the most important festivals for the Bai, second only to the Spring Festival. People gather to socialize and be entertained.   

Editor: ygzhang 2021-04-18 20:30