Yunnan Nationalities Villages
Yunnan Nationalities Village is located on the northeastern
shore of Dianchi Lake and is a good place to show visitors
the cultural ways and traditions of the numerous ethnic groups
in the Yunnan province.
In the Village compound, 25 different independent
villages have been planned, but at present only about 20 have
been constructed. In addition to these "ethnic villages",
there are activities that take place such as a welcoming ceremony
with performing White Elephants, the Dinosaur Island theme
park area, a concert area for ethnic singing and dancing performances,
as well as an Asian Elephant show in the Plaza of Ethnic Unity.
The climax of a visit to the Nationalities
Park is a film shown on a fountain of water. The "villagers"
are all chosen from the youth of the relevant nationalities
to act as guides and performers for tourists. The three major
villages represent the Dai, the Bai and the Yi nationalities.
The Dai Nationality Village:
The Dai Village covers an area of more than 4 acres with 3
sides facing water and all with beautiful scenery. The main
buildings include 7 wood and bamboo houses and a white pagoda.
Given that Dai people have strong traditions that have to
do with the home and the family, having a peek in these "homes"
is a quite a treat.
normal circumstances, strangers are not allowed into the inner
rooms of a Dai home because the Dai believe the souls of ancestors
and family gods live in the family home along with the living
members of the family. Another interesting Dai custom that
reflects this respect for the home is that guests should only
sleep in the living room (the outer rooms of the home or the
"guest room") with his feet facing the door to show his respect
to the host and at the same time indicate that he will leave
the home very soon.
Another place worth mentioning is the Water
Festival Square. Every year towards the end of the sixth month
of the Dai calendar (April 13th and 15th according to Gregorian
calendar) is the Dai Water Festival, as well as the Dai New
Year's Day. The first day of the festival is a day for sending
off the old and welcoming the new (like many New Years Days
of other cultures).
On the second day, a massive water fight
engulfs all Dai villages (including this one) as everyone
grabs the nearest basin or bucket, fills it with water and
dumps on the closest lucky target as a cleansing blessing
of good fortune! Respect is still shown to the elderly who
might receive a small cup of water on their arm, but young,
able-bodied people should WATCH OUT! This crazy, wild and
wet holiday is the best!
The Bai Nationality Village:
The Bai Village is famous for its Butterfly Museum, which
is the biggest of its kind in China. The museum is a typical
Bai construction, which is comprised of rooms and residences
on three sides and a wall on the southern side.
southern wall is typically decorated quite beautifully with
an ornate flower bed. Part of the reason for this architecture
is that Dali (where a majority of Bais live) is a windy town,
where the wind, while not very strong, blows all year round.
Also in the Village, there is a replicated temple dedicated
to the God of Erhai Lake (modeled after a temple in Dali).
The young warrior, enshrined in the temple, was known as Duan
He exterminated evil villains and spirits
for the Bai people and has been worshipped as the safeguard
of the Bai people around Dali ever since. If you burn several
sticks of incense to him, you may also gain his protection,
but we'd recommend trying it at the real temple in Dali.
The Yi Nationality Village:
The "Sun Calendar Square" (Taiyangli Guangchang) is the most
spectacular sight of the village. In its center is a sundial
with twelve animals denoting the time of the day (as well
as the year of your birth). Interestingly, the solar calendar
of the Yi people divides a year into five seasons, each of
which is then divided into two months. Therefore, in the Yi
solar calendar there are only 10 months and 360 days in a