Dai Ethnic Group
Dai ethnic group, with a population of about 1.2 million,
mainly lives in the Dai Autonomous Region and the Dehong Dai-Jingpo
Autonomous Region in Xishuangbanna in the southern part of
Yunnan province. Dai is the name of the nationality, which
means 'freedom' or 'human beings'.
Descendants of the same
ancestors as the ancient "Baiyue"
people, the Dai ethnic group has strong
connections with nationalities such as Zhuang,
Dong, Shui, Bouyei, and Li. The earliest
records about the Dai ethnic group can be
traced back to 1 B.C., when it was named
"Dianyue" or "Shan".
The Dai ethnic group has
its own language that belongs to the Zhuang-Dai
branch of Zhuang-Dong Austronesian of Chinese-Tibetan
Phylum, and it is written in unique characters.
Dai ethnic group was the first in history to plant rice and
to use a furrow to plough. Living in a subtropical climatic
zone with abundant rainfall and fertile land, Dai's main products
are rice, sugar cane, coffee, hemp, rubber, camphor, and various
fruits. Besides rare plants and herbs, animals such as elephants,
tigers and peacocks can also be found in the residential areas
of the Dai people.
Eating rice as their staple
food, Dai people enjoy beef, chicken, and
duck as well as fish and shrimp. Their favorite
vegetables include cabbages, carrots, bamboo
shoots and beans. All Dai people like sour
and hot flavors.
Dai women's clothes have
a variety of styles. In the Xishuangbanna
area, women often wear white, sky-blue or
pink tight under garments with a jewel-collared
short shirt over them that buttons either
down the front or on the right. The shirt
has long, slim sleeves that wrap tightly
around the arms. It is narrow-waisted, exposing
the lower back. Below the shirt is usually
a long, tight skirt that can even reach
the feet. Many Dai women wear a silk girdle
around their waists and wind their long
hair into a bun on top of their heads, fixing
it with a single beautiful crescent-moon-shaped
men wear collarless tight-sleeved short jackets, with the
opening at the front or along the right side, and long baggy
trousers. They wind black or white turbans around their heads.
Tattooing is common amongst them; when a boy reaches the age
of 11 or 12, a tattoo artist is invited to tattoo his torso
and limbs with designs of animals, flowers, geometric patterns
or Dai script.
Most Dai people believe
in Hinayana, a sect of Buddhism. There are
many Buddhist temples in the countryside,
and it is common practice, especially in
Xishuangbanna, to send young boys to the
temples to learn the Buddhism scriptures.
Some of them later become monks, but the
majority returns to secular life.
Dai festivals, closely
related to religious activities, include
the "Door-Closing Festival" in
mid-June, the "Door-Opening Festival"
in mid-September, and the "Water-Splashing
Festival" in spring.
Arboretum Of Tropical Plants
Dai ethnic group
Tropical Rain Forest
Lancang River (Mekong