Yunnan Nationalities Villages
Yunnan Nationalities Village (Yunnan Minzucun) is located
on the northeastern shore of Dianchi Lake and is a good place
to show visitors to Yunnan
the cultural ways and traditions of the numerous ethnic groups
in the 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
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