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Yi ethnic group

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2018-10-12

The people of the Yi ethnic group are the sixth largest ethnic minority in China. About 700,000 Yi people live in Guizhou province, mainly in Bijie county, Liupanshui and Anshun county.

The Yi ethnic group is distributed between the southwestern plateau and the southeastern coastal hilly regions of China, which consists mainly of high mountains and deep valleys.

The Yi people have created distinctive dwellings in the process of adapting to the local environment. The Yi people usually live together, and most of their villages are situated on hillsides or beside streams, facing toward the sun and away from the wind.

The Yi people will usually spread themselves out when living on mountains and live communally when on hillsides and valley areas. Families with close ties live together, or are adjacent to each, shaping the layout of the village. Smaller villages have only a few households, while bigger ones have several dozen.

The diet of the Yi people is unique. Their staple foods include potato, corn, buckwheat and rice; non-staple foods include meat, beans, vegetables, and various condiments and beverages.

Their preferred meats are beef, mutton, pork and chicken. They will butcher livestock to entertain guests. Butchering cows is the greatest sign of respect among the Yi people, followed by sheep and pork.

The Yi people of Yushe town in Shuicheng county, Guizhou province are skilled at planting tea. Before drinking, the tea is placed into a can and boiled with water before in a process known as "tea baking".

The Torch Festival is a traditional festival of the Yi people. It is celebrated on June 24 of the lunar calendar and lasts for three days. During the festival, people wearing costumes gather on the flat land or gentle slopes near their villages. Singing, dancing, horse racing, bullfighting, goat-fighting, wrestling and beauty contests are all featured. In the morning, a sacrifice is offered; in the evening, villagers will carry torches as they walk around the croplands, signifying the burning of harmful insects and praying for a good harvest.

In addition, the Yi people of Qianxi and Diandong celebrate the "Festival of Offering Sacrifices to Mountain" on March 3. The Yi people of Shiping county, Yuanyang county and Weishan county celebrate the "Festival of Offering Sacrifices to Dragon" twice a year. First on the first Dragon Day of lunar February and once more before the fall harvest. The festival is also called "Peilong", meaning compensate the dragon, in gratitude of the rain he brings every year.

Yi ethnic group

Festival of Offering Sacrifices to Dragon of Yi ethnic group. [Photo/china.com.cn]

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