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Ancient tribe relishes New Year

By Chen Ji | China Daily | Updated: 2015-02-04 07:19

Ancient tribe relishes New Year

Members of the Baima tribe in Paxijia village in Sichuan province carry offerings to a temple to worship the gods during the New Year celebrations. Chen Ji / China Daily

The Baima are believed to be East Asia's oldest tribe.

Their community has remained largely intact because the group has remained reclusive and avoided marrying outsiders throughout the millennia.

Genetic tests suggest their ancestors were the first to come to Asia from Africa, predating the Negrito of India's Andaman Islands and the Ainu of Japan's Hokkaido.

The Baima today inhabit Paxijia village in lush forests five hours' drive from Sichuan province's Mianyang city.

I was sent to the village on assignment last Lunar New Year's Eve and decided to stay for Spring Festival.

It was my second visit.

It was love at first sight. Paxijia's autumn scenery during my maiden journey seemed straight out of a landscape painting.

The mountainside flora burned burgundy and golden-yellow, and white clouds wreathed the slopes.

The Baima enjoy a slow-paced lifestyle. Many don't get up until 10 am, especially in winter.

Xu Sexiu was to be my host during my second visit. His door was shut when I arrived.

So I went to his neighbor, Ao Lidao, who immediately invited me to join his family when he learned I planned to spend the Spring Festival holiday in the village.

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