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China Daily Website


Villages in Dali: Deep in the mountains

Updated: 2012-04-01 16:20
By Christie Lee (chinadaily.com.cn)

After heading north for more than two hours on a bumpy mountain road from Dali city, I finally arrived at Changtou village, home to nearly 130 families of the Bai ethnic group.

Upon my arrival, villagers were gathering in front of an old stage to see a performance; many of the women were wearing identical hats. A villager told me it's the symbol for married women in the Bai culture, meaning,"I'm not available".

Located in the central part of western Yunnan province, Dali is the only autonomous prefecture in China that the Bai ethnic group calls home. As many of the villages were built on the flatlands amid the mountains, people don't have much connection with the outside world; they live a simple and traditional life.

The Bai people love traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. They paint on the walls outside of their houses as decoration, and write Chinese characters in brush calligraphy representing the family name of the inhabitants.

They also have very devout beliefs, not in some specific religion, but in the local god. People in different villages worship different gods, whether it's a hero, a figure from a legend, or even an enemy.

When the villagers noticed me taking photos of them, they became so cooperative that some even kept motionless for almost an entire minute. But there are also the shy ones, who were completely helpless facing my lens.

Also see a slideshow

Villages in Dali: Deep in the mountains
Video: Christie Lee
Producer: Flora Yue