Chengzhai Village belongs to the community of Xinzhai of Donggan Town, Malipo County; 134 km from the county seat, it sits at the border of the counties of Malipo, Funing, and Guangnan.
(Costumes for kids, aged between five and 12.)
Bailuo, a branch of the Yi ethnic group, have called Chengzhai home for several hundred years. Comparing to other Yi ethnic branches, the Bailuo members differ a lot as far as their clothing, dietary habits and dwellings are concerned. Due to their quaint costumes, exotic culture and distinctive Ganlan (stilted houses) architectures, Bailuo people have aroused great attention.
However, the living habits inside the Bailuo tribe vary, and the profound history and profound ethnic culture have further veiled the Bailuo society. Most of the Bailuos here seldom conduct intermarriages with other nationalities, and barely have communications with the outside world.
(Traditional dresses of the men and ladies)
The Stories of Yunnan (Dian Zhi), which was compiled in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), once had some records about the Bailuo people; but it has remained unknown exactly when the Bailuo people's ancestors began to move to the southeast of Yunnan.
In 2009, Chengzhai Village was inscribed into the second batch of the intangible cultural heritage list of Yunnan Province.
The Ganlan style buildings (stilted houses)
It is the traditional architectural style of the Bailuo people, using 52 (56 or 66) columns in eight rows to support the whole building. Such a house normally has two storeys, plus a stable (ground): the first floor is for people to live at, and the second is used for storage; both sides of the house are designed with flying eves; and the roof is paved with tiles.
As a typical representative of the Bailuo ethnic culture, Chengzhai Village exhibits the historical and cultural remains on a real and integral basis. The rich cultural connotations here have included the Bailuo ethnic language, (oral) literature, music, dance, fine arts, architecture, sacrificial ceremonies, etiquettes, traditional festivals, and many other ethnic customs.
The festival of buckwheat
The buckwheat festival is the grandest festival of the Bailuo people.
A local legend goes that, in the ancient times, a big fire broke out in a Bailuo ethnic village, torching down all the houses and grains. The villagers were in deep sorrow.
All of a sudden, a villager found some grains of buckwheat under a reversed bowl, and grew them in the fields. Several months later, the buckwheat plants brought a harvest, saving the starving village.
In order to express thanks to the buckwheat, the Bailuo ethnic villagers determined to spend the three-day Buckwheat Festival on the first Dragon Day of he lunar calendar. People always carry out religious ceremonies during the festival to pray for abundant rainfall.
The batik craft
Enriched by the ethnic culture, the batik craft highlights the culture of the Bailuo people who are traditionally adept at making quaint, elegant costumes on their own. Carrying modern aesthetic elements, and with delicate workmanship, it has brought great visual impacts one can't help marveling at.
(Bailuo people have inherited the ancient weaving skills from their ancestors)
Recall the soul
In the old times, the Bailuo people seldom washed clothes because they believed that people's souls are attached to the clothes they worn. Therefore, every time they washed clothes, they had to slaughter a rooster for recalling the soul. Today, assimilated by other cultures, the Bailuos have barely kept the tradition.
The drum dance
Drum dance is one of the traditional dances of the Bailuo people. As a kind of dance performed when Bailuo people hold sacrificial ceremonies for their ancestors, it reflects the Bailuos' worship for nature and ancestors.
Usually, only one person beats the drum, and dancers perform to the beats in a counterclockwise way, singing some solemn tones. The drum dance, which includes more than 30 routines, is a massive entertaining activity of the Bailuos; it is performed on the fairground of the village and can be joined by at least 100 villagers.
In 2007, the Bailuo ethnic drum dance was listed as one of China's intangible cultural heritages. Lu Xiaozong and Lu Youquan were nominated as two inheritors in this regard.
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