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Yanshan Culture

Yanshan county retained the bronze drums, copper kettle,copper milling, pots and other artifacts in the west Han Dynasty. Yanshan county was built on today’s Huilong village of Pingyuan town in Wnli Year Ming dynasty and it was called “Yao sai di zhu(The vital place)”.Also many ancient architecture such as Tinxin  mosque,( 清代的田心清真寺),Amenglong bridge(阿猛锁龙寺桥) , Luduke Catholic Church(鲁都克天主教堂) were built in Qing Dynasty. Various Ethnic Customs are special and unique: Zhuang’s traditional festival to hold a memorial ceremony for Yang Liulan (祭杨六郎)on 1st,July in lunar calendar ;Yi’s traditional festival “Caoma Festival ”(“草马节) on 24th,June lunar calendar; The grand festival “Cai Huashan’ “(踩花山)for Miao peopler from 2nd  to 9th every lunar year.

Yunnan has the largest population (almost 18 million) among all the 55 ethnic groups in China. Most of them inhabit in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Yunnan Province. In Guangdong, Hunan, Guizhou and Sichuan provinces of South China, there is also some distribution of Zhuang  people. The Zhuang ethnic group has its own language, which is generally divided into northern and southern dialects. In 1953, the Chinese Government launched a new language system of Zhuang characters based on Latin alphabet, but it was not widely used. Most people use Han-Chinese characters.The Zhuang nationality mostly worships the nature and their ancestors. After the Tang (618–907) and Song Dynasties (960–1279), both Buddhism and Taoism were spread to Zhuang areas, and temples of Buddhism and Taoism were built. Catholicism and Protestantism were introduced later, but their influence was limited history .As early as Paleolithic period, first men of Zhuang had settled in Lingnan areas (whole of Guangxi and Guangdong Provinces, parts of Jiangxi and Hunan Provinces). They lived and labored together, and were able to use stone tools.Eating HabitsRice and corn are abundantly grown in Zhuang areas, and thus become the staple food for Zhuang people. Daily consumed vegetables are numerous, and are boiled into soup, or stir-fired. Zhuang people basically eat all kinds of meat. Meat and vegetables are cooked medium well, which is believed to retain the fresh tasting of the materials. Home-made pickles are also popular because of people’s preference for sour and spicy flavors.Home-made rice wine is served for festivals and entertaining guests. Rice wine is mild and contains low amount of alcohol. Five-colored glutinous rice is served during Tomb-Sweeping Day (April 4 - 6) and Singing Festival (March 3 on lunar calendar). People use the saps of five different plants to soak and color the glutinous rice, till the rice take on five colors (black, red, yellow, purple and white), and then steam the rice. The finished rice is colorful, fragrant and nutritious.

Zhuang songs and songfests

Zhuang people are reputed for singing. Zhuang people, male or female, start to learn singing at the age of four or five. Usually the fathers teach the sons and the daughters learn from the mothers, thus forming such a custom: learning songs in childhood, singing in adulthood, teaching in old age. In the countryside, people sing at any time and any place, whether laboring in the field, cutting firewood in the mountains, or even courting, whether at the wedding, funeral or festivals. They have the songs to express their feelings. In some places, people even sing in their common talks or even quarrels among family members. Therefore, the vast place where Zhuang people live gets a nickname "the sea of songs," as well as compared to "the land covered by the piano keys" in poetry. In the history, some famous singers were called Song Fairy or Song King, such as Liu Sanjie and Huang Sandi.

Zhuang songs are rich both in quantity and kinds. Based on the content and style, they can be classified into ancient songs, narrative long songs, life songs, labor songs, political songs, rite songs, love songs and kid songs and so on. However, when singing the Zhuang songs, people should follow certain established etiquettes and regulations, especially political songs, rite songs and love songs. For instance, the love songs are allowed to be sung freely in the wild songfests, but are forbidden at home or at the presence of parents. Different rite songs are sung on different occasions. Even different guests receive different welcome songs.

Zhuang people like singing. Besides singing casually, they have regular songfests, called Ge Wei or Ge Jie. March 3rd is the most important date for songfests. Besides, songfests can be held on the spring festival, April 8th, Mid-autumn day, wedding day, a baby's one-month birthday, or a new house completion day. A provisional songfest can be held even on the road to the market fair. There are two kinds of songfests: daytime songfest and evening songfest. Daytime songfests are in the wild fields, mainly for young people to court. Evening songfests are inside the villages, mainly singing songs aiming at teaching production and life knowledge, such as season songs, questioning songs and history songs, etc.

Songfests have multi-functions. However, in history they mainly serve young people to court lovers through singing publicly. On songfest days, young people in their holiday best come to the songfest place. Through singing, they display their talent, reveal their feelings, exchange their thoughts and find their lovers. On the songfests, singing in antiphonal style is the major activity. In this one-to-one singing match, the two singers are often surrounded by their friends. Sometimes, the song masters stand beside to give a hand. The procedure of antiphonal singing is very complicated and strict. Generally speaking, from the start of antiphonal singing to the final confirmation of their love, they will experience the following steps: introductory songs, first meeting songs, self-boasting songs, first question songs, questioning songs, eulogizing songs, pursuit songs, first love songs, friend making songs, love confirmation songs, gift-presenting songs and parting songs and so on. Every link is relatively independent yet closely related. The songs in each link are rather long and rich in content. A good singer can keep on singing for several days and nights.

For instance:
First meeting songs:

      Female: A beginner in singing is like a sparrow learning to fly.
                  Fly to the twig, and look up to the highest place, yet afraid to fly.
      Male:     I sing well. You are an oriole and I am a throstle.
                  We live in the same wood, why not singing in pair?

Pursuit songs:

      Male:    Green willows on the roadside touch my heart. 
                  I ask the willow why she does not shield me from the sunheat?
      Female: White gourd has neither heart nor mouth, teapot has a mouth yet no heart.
                  Bottle gourd is always half in water, I am afraid you are of the three.

Parting songs:

      Male:    Sunset, birds are singing back to the mountains in pairs.
                  I want to stay longer with you, yet the sun envies me.
      Female: I accompany you back to sugarcane field, and sent you a sugarcane.
                 You eat one end and I the other, it breaks in the middle.
      Male:    Leave and return, telling my darling.
                  I give you the key, yet don't open the garden for others.
      Female: Leave and return, telling my darling.
                  I will wait for you here for ten years, yet don't plant your flower elsewhere. 

However, such a way of finding lovers through singing is not completed at one time, instead, singing plays the role of the matcher. After getting acquaintance on the songfests, young people still have a long way to go before getting married.  They need develop further contact, deepen mutual understanding and love, and ultimately confirm their courtship.




Costumes and HandicraftsTraditional

costumes are worn in ethnic areas or for special occasions. Dexterous Zhuang women use hand-woven fabric to make clothes of various styles. Usually girls wear a blue-and-black collarless jacket with bright furbelow, baggy trousers or Batik skirt, and a delicately embroidered apron is fastened on the waist. For boys, they are dressed in black front-opening coat with cloth-wrapped buttons, and wear a belt on the waist. Zhuang people fancy silver accessories.Zhuang Brocade is one of the four famous Chinese brocades (the other three are: Yun Brocade from Nanjing, Shu Brocade from Sichuan Province, and Song Brocade from Suzhou). This splendid handicraft was originated in the Song Dynasty (960 – 1276 AD). They are woven with cotton, silk or flax threads into colorful patterns. Images of flowers, plants and animals are mostly adopted. The Brocade is very durable, and is widely used in making quilt covers, handbags, aprons, table-cloth, scarves, wall hangings, cushions, etc.

Xiuqiu (silk balls), are symbols of love and happiness for the Zhuang PeopleAnother traditional handicraft of the Zhuang ethnic group is Xiuqiu (embroidery ball), a symbol of love and happiness. The balls are made of silk cloth, and have twelve connected petals. Each petal represents a month, and has an image of flowers, plants, or birds on it. The balls are typically red, yellow or green. Originally Xiuqiu are a love gift, a Zhuang girl will throw a Xiuqiu to a young man she admires to let him know that he is welcome to pursue her.

Zhuang Opera and Shoulder-Pole Dance

Zhuang Opera carries unique nationality features and local characteristics. They are mostly written in Zhuang dialect in four-lined verses with five or seven characters to each line. They can be also written in the rhythm structures like that of the folk songs. The arias and melodies are based on folk songs and folk melodies. The acting is diverse in style, which mainly includes dancing and singing with spoken parts serving as links. Zhuang Opera also has a whole set of obbligato, costume and stage properties. The traditional list of plays for Zhuang Opera are as follows: Pan Gu, Wen Long and Xiao Ni, Bu Ya, Nong Zhigao, Si Jie Decents to the World, Liu Er Beats Ghost, Unbinding Mortar, A Flower, Precious Calabash, Red Bronze Drum, One Hundred Birds Clothes and etc.

The Zhuang people are good at singing and dancing. From the frescos on the cliff of Flower Hill, we can get a glimpse of how the ancient Zhuang people enjoyed their lives by dancing jubilantly.

Most of the Zhuang dances, characterized by true-to-life emotions, are concerned about their own working, love and life. Some famous Zhuang dances include: Shoulder-Pole Dance, Rice-Husking Dance, Tea-Picking Dance, Rice-Transplanting Dance, Shrimp-Catching Dance, Silk-Ball Dance, Bronze-Drum Dance, Water-Bailing Dance, Triumph Dance, Bee-Drum Dance and Board-Shoe Dance.

Shoulder-Pole Dance is a typical dance that depicts the Zhuang people's working. It is usually composed of four parts, namely "rice-transplanting", "water-lifting by using waterwheels", "reaping and thrashing" and "rice husking". The Shoulder-Pole Dance is well received among the Zhuang People: the actors, shoulder-pole in hand, sing and dance up and down around a wooden groove. Simple as it is, Shoulder-Pole Dance is grand in style, strong in rhythm and takes on a jocular and convivial atmosphere. It demonstrates vividly the main working scenes of the farmers, from seedling to husking. Even today the Zhuang people still enjoy Shoulder-Pole Dance when the New Year comes.


Miao people 

The Miao live primarily in southern China's mountains, in the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan,Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei. Some members of the Miao sub-groups, most notably the Hmong people, have migrated out of China into Southeast Asia (northern Vietnam, Laos, Burma(Myanmar) and Thailand). Following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975, a large group of Hmong refugees resettled in several Western nations, mainly in the United States, France, and Australia. There has been a recent tendency by Hmong Americans to group all Miao peoples together under the term Hmong because of their disdain for the Chinese term Miao. This however fails to recognize that the Hmong are only a subgroup within the broader linguistic and cultural family of Miao people and the vast majority of Miao people do not classify themselves as Hmong and have their own names for themselves.


They believe that everything in nature has a spirit, which incombination are mighty enough to control their lives. Every time there are disasters, they will invite a wizard to perform ceremonies designed to drive out the devil ghost. They worship their ancestors so much that memorial ceremonies are very grand. Sacrifices such as wine, meat, and glutinous rice are costly. Some also believe in Catholicism or other Christian religions.

New Rice   Tasting FestivaL

 Divided by regions, they celebrate their festivals at different times, but they all have many, like the Dragon Boat Festival, the Huashan Festival, the Pure Brightness and the New Rice Tasting Festival (Chixin Jie). Among these, the Miao Spring Festival is the most important one that is held during the lunar ninth to the eleventh month.

The New Rice Tasting Festival is worth mentioning. To express their gratitude for the harvest, they will stream the newly ripe rice, brew wine with new rice, cook dishes with newly-picked vegetables and freshly caught fish.

The Lusheng dance is a unique musical performance of the Miao ethnic minority during nearly every celebration. While playing the lusheng, a kind of wind instrument, they dance in demanding patterns, and sing to each other.

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