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Dai Minority - People of Peacock and Water


Known as the Nation of peacock and water, Dai Minority, an ancient ethnic group in Yunnan Province, China, is a relatively large and prosperous ethnic group with colorful cultures. Since ancient times, people all over the world have always admired the beauty and graceful peacock dance of Dai girls. 
 
The population of the Dai people is around 1.1 million, with most of them dwelling along the river like Lancang River(澜沧江), Lujiang River(怒江), the Red River (红河), and Jinsha River (金沙江), that’s why Dai Minority’s water culture is rather abundant. The Dai people’s ancestors are Baiyue people(百越) who used to reside in coastal areas. After years of migration, now most of them settle in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture(在西双版纳傣族自治州), the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture(德宏傣族景颇族自治州) in southern Yunnan, China. 
 
Through years of blending their original culture with foreign cultures and center- china culture, gradually, the Dai People formed their own unique national culture which has attracted millions of tourists of all time.
 

The Water-splashing Festival

 
The Water-splashing Festival is a beloved festival which is thought highly of by both residents and tourists. It has long been renowned as “the Oriental Carnival” for its merriness which makes it the most popular festival among the festivals of Yunnan Minorities. Besides, the Water-splashing Festival is the most solemn festival for Dai Minority, which endows this festival with deep national meanings. 
 
 
 The Water-splashing Festival is called "the Oriental Carnival".
 
The annual Water-splashing Festival falls in the middle of April, and lasts for three or four days. It serves the purpose of celebrating Dai New Year. A lot of activities, such as water-splashing, dragon boat-racing, Kongming Lantern-flying (孔明灯) and cockfighting, are involved in the celebration. Among them, water-splashing is the most significant one. 
 
Water-splashing 
Water-splashing is a perfect activity for those who prefer to interact directly with Dai minority. Water- splashing occurs on the first day of the Water-splashing Festival, when the Dai people are all dressed up, and go to the temple to bathe the Buddha with fresh water. Afterwards, they splash, even pour water on one another, tourists and residents are all involved. The scene is quite spectacular. 
 
The act of pouring water is a kind of religious ritual which offers people blessings and good wishes. In Dai culture, it is widely believed water can wash away bad luck. Therefore, the more heavily a person got splashed, the luckier and more popular he will be in the coming Dai New Year. 
 
The Water-splashing Festival fully reflects the Dai people’s worship of water.
  
Dragon Boat-racing
The climax of the festival is dragon boat-racing happening on the third day of the festival. On that day, people gather by the Lancang River(澜沧江) to watch the splendid dragon boat racing. Basically, dragon boats are man-power watercrafts with decorative Chinese dragon head and tail, while, their shape and size varies. The racing rule goes like this, after the whistle is blown, those colorful dragon boats, with dozens of strong rowers on, compete with one another to find out which boat is the fastest.
 
 The dragon boat is 20 to 25 meters in length with 40 rowers in each side of the boat.
 

Dai Clothing

 
Dai Minority dwells in tropical, sub-tropical zones where people enjoy abundant sunshine. This geographical feature endows Dai clothing with colorful and distinctive flavors. 
 
It’s no exaggeration to say female Dai clothing is the most beautiful clothing in the world. With their slim figures and colorful clothes and decorations, Dai women have always been called “Golden Peacock”. Tight-fit undershirt with a front-opening jacket on has always been their favorite. Their lower garment is usually a flowery straight skirt. As for their hair, normally they wear it into a coil, with a comb or hairpin in it. For special occasions, they would wear fresh flowers for decoration. 
 
Dai women have always been called “Golden Peacock”.
 
While, male Dai clothing is characterized by simplicity and elegance. They usually wear a front-opening collarless jacket or narrow-sleeved short jacket with a pair of light-colored, broad-waist, and pocketless pants. Most men wrap their heads with white or cyan cloth and drape wool blanket when it’s cold. Dai men are bare-footed all the year round. But they have the tradition of getting tattooed. Normally these tattoos are character signs, or patterns of lion, tiger, kylin(麒麟) or peacock. To the Dai people, those tattoos are the symbols of courage. 
 

Dai's Bamboo House

 
Dai’s Bamboo House is the traditional residential house of the Dai people. It has always been regarded as the fruit of Dai Minority’s great wisdom. With a history of more than 1,400 years, it is not only one of the distinctive features of Dai Minority but also the symbol of Chinese traditional culture. 
 
Dai's Bamboo House is mainly constructed by bamboo, which is closely related to the fact that bamboos abound in the area. And Dai’s Bamboo House is square in shape with two floors. The upper floor which rises two meters above the ground is for the Dai people to live. The lower floor with no walls provides room for sundries, livestock and poultry. The roof of Dai’s bamboo house is double-layered which is specially designed to drain rain. This kind of design can prevent humidity.
 
Dai's Bamboo House is mainly constructed by bamboo, and it’s square in shape with two floors.
 

The Peacock Dance

 
The peacock is a precious bird in the sub-tropical zone. It enjoys a high prestige among the Dai people. In their mind, the peacock symbolizes peace, beauty and honest. It’s worshipped as the “Sacred Bird” by the Dai people. So they produced the peacock dance to pay respect to the peacock. Nearly all the Dai people can dance the Peacock Dance. 
 
In Dai people's mind, the peacock symbolizes peace, beauty, honest. It’s worshipped as the “Sacred Bird” by Dai people.
  
The Peacock Dance as the most typical culture of Dai Minority is renowned all over the world for its elegance and beauty. In May 20, 2006, the Peacock Dance of Dai Minority was listed to be the first National Grade Cultural Heritage. 
 
The Peacock Dance, as it’s called, is to imitate the movements of the peacock such as spreading wings, taking a bath, etc. The dancers usually wear long broad skirts decorated with peacock feathers.
 
Xishuangbanna Dai Minority Park (西双版纳傣族园) 
  
The soul of Xishuangbanna --- Xishuangbanna Dai Minority Park is located in Olive Dam, Xishuangbanna. It shows tourists a full picture of the history, culture, religion, architecture, and life style of Dai minority.

In Xishuangbanna Dai Minority Park, there are five precious best-preserved Dai villages. With an area of 3.36 square kilometers, Xishuangbanna Dai Minority Park is composed of six main parts: Yingbin Square (迎宾广场), Manchunman Buddhist Temple (曼春满佛寺), Dai villages (傣族村寨), Riverside area (江边活动区), Water-splashing Square (泼水广场) and Open-air Theater (露天广场).
 
 
Yingbin Square in English literally means the square where tourists are welcomed. Every day, in Yingbin Square Dai people throw a welcoming party to greet tourists by observing Dai Minority’s etiquette; Dai girls dance and sing, and tourists can fully sense the hospitality of the Dai people.
 
 
Manchunman Buddhist Temple is well-known for its amazing appearance and rich culture of Buddhism. It has a history of more than 1,400 years, which makes it one of the oldest temples in Xishuangbanna. In the temple, there preserved some famous frescos like the Story of Sakyamuni(释迦牟尼的故事).
Note: Sakyamuni(释迦牟尼) --- the founder of Buddhism
 
 
Water-splashing Square is the main activity area of Xishuangbanna Dai Minority Park. There you can interact directly with Dai people to enjoy the fun of water-splashing and witness the spectacular water-splashing scene.

Manting Park (曼听公园) 

 
Manting Park is situated in the southeast of Jinghong city, Xishuangbanna. Being there for more than 1,300 years makes it the oldest park in Xishuangbanna. Manting Park used to be the imperial garden where the king of Dai Minority can fully relax and enjoy himself. Legend has it: There was one time when the princess of Dai Minority visited the park, she was completely drawn by the beautiful scene in front of her and forgot everything around her. Hence, the park has been called “Chunhuang Park(春欢公园)” (means the park of soul) ever since.

Manting Park’s combining cultural landscape with natural landscape establishes its uniqueness in China. In Manting Park, tourists not only can enjoy the beautiful view of the tropical area, but the culture of Dai Minority as well.
 
The Dai people welcome tourists all over the world.
 
 
The bronze statue of former premier Zhou Enlai who once joyfully spent the Water-Splashing Festival with the Dai people, faces the entrance of the Manting Park.
 
Manfeilong White Pagoda(曼飞龙佛塔), also known as the White Pagoda, was built between 1636 and 1695. There is a footprint beside the pagoda. It is said that the footprint belongs to Sakyamuni(释迦牟尼) --- the founder of Buddhism. It’s he who instructed the Dai People to build the pagoda there.
 
Jingzhen Octagonal Pavilion(景真八角亭) was constructed in honor of Sakyamuni according to the octagonal shape of his golden cap. It’s 21 meters high with 31 sides and 32 angles. What makes it even more amazing is 31 exquisite sculptures on the wall which are really worth visiting.
 


 

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