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Art and Culture

Dongba Culture,the most indispensable part of Naxi people’s ancient culture, can be traced back to 1000 years old. It mainly consists of Dongba script, Dongba scripture, Dongba painting, Dongba music, Dongba dancing, Dongba religion and various rituals. As the heart area of Naxi Ancient Kingdom, Lijiang Old Town is the best place to have a glimpse of the Dongba Culture. Dongba Palace in this city is a must-see.

Dongba Painting

Originating from the primitive witch belief, Dongba religion embodies the characteristics of witch faith and religion meanwhile. Believing animism, nature worship, ancestor worship, polytheism and advocating the harmonious co-existence of man and nature are two dominant features of Dongba Religion. The scripture lecturer and the inheritor of Dongba culture is referred as Dongba, hence the name Dongba religion. Dongba means “Wise man” who is knowledgeable and masters astronomy, geography, agriculture, animal husbandry, medicine, rituals, etc. Besides, they are also good at singing, dancing and painting. Dongba plays great role in transmitting and preserving the ancient Dongba culture of Naxi people. A dongba enjoys high status in society. Esteemed as the bridge of god, ghost and this world, they often perform various rituals to dispel disasters and bring good luck for people. Dongba can get married and have children, their title is passed down from father to son or son-in-law.
Dongba religion prevails among the Naxi people who dwell in southwest China. The primitive and secularized religion belongs to polytheism which mainly comprises ancestor worship, ghost worship and nature worship. The most significant rituals involve heaven worship ritual, funeral ritual, predict ritual and catastrophe dispel ritual. Dongba Scripture is the bible of Dongba religion.

One Dongba is performing the old Dongba religion ritual

Dongba script: It is the only living hieroglyphs in the world, is written on special made papers by thin bamboo pen. By now, there are 1400 recognized symbols and one Dongba in Shangri-la can read and write over 1300 Dongba words. Dongba script is distinguished by its vividness, simplicity and bold flavor, which resembles a serial of flowing notes.

Dongba Script(from left to right, the first row means: sun, moon, human, heaven, flower,mountain, stone and climb respectively)

Dongba Scripture which is composed of Dongba words, is the holy bible of naxi people which records their history, myths, customs, rituals as well as ceremonies of wedding and funeral. It is not only a religion scripture, but also a philosophy book dealing with the relationship of man and nature. 

Dongba rituals: There are over 30 kinds of Dongba rituals prevail among Naxi people, and they fall into five categories: heaven worship, funeral ritual, dispel disaster, predict future and honor a name to new born child. Among them, heaven worship ritual is the most grand one. There rituals are recorded in Dongba Scripture.

Naxi Ancient Music which is famed as the living fossil of Chinese music.

Dongba Handicrafts

Dongba Handicrafts


Dongba Handicrafts

Dongba Handicrafts


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