Xinping Yi and Dai Nationality Autonomous County is “Hometown of Huayao Dai People” And it is the biggest settlement of Huayao Dai in China, with 42,000 Huayao Dai People living along the valleys in Gasa, Mosha and Shuitang.
History of Huayao Dai
The beauty of Ailao Mountains and Honghe River nourished Huayao Dai people. The name “Huayao”came from its unique and elegant way of dressing, which is a long belt around every woman’s waist. Every belt is a beautiful embroidery work with multicolored exquisite patterns, and shining silver bubble and little bells.
Historical evidence shows that Huayao Dai people are royal descendents from Ancient Dian Kingdom. Dian Kingdom in Yunnan was conquered by the Western Han, so was Yelang Kingdom and Qiong Kingdom in the period of Western Han Dynasty. Therefore, Dian people were forced to leave their hometown and go south. Finally they crossed Honghe River, found their new home in Ailao Mountains and settled down.
Time travelled to Qing Dynasty when many tribes of Dai people scattered in different part of Yunnan. Han Dai people mostly live in Dehong, while Shui Dai in Xishuangbanna, and Huayao Dai in Xinping Honghe Valley. According to historical record, Dai people are gentle and fond of water since they usually live in hot areas.
Dressing & Clothing
Huayao Dai people have a unique way of dressing, as wearable art and visible history on the body. Their self-made clothes are decorated with tassels, silver bubbles, little ring-bells and bracelets. The unity of layers and colors are like nature itself, exquisite, dainty, chic and perfect, as a full display of superb weaving techniques and aesthetic level. Not to mention, it is both elegant and decent to wear.
Love & Marriage
Huayao Dai people also have a unique way of expressing love. The grandest festival for them is called Huajie Festival, annually in January of Chinese lunar calendar, known as the “Oriental Valentine’s Day”. It’s a day for single youngsters to meet, get to know each other through face-to-face communication and hopefully find a date. What’s interesting is that young ladies will prepare delicious meals with soft rice, dry eel and salted duck egg for her date and feed him spoon by spoon, with love and joy.
Religion & Belief
Huayao Dai people have strong belief in nature. They believe there are spirits in water, mountains, trees and other plants. In a word, their religion is about spirits in everything, so their mortuary customs and rituals are quite different, which is called Twice Burial. Every rite in the funeral is mysterious, illustrating the connection, communication, affection and departing between the living and spirit of the dead.
Though without their own language, a lot of mysterious and fascinating legends and myths are passing down from generation to generation. For example, the Creation of the World reflects the heaven, the earth and human. Nanpengdong reflects flood submerges the heaven, and young sister marries to her brother to breed. Some stories reflect the sadness and happiness of human, such as Lang E and Sang Luo, Peacock and Lai Meiha, the Origin of Dragon Worship Festival, Niutou Mountain and Earth Forest, Man and Tiger, Cucurbit Giving Birth, Ten Sons of Dragon Giving Birth and so forth. These stories describe human life in the prehistoric times in various ways with rich imagination, magnificent colors and miraculous scene, making important contribution to the progress of social civilization.
House of Living
Huayao Dai is supposed to be living fossils for historical research of Dai people. Their geographically remote living area makes it possible to preserve valuable cultural heritages, such as their elegant and even royal way of dressing, special festival Oriental Valentine’s Day, belief in nature, ancient castle-like houses built with earth, wedding customs, unique funeral ritual Twice Burial, ancient farming civilization, teeth dyeing and tattoos, displaying the glory of ancient “Pushui” culture and primitive Dai culture.
That’s the life of Huayao Dai people, the art they carve on their body, the beauty they put on their teeth, and the craft they stuff into pots and pans. That’s the culture Huayao Dai people inherit, the tradition they insist, the hope they pass on from generation to generation. That’s the figures mingling in Honghe Valley, the grace and elegance you can’t miss!
Xinping Yi and Dai Nationality Autonomous County lies in southwest of central Yunnan, east side of central Ailao Mountains, and southwest of Yuxi City. It is 180 kilometers from Kunming and 90 kilometers from Yuxi. It neighbors E’shan County on east, Shiping County on southeast, Yuanjiang County on south, Mojiang County on southwest, Zhenyuan County on west, Shuangbai County on north across Lvzhi River. The County covers a total area of 4,266 square kilometers. It governs 10 townships, 2 sub-districts, 123 village committees, and 1,463 villager groups, with registered population 274,000, of which Yi and Dai people take up 65%. The county has long been called the emerald of Ailao Mountains with rich reserves of minerals, water energy, plants and animals, and tourism resource. The forest coverage reaches 60.96%.
Ailao Natural Conservation Park has been listed as forest ecological observation station by the Man and Biosphere under the United Nations and international migrant birds protection base. About 40,000 Huayaodai, who are the decedents of the royal clan of ancient Dian kingdom, live in the county.In recent years, the county has been trying to change modes of its economic development and shift focus on mining, power generation, sugar production, tobacco planting, livestock farming, tourism, and fruit cultivation.
In 2014, the county realized GDP 10.01 billion yuan, financial revenue 2.11 billion yuan, local financial revenue 1.37 billion yuan, local financial expenditure 2.58 billion yuan, above-scale fixed asset investment 6.02 billion yuan, retail sales of consumer goods 1.66 billion yuan, net income of rural residents 9,300 yuan, and per capita disposable income of urban residents 27,000 yuan.
XINPING, Feb. 11, 2016 (Xinhua) -- People of Huayao Dai ethnic group take part in a parade to celebrate the traditional "Huajie" festival in Jiasa Township of Xinping Yi-Dai Autonomous County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Feb. 11, 2016. Huayao Dai ethnic group, being named for colorful costume decorations on people's waist, is a branch of Dai ethnic group. (Xinhua/Lin Yiguang)