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The Bai Nationality

The population of the Bai nationality is about 1.39million. They live in compact communities mainly in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture. Others are scattered in Kunming, Yuanjiang, Lijiang and Lanping. The Bai nationality has along history. Their ancestors were called “Dianbo”, “Sou” in the Qing Dynasty.

The Bai Nationality
Dali, China – March 20, 2014: A woman dressed in ancient Bai nationality clothing smiling. Located in Dali, Yunnan, China.

The Bai People hold the white color in high esteem and call themselves “Baizi”, “Baini” or “Baihuo”, which means white people. In 1956, of their own will they were named the Bai Nationality.

Since ancient times, the Bai people have established a close relationship with the Han and the Yi in the interior or the neighboring regions. After the Nanzhao Kingdom, especially during the Dali Kingdom, all the Bais in different areas became a nationality with similar languages, cultures and economic structures.

Now they have their own spoken language that belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Stock of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family. Many Bai people are good at the Han language. They use the Han characters as their writing system. Besides Buddhism and Taoism , the worship of Patron God is most popular. The Patron God Temple can be found in almost every village. Patron God is the Guardian of a village or a region.

The Bai people’s houses are unique. The typical style is “sanfangyizhaobi” and “sihewutianjing.” “Sanfangyizhaobi” refers to three houses on three sides and a decorative screen wall to reflect sunlight to the house. ” Sihewutianjing” is a house with a major courtyard and tour small ones at the four corners of the major one .The Bai people’s houses are generally decorated with wooden carvings, stone carvings and marble, which add luster to the traditional characteristics of the houses.

The Bai people regard white as an honorable color and like to wear white clothes. Men often wear white coats with black vests. Women like to wear white or blue jackets with black or blue vests. Unmarried women like to have a pigtail, or wear beautiful headdresses that show the four famous scenes in Dali, namely the flowers in Shangguan, the wind in Xiaguan, the snow on the top of the Cangshan Mountain and the moon reflected in the Elrhai Lake. The married women coil their hair and wrap it with black or embroidered cloth.

The major festivals of the Bai People are the Raosanlin, the Torch Festival, the Patron God Festival and the Shibaoshan Mountain Song Festival. The most important of all is the Third Month Fair in Dali. It falls on March 15th on the lunar calendar and lasts 7 days.