The Tibetan People – an authentic Journey through their Lands and Culture

Written by Harry Wilson

Welcome to the third part of our introductory series to the ethnic minority groups of China.  Today we take a closer look at neighbouring Tibet and the wonderful culture of this underappreciated land. If you plan on visiting Tibet in the near future, this blogpost will serve as a guide for all things you might need before your trip, as well as an insight into some of the incredible cultural phenomena you will get to experience first-hand!

Before you head to Tibet, make sure to get your visa!  Tibet Entry Permits are required to enter the country if you are a non-Chinese citizen.  You don’t want to get off to the wrong start on your trip.  Probably the most important thing to know is that it is a good idea to get into good physical shape before your trip, as the average altitude is around 4500 meters (14700 feet) above sea level, so there’s a chance you may suffer from altitude sickness.  Despite the sub-freezing temperatures, many Tibetans go barefoot!!! Interestingly, the boiling temperature of water is so low at this altitude, that boiling water from a pot would not burn human skin!

Due to the average altitude of the country and its many plateau’s, Tibet has been referred to by many as “the roof of the world”, with its incredible vistas from the top of Mount Everest.

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A view of the mountains from an airplane – all credit to Damir Sagolj/Reuters

Tibet is also home to the world’s highest plateau.  The 37000 glaciers that accompany it provide water to more than HALF OF ASIA, which if you think about it, is truly incredible for a nation of its size and socio-economic position in the world.  Tibet has many incredible views, including Namtso (Lake Nam), which is commonly referred to as “Heavenly Lake” in European literature, as well as the Potala Palace.  The efforts required to deal with the altitude in Tibet will all be made worthwhile by the breathtaking (not that you need anymore breath to be taken away haha) views and cultural experiences!

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A Man spinning his Prayer Wheel in front of the Potala Palace – all credit to Damir Sagolj/Reuters

In the image above you get a chance to take a first look at the Potala Palace, formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.  Today, it is used as a museum and one of several World Heritage Sites in the country.  The palace contains over 1000 rooms, 10000 shrines and around 200000 statues.  If that doesn’t show you how much religion means to this country, then nothing will.

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A plethora of stones being engraved with Buddhist scriptures by a local craftsman

A lot of jobs in Tibet are religion-related, as religion is a daily, if not hourly practice.  Some jobs including carving stones with Buddhist scriptures, woodblock scripture painting and Thangka painting, a traditional form of Tibetan Buddhist painting, are an extremely important part of Tibetan culture.  Tibetans spend years mastering these arts and can spend months or even years on a single piece.  The carvings and paintings will often contain scriptures or the story of the Buddha in meticulous detail.

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Inside the studio of an expert local wood carver

Merit is of vital importance to Tibetan Buddhists and can be gained through participating in a variety of activities.  Tibetans spend much of their time praying, spinning prayer wheels (as seen above) and hanging prayer flags.  All these activities earn them merit.  It is also important for them to send their sons to monasteries, participate in pilgrimages, do good deeds and present gifts to lamas in order to further increase their merit.

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A highly detailed Thangka painting available at InteractChina

Still not convinced of the beauty of Tibet – take a look at this wonderful short video produced by the incredible team at National Geographic which gives great insight into the magnificent structure, the Potala Palace:

Want to learn more about Tibet, its culture and inhabitants?  Take a look at this extended documentary on the area:

Finally, if you were interested in the Thangka discussed in this blogpost, here is some more information including a link to our website where you can find out more!  Thangka are Tibetan Buddhist paintings on cotton or silk and normally depict a Buddhist deity, scene or mandala.  They are usually kept unframed and rolled up when not on display, and when treated and kept correctly they can last in incredibly long time.  If your interest has been aroused and you would like to see some authentic Thangka, please visit our website – https://www.interactchina.com/thangka-painting

 

 

 

About Interact China

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!  
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

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Health Qigong – The Eight Silken Movements (VI):Eliminate Diseases, Breathe from your Dan Tian

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

The Eighth Section:Stand on your Toes and stretch seven times to get rid of an Illness 

This action can improve your calf strength and your ability to balance. The slight vibration caused by the heel lowering helps to relax and reset the muscles and relieve muscle tension. 

Video 1

This is a simple and easy action that can be done anywhere. First you should lift your heels, stretch your neck backwards and keep your head up, looking straight forward. After a slight pause, lower your heels back to the ground.  You should feel a slight vibration. Repeat seven times. 

While doing this exercise, you should keep your shoulders relaxed and do not shrug. When lifting, raise the heel as much as possible, and maintain your balance when you pause at the height of the lift. 

 

Cool Down 

The function of this movement is to help your Qi return to dan tian, to relax your muscles, and to calm your mind. 

Video 2

The cool-down can be divided into the following detailed steps: 

  1. Rotate your palms so that they face backwards, lift your arms from the side of your body to hip-height; 
  2. Bend your arms, placing your palms on your abdomen, the male should first place his left hand on the abdomen with the right hand on top of it, the female should put her right-hand underneath; 
  3. Lower your arms back down to the side of your body.

Picture 1

During this cool down exercise, the Laogong Temples (acupuncture points in Chinese medicine) of the two palms were stacked on the Dan Tian (see the red dot on the diagram above) so that your body relaxes and you start to breathe from your Dan Tian.  It is generally believed that the benefits behind lowering your Qi back to your Dan Tian (often referred to as your energy center) are based on meridian theory.  It is believed that the human body’s Qi and Blood, which are distributed along the meridians, run into your internal organs and arrive at your limbs.  The Dan Tian is located in the center of the meridians.  It can regulate your Yin and Yang, help to ease communication between your heart and kidney (the functions of both affect the other in Chinese medicine), increase Qi and blood production, activate and improve the functionality of the eight extra meridians, restore physiological functions and promote body regeneration. 

That concludes our introduction to the eight silken movements!  I wish you well-being and happiness every day! 

 

 

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Health Qigong – The Eight Silken Movements (V): Protect Your Waist,Increase Your Strength

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

The Sixth Section: Reach down and touch your Feet to stabilize your Waist

Picture 1

This action will help to prevent and treat some chronic diseases of the genitourinary system by swiftly flexing and stretching and stimulating the spine, Du Meridian1 and related acupuncture points. At the same time, you give your kidneys, adrenal gland, ureter and some other organs a good traction massage, and can improve their functions and stimulate their production rates.

Video 1

This section can be divided into the following detailed steps:

  1. Stand with both knees upright, point your fingertips forwards and raise your arms upwards. Straighten your elbows, have your palms facing forwards and look straight in front of you

  2. Bend your arms,lower your palms down to the front of your chest, your palms should be facing downwards and your fingertips should be facing each other;

  3. Turn your palms to face upwards, then move your hands outwards and pass them below your armpits.

4.Press your palms on the sides of the spine and move down to the buttocks. While bending down with your upper body, move your hands downwards along the rear sides of your legs and then slowly around to the front so that they end on your feet. Raise your head and look slightly ahead of your feet. Pause in this position for a few seconds. Try not to bend your legs at any point.

  1. Move your palms forwards along the ground, and then use the arms to drive the upper body up, straighten up your elbows with your palms facing forwards.
  • One repetition includes one complete movement upwards and downwards. Repeat the complete movement 6 times.

After six repetitions, bend your legs slightly and then lean forwards with your palms in line with your abdomen, face your palms downwards with your fingertips facing forwards, look straight ahead.

Tips:Apply proper force when you move your palms down along the back of the body. Loosen your shoulders when leaning forwards. Keep your knees straight. Let your arms drive the upper body up.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 2

  • When you move your hands down, do not bend your knees and do not bow your head;

Picture 3

  • Do not raise your upper body before your arm

 

The Eighth Section: Clench your Fists and Open your Eyes wide in order to boost your Qi

In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is associated with the eyes. In this section, the movement of the eyes stimulates the liver. At the same time, the cooperation between the movements in this section stimulates the body’s major meridians. If done on a long-term basis, this exercise can strengthen the muscles and bones throughout the entire body.

Video 2

This section can be divided into the following detailed steps:

  1. Step to the left with your left foot, half squad your legs,and meanwhile,clench both hands into fists and place them in line with your waist you’re your thumbs inside and the eyes of the fist facing upwards,look straight in front of you.

  2. Punch your left fist forward at shoulder height,with the eye of the fist facing upwards,and then look at your left fist.

  3. Open your left fist,rotate your palm so that it is facing outwards and your thumb facing downwards,and then look at your left palm.

  4. Rotate your left arm outwards, bend your elbow slightly, and at the same time, rotate your left palm towards the left. When your palm is facing upwards make your left hand into a fist with your thumb inside. Look at your left fist.

  5. Retract your left fist to your waist side with the eye of the fist facing upwards, and look straight in front of you.

• The movement to the right should be the same as the movement to the left. Doing the movement once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition. You should complete three repetitions in total.

Video 3

Once you have completed three full repetitions, shift your center of gravity to the right, pull your left in so that you return to the original stance, your feet should once again be shoulder width apart. Meanwhile,unclench your fist,lower your palms to the side of your body, look straight in front of you.

Picture 4

Tips: when you extend your fist to punch, fix your eyes on it. At the same time, you should hold onto the ground with both feet. Adjust the height of your squad depending on the strength of your legs;when you retract your fist, clench your fist tightly.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 5

*do not bend your upper body forwards when you punch

*do not shrug your shoulders when you punch

  • when you retract your fist,please rotate your wrist and clench your fist tightly

Well, we are almost done with our introduction to The Eight Silken Movements. Have you been exercising in your spare time? How are you feeling? We would be delighted to hear from you in the comments!

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Health Qigong – The Eight Silken Movements (IV): Relax Strained Organs and Reduce Your Heart Fire*  

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang 

 

Now it is time to introduce the Fourth Section: “Stretch Backwards for Physical Weakness and Sickness” 

Picture 1

Physical weakness and sickness (五劳七伤, the Five Lao and Seven Shang) refers to strains on your heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys and any one of the following seven emotions being impacted in a negative way: happiness, sadness, grief, fear, shock and longing. This section helps to stretch your chest and belly by rotating your upper limbs. Turning your head to the left and right can stimulate the Da Zhui acupoint and various acupoints on the back, which helps prevent physical weakness and sickness. In addition, it also improves blood circulation in your neck and brain and strengthens your central nervous system. 

Video 1

This section is divided into the following steps: 

  1. Straighten your legs and stretch them, lift your center of gravity while straightening your arms, fingers pointing downwards, eyes straight ahead.
  2. Open your arms out to the sides, palms facing outwards, turn your head to the left, pause for one second and look to the left behind your back.
  3. Bend your knees slightly, bring your arms back in and keep them by your hips, fingers pointing outwards, eyes straight ahead.
  • Doing this section once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition, three repetitions in total. 

Video 2

  • At the end of the third repetition, bend your knees slightly 

Picture 2

  • Tips: keep your chin tucked in, correct your head posture, relax and lower your shoulders, try to keep your body still during the head movement, make sure your arms go all the way back when stretching them out to the sides in order to get a full stretch. 

Try to avoid the following mistakes: 

Picture 3

  • Do not move the center of your upper body backwards and keep your head as still as possible during the body movement 

  • Try to move your head and open your arms to the fullest.  

We will now move on to discussing the Fifth Section: Move Your Head and Legs to Reduce Heart Fire  

Picture 4

Heart Fire is the result of excessive fire elements in your heart. This section intends to simulate your spine and governor meridian to purge this heat and reduce heart fire. At the same time, it will increase the flexibility of your neck, waist and hip as well as strengthening the muscles in these areas. 

Video 3

This section is divided into the following steps: 

  1. Move your center to the left, step to the right with your right foot while raising your  hands above your head. Bend your fingers, fingertips facing each other, eyes straight ahead. 
  2. Bend your knees and do the horse stance while lowering your arms. Rest your hands on your thighs slightly above your knees.
  3. Raise you center of gravity slightly, then move it so that your upper body leans towards the right. Bend over and look towards your right foot.
  4. Move your center of gravity to the left while moving your upper body to the right. Turn left, bend over and look down towards your right heel
  5. Move your center to the right and get into the horse stance while tilting your head backwards; straighten your upper body, tuck your chin in, eyes straight ahead.
  • Repeat the section to the right. Doing this section once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition, three repetitions in total. 

Video 4

  • After three repetitions, move your center to the left, take back your right foot, stand with your feet shoulder width apart, at the same time, lift both your arms above your head, palms facing each other. Bend your knees slightly, place your hands in front of your stomach, fingertips facing each other, eyes straight ahead. 

Picture 5

Tips: when doing the horse stance, your upper body should be straight; when you turn your body, make sure to stretch it lightly. 

This movement is very difficult, and you will exercise many joints and muscles. Please study the steps carefully and practice them multiple times. 

The human body is a marvelous system that links the heavens and nature. Regulating your meridians is crucial for your health, so try to do some stretching exercises during your work breaks. You can even do them while sitting on your chair at your desk! It will help to relax your muscles. 

*Heart Fire is a term used in traditional Chinese medicine and is used when someone is diagnosed with an excess of energy which can lead to disruptions in the patient’s health, be that physically, psychologically or spiritually. Emotional tension is the most common underlying factor in this condition. Click the following link for a fuller explanation of heart-fire, the causes and symptoms – https://healingpointacupunctureclinic.com/blog/heart-fire-summer-element. 

 

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

Health Qigong Eight Silken Movements (III): Fix your Shoulders and Back, Improve the Functionality of your Stomach and Spleen

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

Today I will introduce to you the second and third stages of the Eight Silken Movements series. If you want to know more, please click the link below:

The second section: Stretch on both sides as if shooting a bow and arrow

Picture 1

This movement is similar to shooting an arrow. You have to open your shoulder joints and chest outwards to activate the governor meridian and acupuncture points on the back. This helps to regulate the lung meridian (hand greater Yin), improve the functionality of the lungs and intestines, strengthen the muscles found in your lower body, improve coordination and balance, strengthen your forearms and hand muscles, and exercise the joints in your fingers and wrists. This exercise can also help to fix a hunched back and your shoulder posture to lessen neck and back pain.

Video 1

This section can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Move your center of gravity to the right, step to the left with your left foot and stand up straight, slowly straighten your legs and at the same time, cross your arms in front of you, with your left palm facing outwards and your eyes looking straight ahead.
  2. Bend your fingers on your right hand and pull your right hand to your shoulder, your left hand should form a Ba Zi palm, rotate your left arm inwards and push out to the left until you reach the height of your shoulder. At the same time, bend your knees until you are in the horse stance, hold this position for a while, look to your left.
  3. Move your center of gravity to the right, relax your hands, draw a circle with your right hand at shoulder height, push your palm obliquely.
  4. Move your center even further to the right, take a step backwards with your left food and stand up straight, at the same time, hold your hands in front of your stomach, palms facing up, eyes looking straight ahead.

Video 2

  • The movement to the right should be the same as the movement to the left. Doing the movement once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition. You should complete three repetitions in total.

Video 3

  • At the end of the third repetition, keep moving your center to the left, take back your right foot and stand straight. Bend your knees slightly and at the same time, lower your hands and hold them in front of your stomach, eyes looking straight ahead.

Picture 2

Tips: When you pull your hand to your shoulder, bend your fingers and close the gaps between them while straightening your shoulder. When you hold your hand in the Ba Zi posture, drop your shoulder and elbows, bend your wrists and straighten your fingers.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 3

  • Do not raise your shoulders.

Picture 4

  • Make sure that your waist is straight.

Picture 5

  • Do not spread your feet too wide in the above posture.

The third section: to heal your spleen and stomach, you have to raise your arms

Picture 6

This sequence of movements helps to improve the functions of one’s stomach, spleen, liver and gall bladder. By stretching one arm upwards and the other downwards, you can exercise your stomach and the middle Jiao accordingly. Simultaneously, this movement will stimulate the main and collateral channels of your back and upper body. This is especially helpful for people with gastritis and stomach ulcers. The third sequence exercises the muscles and joints found on your spine and increases their stability and flexibility, which could prevent neck and shoulder pain.

Video 4

This section can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Straighten your legs and knees, raise your left hand up with your palm facing upwards. Once your left hand reaches face-height, flip your hand around, keep raising it upwards and to the left. At the same time, lower your right hand to your hip with your palm facing downwards and fingers pointing forwards.  Hold this position for one second.
  2. Bend your knees slightly while also bending your left elbow. Lower your left hand, hold it in front of your stomach; flip your right hand around, hold both of your hands in front of your stomach, eyes looking straight ahead.

Video 5

  • Repeat the steps starting with the right-hand side of your body. Doing the movement once to the right and once to the left counts as one repetition. You should complete three repetitions in total.

Video 6

  • At the end of the third repetition, bend your knees slightly, lower your right hand to the side of your right hit with your fingers point forwards and your eyes looking straight ahead.

Tips: Relax your chest and quickly stretch your whole body, straighten your waist, lower your shoulders, try to lower and raise both your arms.

Please be aware of the following mistakes:

Picture 7

  • Do not hold your palms horizontally or point your fingers forwards.

Picture 8

  • Do not make your elbows too straight.

Picture 9

  • Make sure to stretch your body as much as possible.

According to Chinese medicine, the diseases you have relate to your temperament.  Therefore, if you are too worried and anxious, it is going to affect your stomach and spleen. So, please try to be as positive as possible in your day-to-day lives!

By the way, do not forget that you can always practice just a single section or one specific movement in the Eight Silken Movements. Enjoy this short pause in your busy life!

 

 

About Interact China 

 

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!”  

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste. 

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts. 

 

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

The Dai people – an Authentic Journey through their Lands and Culture

Written by Harry Wilson

In the second blogpost in our new series, I am going to be introducing you to yet another fascinating ethnic minority group.  This month’s focus will be on the Dai people located mainly in Southern Yunnan, China.  They are one of several ethnic groups located within the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture and the Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture.  In total there are around 1.2 million Dai people in China, but there are many more in Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.  They are closely related to both the Lao and Thai people and there are several terms in the various Tai languages to describe more specifically the 7 Dai groups.  In this blogpost, I hope to take you on a journey through some of the main Dai areas and to introduce you to their most important customs and traditions.

images
The Wanda Vista in Xishuangbanna

Let’s first take a look at traditional Dai villages and the modernisation process which they are currently undergoing.  Traditional Dai houses are square or rectangular and have two stories.  On the upper floor the families spend their quality time together, and on the lower floor the Dai people keep livestock and food.   On the upper floor there is normally a dining room, a study and a specific room for receiving and welcoming guests.  This room is of vital importance to the Dai culture.  The main reason for the raised houses in to protect the top floor from flooding.  The areas in which the Dai people live have an incredibly wet climate and are therefore constantly at risk.

Take a look at the following short documentary below to get a tour of a Dai village.  You will see how the villages are currently being modernised and get a first hand look at the Dai people and where/how they live.  Make sure you turn on subtitles to fully enjoy the interview/tour:

Now that we have a deeper understanding about the living conditions of the Dai people, let’s look at some of their most interesting customs and traditions.  The annual Water Splashing Festival takes place during the New Year of the Dai calendar and is also referred to in the Dai language as “Shanghan” or “Jingbimai”.  The festival usually lasts three days.  In the first two days there are dragon-boat races to say farewell to the previous year.  The last day is reserved for “lucky” activities which welcome in the New Year.  The festival is quite religious and includes several visits to a Buddhist temple.

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The Annual Water Splashing Festival in Yunnan, China

The video below by Caleb resources provides you with more information about the annual festival in Xixhuangbanna.  It also covers topics such as other traditions, the role of men and women in Dai society, and touches on their current poverty problem:

 

Dai festivals are absolutely fascinating and throughout their calendar year there are several others including the Door-closing and Door-opening festivals, the Huajie Festival (Flower Street Festival), the Flower Ball Festival and the Dragon Homage Festival.  You can find out more by searching the web!  Several festivals involve a lot of music and dancing.  The most famous dance to the Dai people is the incredibly beautiful peacock dance.  Check it out by watching the video below:

The instrument often played during the peacock dance is the hulusi.  The hulusi is extremely important to Dai culture and its sound is hauntingly beautiful.  Below is an interview with a hulusi performer which includes a sample song performed live:

If you are interested in studying the hulusi, you can find an excellent selection available on our site at – http://www.interactchina.com/hulusi-flute.

The Dai are a very hospitable people and will always take in guests, except during a pregnancy within the household or shortly following a family death.  During these times it is important to stay well clear of the Dai house, which will be marked by a bucket hanging near the door of the house.  The Dai diet consists largely of meats, fish and a variety of rice’s depending on the region and particular group.  Other seafood is also extremely popular.  Bamboo shoots are very common.

mangshi-dai-family-01
A variety of Dai food from a traditional Dai ethnic restaurant in Kunming

We hope that you have enjoyed this unique insight into the areas and customs of the Dai people and will come back soon for an introduction to another fascinating ethnic group!

 

 

About Interact China

“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team! 
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you! 

An Introduction to the Ethnic Minority Groups of China – Part 1 – the Miao and Uyghur People

Written by Harry Wilson

In this new series, it is our goal to introduce you to the areas in which the ethnic groups of China live. Each blog post will introduce you to the region and the customs of a few groups, giving advice on places to visit as well as the best times of the year if you wish to have the best cultural experience.   China has 55 official minority groups and today’s post will take you on a journey through the regions of two of them, namely those of the Miao and Uyghur people.

The Miao ethnic people are mainly found in Southwest China and are most well-known for their embroidered products made by the Miao ladies.  The Miao ladies (often referred to as Hmong ladies) learn both Batik and embroidery from the age of six or seven and spend years mastering this craft.  They use embroidery to tell stories and record their cultural heritage, which in 2006 was named Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

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Miao Lady in a hand-embroidered dress

The Miao people live in over 700 cities throughout the South of China and number over seven million, with the around one-third of China’s Miao people living in the Wuling and Miaoling mountain range in the Guangxi Autonomous Region and in the Guizhou Province.  Mount Fanjing is the highest peak in this mountain range and is found in the Guizhou province, where many Miao tribes are located.  Most of these areas have a rather mild climate with large amounts of rainfall.   The Miao people are extremely self-sufficient and live in houses which are one or two stories.  The rear of the house is built on the mountain slope and the front typically rests on stilts.  Grain is stored in the ceiling and the bottom of the house is typically used to keep livestock and poultry.

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A village heavily populated by Miao people in the Guizhou Province

There are dozens of Miao festivals throughout the year.  One of the most important festivals is the offering of sacrifice to ancestors which are performed at fixed dates throughout the year.   The Miao people farm and hunt extremely diligently during the appropriate seasons and sacrifices following these seasons are common in order to help the people socialize and celebrate.  During holidays such as the Spring Festival (lunar New Year) the Miao people participate in songs, dances, horse races, reed-pipe wind music, and dating.  All of these events are rich in cultural heritage.  Take a look at the video below to get an insight into the Miao people, their region, customs and festivals:

The Miao people are extremely hospitable and will always keep their house open to guests, who are greeted with both wine and songs.   If you visit the region, make sure you prepare for the weather, but mainly for an amazingly rich variety of high quality embroidered clothing, incredibly spicy food (mainly rice-based dishes) and an outstanding cultural experience!

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A variety of rice in different colors prepared by the Miao people (ranging in spiciness)

The second ethnic group which we will discuss in this post is the Uyghur people.  They are a Turkic ethnic group found across East and Central Asia.  The majority of Uyghurs live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China.  This region borders several countries such as Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan amongst others.   The borders of this region are largely occupied by several mountain ranges including the rugged Karakoram, Kunlun and Tian Shan ranges.

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The Eastern portion of the Tianshan mountain range in Xinjiang was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 with the rest of the range following suit in 2016.    

Modern-day Uyghurs are primarily Muslim and constitute the second largest Muslim group in China after the Hui people.

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An Uyghur mosque in Khotan By Colegota – Own work 

The most interesting cultural aspects of the Uyghur people are found in the music, dance and arts.  Uyghur folk music is produced using several handmade instruments including the Dutar, Khushtar and Rawap and examples of several traditional Uyghur instruments can be seen and heard by clicking the following link:

This traditional music is often accompanied by the Sanam dance which is a popular folk dance.  It is commonly seen at weddings, festivities and parties.  It is a group dance which is most often seen during Newruz (New Year) and the dances are often accompanied by singers or people playing the traditional Uyghur hand-drum known as the dap.

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A variety of Uyghur instruments found in a local store

Uyghur food is a combination of Central Asian and Chinese cuisine.  One of the most famous Uyghur dishes is polu (known also as pilaf) and is typically served with carrots, mutton and rice.

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A typical Uyghur dish of polu by Rjanag – Own work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When visiting an Uyghur area, be prepared for similar levels of hospitality,  lots of meat-based dishes, hauntingly beautiful music and traditional clothing such as the Chapan and Doppa.

We hope that you have enjoyed this unique insight into the areas and customs of the Miao and Uyghur people and will come back soon for an introduction to another selection of fascinating ethnic groups!


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“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide!” 

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

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