Dai Ethnic Group
Updated: 2012-08-10 14:50
Thanks to the area's favorable climate, agriculture and horticulture developed very early. An abundance of rice won for Xishuangbanna the title 'barn of south Yunnan'; local tea, bamboo, and sugar cane are also of high quality. According to historical records, Pu'er Tea was presented to the emperor as tribute as early as the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). Now the Dai region has become an important producer of rubber. Other resources are also abundant. There are wild apples, bananas and Chinese gooseberries, rare animals like gibbons and peacocks, and minerals like gold, silver, iron, and crystal.
The Dai people are quite good at singing and dancing. Their achievements in music are well-known among all the ethnic groups. Their folk and traditional musical instruments include the elephant-foot drum, bronze gong, clarinet, and hulusi.
Xishuangbanna is the home of the peacock, which the Dai people revere as a symbol of good fortune, happiness, beauty and kindness. Thus the Peacock Dance is their most popular folk dance. Performers in clothes with peacock patterns imitate peacocks with lively, flexible and graceful movements in a dance that is a popular part of the Water-splashing Festival.
The Elephant-foot drum dance is another well known dance for men. This unique instrument is made of carved mango or ceiba trunk covered with cowhide, and looks just like an elephant foot. The drum can be long, medium-sized, or short. The dance done with a long drum appears very graceful, with the medium-sized one, it is vigorous with broad, sweeping movements; and with the short one, flexible and bright.
The architecture of the Dai region is distinctive, known especially for the Dai-style temples, bamboo bridges and houses. The temples combine the styles of South Asian and Chinese culture and can be shaped like pavilions, thrones, bells, and so on. Bamboo houses are designed based on local conditions. Made entirely of bamboo, the houses have two floors - downstairs for livestock and upstairs for people - a clean, light and well - ventilated design.