A local dating festival brings out the splendor of Yi embroidery

By Li Yingqing/Liu Yixi | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-14 08:15

A local dating festival brings out the splendor of Yi embroidery

The costume competition festival is a showcase of Yi traditional culture and a carnival for local people of all ages in Yongren county in Yunnan province's Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture. [Photo provided to China Daily]

While many single men and women in China tried to escape the blind dates their relatives set up during Spring Festival, the young people of a remote village in Southwest China's Yunnan province attended a local mass-dating event, following a tradition that dates back about 1,350 years.

Saizhuang Jie, or the "costume competition festival", is heldin Yongren county in Yunnan's Chuxiong Yi autonomous prefecture each year on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It originated in Zhiju, a small mountainous village that is home to the Yi ethnic group, and where girls learn embroidery from childhood.

The festival serves as a showcase for the beauty and talents of local women in addition to being a meeting place for young people.

On this special day, the women put on handmade costumes bearing delicate embroidery to attend an outdoor dance ceremony, described by locals as among the "oldest catwalks".

Young men also dress up and participate in the dance.

But the day isn't for the youth alone.

People of all ages can join the dancing. Parents who wish to find their children a good partner are particularly observant during the ceremony.

Li Yongfumo attended the festival with her family for the first time when she was 6.

Like many other Yi women of Zhiju, she met her husband at the event when she turned 17." He was standing outside the 'circle' watching me dance. After a while he came and took my hand," she says referring to an inner formation by the female dancers.

The 97-year-old still attends the ceremony in the company of her great-granddaughter.

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