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Dali: A Charming Folk City

China Today,January 11, 2018 Adjust font size:

Distinctive Bai Customs

The Bai people believe in Benzhunism, the indigenous religion that worships local patron gods, rendered as Benzhu in Chinese.

The Bai people like the color white, and consider it a symbol of honor. The dominant tone of their costumes is white. Bai men mostly wear white shirts and black vests with embroidered decorations along the vest’s perimeter. They wear loose white or blue pants, and sport headwear that looks like a turban. In some regions, men carry a pouch with beautiful embroideries, which are given by their girlfriends as a symbol of love.

The Cangshan Mountain and the Erhai Lake.

The Bai women in Dali often wear white shirts and red vests, with an embroidered belt that holds the half apron along the waist in place. They also wear loose blue pants and lavishly embroidered shoes.

The hairstyle of a Bai woman tells her marital status. If she is unmarried, she often wears a pigtail, and wraps it outside her globular headwear, with a white tassel hanging on its left side. After she is married, she makes a bun, and bundles it on the top of head, with indigo-blue cloth wrapped outside.

In fact, the headwear of a Bai girl also reflects the four natural sceneries of Dali which were previously mentioned. The tassel which swings in the wind reflects the “wind” in Xiaguan Town; the brightly-colored embroidered headwear refers to flowers in the meadow of Shangguan Town; the pure white top of the headwear resembles snow on the Cangshan Mountain, and the curving shape of the headwear looks just like the crescent moon above the Erhai Lake.

The Bai People often welcome guests with local liquors or teas. They have a tradition of filling the cup when offering liquor, but fill only half of a cup when offering tea. It would be great if you could say “thanks” in the local language, which sounds like “nuo wei ni,” when you are received by a Bai family.

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