The Bai in 1909

 

As depicted in the Book "Across China on Foot", by Edwin Dingle. 1911

Cap XVII

From Hungay onwards I met a class of people I had not seen before. They were the Minchia (Pe-tso).

Major H.R. Davies, whose treatise on the tribes of Yün-nan at the end of his excellent work on travel in the province, is probably the best yet written, writes that he met Minchia (1) people only on the plains of Tali-fu (2) and Chao-chow (3), and never east of the latter place. This was in travel some ten or twelve years ago, and the fact that there are now many Minchia families living in Hungay is a testimony to their enterprise as a tribe in going farther afield in search of the means to live.

There is little doubt that the Minchia originally came from country lying between the border of the province and round Li-chiang-fu (4) and the Tali-fu plain and lake. Most of them wear Chinese dress; many of the women bind their feet (and the practice is growing in popularity), although those who have not small feet are still in the majority.

In a small city lying some few li from the city of Tali all the inhabitants are Minchia, and I found no difficulty in spotting a Chinese man or woman-there is a distinct facial difference. Minchia have bigger noses, generally the eyes are set farther apart, and the skin is darker. Pink trousers are in fashion among the ladies-trace of base feminine weakness!-but are not by any means the distinguishing features of race.

(1) Bai people.
(2) Dali City
(3) Zhaozhou/Fengyi
(4) Lijiang City

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