Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture

 

Chuxiong Yi autonomous Prefecture is located in the heart of Yunnan Plateau, as one of the only two Yi autonomous prefectures Chuxiong is considered the "epicenter of Yi culture" and the place in Yunnan where the Yi culture is best preserved. Some of the most characteristics features of Yi culture are preserved in Chuxiong, as are their epic poems "Meige and Chamu", the ten-month solar calendar, the festivities of cult to the tiger, and many more ethnic and cultural customs.

With an area of 29,258 square kilometers and a population of 2,6 millions, the 600.000 Yi living in Chuxiong Prefecture belong to 13 different branches. Most of Chuxiong Prefecture is mountainous terrain with only a ten percent of its surface considered flat lands. The mountains are well forested, according to official statistics a 60% of the prefecture is covered by forest. Chuxiong is famous in China as was the home of the oldest hominid discovered in China, the Yuanmou Man that must have living there about 1,7 millions of years ago. In historic times it was the home of some famous Yi kingdoms, that felt in the political orbit of Nanzhao kingdom first and Dali Kingdom later. With the immigration of Han people to Chuxiong during the Ming and Qiang dynasties, the Yi cultures were transformed, adapting themselves to the influences of Han culture. Only in the more inaccessible mountains the Yi culture has been preserved until the present.

     
   
  Ladies of the Luoluopo Branch dancing in an ethnic festival  
     

Being Chuxiong an autonomous prefecture, only about a 30% of its population belongs to one of the national minorities. Among then the Yi constitute a little more than 20% of the prefecture population, the Miao, Dai, Bai and Lisu together are another 2% of Chuxiong population.

The Yi can be found in all the counties of Chuxiong. The main branches are the Luoluo, Lipo and Nasu. Their main festivals are the Torch Festival on 24th of the sixth lunar month and the Yi New Year on the first day tiger of the tenth lunar month.

Most of the Miao are the Ah-Mao or Flowery Miao. They have a population inside Chuxiong of more than 40,000 persons, living mainly in Lufeng and Wuding counties.

The Dai inhabit the lowlands near the rivers, and the Bai the lands adjacent to Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture.

Some Lisu live in Wuding County, sometimes considered to be local branches of the Yi.

The administrative division of Chuxiong includes one city: Chuxiong City, and nine counties: Lufeng, Wuding, Yuanmou, Mouding, Yongren, Dayao, Yao,an, Nanhua and Shuangbai.

Being a place with a long history of contact with the Chinese Han and of Han migrants settlement, in Chuxiong City and the astern districts of the prefecture, it is not very common to see Yi people wearing their traditional dresses. People interested in the ethnic custom of the Yi will find an interesting display of the dresses and ornaments of all the 13 branches of the Yi. Apart from this second floor exhibition of the traditional dresss and ronaments, the Museun has scarce interest. The building dedicated to the Yi nationality, which will have the most interesting, it shows a superficial overview of this ethnic culture. The first floor exhibits the objects of everyday use of the Yi. In the third floor the section which deals with the Yi writing did not shows any of the illustrated manuscripts that has been published in some books, but a sample of a rather grey scriptures and some books published about them. The same happens in the small section dealing with their decorative art. All the images of tigers, for instance, are dated in the 1990s.

The 13 branches of the Yi officially living in Chuxiong Prefecture are:

Bula
Luoluo
Nisu
Gesu
Chesu
Lipo
Hualuo
Misa
Limi
Nesu
Nuosu
Nasu
Micha


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