Baisha Frescos of the Naxi


One of the most remarkable icons of the artistic heritage of the Naxi people are the Baisha Frescos, a set of Ming Dynasty religious paintings that decorate the walls of the main temples of Baisha Village. Baisha is a small village situated 10 kilometers off Lijiang. It is one of the earlier places where the Naxi people established themselves when they migrated to the Lijiang region, and can be considered therefore one of the cradles of Naxi culture. Baisha was also the birthplace of the Mu family, the Naxi headmen that ruled Lijiang during many centuries.

The Mu family consolidated their rule in the first years of the Ming Dynasty; they were heavily influenced by Chinese culture. With an especially interesting relationship with the Ming court some famous painters were invited by different Mu kings to decorate the temples of Baisha.

The oldest fresces were painted in 1385. It was the start of an artistic tradition that lasted more than 200 years. Nowadays there are still 53 frescos preserved, covering a total area of 171 square meters.

During the long story of the making of Baisha Frescos not only famous painters from China worked for the Mu kings, among them the famous Taoist painter Ma Xiaoxian from Jiangxi, but also Tibetans, as the Lamaist painter Gu Chang from Tibet, and local artists participated.

The frescos reflect the border spirit of Lijiang, their contents are epresentative of this unique Naxi culture, where Chinese Buddhist and Taoist influences, Tibetan Lamaist and local traditions are blended.

The preserved frescos are inside some of the older temples in Baisha Village: Liuli Hall, Babaoji Palace and Dading Pavillion. In the Dajue Palace of Longquan there are also some frescos preserved.

Back to Naxi main page

© Copyright 2007


Buy books related to China Ethnic Groups and help to develop this web