The Bai ethnic minority (or Nationality as Chinese like to say), is one of the largest and most well known minority groups in China. For more than 4000 years, the Bai people have been based in the Dali area centered around Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake.
During the Tang Dynasty, the Bai banded together and defeated the Han Chinese to create the Bai Nanzhao Kingdom centered in the ancient city of Dali. This kingdom lasted for several centuries and could be regarded as one of Dali's golden ages. In modern times, the Bai and Han coexist peacefully, as shown by the partial integration of the Bai people in today's Dali.
Generally speaking, the villages of the Bai are scattered on the flatlands along lakes or rivers that provide convenient transportation links. Each village is laid out in an orderly style with courtyards of earth and wood that usually consist of rooms on three sides and a decorative wall on the southern side.
The Bai Ethnic Songs and Dances
“Life will be gloomy without singing and dancing.” The Bai nationality excels at dancing and singing and they often express their happiness and anger through performance. As a result of a history of interaction with other ethnic groups, this group has been deeply affected by Buddhism and Daoism, which has shaped their culture into its current Buddhist form.
In the Bai ethnic songs and dances, the most famous is the "Raosanling". Combined with poem, music and dance together beautifully, it forms a set of Bai ethnic dance as large-scale singing and dancing performance and it is the main amusement project in the Bai ethnic festivals. When Bai people perform the "Raosanling", it often attracts a large number of visitors to appreciate.
The Bai Ethnic Residents
The Bai Ethnic people call themselves "Baizi" ("White Tribe"). They live on the bottom of the mountain and by the side of the river, particularly in the districts of the Erhai Sea and the Cangshan Mountain, many structures in Dali carry Bai style. The main type of Bai house consists of the tradition "three rooms and one wall". The arch decorated exquisitely, the furnace is wonderful, and the modeling of the houses is very graceful.
They always decorate their room with the color of the own tradition. Including the wood, many stones are also used. The arch is use for modeling and inside the house; they use clay sculpture, woodcarving, and colorful drawings to decorate. They use local materials and give play to imaginations of construction arts richly, so the constructions of Bai are not only resplendent and magnificent but also very simple and generous.
The "Three Paces Tea" of Bai Ethnic
China is a tea-drinking country. Bai ethnic village is one of the places where planting tea and has a tea culture for a long history. They have their own culture of tea called “Three Paces Tea of Bai Ethnic”. The three paces are: first "bitter", second "sweet" and third "aftertaste".
"Bitter tea", is that the host burnt and toasted the special local product --- Tuo Tea with small china container on the stove burnt all around the year and the tea is yellow but not burnt. When the fragrance floats in the air, pouring the boiling water, then the tea will be finished. This kind of tea has thick taste, only less than half cup, only sips and lets the fragrance on the tip of tongue sends out slowly.
Second is "Sweet tea", using the special local product --- walnut meat and brown sugar as condiments, the taste is fragrant, sweet, and tasty. The teacup is like small bowls and very special. Third is "Aftertaste tea" added a little Chinese prickly ash, ginger and cassia bark with honey. The tea is sweet with fragrance and hot, making us aftertaste endlessly.
Clothes of Bai Ethnic
Bai ethnic clothing is beautiful without losing its practicality. Bai men always dress in a white buttoned shirt, black overcoat and blue trousers with a long piece of white cloth wrapped around around their head. Bai ladies prefer to decorate their hair with embroidery, and wear white blouses, red overcoats, embroidered aprons, white trousers and embroidered shoes.
Festivals and Pageants
Many festivals and pageants of Bai ethnic are hosted between March to April. In this period, visitors can experience the local feature of Bai ethnic. The weather in March in cool and it is very comfortable to visit the Dali Ancient City, appreciate the Erhai Lake and climb the Cangshan Mountain.