The Sani Minority Villages refers to a large area around the Stone Forest in Kunming that house a small Yi ethnic group known as the Sani minority people. They have formed their settlements around the Stone Forest, and have been living there for centuries now. The Sani Minority Villages lie 86 kilometers to the east of the Kunming city center. It is about 3 hours drive from downtown Kunming.
The Sani Minority Villages in Kunming is home to just one branch of Yi ethnic groups. There are several other Sani people in Shilin county, while there are many others in Mile county, Qiubei county, Yiliang county, Luxi county, and Luliang county. Currently, there are 8 million Yi divided into 110 distinct groups scattered all over Southwest China.
The Sani Minority People
The Sani Minority Group is well-known in Kunming because of their mystical traditions and beliefs. They are also famous for their colorful embroidery and minority dances, which blend beautifully with the natural scenery of the area where they live. Due to their influence, the entire Stone Forest has formed its own culture, one that is best illustrated in the famous narrative poem called Ashima.
The Sani people are also very faithful in practicing their folk customs and traditions, which is another reason why they have managed to preserve such a strong identity despite being a minority.Every day, when sunset comes, the Sani boys and girls go to the village platform; while the boys play three-string instruments, the girls will clap and dance their traditional A’Xi dance, also known as ‘Dance in the Moon’. Aside from their traditional performances, the Sani minority group is also surrounded by legends and poetry.
Due to their love for embroidery, the Sani people wear very distinct clothing characterized by colorful headgear and brightly colored dresses.
The Sani people has their own language, which is part of the Tibeto-Burman language tree. They do also use Mandarin, though, but mostly for trade.
The Torch Festival
The Torch Festival is the major annual festival celebrated by the Sani people. This is held every 24th day of the sixth month based on the lunar calendar. The day is a lively day of celebration for the Sani people, who engage in many traditional performances and various activities such as wrestling and bull-fighting, among others.
The Stone Forest Scenic Area
The Stone Forest Scenic Area is alive with the culture of the Sani minority people, but most importantly, it is alive with the wonder of nature. Featuring geological wonders that date back 270 million years ago, it is a nice place to visit if you want to be amazed and to know more about the aboriginal lifestyle of local minorities that still thrive in Kunming at the same time.
Aside from the multi-colored costumes of the Sani minority group and their lively festivals, the Stone Forest Scenic Area also attracts visitors with its unique Karst landscape characterized by bizarre rock formations that nature itself formed through millennia of rain and weather. This resulted in some of the best peaks, grotesque rocks, caves, and mountain lakes, which are truly unique natural features that can only be found in select areas in Kunming. These natural wonders, combined with the unique culture of the Sani people, make up one of the best tourist destinations in Kunming.