The Dai

  The Dai people mainly live in the Xishuangbanna area in Yunnan Province. It has beautiful mountains, a mild climate, abundant rainfall, and there are bamboo forests, coconut trees and banana trees everywhere. In the vast primeval forest, there are many rare birds and unusual animals. Pretty peacocks often dance gracefully along jungle trails or beside a brook. Thus, people call the place which the Dai people inhabit “the Land of Peacocks”.

  Dai people have traditionally lived in two-storied bamboo stilt house, the upper story for living and the lower for storage and feeding livestock. Their villages contain many temples. Generally when a Dai boy is eight or nine years old, he will be sent to a temple as a monk for a period.

  Dai clothes are generally made of cloth woven by the local women. Men wear a collarless short Chinese jacket, long trousers and white or blue headpiece. Women like to wear a short jacket with tight sleeves and straight skirt covering the instep; they usually coil their hair on top of the head with a beautiful crescent comb.

  The Water-Sprinkling Festival is an annual grand festival for the Dai ethnic group. In the morning, they take a bath and then dress carefully before going to the temples to wash away the dust for the Buddha, and then sprinkle water on each other as a symbol of auspiciousness. Supposedly, the more water one is sprinkled with, the happier one will be in the forthcoming year.

  The Dai people are good singers and dancers. During their numerous festivals, they play the mangluo gong and the xiangjiaogu (drum on a pedestal shaped like an elephant’s leg) and dance the graceful Peacock Dance to celebrate the festival.

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