Dai Ethnic Group
Dai ethnic minority group is mainly present in the Xishuanggbanna
Dai and Dehong Dai-Ji Autonomous Prefectures, Gengma Dai-Wa and
Menglian Dai-Lahu Autonomous Counties of the Yunnan Province, and
some in Xinping, Yuanjiang, Simao, Tengchong, Longling, Shuangjiang,
Ximeng, and Yuanyang of the Yunnan Province.
The Dai population has reached as
high as 1.2 million according to the 5th national population
census in 2000. The people have a close relationship
with the Shan ethnic group in Burma, the Lao in Laos,
the Tai in Thailand, and the Ahongtai in India. In total,
the number of Dai has reached over 60 million around
the globe . And not only are the Dai good at singing
and dancing, but also have also created their own glorious
culture in Chinese history, especially in medicine and
in forming the Dai calendar.
HistoryAccording to historical record
s, the history of the Dai ethnic minority people can
be traced back to the first century. The Yizhou Prefecture
was established by Emperor Wu in the Western Han Dynasty
(206 B.C.- 25 A.D.), controlling southwest minorities
in the area during which the Dai ethnic region was located
in the southwest of the Yizhou Prefecture. The Yongchang
Prefecture was established in 69 A.D., and the Dai were
then put under the leadership of the Yongchang governor.
From the 8th to the 13th century, t he Dai people were
under the control of Nanzhao, which was founded by the
Yi and Bai ethnic minority groups respectively . The
Yunnan Province was established in the Yuan Dynasty
(1 206 -1 368 ), and a chieftain system was carried
out among Bai ethnic communities in the province, which
was inherited by the Ming Dynasty (1 368 -1 644 ). Han
officials later took the places of the local chieftains
in the Qing Dynasty (1 616 -1 911 ).
Since the foundation of the People
's Republic of China, the Dai ethnic group
has made great progress in agriculture, industry, and
handicrafts, and the people enjoy a high standard of
living. Today, the Dai ethnic minority region has become
known as the home of peacocks in China.
LanguageThe Dai ethnic minority
community shares the same Dai language which belongs
to the Zhuang-Dong family of the Sino-Tibetan language
system. It can be divided into three dialects: the Dehong
, Xishuangbanna, and Jinping d ialects.
ReligionBuddhism is the primary
religion in the Dai group, and they worship Sakyamuni
as the only god.
ArchitectureThe bamboo buildings
of the Dai ethnic minority group are in the shape of
squares, supported by tens of big bamboo stalks , covered
by esparto grass on the top. They are usually divided
into 2 stories, among which the first story is for animals
and the second is for the whole family. This layout
is not only good for ventilation , but also to allow
optimal amounts of sunlight into the building.
Crafts Dai ethnic crafts are mainly
brocades, pottery , bags, woven bamboo products, paper
cuttings, and silver ware .
Food and DrinksThe diet of the Dai
ethnic minority is based on rice : those in the Hongde
area enjoy non-glutinous rice, and the people from Xishuangbanna
consume glutinous rice. Sour and spicy food is favored
by the Dai , and they also prefer aquatic products such
as lobster and fish. The most distinctive food in the
Dai ethnic communities is bamboo-tube rice.
As for drinks, puer tea is the specialty
from Xishuangbanna of the Yunnan Province, which has
been famous all over the world since the Tang Dynasty
(618 -907 ). These days, it is a very popular export
to Western Europe, Japan, and Southeast Asian c ountries
. In addition, the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture
is rich in fruits, so visitors can enjoy many different
kinds of subtropical treats . The most famous dishes
of the Dai ethnic minority are chicken casserole with
coconut , baked fish, fried sesame cakes, and raw cured
ClothingDai ethnic clothing is very
unique among China's 55 ethnic minority
groups and varies from one area to another among the
communities. Generally speaking, the men wear collarless
short-sleeved shirts and long trousers, heavy felts
on cold days, and with white or blue headbands on their
heads. Women wear traditional long and narrow-sleeved
blouses and tight skirts.
Distinctively from the other ethnic
groups, tattoos are very popular among boys who often
have designs decorated on their backs, bellies, and
waists. On the other hand, girls prefer wearing silver
and gold decorations including bracelets, rings, earring,