Dai Ethnic Group

The Dai ethnic group, with a population of 1,158,989, mainly lives in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous region of Yunnan Province, while the others scatter in different counties and citied in Yunnan Province.

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The Dai language belongs to the Chinese-Tibetan language family and has three major dialects. The Dais mostly live in the regions of valley. There are rows of storied buildings delicately made of bamboo with phoenix-bamboo and palm trees around, looking like an idyllic rural scene with poetic beauty.

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The Dai men mostly wear collarless jacket with buttons down the front and long trousers, with white or blue cloth around the head. The women mostly wear tight jacket with round collar and narrow sleeves and buttons down the front, and also tight skirt with variety of designs and colors.

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Dai people like dancing and performing. The peacock dance comes from the beauties motions of peacocks, and also the lovely folklore of the Dais. The famous dancer Yang Liping is known at home and abroad for performing peacock dance. What’s more, Dai opera is a unique ethnic opera in Yunnan Province, which goes round mainly in the Dai and Jingpo Ethnic Autonomous Prefecture of Dehong. It has been put on China’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2006.

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The Water Splashing Festival is the new year of the Dai calendar, held between June and July of the dai calendar for three days. The Dais splash water to each other while singing and dancing. It is very interesting.

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Rice is the staple food for the Dais and the most special food is the rice in bamboo tube. The Dais love to eat roast food. One of the famous is the “roast fish with fragrant couch grass”. The way of cooking it is to insert shallot, ginger, garlic, pepper and salt into the fish which is bundled with fragrant couch grass, and then roast it.

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