Yi Minority Market near Dali , Yunnan ,  China

There are more than 50 subgroups within the Yi nationality. They call themselves Nuosu, Nisu, Nasu, Sani, Azhe, Lalu, Luoluo, etc. The name “Yi” was bestowed by the Chinese government in the 1950’s.

The Yi people have their own language, which belongs to the Yi Group of the Tibeto-Burman Branch of Sino-Tibetan Language Family. Yi characters, one of the earliest syllabic scripts in China, were formed in the 13th century. There’s also a modern standardized writing system; both are used today. The Yi people have their own religion, which is called animism or shamanism worshiping natural and ancestral gods. The clothing of the Yi ethnic minority and their personal adornments are colorful; music and dance are an important part of Yi people’s lives; they often greet people with songs, courtship is often expressed by singing and dancing, and men at social gatherings invariably play a three-stringed fiddle with a handle about one meter long and a large sound box about a foot in diameter, called the Moon Guitar. There are a great many Yi costumes with unique designs stemming from various places.

 

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