19. Chinese Nationalities (Dai Minority) -- Minorities by Descending Populations

Dai People Dai People Dai Village
Dai Dancers Dai Ladies and House Dai Village

The Dai festivals attract hordes of foreigners and Chinese alike. The Water-Splashing Festival held around mid-April (usually 13 to 15 April) washes away the dirt, sorrow and demons of the old year and brings in the happiness of the new. The first day is devoted to a giant market. The second day features dragon-boat racing, swimming races and rocket launching. The third day features the water-splashing freak out -- be prepared to get drenched all day, and remember, the wetter you get, the more luck you will receive.

The Dai people are concentrated in the Xishaungbanna Region deep in the south of Yunnan Province and exercise a clear upper hand in the economy. During the Cultural Revolution the Dai voted with their feet and slipped across the border to join their fellow Dai who are sprinkled throughout Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Not only the Dai but also most of the other minorities in this area display a nonchalant disregard for borders and authority in general. We spent a week in Xishaungbanna at the Institute of Tropical Botany. You can see some of our pictures in our excursion to this area. See excursions we took, for pictures.

The remote Dai do not have a close affiliation with the Han people. The Dai have a close affinity with the Thais and were one of the main ethnic groups dominating the Nanzhao Kingdom (seventh century to 902). They are Hinayana Buddhists. The Dai are found in Yunnan Province. They are part of the Sino-Tibetan Thai ethno linguistic group.


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