Friday, April 14, 2006

Villages and customs

The trip around the lake took us to a few local villages with interesting customs to share.

Xizhou had the best preserved Bai (ethnic group in the Dali area) architecture around. Years ago, the Dali area used to be a country on its own and Xizhou was the capital. Today, it has a bustling market where many are still in traditional wear.

We visited a local home in the area and discovered the government would allow a family to build a large entrance to the home if they were rich. In pre-communism days, one family would live in the house. Afterwards, the rich would share their homes with the poor and 8 families would live together there.. to this day. Just inside the entrance, there is usually a blank wall present to scare away any spirits that may follow you in.

As we were walking Xizhou, there were stalks all over the ground. We found out that these were dried soy stalks and were placed on the ground basically for free labour! Any pressure from people walking on them or carts going over them would crack open the pods and the soy beans would fall to the ground! Someone will come by later and separate them. Very smart! No need for expensive machinery.

Zoucheng, another village, is famous for its batik although it was more like tie dye. It originated here about 1000 years ago and slowly moved down to SE Asia.

As we went through all the villages, we saw one large tree within. These trees were planted when the village was created. The size of the tree depicts the age and the wealth of each village.

What an absolutely wonderful and educational trip around the lake.


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