彝族 The Yi ethnic group
The Yi is the most populous ethnic group in southwest China, where their ancestors lived more than 2,000 years ago. They are predominant in Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou and Guangxi provinces. The Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Liangshan in Sichuan Province is the largest Yi community.
Traditional Yi clothes have many styles. Women often wear an edged or embroidered jacket with buttons on the right side of the front and a pleated long skirt edged with cotton of various colors. Yi girls in Honghe area of Yunnan Province like to wear a kind of cockscomb-shaped embroidered hat, regarded as a symbol of good luck and happiness. Yi men generally wear a short black jacket with tight sleeves, buttons on the right, and long trousers with many pleats and loose bottoms; they like to use a long black or blue cloth for a head covering, tying it in an awl-like "hero knot" in the front. When the Yi people go out, they wear a sleeveless cloak woven with wool, which they can use as a quilt at night.
The Torchlight Festival is the grandest traditional festival of the Yi people, usually held around the 24th day of June in the lunar calendar. The people hold torches while singing and dancing in their festive attire, forming a long fiery dragon that bathes villages in a crimson glow. Traditionally, people lit torches to drive away pests and protect crops, and during this festival, the Yi also kill chickens and goats to pray for a good harvest.
During the long process of historical development, the Yi people have created a diversified culture. "A'xi Dancing Under the Moon" is a famous Yi dance; a long narrative poem Ashima which circulates throughout the country tells a touching story of a Yi girl Ashima. The Yi have also made unique contributions in the fields of astronomy, calendar, meteorology, and medicine. Legend has it that the White Medicinal Powder of Yunnan is compounded according to a secret recipe of a folk Yi doctor handed down in the family from generation to generation.