Lahu New year - Lancang & Ximeng

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February 18th 2013
Published: February 19th 2013
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Lahu was the main theme of my newyear tour this year. I picked the Lancang region as they said the Lahu has a series of action during the Chinese newyear period. to avoided being stuck in other places as bus services were limited around newyear time, those were the specific moment greedy bus drivers willing to gave up overloaded their bus with human flesh!I arrived Lancang 2 days before new year. Thank god...the renovating work had been completed!the town is more tidy and less dusty. a new quarter had been created around the river side and seem like going to expand more in the future. it should provide more lodging choice on arrival Iater. Everyday seem like market day as newyear was near. people were shopping crazy, brough in more than they need. they argued for 10 cents in normal day but happily paid double or even triple for the same thing during this time!Here...rice cake, sugar cane, sunflower seed, orange and all sort of sweets are the must in their shopping list. and of cracker and explosive to filled up home arsenal!I never like fire cracker even when I was a kid. but the chinese are crazy about it, I didn't mind people play it a more civilized manner!they just lited it wherever they like without care other people might walk pass or in the nearby location. beside...nowaday those explosive are really powerful, the nosie could compared with real explosion that one could feel the vibrating sensation. I was scared to death while walking the street at night, you never know where the explosion came from, even it was far away and it just felt like nearby. as usual...the striking noise waving out all through the night on newyear eve, that actually created a misty morning in town that we wouldn't able to see the sun until after 11. The newyear program in town was as usual and standard, I didn't expected anything...the performance in the new square provided extra entertainment for the local but...was less crowded than I expected. on the 3rd day of newyear villages from nearby county will come to celebrated an overnight event in town. this year a Lahu and a Wa village came to attended, together with the Aini(Ahka), the costume scene were plentiful, especailly the Aini's in ordinary day women wear it out but without many decorate, and looked at the Lahu, they all wearing new dress. those are one-a-year outfit, at least you won't see any Lahu women wearing costume in normal day. In tradition they said the Lahu celebrated the newyear until the 15th day, with dance in different village each day, so I followed the info to Old Ximeng - Mengka as they said here I might able to enjoy the real Lahu hospitality. tried to stop in Ximeng for a day to see if any interest thing going on, but was scared away by the steep room fare...200 for a normal 50 kuai room!“you won't find any left by the end of the afternoon!” the reception said. I opted for Mengka only 40km further instead. no tourists will stay in Mengka, sometimes they drove up here and a quick look around and....left!tourists prefered to sleep in Ximeng, visit and attended those fake ceremony act presented inside the theme park. those drama the official claimed tradition!people always said they love their culture and live the tradional life(mostly in front of the camera), perhaps their life only confined inside the play!but in real life??I doubt!everything is an act...look at all those houses along the highway where people could see from their car window, all coverted into timbre wood and A-shape roof, mean traditional minority culture in this country, no need to have and contents as long as there is an appearances!I always wondered why...thing were not dead, many tradition are still alive, but they just abandon it. they prefer to put them into the museum!Room rate are the same in Mengka as I was there 2 years ago. I even upgraded myself into a 50 yuan room as I would be here for a week...I wanted a little more comfort. Mengka town hadn't change as well, everything were exactly what I could remembered. a quick enquire but no feed one know about any dance in the village. tradition in the info doesn't mean it will be tradition in real life...was it?even in this part of non-touristic location?After another day digging, find the right person then....bang...really everyday there are dance in different villages, mostly in Nankan and Lisuo township where the Lahu are located. my problem I can get there?there wasn't any regular transpotation even in normal time. not mention now during newyear. cheap cheap me will not dare to rent his own car!people were more than willing to help me, on my 4th day in town, someone told me local vendor with a truck will go to Laba village for the dance, I could go there and back with them. I was more than happy even mean I need to go there earlier than usual and back bit late. still....I find what I came looking for!Laba was about 20km from Mengka belong to Lisuo township. a small Lahu village surround by pretty landscape, but seem like it was inside the border area where we need to pass a check point, but being inside a local truck that no one came bother to check. I kept myself inside the car and got through. so I wasn't dare to hike around the area even I was far too early to get to the dancing ground. Being the only figure that looked different from the rest(especailly when they saw my camera). but I guessed it wouldn't be much different for a stranger to be invited into their home here(I find the Lahu are rather friendly and easy going). I got lead into the house of local chief where they were sharing foods before a ceremony, you couldn't do anything with an empty stomach right!of course I got to ate as well even it was just a single plate of porkmeat, it was fresh cut out and cooked, I saw people carried their share back to their their house once I arrived in the village. probably they just slaughter a pig and each family in the village got a share, it was a very common act in the minority world, the pig had been blessed and honored by their ancestor, so each family got one part for good luck. after the meal, man prepared the drum and women got dressed, a table had been set inside the chief's house decorated with different ingredients...all sort of wheat and rice, meat and drinks, on the selected moment those participants started to dance and chanting around the table, praising their ancestor and asking for protection and a good season. drinks were passing a few rounds. then they carried the table out to the open playground where the dance would begin. men showup with their Lusheng, together with the drumer they lead the crowds dance around the table which now acted as the altar. how similar are these between different minority group...dancing in a circular route. I guessed you had to be growing up in this environment and culture to enjoy and understood. could one able to keep dancing under the hot sun for so long. might say the passing out alcohol and cigarette help, but what about the women then?anyways...they really did enjoying themselve!then a village of Wa arrived, a guest team came visited together with their drum, soon they held their circular formation and heat the beat up even more.“it is our tradition to pay visit to other village with dancing team” someone told me. Later they began preformance with pop music switching between group of Lahu and Wa women after received great applause by the local. I hate those communist red music and song when in minority function, aren't this system made not enough damage to their culture? but strangely this time when the India rhythm came along with the Wa dance, it actually quite suit the Wa's wild images, the flipping arm, the vibrating of the body....the dark skin....its made wonder!so....the dance went on until after 5pm and people started to thin out, but still...some presisted....the drum beating trail behind our truck when we drove off after 6pm. I enjoy the day even it was just a simple celebrating event. as there was no stupid government people coming to gave stupid speech and occupied the front seat with their big fat ass!“going to Lisuo tomorrow with us for another dance?” the driver asked me when back to the guesthouse. “I think about it” I answer... got enough I guess.

On the 9th day of newyear is the day to worship Sanfozu, a temple ruin on the hill behind Mengka, the orginal temple was built on the year 1847 by a local saint Zhuyaxai, said Buddhism had been teach and spread in the area, but I hadn't seen any sign of religious so far, same like the temple...totally destory and erased by the devilish communist party during cultural revolution. In the old day the temple ground was a place for different tribal came for conference and gathering. and in tradition the Lahu would lead a function on the 9th day of newyear, and finished up with an over night event on the 15th day of newyear. So today the small hilltop had been patched up with vendors ready for business. Lahu from the area will came to pay respect and gave offering to Sanfozu. the temple ground was looked after by a family claimed to be the descendant from the royalty of the Lahu Kingdom, a Princess of Lahu, coming down generation after generation on the female side of the family. and this princess must be rather respect by the Lahu people, as one of the main purpose for today event was to get the white-thread from the princess. said it would bring good luck and health. I saw they all fight their way in for it, and wasn't for need to swap it either with money or offering(rice-cake or tree bark). The temple ruin was a bit further up from the festival ground, now stood a simple plywood hut, one need to disarmed any leather garment before enter the temple ground, well....seem sacred!“what kind of buddha is worship inside” I asked someone. there was no pacific answer only said it is a “deity”!caused more curious out from me. the ceremony was simple, shamen chanting inside the plywood hut while all the others kneel outside, whenever drum announced from inside the temple....people bowed. when the ceremony completed, they all started dance again on the temple ground. I couldn't stand not knowing which deity dominated the temple, after got an “ok” nod from one of the guy there I went to the opened door, I was shocked by what I see....guessed what....there was no statue of any kind inside, on the altar above all the offerings was an image of one of the nastiest devil of the 20th century...Mao!Chairman Mao!!what the hell's going on?!?!I lost my words!anyways...I would say people are more interest in getting the white-thread for today event and of!

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20th February 2013

Hi from the Belgian people, Helena and Jeff It was great to meet you at the Lancang festival. Always looking forward to your next blog-entry. During our Yunnan-travels, your blog was a sort of a "guide-line" with very good information. As real Belgians, next time we'll pay you a beer, OK? Untill we meet again. Good luck with all you travel-plans.
25th February 2013

hey are you guys doing? didn't see you in Ximeng. ok...noted it...I mean the beer..ahahaaa... see you

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