The Nashi people 纳西族


Chinese Name: 纳西族

English Name: The Nashi people, The Naxi nationality

Languages: Nashi language 纳西语, Chinese 汉语

Total population: 3.26*105 (China mainland 2022)

Distribution: Most distributed in Lijiang, Yunnan

The Nashi people  纳西族
The Nashi people 纳西族

Brief introduction

The Nashi people 纳西族 is one of the 56 ethnic groups in China and one of the unique ethnic groups in Yunnan. Most of them live in Lijiang City 丽江市, Yunnan Province. The Nashi people have their own national language, which belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family 汉藏语系. Family organisations are common among the Naxi people. They are a group of ethnic groups with a relatively high degree of settlement and are deeply influenced by the Han culture.

The Nashi people  纳西族
Naxi script 纳西文字

The history of the Nashi people

The origin of the Nashi is believed by scholars to originate from the ancient Qiang people who lived in China in ancient times. With the continuous discovery of archaeological objects in the distribution areas of the Naxi people, some scholars have put forward the view that the Naxi people are formed by the integration of the ancient Qiang people who migrated south and the indigenous people in the current residence.

The religion of the Nashi people

The Naxi people are a multi-religious ethnic group. They not only believe in their own native religion, Dongba 东巴教, but also believe in Tibetan Buddhism 藏传佛教, Chinese Buddhism and Taoism 道教. Most believers are Dongba. Dongba religion has a significant impact on the social life, national spirit, and cultural customs of the Naxi people. It is the backbone of the multi-religious beliefs of the Naxi people. After that, in different historical periods, it gradually absorbed some contents of Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, etc., and formed a unique ethnic religious form.

The Nashi people  纳西族
Dongba 东巴

The Cultures of the Nashi people

Nashi costumes 纳西族服饰

The clothing of Naxi men in Lijiang is the same as that of the local Han people 汉族. In the cold winter, they wear sheepskin shawls. In Shangri-La City 香格里拉, they wear long tunics, knee-length trousers, sheepskin pockets at the waist, and leggings. The clothing of Naxi women varies from region to region. Naxi women in Lijiang wear gowns with knee lengths, wide waists and oversized sleeves, plus waistcoats, pleated waistbands, long trousers and sheepskin shawls. Naxi women who live in Ninglang 宁蒗 wear short shirts, pleated skirts that can reach the ground, goatskin, blue cloth head scarves, earrings and bracelets made of gold, silver, jade, and stone.

The Nashi people  纳西族
Nashi costumes 纳西族服饰

On festivals, Naxi women wear traditional national costumes and their favourite costume—the seven-star shawl. This shawl is colourful and very beautiful. It is made of a whole piece of black sheepskin, with a 6 cm black woollen edge sewn on the upper part, the sun and moon patterns embroidered with silk thread on both shoulders and the “seven stars” arranged in sequence. This shawl symbolizes the hard work of Naxi women. Shawls are both decorative and very functional.

The Nashi people  纳西族
seven-star shawl 七星披肩

Nashi architecture 纳西族建筑

Since the Ming Dynasty 明朝, magnificent tile-roofed houses have been built among the Naxi people in Lijiang, but most of them are the residences and temples of the chieftains and chieftains. Since the Qing Dynasty 清朝, with the increase of cultural exchanges and the development of Naxi’s social economy and culture, the architectural techniques of Han, Bai, Tibetan and other nationalities have been continuously absorbed by the Naxi people, and a very distinctive residential courtyard has been produced.

The courtyard is the centre of the plane composition of the residential building. The floor is usually made of simple materials such as block stone, tile slag, and pebbles, which are paved into symbolic patterns according to the folk style, reflecting the fusion of multi-ethnic architectural arts. Among them, the old town of Lijiang 丽江古城 reflects the superb architectural art formed by the Nashi people.

The Nashi people  纳西族
the old town of Lijiang 丽江古城

The ancient city is located on a plateau at an altitude of 2,400 meters under the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain 玉龙雪峰, with a total area of 3.8 square kilometres. Sifang Street 四方街 is the centre of the ancient city, with four main roads extending in the shape of meridians. “The city depends on the water, and the water follows the city” is a major feature of the ancient city.

The Nashi people  纳西族
Sifang Street 四方街

There are 354 ancient stone bridges and wooden bridges of various shapes on top of many water flows, which makes the highest bridge density in China. The streets and alleys of the ancient city are all paved with red breccias, so the weather does not raise dust and the rain does not accumulate water.

Nashi Paintings and Murals 纳西族绘画与壁画

The Nashi wooden plaque painting has an inheritance relationship with the human-shaped wooden plaques in the Han Dynasty 汉朝 unearthed in Northwest China. Bamboo brush painting mainly refers to the pictures drawn with the pointed bamboo pen used to write the Dongba Sutra, including the cover of the classic book, the title page painting of the classic book, the title map, and illustrations, etc., both in line and in colour.

The Nashi people  纳西族
The Naxi wooden plaque painting 纳西族木匾画

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