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Dongba Culture

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Dongba is the local language which means “wise man”. It is given as a title to those who sometimes act as priests or herbal doctors. They inherit the knowledge of the Dongba Religion which is a combination of Tibetan Buddhism and Taoism from generations to generations, and they know how to read and write in Dongba Pictographs, which are said to be the “only living pictographs” in the world. The religion emphasizes the harmony between humans and nature. Dongba ancient literature manuscripts was designated as World's Memory Register in 2003.

Edit by: Ada

The divinity on the plateau fosters the people living there with artistic quality and poetic mind. Besides poetry, calligraphy and painting, the artistic skill that seems to be born with the people there is music.

Naxi (also spelt Nakhi and Nahi) ancient music is a kind of classic music widely popular with the Naxi minority. The mixture of holy tune of Daoist, Confucians ceremonies and the literary lyric and topics from poets in Chinese Tang and Song dynasty comes as the feature and uniqueness of this music. It was praised by the contemporary is the "living fossil of music".

Naxi ancient music is the crystal of plural cultures, composed of "Baisha Fine Music" (Baisha Xiyue), "Dong Jing Music" and "Huang Jing Music" (the "Huang Jing" music has become extinct). Taking flute, shawm, Chinese lute, plectrum, and zither as the main instruments, Naxi music was regarded as the "typical Chinese classical music" and "symphonies of Chinese style" by some foreign experts. Interestingly, the music from Central Plains are reserved and kept alive as a result of geographical isolation while its inland counterpart was transformed and lost during the changing history.

Baisha Fine Music: Baisha Fine Music is one of the few large-scale classic orchestral music in ancient China. Passed down as the "Musical Legacy of the Yuan dynasty", it consists of 24 "qupai" (music tune), which is antiquated, simple and elegant in style, lofty and dynamic in character. It is said that when Kublai Khan was on his expedition to Dali, he once got the help from Mailiang, the leader of the Naxi people in Lijiang. On his departure, he left to him half a band and the music score as a gift. So Baisha

Fine Music also name "Honoraria on Departure".

Dong Jing Music: It is a kind of Daoist music widely spread among Naxi people. Since the Ming and Qing dynasties, it was gradually introduced to Yunnan from the Central Plains, and deeply root in the cultural circle in Naxi people. For a long period of time, the Naxi people have added some styles and skills for playing their local folk songs when they played Dong Jing music, so that the music has "Naxi musical tone".

After Dong Jing Music was disseminated to Lijiang, for quite a long period of time, it was confined to the gentlemen. Only gentlemen could join the "Dong Jing concert". But the Naxi people are born with music nature, such a stereotyped shackle was broken.

Today, folk musicians have already make Dong Jing Music into folk world. There are at least four full orchestras of elderly men in and around Lijiang, and within the county there are scores of folk bands playing the ancient music which has been blended with Naxi flavor.


Naxi Ancient Music

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photo of Naxi Ancient Music
Photo By: Vincent
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Edit by: Vincent
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