Dali Culture

Dali Ethnic culture is very colorful. There are 13 ethnic groups in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, namely, Han, Bai, Yi, Hui, Lisu, Miao, Naxi, Zhuang, Tibetan, Blang, Lahu, Achang, Dai and other ethnic groups. Folk oral literature and local ethnic traditions are outstanding features of the so-called 'Erhai Culture'. There are countless legends and myths about the Dragon King, old poems of ethnic favor, music, paintings, residential houses, religions, costumes and festivals. Although influenced by Indian and Chinese culture during Nanzhao and Dali periods, the ethnicity retains a strong uniqueness that persists to this day.

History of Dali

Dali has a long and rather glorious history. In 738, the Nanzhao Kingdom was established with Dali as its capital and covered a large area of Yunnan and northern Burma and parts of Sichuan and Guizhou. The original capital of the Nanzhao Kingdom was located in Weishan (within Dali Prefecture) and later moved to site around Erhai Lake. The conquered territories were quite large and remained so for a long time. The kingdom survived almost 200 years and had 13 kings before collapsing. After several decades of chaos the Kingdom of Dali emerged in 937.

More about History of Dali.

Religion Culture

There are many different religious groups found in Dali; Confucianism, Daoism (Taoism), Buddhism, Islam, Christianity and Popular Folk Religion. Buddhism and Islam have the biggest followers in Dali.


Dali is regarded as an elysian Buddha land, an area in the southwest where Buddhism was introduced first a long time ago. Buddhism here was a hybrid of different Buddhist sects from India, Central China, and Tibet with local culture. After the middle period of the Nanzhao Kingdom, Buddhism became the state religion. There are many Buddhist sights in the area that include pagodas, grottoes, temples and Buddhist mountains. Buddhism reached its highest popularity in the city during the reign of Nanzhao and Dali. Nine of the entire twenty-two emperors of Dali State became monks in Chongsheng Temple.

More about Temples in Dali.


In recent years, with the implementation of ethnic policies, most mosques around the country have been repaired or rebuilt. At present, there are 18 mosques in 14 Hui nationality natural villages in Dali City. The  Ximen Mosque in Dali, built in the 11th Year of Zhiyuan of Yuanshizhu Emperor in Yuan Dynasty(1274), is one of them. If you are a muslim, it is very convenient to find a mosque to pray.

More about Mosques in Dali.

Christianism and Catholicism

Christianism and Catholicism were accompanied by the modern imperialist aggression against China into the Dali area. Christianism and Catholicism, under the support of the imperialist powers, spread in the Dali area with strong adaption and a greater impact on the material and spiritual life of local people.

Religion Name Address
Catholicism Catholic Church of Dali Old Town No. 6 Xinmin Road, Dali Ancient Town, Dali(大理市大理古城新民路6号)
Catholicism Catholic Church in Xiaguan Town Xiaguan Town, Dali City(大理市下关镇)
Catholicism Xiaolongtan Catholic Church Xiaolongtan Village, Lijiao Town, Binchuan County(宾川县力角镇小龙潭村)
Christianism Christian Church in Dali Ancient Town No. 122 Pingdeng Road, Dali Ancient Town(大理古城平等路122号)
Christianism Christian Church in Xiaguan Town No. 30 Tianbao Street, Xiaguan Town, Dali City(大理市下关镇天宝街30号)
Christianism Christian Church in Xiaguan Town No. 30 Tianbao Street, Xiaguan Town, Dali City(大理市下关镇天宝街30号)
Christianism Fengyi Christian Church Fengnan Road, Fengming Village, Fengyi Town(凤仪镇凤鸣村凤南路)


Taoism was introduced to Yunnan when it was created, which had little impact at first. In the Tang Dynasty, the Taoism that was introduced to Yunnan combined with the witchcraft of the Yi people in Yunnan, and developed rapidly in Weishan of Dali. Taoism has a great influence on the various ethnic groups in West Yunnan. The Benzhu worship of the Bai people, etc. are all related to Taoism.

Name Address
San Qing Dian Taoist Temple in Weibaoshan Mountain Weibaoshan Scenic Zone, Weishan County(巍山县巍宝山风景区)
San Huang Dian Taoist Temple in Weibaoshan Mountain Weibaoshan Scenic Zone, Weishan County(巍山县巍宝山风景区)
Yonghe Wuli Temple Yonghe Yingweizhong Village, Yongjian Town, Weishan County(巍山县永建镇永和营尾中村)
Beimang Xianglong Temple Nanshan Beimang Village, Nanzhao Town, Weishan County(巍山县南诏镇南山贝忙村)
Chaketang Sanguan Temple Zhonghe Chaketang, Weibaoshan Township, Weishan County(巍山县巍宝山乡中和茶克塘)

Dali Architecture Culture

According to literature, Dali Ancient Town was a gateway to the Silk Road in Southwest China, and also served as a seat of government and a major military barracks for Yunnan Province in ancient times. There were four city gates facing West, East, North and South, upon which a gate tower set. Four further towers were also placed at the four corners of the city wall. As they underwent many phases of prosperity as well as decline, only the city bases remained till today. The North and the South Towers were restored in 1982.

Dali Ancient Town is famous for traditional Bai-style architecture.The Bai is one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People’s Republic of China. Traditional Bai-style dwelling consists of three houses forming a “U” and a fourth wall as a screen with a courtyard in the middle. The houses are usually built with brick and wood, and the main room is in the middle, facing the screen wall. The screen wall is built with brick and stone. There’s a practical use for that wall. When the sun shines on the screen wall in the afternoon, the sunlight is reflected back to the courtyard, thus illuminating the whole area.

Read more: House Painting of Bai Ethnic Minority in Dali

Dali Cuisine Culture

Rooted deeply in the soil of Buddhism cuisine and Han People’s cuisine, Bai Cuisine is characterized by spicy, sour and sweet flavor. The hospitable Bai People are good at making ham and sausage. Three Course Tea, one famous tea ceremony, is practiced by Bai People.

Dali Folk Art


The Bai music-Dongjing Ancient Music(洞经古乐) was originally a kind of Taoist music. In the Ming Dynasty, it was introduced from the inland to the southwest. Later, in the long history of evolution, this Taoist music was gradually accepted by the southwestern ethnic minorities, and gradually integrated into the national music, and finally formed Dongjing Ancient Music with ethnic characteristics. Weishan Dongjing Music and Dali Dongjing Music are two branches of Dongjing Music. The former one is integrated into the classical and solemnity of Nanzhao music; the later one is integrated into the beauty and pleasantness of Bai folk music.

Folk Art Forms

Bai Tune(白族调)

The Bai tune is a kind of tune sung by Bai nationality people in song and dance. They sing in the Bai dialect, which has a kind of strong life atmosphere.

Chanting Tune(诵经调)

The chanting tune is the tune of the Bai people who are doing the Benzhu worship. The main instruments are wooden fish, etc. The tune is solemn and harmonious.


The Benziqu is actually a kind of Bai tune, divided into solo and chorus. When solo, in addition to the first paragraph, the second paragraph is often repeated indefinitely, only adjusting the rhythm and emotions slightly. When chorus, eight sentences per person are repeated.

“Chuichui Qiang” Drama(吹吹腔)

The bench play, the common name of “Chuichui Qiang” Drama, is one of the ancient dramas of the Bai people. The “Chuichui Qiang” Drama in south of Dali is called the Southern School, and the north is called the Northern School. Both schools have their own characteristics. The “Chuichui Qiang” Drama pays attention to the rhythm, with diverse style, vivid performance, and strong local color.

Traditional Handicraft


Tie-dyeing is a traditional handicraft of the Bai minority and has a long history. Because the cotton cloth is bundled, different patterns will be created. Therefore, the tie-dyeing method is diverse, and the products are very rich, such as tablecloths, curtains, clothing, ethnic bags, hats, etc.

More about Tie-dyeing Skills of Bai Ethnic Minority in Dali

Jianchuan Wooden Carving(剑川木雕)

The Jianchuan wood carving workmanship is fine with diverse shapes, vivid and beautiful images, hard and flexible texture. It is the essence of all kinds of wood carvings in Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Ethnic Groups in Dali

There are 13 ethnic groups in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, namely, Han, Bai, Yi, Hui, Lisu, Miao, Naxi, Zhuang, Tibetan, Blang, Lahu, Achang, Dai and other ethnic groups. There are 8 ethnic groups with less population, namely, Lisu, Miao, Dai, Achang, Zhuang, Tibetan, Blang, and Lahu.

Ethnic Towns in Dali

Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture has jurisdiction over 3 autonomous counties and 9 ethnic townships, namely,

Read more:

Traditional Ethnic Villages in Dali

More about Traditional Ethnic Villages in Dali.

Ethnic Festivals

Dali Festivals and Activities are very colorful and Dali is the best place to take a festival tour. The torch festival of Yi, the march street and "Rao San Ling(绕三灵)" of Bai, the water-splashing festival of Dai, the "Cai Hua Shan" of Miao, and the Daogan festival of Lisu have long enjoyed great fame and colorful festival activities. Every time when festival, the masses of all ethnic groups will wear their own handmade embroidery and dyed ethnic costumes, holding wrestling, bullfighting, singing and other activities.

Intangible Cultural Heritages and Inheritors in Dali

With a large number of ethnic minorities, Dali has many intangible cultural heritages with ethnic characteristics, such as Tie-dyeing Skills of Bai Ethnic Minority in Dali, Raosanling Ceremony of Bai Ethnic Minority in Dali. Every intangible cultural heritage has its inheritors, who play a vital role in the promotion and inheritance of culture.

Culture Tours Including Dali

We provides all kinds of culture tours, including Tea Culture Tours, Muslim Culture Tours, Dali Education Tours, etc.  You can choose different themes to discover ancient Dian culture, taste the famous Pu'er tea and Dianhong black tea, or learn about the history of Islam in China that dates back to the Yuan Dynasty.

Tea Culture Tours

Minority Festival Tours

Yunnan Flowers Tours

Dali Education Tour Including Dali