Diqing Culture

Ethnic culture in Diqing is rich and colorful. Diqing Prefecture has a long history of ethnic culture. The inherent relationship between ethnic culture, folk belief and religious belief, as well as the difference of multi-ethnic life and settlement style, left many cultural relics and monuments, ancient villages and towns, etc., these humanistic resources are often the most direct spatial carrier carrying ethnic culture and intangible cultural heritage.

History of Diqing

Diqing means "auspicious place" in Tibetan; Shangri-la is also Tibetan language, which means "sun and moon in the heart". In his 1933 novel Lost Horizon, James Hilton first described Shangri-la, a place of eternal peace and tranquility among the mountains of the east. Its history can be traced back to the Han dynasty, until the establishment of Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture on September 13, 1957, which was managed by Lijiang prefecture. In August 1973, Diqing Tibetan autonomous prefecture was directly under the province's jurisdiction.

More History of Diqing

Religion Culture

The religion of Diqing prefecture is mainly Tibetan Buddhism, and many religions and sects coexist. Tibetan Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, Islam, Dongba religion, Taoism and primitive religions live in harmony here, forming a mysterious and profound hall of religious culture. The unique religious culture of Diqing Shangri-la lies not only in its diversity, but also in its inclusiveness and integration. It is this co-existence and integration that makes this plateau, with a total area of more than 23,000 square kilometers, the holy land where gods coexist. The Dagui mountain in Shangri-la urban area owns both Taoist temple and Buddhist temple. The first floor of the Shouguo temple is dedicated to Tibetan buddhist gods and bodhisattvas, while the second floor is the drawing of the Eight Immortals Crossing the Sea. Outside the Deqin Cizhong cathedral church, which is composed of Chinese and western cultures, is the Marnyi Stone of Tibetan Buddhism. Taoism was introduced into Diqing in the late Ming and early Qing with the immigration of the Han nationality. In addition, Diqing has Bimo religion of Yi and other primitive religions of nature worship. 

Tibetan Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism is a wonder in the history of human civilization, an important part of the traditional culture of the Chinese nation, and a collection of the essence of architecture, sculpture, painting, writing, music, dance, folk customs and other aspects. The Tibetan Buddhism that spreads in Diqing includes Nyingma, Kargyu, Gelug school and so on. Tibetan Buddhism is the main religious culture in Diqing shangri-la.

Dongba Religion

Dongba religion is the main part of Dongba culture which is famous in the world. It is the Naxi religion based on the ancient primitive religion of the Naxi ethnic group and some rituals of Tibetan bon religion. The Dongba scriptures were recorded in hieroglyphic, Dongba script, which is one of the oldest characters to date. There are no fixed temples in Dongba religion, which takes ancestor worship, ghost and god worship and nature worship as its basic contents, and worship to heaven, funeral ceremony, exorcism of ghosts, divination and other activities as its main forms of expression. Dongba religion originated in Sanba Naxi township of Shangri-la city.


Christianity was introduced into Diqing in the early 20th century, mainly spreading and developing in Lisu settlements along the Lancang river. In order to preach in lisu minority of Nu river and Diqing, British missionaries translated the bible in Lisu characters. Along with the promotion of Lisu characters, Christianity in Lisu region quickly spread.


Catholicism was introduced to Diqing after 1848. After the collision of Chinese and western ideas, it was inherited in the Lancang river valley area. With the passing of time, the figure of missionary at that time has already disappeared. However, the believers in the Lancang valley are still writing the bible in the beautiful Tibetan language and reciting the hymn to the Lord over and over again in the fair-sounding Tibetan language.

Diqing Architecture Culture

The buildings in Diqing are divided into three systems according to the climate and environment: warm and hot valley, dry and hot valley, and high and cold dam area. There are residential blockhouses and wood-frame houses of Tibetan civil structure, wooden and bamboo plank houses in the mountains of Lisu and Naxi, as well as "Three Houses and One Screen Wall" and "Four Houses and Five Courtyard" folk houses of Han, Bai and Naxi, etc. Songzanlin monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist temple in Yunnan, with grand scale and exquisite workmanship. The local architectural complexes of various ethnic groups scattered like pearls in the grasslands and valleys reflect the secular living concept of various ethnic groups and the diversity of local culture. These ethnic architectures not only reflect the production technology level of different ehtnic groups, but also their beliefs and habits to different degrees.

Ethnic Songs and Dances

The thoughts, feelings and rich social life of all ethnic groups in Diqing prefecture are often reflected in the folk songs and dances. When entertaining, working, worshipping god, weddings and funerals, greeting and seeing off guests, unique songs and dances are all indispensable forms of expression. The unique singing and dancing culture popular in Diqing includes Xianzi dance, Guozhuang dance and Reba dance of Tibetan, A Chi Mu Gua(阿尺木刮) of Lisu, Akabala(阿卡巴拉) of Naxi, and Da Ci Xi(大祠戏) of Han flowing from the central plains. In addition, there are numerous folk songs spread among various ethnic groups in Diqing, including work songs(Chongqiang songs舂墙歌, Liniu songs犁牛调, harvest songs, driving horse songs) and love songs, etc.

Ethnic Groups in Diqing

There are 25 ethnic groups in Diqing prefecture, among which ethnic groups with a population of more than 1000 include Tibetan, Lisu, Naxi, Han, Bai, Hui, Yi, Miao and Pumi. Tibetan people account for anout 36% of the total population. Ethnic minorities have maintained their ethnic characteristics and formed their unique customs in their traditional customs of life style, costumes, residential buildings and wedding customs. And there are 3 ethnic town in Diqing, namely, Sanba Naxi Ethnic Town(三坝纳西族乡), Xiaruo Lisu Ethnic Town(霞若傈僳族乡) and Tuoding Lisu Ethnic Town(拖顶傈僳族乡).

Traditional Ethnic Villages in Diqing

Traditional Chinese villages generally refer to villages that are formed earlier, have rich cultural and natural resources, have certain historical, cultural, economic, and social values ​​and should be protected. According to the published list of traditional Chinese villages, Diqing currently has 21 villages on the list. Here below are some of them.

Read More Traditional Ethnic Villages List in Yunnan Province and Traditional Ethnic Villages in Diqing.

Ethnic Festivals in Diqing

There are 25 ethnic groups in Diqing prefecture, including Tibetan, Naxi, Lisu and other ethnic groups. As the prominent ethnic minority inhabited in Diqing prefecture, Tibetan Ethnic Minority created brilliant culture and customs, among which the unique traditional festivals of Tibetan people enjoy good fame and attract tourists home and abroad.

Intangible Cultural Heritages and Its Inheritors in Diqing

With a large number of ethnic minorities, Diqing has many intangible cultural heritages with ethnic characteristics, including Tibetan Guozhuang Dance, Reba dance and Tibetan Oral Epic King Gesar, etc. Every intangible cultural heritage has its inheritors, who play a vital role in the promotion and inheritance of culture.

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Culture Tours Including Diqing

During the tour, tourists can experience the Tibetan Buddhism culture in the temples and monasteries of Diqing, or pay a visit to Tibetan villages to learn more Tibetan culture and taste famous Tibetan food.

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