Nujiang Culture

Nujiang culture boasts rich and colorful folk customs, particularly featured by the Daogan Festival of Lisu ethnic group and the Cattle-butchering custom of Dulong ethnic group. All ethnic groups have different religious beliefs. Animist religions, Lamaism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Christianity coexist in Nujiang.

History of Nujiang

In Han Dynasty, Nujiang submit to the Yuesui, Yizhou and Yongchang Prefecture. In Wei and Jin period, it was under the administration of Yongchang, Yunnan etc. During the Dali Kingdom, Lushui was a part of Shengxiang Prefecture. Nujiang Prefecture was set in August 23, 1954. in history, Nujiang people played the important roles in defensing and protecting Nujiang and themselves. For instance, people of Pianma fought bravely against the aggression of the British. The ethnic groups expelled French missionaries. In general, local people carry on their tradition generation by generation.

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Religion Culture

All ethnic groups in Nujiang have different religious beliefs. Primitive religions, Lamaism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Christianity coexist in Nujiang. Most of the ethnic population believes in Animist religion, while some of them believe in other religions. You may see many churches and temples in Nujiang, witnessing the wide spreading of the other religions.

Animist Religion

The majority of Lisu, Pumi, Dulong, Nu and Chashan people in Nujiang believe in Animist religion. In the past, they worshipped many gods, nature and a multitude of other things. This appeared to be a remnant of totemism. Religious professionals made a living by offering sacrifices to ghosts and fortune-telling. During the religious activities, animals were slaughtered and a large sum of money spent. In the middle of the 19th century, Christianity and Catholicism were spread into the area by Western missionaries.


Christianity spread along the Nujiang River in 1913 and in Lanping in 1929. The Christian ethnic groups in Nujiang mainly include Lisu, Nu, Dulong and Jingpo (Chashan people), with Lisu accounting for the highest proportion. At present, under the guidance of the religious policy, the pastors are carrying out various religious activities which are protected by national laws. According to statistics in 2000, there are 654 churches in Nujiang, with 88,981 followers.


Catholicism was introduced to Gongshan County in 1888 by the French Catholic priest Ren Anshou (任安守). In 1904, a church was built in Baihanluo that could hold more than 600 people to celebrate Mass. With the support of the Qing government, the Catholic group have developed rapidly. The Catholics are mainly Nu and Tibetan ethnic groups living in Gongshan county.


In 1773 AD, Lamaism was firstly introduced to Gongshan County. In 1825 AD, a Lama temple called "Puhua Temple" was built in Bingzhongluo. Since then, some Nu ethnic groups in Gongshan County have embraced Lamaism. Later, due to the impact of Catholicism, the followers of Lamaism increased slowly. The main Lamaism believers in Nujang are Nu ethnic group and Tibetans in Gongshan County.


Bai people in Jinding, Tongdian, Lajing, Yingpan, Laowo and Liuku Towns of Lanping County believe in Buddhism. The largest Buddhist temples in Nujiang include the "Jinji Temple" in Lanping and the "Yuantong Temple" in Lushui.

Ethnic Groups in Nujiang

In 2014, there were 12 major ethnic groups living in Nujiang, including Lisu, Bai, Pumi, Naxi, Dulong, Tibetan, Yi, Jingpo, Nu, Dai, Han, etc. The minority population is 158,344, accounting for 88.58% of the total population. The Lisu population is 109,833, accounting for 61.44% of the total population. There are 3 ethnic towns in Nujiang, namely  Laowo Bai Ethnic Town(老窝白族乡) and  Pihe Nu Ethnic Town (匹河怒族乡).

Traditional Ethnic Villages in Nujiang

If you are fan of ethnic culture in China, the traditional ethnic villages are places you shouldn't miss. Traveling to the traditional ethnic villages, you can explore the most authentic ethnic traditions which can't be seen anywhere else. Qiunatong Village, Wuli Village and Zhiziluo Village should be listed on the top of your ethnic culture tour plan.

More about Traditional Ethnic Villages in Nujiang 

Ethnic Characteristics

Lisu Ethnic Minority

Lisu is one of China's ethnic minorities. It originates from the northern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and is a transnational ethnic group of China, Myanmar, India and Thailand. It is mainly distributed in Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture and Weixi Lisu Autonomous County. Lisu people believe in primitive religion and worship nature. Some also believe in Christianity and Catholicism. Lisu women wear embroidered tops and linen skirts, and they like to wear red and white beads, coral, shells and other accessories. The men wear a short coat and a linen gown, with a sword on his left waist and an arrow bag on his right waist.

Dulong Ethnic Minority

Dulong is one of the ethnic minorities with a small population in China, formerly known as "Qiu people". It is distributed in the valley of the Dulong river valley in the Gongshan County, Yunnan province, located to the west of Gaoligong Mountain. There are now about 7,000 Dulong ethnic people. They use Dulong language without written form of it. The original group marriage custom of the Dulong people no longer exists. Both men and women keep their hair hangs down on shoulders, and girls have facial tattoo. Dulong people believe that all things have spirits, worship natural things and believe in ghosts.

Pumi Ethnic Minority

Pumi ethnic group is one of the ethnic groups with a long history and ancient culture in China. Lanping County of Nujiang Prefecture, Ninglang county of Lijiang City and Weixi County of Diqing Prefecture are the main settlements of Pumi ethnic group. The rest are distributed in Yunxian, Fengqing, Zhongdian of Yunnan province, Muli and Yanyuan counties in Sichuan Province.

Nu Ethnic Minority

Nu ethnic group is one of the ethnic groups with a small population and many languages in China. It is mainly distributed in Gongshan  County, Fugong County, Lushui County and Lanping County of Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture (Nujiang Prefecture for short). In addition, there are also a small number of Nu ethnic groups in Weixi County of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan and Chayu County in Tibet. Nu clan is the self-proclaimed of the Nu people, and there are also self-proclaimed lincluding "Nu Su", "A Nu" and "A Long", which are collectively referred to as Nu clan.

Ethnic Songs and Dances

The ethnic groups created music and dances of their own styles. The most famous ones in Nujiang include  Sixian Song and Dance of Pumi, Sishengbu Choir of Lisu, Dabiya Folk Dance of Nu, “Cuocuo” – Folk Dance of Pumi, Guozhuang dance and Reba dance of Tibetan, Achi Mugua Dance (阿尺木刮) of Lisu and Akabala(阿卡巴拉) of Naxi,etc. 

Ethnic Festivals in Nujiang

Discovering traditional ethnic festivals and activities is an important part of Yunnan travel. As the major minorities inhabited in Nujiang, Lishu, Dulong and Nu formed their distinctive ethnic culture which is also revealed in their ethnic festivals. Here are some major festivals and activities of Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture. They can help you learn more about local ethnic culture.

Intangible Cultural Heritages and the Inheritors in Nujiang

As of 2014, there are 12 major ethnic groups living in Lushui City, with rich and colorful ethnic cultures. Daogan Festival of Lisu and Folk Songs of Lisu ethic minority in Lushui City are included in the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection List. "Lisu Folk Songs", "Lisu Guake Dance", "Lisu Knife Village Festival" and "Hometown of Lisu Folk Song - Xinjian Village of Shangjiang Town" are included in the first batch of Intangible Cultural Heritage Protection List in Yunnan Province.

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Culture Tours Including Nujiang

During the Nujiang culture tours, tourists can experience the ethnic culture in Nujiang such as food culture, art culture and folk customs. etc. or pay a visit to traditional ethnic villages to learn more about local culture and taste authentic local food.

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Regional Culture