Yuanyang Hani Rice Terraces Culture

Indigenous ethnic groups have created their own traditional ethnic cultures in Yuanyang, and have formed distinctive cultural relics, historical relics, residential architectures, costumes, diet and instruments, etc. So culture in Yuanyang is diverse and colorful. Yuanyang is a county mainly inhabited by Hani people. Hani culture includes ecological culture marked by forest, farming culture marked by rice terraces, food culture characterized by Long Street Banquet, architectural culture marked by mushroom house, costume culture dominated by apparel embroidery, and festival culture marked by Kuzhazha festival.

History of Yuanyang

Honghe is one of the birthplace of south Yunnan culture. Honghe has a long and profound history, the colorful ethnic culture and customs. Within the territory, the central plains culture and the frontier culture merge together, and the eastern and western culture collide in modern times, giving birth to the peculiar and gorgeous cultural landscape.

Yuanyang is located in the south of Yuanjiang river, the upper reaches of the red river, so it got this name. Before 109 BC, today's Yuanyang county was the dependency of Mengdaguang(勐达光)/Ailao Kingdom. After experiencing dynasties, until May 7, 1951, the Yuanyang county was established. In 1954, Yuanyang county was under the jurisdiction of Honghe Hani autonomous region, and in 1957, was under the jurisdiction of Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture. The seat of government is in Xinjie town. Since the 1980s, the popularity of Yuanyang Hani rice terraces has been increasing day by day, from the enclosed Ailao mountain to the whole country and even the world. Experts, scholars and tourists from home and abroad were pouring in. On June 22, 2013, the 37th world heritage conference held in phnom penh, capital of Cambodia, approved the application of Yuanyang Hani rice terraces in Yunnan province to the UNESCO world heritage list. Celebrations were held in Yuanyang county, Yunnan province. The largest and most concentrated three areas of the Hani Terrace are in Yuanyang County, including Laohuzui, Bada and Duoyishu.

More Yuanyang County History

Religion Culture

Honghe prefecture is one of the main inhabited areas of Hani and Yi ethnic groups in China and also one of the areas where Hui people are relatively concentrated in Yunnan province. Therefore, there are quite a lot mosques in honghe, mainly distributed in GejiuLuxi County and Mile. And Yuanyang county has few temples and mosques. 

Hani culture includes the religious culture marked by beyma(贝玛). Beyma was the sorcerer of the Hani people in Yunnan. Hani people believe in polytheism and ancestor worship, and their sacrifices are presided over by wizards, known as "Beyma" or "Nima". In the social system of Hani people, Beyma is not only the inheritor of Hani culture, but also a doctor and religious worshipper. The Hani people have always respected and feared the beyma because they believe Beyma possesses powers that ordinary people do not.

House Building of Hani 

Referring to Hani ethnic minority, the first thing that comes to mind is the mushroom house, and then the clay-roof house(土掌房). They are an important expression of Hani traditional architecture. Mushroom house is not only a place to live, but also a manifestation of Hani ecological culture. Honghe prefecture has a large number of ethnic groups, each with its own characteristics: Dai people mainly live in the hot river valley and plain area, the alpine mountains are inhabited by Miao and Yao people, and the Hani and Yi people live in the pleasantly cool mid-levels. Hani ethnic minority includes various branches, the house shape is also different, generally there are thatched cottage, mushroom house, clay-roof house, stilt house, tile-roofed house and so on. Among them, the mushroom house made of thatch is the most traditional and common house building, and the mushroom house is also the architectural style with the most profound Hani culture. It got the name because the outside of the house looks like the mushroom in the mountains.

Terraced Culture in Yuanyang

Yuanyang Hani rice terraces is the core area of Honghe Hani rice terraces, is the typical representative of terraced culture. Reclaiming terraces in the mountains is the specialty of the Hani ethnic minority and has been a tradition for thousands of years. After experiencing more than 1300 years, Hani people have created the large-scale Hani terraced fields by taking advantage of the geographical and climatic conditions of "four seasons in one mountain and different weathers every ten miles" in the southwest plateau, have built the farming pattern of "forest, villages, rice terraces, rivers", forming the core of terraced culture. Honghe prefecture is featuring high mountains and deep valleys, from the valley to the top of the mountain, there appears the three-dimensional climate of tropical, subtropical, temperate zong, frigid zone. The virtuous circle of "forest, village, terrace fields, rivers" has formed the agricultural ecosystem of Hani wisdom, the high coordination between man and nature, is the product of the wonderful combination of culture and nature.

Ethnic Groups

There are seven indigenous peoples in Yuanyang county, including Hani, Yi, Han, Dai, Miao, Yao and Zhuang. Among them, Han people account for about 12%, minority people take up around 88% of total population and Hani people are 54% of the total population.

Traditional Ethnic Villages in Yuanyang

According to the list of traditional Chinese villages, there are many traditional ethnic villages in Yuanyang. Here below are several of them. 

  • Azheke Village of Xinjie Town in Yuanyang County, Honghe红河州元阳县新街镇爱春村委会阿者科村
  • Qingkou Village of Xinjie Town in Yuanyang County, Honghe红河州元阳县新街镇箐口村
  • Habo Village of Ezha Township in Yuanyang County, Honghe红河州元阳县俄扎乡哈播村
  • Quanfuzhuang Village of Xinjie Town in Yuanyang County, Honghe红河州元阳县新街镇全福庄村
  • Aichun Village of Xinjie Town in Yuanyang County, Honghe红河州元阳县新街镇爱春村
  • Pugao Laozhai Village of Xinjie Town in Yuanyang County, Honghe红河州元阳县新街镇普高老寨

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Ethnic Festivals

There are many ethnic festivals in Yuanyang, including Angmatu Festival, Kaiyangmen Festival(开秧门) and Kuzhazha Festival of Hani, Torch Festival of Yi, Huashan Festival(花山节) of Miao, Panwang Festival of Yao, Water Splashing Festival of Dai and Double Third Day(三月三) and so on. But the most distinctive one is the long street banquet in Habo villages and other places. At that time, every family prepares rich food and then sets up long tables along the street for the whole village to share and guests from outside can also eat together.The length of the banquet can reach several hundred meters, and the scene is very spectacular.

Intangible Cultural Heritages and its Heritors in Yuanyang

With a large number of ethnic minorities, especially Hani people, Yuanyang has intangible cultural heritages with strong Hani characteristics, including AngMaTu Festival of Hani Ethnic MinorityHani Polyphonic Folk Song and four seasons production ditties, 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 Yuanyang

With many typical Hani festivals in Yuanyang, our Yuanyang rice terraces culture tours are mainly festival tours. During the tour, you can meet Hani culture in local Hani villages and Long Street Banquet, and visit local ethnic markets to learn diverse ethnic cultures.