Hualian Festival of Yi Ethnic Minority in Puzhehei of Qiubei County, Wenshan

Chinese Name:丘北县普者黑花脸节/祭龙节
English Name: Hualian Festival (Face Painting Festival) of Yi Ethnic Minority in Puzhehei of Qiubei County, Wenshan

“Hualian Festival” is held annually on July 18th in Jiaolian Square, Qiubei County. It is one of the grandest festivals of the Yi ethnic group in Qiubei County.

The “Hualian Festival” is a unique traditional festival of the Yi ethnic group in Qiubei County, Yunnan Province, with a history of over a thousand years. People participate in the flower face smearing activity using locally-made black and gray substances made from fragrant valley grass and spices. Locals firmly believe that the darker their faces are smeared by others, the more auspicious and happy events will come to them. Therefore, every July 18th, thousands of domestic and international tourists, as well as local residents, gather to watch cultural performances, participate in face smearing activities, and experience the endless charm of the “Oriental Carnival.”

During the flower face ceremony, hundreds of Yi men, led by the Bimo (a religious leader), conduct ancient and mysterious sky-worshipping rituals, showcasing the grandeur and solemnity of the Yi ethnic group’s flower face worship. The storytelling aspect of the festival, known as “saying flower faces,” narrates the beautiful legends of the Hualian Festival through reenactments. Singing flower faces feature renowned singers and groups from Qiubei County, such as “Yi Tribe One Seal” and “Bowo Ensemble,” who perform captivating original ecological songs like “Welcoming Guests with Joyous Songs – Wine Song,” “Appointment with the Hualian Festival,” and “Yi People of the Mountains.” The performances also include displays of traditional ethnic costumes, Yi ethnic wine songs, and wine culture. Dancing flower faces involve Yi ethnic musicians playing the sizhu (three-stringed instrument) and hundreds of actors dancing to local dances like “Joyous Yi Mountains,” “String Dance,” and “Grand Sizhu,” expressing the passion and boldness of the Yi people.

The Puzhehei “Hualian Festival” has a history of over a thousand years and is the most solemn traditional festival of the Yi ethnic group in Qiubei. This year marks the 20th Hualian Festival, making it an important cultural highlight in Puzhehei tourism.

Every year during the opening ceremony of the Hualian Festival, there are grand presentations of activities such as “Ji Hualian” (Ritual of Flower Faces), “Chang Hualian” (Singing Flower Faces), “Tiao Hualian” (Dancing Flower Faces), and “Mo Hualian” (Smearing Flower Faces). Yi ethnic folk songs play a crucial role in conveying the Yi ethnic culture. “Chang Hualian” features renowned local singer groups such as “Yi Tribe One Seal” and “Bowo Ensemble,” showcasing a selection of original and ecological songs. The performances are accompanied by displays of traditional ethnic costumes from various groups, Yi ethnic wine songs, and wine culture. This interactive approach allows the audience to deeply immerse themselves in the cultural atmosphere of Qiubei.

The “Ji Hualian” segment involves mysterious ritual dances and captivating sounds of strings, creating a moment of connection that infects the audience with a sense of the divine.

“Tiao Hualian” showcases 200 actors using a combination of large and small Yi ethnic three-stringed instruments, expressing the dance with a lively and passionate tone throughout.

The most anticipated highlight is the “Mo Hei Lian” (Smearing Black Faces) activity. Equipped with their “weapons,” people chase each other through the crowd, smearing gray powder on each other’s faces. When facing coordinated attacks, lone visitors often find themselves completely transformed, leaving only their bright, lively eyes visible. It is said that the darker one’s face becomes, the more popular and blessed they are.

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