Dai Opera


Dai opera(傣剧) is one of the most distinctive ethnic minority operas in Yunnan. It is popular in Mangshi (芒市), Yingjiang(盈江县), Ruili(瑞丽市), Longchuan(陇川县), Lianghe(梁河县) and other cities of Dehong Dai and Jingpo autonomous prefecture, as well as parts of Baoshan.

Dai opera originated from Dai people’s song and dance and zangfang buddhist sutras with certain characters and plots, then it gradually formed by absorbing Dian opera and other techniques.


The traditional plays of Dai opera are mainly derived from Dai folk stories, narrative poems or buddhist stories, such as Xiangmeng 《相勐》, Thousand-petalled Lotus 《千瓣莲花》 , Langtuihan 《朗推罕》, etc. The others are plays that translated and transplanted from Han opera, such as Chuang Tzu Tests His Wife《庄子试妻》, Ganlu Temple《甘露寺》, Women General of Yang Family《杨门女将》, etc. Dai opera singing strong  national music  style, gradually developed into the “hanhun” (male cavity)“喊混”(男腔) and “hanlang” (female cavity) “喊朗”(女腔) two basic tones, in the male cavity gradually formed Laosheng cavity, Xiaosheng cavity and Caowang cavity and other different singing characteristics.

At the same time, it extensively absorbed the tunes of dai folk songs for singing and instrumental music, and used cucurbit flute, wood leaves, flute, banhu and erhu as accompaniment. In terms of performance, the opera formula and other body movements of dai dance, such as “peacock dance“, “fish dance” and other folk dances of the Dai people, are used for the performance of Dai opera.


Since the 1960s, the Prefecture of De Hong has organized, adapted, and performed a large number of plays, such as E Bing and Sangluo 《娥并与桑洛》, Haihan 《海罕》, Love of Bamboo House 《竹楼情深》, Anuanxiangmeng 《阿暖相勐》, Yigou Water 《一沟水》, One Thousand and Eight Hundred 《一千八》, Yanbosan 《岩波散》, Anuanhaiduan 《阿暖亥端》 and so on. In 1962, Dai opera E Bing and Sangluo 《娥并与桑洛》 caused a sensation by attending the performance of minority operas in southwest of China. In 2004, the large-scale mythological Dai opera “Nanxila” 《南西拉》won the first prize of comprehensive program and the first prize of performance, music design and costume design in the new play exhibition of Yunnan province, and was listed as the provincial cultural boutique project at the same time.

Dai opera is performed on occasions such as traditional festivals, slack seasons and weddings, and the Spring Festival and slack seasons are the most frequent. At present, due to the poor economic benefit and insufficient capital investment, the professional dai opera performing groups, especially the rural amateur performing teams, are facing the survival crisis due to the lack of counseling and training and the young performers.

Chinese Version: http://www.ynich.cn/view-ml-11110-1242.html

Translated by Bella Ren/任新月 from College of Foreign Languages of Yunnan Normal University