Pinhuo Festival of Lisu Ethnic Minority in Xiangyun County, Dali

Chinese Name: 大理祥云县东山彝族乡傈僳族拼火节
English Name: Pinhuo Festival of Lisu Ethnic Minority in Xiangyun County, Dali
Location: 祥云县东山彝族乡小庄子村委会老里么村

PinHuo Festival(拼火节) is held every year in Laolimo(老里么) Village, Xiaozhuangzi(小庄子) Village Committee, Dongshan(东山) Yi Nationality Township, Xiangyun(祥云) County. It has a history of several hundred years. According to legend, in ancient times, Lisu ancestors of today’s Laolimoers, in order to escape the war, moved and settled in the remote Laolimo, leading a hard life of farming and hunting. Because of the small number of people and the harsh living environment, every time the tribe hunts its prey, the prey must be, year after year, divided equally in the back mountains among men, women and children. In order to commemorate this tradition, every year on the eighth day of February in the lunar calendar, people gather together for dinner by bringing their most delicious dishes. Later, it gradually evolved into the traditional Lisu festival of PinHuo Festival.  

What attracts people most are not only delicious foods for the festival with hundreds of history. The local dancing for praying with rich national characteristics and extremely mysterious stunt performances are the real tourism feast.

Dancing to Praying for Blessings from Door to Door  

About 9 a.m. on the day of the festival, the DuanGon(端公), a person with special skills designated by villagers, begins organizing more than 10 men in the village to dance door-to-door to pray for blessings。

When the prayer team goes to the doors of each house, after firing firecrackers, the hosts will hide in the room to welcome the Duangong. The prayers begin dancing in each room and searching for people hiding inside. Once they find the middle-aged man, they will put a wooden knife around his neck, tie the man up with a chain, apply a layer of soot on his face, and then drag the middle-aged man to the courtyard to dance. At this time, the Duangong distributes the host’s prepared five-grain, melon seeds, candy and other things. After the blessing, the middle-aged who was tied up could move around. Finally, the prayer team goes to another family to dance to pray for blessings again.

The Amazing Unique Stunt

The 3:00 P.M is the busiest hour in the mountains behind the laolimo. Everyone begins to taste food and sing while dancing all night long. The mountains behind the laolimo are now the coliseum of the Lisu people from the surrounding area. Some perform couples’ duets, some sing love songs to the opposite sex, some people dance in a circle, Some show their unique acrobatics here.

The most notable thing on the stage is the ancient unique stunt of Mao Guocai(毛国才), the inheritor of intangible cultural heritage.His performance include putting hands in the oil pan, eating burning charcoal, licking a red plough with fire。

On the stage, two villagers carry out a pot with pliers. Under the pot is a red charcoal fire, and in the pot the oil sparks. After the pot is put in place, Mao GuoCai puts his hand in the pot and pulls some items out of it。Then he takes out burning charcoals and eats it with relish. Just as the audience is amazed at it, Mao Guocai’s next move is even more incredible. Only after the staff hands over the fiery iron plough does Mao sticks out his tongue and licks it.

According to his introduction, these special skills were taught by his father, and now he has also taught them to his son. For the intangible cultural heritage, the only people can perform the stunt in the village are from his family only. When asked about the know-how of it, his answer is that the know-how does exist as that of magic, but wound not allowed to be taught to others not from his family.

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