The Clean and Nice-looking Wells of Dai Ethnic Minority

Water is holy and auspicious. Most agricultural people possess a respectful feeling to water, which is especially obvious for the Dai people. In the Water-splashing Festival, the auspicious meaning of water splashing is obvious; when someone moves into a new house, people come to give their congratulations, and in the sound of firecrackers, help the host to carry things into the new house, crying loudly “water-water-water”; when friends gather together, lifting drinking cups, they also cry out “water”. The Dai people have a special kind of well, and hold a special love and respect to the well, from which we can see how holy water is for them.

Dai WellComing close to a Dai village, the most eye-catching item is the old-tower-like well beside the village. There is an arch one meter high on the front side of the tower. On both sides of the arch and on the top of the tower, there are various kinds of auspicious animal sculptures. The tall tower body is decorated with various colors, shining brightly. The tower body and the fence are combined together as a whole, forming the well cover. To fetch water, people stand outside the fence, scooping up water with long-handle wooden or bamboo scoops, and then pour it into water buckets or pots. The new and nice-looking style and the special function of keeping the water clean fully show us the importance of water to the Dai people. What is more, they are also self-conscious to protect the well in their daily life: no children would play beside the well; women never do washings at the well; nor men water cattle there; every one is always ready to wash the well platform and the fence, as well as to clean up weeds and rubbishes nearby. Although this is closely related to their good habit cleanness and sanitation, it also shows the Dai people’s reverence to water.