The Bai from Yunnan, southern China

There currently about 1,8 million Bai, the majority of which live predominantly in Dali, in the Chinese province of Yunnan, home to more than 25 ethnic minorities, and thus the province with the highest cultural diversity. As Yunnan is quite a large province, reaching from Shangri-La to the tropical regions of Xishuangbanna on the Laotian border, there is plenty of room for all the different groups.

In Chinese »bai« means »white«, signifying dignity as well as social status, and refers reverentially to this group’s traditional attire which always has elements of white. The Bai call themselves »Baizi« or »Baini«, which means »white people«. These characteristic white garments are worn more on special occasions, royal blue being much more commonly worn in everyday life. The Bai language is thought to belong to the Sino-Tibetan language family.

Like other minorities in this region they also grow rice. Although predominantly Buddhist, there are also nuances of animism, shamanism and Taoism.

Having coexisted with the Han Chinese in this region since around the 14th century, Bai culture has also been greatly influenced by them, as demonstrated by their traditional garments, which have a more classical, imperial Chinese air about them. In China, the Bai are famous for their batik work, which they like to sell en masse to tourists. Generally these tie-dyed items end up as tablecloths, scarves or blankets.

These items, delicately cross-stitched with white thread, are actually meant to be worn as a headdress. The same kind of white embroidery is also applied to belts worn to accentuate the hips.

Dali and Erhai Lake are popular tourist destinations for the Chinese. A visit to the Bai always includes the famed tea ceremony and an evening meal with the most most noted Bai dish, spicily cooked carp.


.Pictures, left side,  from top to bottom:

1. The woman use the little embroidered scarfs for the hair. Seen at the  monday market in Shaping.
2. Village life in Xizhou at the Erhai lake.
3. Two old bai ladys in bai costumes.
4. Even as advertising very popular- woman in bai costumes.
5. Monday market in Shaping at the Erhai lake.
6. The Bai haven´t only white costumes, but also white houses. Here in Xizhou.
7. Little chat at the monday market in Shaping.
8. After eating a bai carp traditional diner. Yummy !
9. Mother and daugther at the Shaping market. Mother (left) is wearing traditional blue cotton costumes. Her daughter prefers the more modern white polyester variation.
10. Street scene in Xizhou, Erhai lake.

Pictures, right side, from top to bottom:
11. The owner of the music store in Shaping is really smart.
12. The chinese influence with the national costume of the bai people is not to overlooked.
13. Street scene with to bai woman in tourist town Lijang.
14. Monday market in Shaping.
15. Market place in Shaxi. Still not to touristic, because there´s no direct bus from the main towns around.