Willing to have an overview of Yunnan ethnic and cultural diversity? The Yunnan Nationalities village stages twenty ethnic villages displaying their life styles, crafts and cultural expressions.
What To Experience?
Located on the northeastern side of Dian Chi Lake in Kunming is the Yunnan Nationalities Village. Essentially serving as a “crash course” in China’s ethnic minorities, the Yunnan Nationalities Village offers educational glimpses into the characteristics that separate Yunnan’s nationalities from each other and from the rest of China. It is the largest museum of its kind in China, and all of the tour guides and “villagers” do actually come from the ethnic background that they represent here.
For visitors who do not have time to visit all of Yunnan, this can be a good way to learn about some of these ethnicities. It features 20 individually constructed minority villages, a folklore museum, a Dinosaur Island Theme Park and a concert area for song and dance performances. There is also an Asian Elephant show. Perfect for kids of all ages!
Each village is set up to represent a different ethnicity, depicting the unique characteristics of their architecture, homes and clothing. Each village consists of replicas of the housing style and the “residents” dressed in traditional clothing educate visitors about the history, language, arts and festivals of their native culture. Visitors will also be able to sample traditional cuisine for each of the minorities and witness song and dance performances based on a daily schedule.
One interesting feature to the museum is that each village celebrates holidays and festivals during their normal occurrence on the calendar. Visitors can celebrate the Water Splashing Festival in the Dai Village or Bawang Dances in the Bai Village among other holidays. Other well-known traits are also emphasized such as the Naxi people’s penchant for musical performance or the Mosuo traditions of walking marriage in a matriarchal society.
Other interesting sites in the village include the Sun Calendar Square in the Yi Village, which depicts a working Solar Calendar based on the Yi’s 5-season and 360-day year, or the Butterfly Museum in the Bai Village.
How does it help?
Although it may look to many westerners as purely staged culture, this village of ethnicity is indeed a display of the most prominent characteristics of each ethnic group, that cannot match the authenticity of a real ethnic village in its surrounding landscapes and environment that intimately influenced and shaped its traditions. Yet, it is an interesting visit to learn at once about the various ethnic groups populating Yunnan, the Chinese province with the richest ethnic diversity. It will not replace a journey to one of their home place but it is a good introduction to it.
The actors of the Yunnan Nationalities Village are real villagers who belong to the ethnic group they represent here, they benefit from it, financially and humanly, as they gain renewed pride and faith in their cultural roots.
Yunnan Nationalities Village (Yunnan Minzucun)
1310 Dianchi Road, Xishan
Accessible by Number 44 Bus, or Taxi from Kunming (around 25 RMB)
Open: 8 AM – 7 PM – Ticket: 70 RMB