One aspect of the Naxi people that has come to be widely appreciated is their inclination to preserve their heritage and their initiative taken to educate visitors about the traditions and customs of their culture.

Naxi Orchestra Yunnan China - Nicholas Herring

Naxi Orchestra Yunnan China - Nicholas Herring

This is evident for anyone who has visited Lijiang and witnessed the customary architecture, clothing and handiwork of the Naxi people, but it extends further to the musical traditions of China that date back over 1,000 years.

Music has always been important to the Naxi, when even in olden times knowledge of music was passed from father to son and a well-to-do man needed to study ancient music in order to be accepted as a “true gentleman.” The origins of this emphasis date back to Confucius, who equated the mastery of music with high civility, elevating its importance in society.

However, under Communist rule from 1948 – 1978, much of the music was destroyed along with classical instruments, and musicians are said to have buried their instruments in the ground in order to preserve them. Some of these instruments are still used in the Naxi Orchestra’s performances.

The Naxi Orchestra performs nightly at the Naxi Music Academy, located in Old Town Lijiang.  They perform songs from the Han, Tang, Song and Yuan Dynasties with descriptive names such as “Waves Washing The Sands,”  “A Wind Rushing Along the River,” and “The Sheep On The Hill.”  The 20-24 performers use traditional instruments such as Pipa, Erhu, Huqin, Sugudu, Chinese Flute and Gong Chimes.  The orchestra includes performers ranging from young musicians trained in the classics to older men over 70 years old who have worked their whole lives to preserve these treasures.


Contact details

Naxi Orchestra

Address :  Naxi Music Academy,  Old Town Lijiang
Phone: 0888 512 7971
Tickets: 100-140 RMB
Nightly Performances at 8:00pm