The population of the Bai nationality is about
1.39million.They live in compact communities mainly in Dali Bai
Autonomous Prefecture. Others are scattered in Kunming, Yuanjiang,
Lijiang and Lanping. The Bai nationality has along history. Their
ancestors were called "Dianbo", "Sou" in the Qing Dynasty.
The Bai People hold the white color in high esteem
and call themselves "Baizi", "Baini" or "Baihuo", which means
white people. In 1956, of their own will they were named the Bai
Since ancient times, the Bai people have
established a close relationship with the Han and the Yi in the
interior or the neighboring regions. After the Nanzhao Kingdom,
especially during the Dali Kingdom, all the Bais in different
areas became a nationality with similar languages, cultures and
economic structures. Now they have their own spoken language that
belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Stock of the Sino-Tibetan Language
Family. Many Bai people are good at the Han language. They use the
Han characters as their writing system. Besides Buddhism and
Taoism , the worship of Patron God is most popular. The Patron God
Temple can be found in almost every village. Patron God is the
Guardian of a village or a region.
The Bai people's houses are unique. The typical
style is "sanfangyizhaobi" and "sihewutianjing." "Sanfangyizhaobi"
refers to three houses on three sides and a decorative screen wall
to reflect sunlight to the house. " Sihewutianjing" is a house
with a major courtyard and tour small ones at the four corners of
the major one .The Bai people's houses are generally decorated
with wooden carvings, stone carvings and marble, which add luster
to the traditional characteristics of the houses.
The Bai people regard white as an honorable color
and like to wear white clothes. Men often wear white coats with
black vests. Women like to wear white or blue jackets with black
or blue vests. Unmarried women like to have a pigtail, or wear
beautiful headdresses that show the four famous scenes in Dali,
namely the flowers in Shangguan, the wind in Xiaguan, the snow on
the top of the Cangshan Mountain and the moon reflected in the
Elrhai Lake. The married women coil their hair and wrap it with
black or embroidered cloth.
The major festivals of the Bai People are the
Raosanlin, the Torch Festival, the Patron God Festival and the
Shibaoshan Mountain Song Festival. The most important of all is
the Third Month Fair in Dali. It falls on March 15th on the lunar
calendar and lasts 7 days.