Yunnan Impresses World with Exotic Customs

November 26, 2013
Editor: Zhu Yanhong

 

Yunnan Impresses World with Exotic Customs
In addition to Yunnan's climatic features and special geographical conditions, the province is well known for unique folk customs. Tourists, both from home and abroad, take delight in sharing what they see and hear in the "magical" province with friends and relatives after they return to their homes. [Women of China English Monthly / Li Kunwu]

Situated at a low-latitude but a high-altitude, Yunnan (in Southwest China) is an incredibly diverse province; for example, the climate changes from one region to another, and the province is home to 25 of China's 56 — including the Han, Yi, Bai and Zhuang — ethnic groups. No other province is home to so many ethnic groups, and nearly one-third of Yunnan's residents are members of a minority group.

In addition to Yunnan's climatic features and special geographical conditions, the province is well known for unique folk customs. Tourists, both from home and abroad, take delight in sharing what they see and hear in the "magical" province with friends and relatives after they return to their homes.

As the Chinese saying goes, "Man is conditioned by the natural environment in which he lives." Yunnan's "magical land" has reared diligent, warmhearted people, who have impressed the world with their colorful folk customs. The following are some of the province's more exotic folk customs:

String-covered Eggs

Yunnan's farmers are so considerate that they weave — with straw or bamboo strips — a cover for each egg, and then they string 10 eggs together. That makes it easier for customers to carry the eggs, especially when they walk along treacherous mountain paths. After the customers return to their homes, they hang the eggs on their walls.

Unique Lids

Yunnan's residents often wear wide-brimmed straw hats to shelter them from the sunshine and rain. They also weave straw ropes into lids — in the shape of a hat — for their cooking pots. The lids, which are easy to hold, preserve heat. The rice, cooked under the straw lids, smells particularly fragrant.

Small Horses, Big Roles

Despite being unusually small, horses born and bred in Yunnan play big roles in transporting goods, especially deep in the mountains.

Clothes for Every Season

First-time visitors to Yunnan are generally impressed by the fact that residents wear clothes for every season — during the same day. As you walk along a street in Yunnan, you will notice people who wear all kinds of clothes, such as shirts and skirts, sweaters and overcoats, and even cotton-padded clothes. Why? The province, which has a mild climate— with an average temperature of 15℃, hardly has any seasonal difference.

Welcoming Guests

Many of Yunnan's scenic spots, including Cangshan Mountains, Erhai Lake and Yulong (Jade Dragon) Snow-capped Mountains, are crowded year round with visitors from around the world. The tourists enjoy a good time during their stay.

Excellent Medicine

Yunnan teems with Chinese caterpillar fungus (a fungus that lives off larvae of ghost moths during winter and produces, in summer, the fleshy body of fungus valued as an herbal remedy). The fungus germinates in the living larva before it kills and mummifies it. Then, the stalk-like fruiting body emerges from the corpse. In Chinese medicine, this is regarded as an excellent balance of yin and yang, as it is apparently both animal and vegetable. The medicine sells well all over the world.

Popular Noodles

Rice noodles, steeped in hot chicken soup, and with tender meat and raw vegetables, is one of the most popular dishes in Yunnan.

Legend has it that during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a scholar studied on a small island in the middle of Nanhu Lake, in Yunnan's Mengzi County. Every day, his wife walked across the stone bridge to deliver his meals. One day, she stewed chicken soup for her husband. However, she did not take the soup to him immediately, as she had to leave home to deal with an important matter. After she returned home, one or two hours later, she discovered that the soup, covered with a thick layer of oil, was still warm in the jar. She steeped rice noodles in the soup as she took the food to her husband. The scholar was fond of the delicious food. To pay tribute to the virtuous wife, people named the food "cross-the-bridge rice noodles."

Ever-blooming Flowers

Yunnan residents use fresh flowers, rather than artificial ones, to decorate their clothes and houses. Given the province's warm weather, mountain flowers are in full bloom all year. If you are lucky enough to go, at any time of the year, to a mountainous area in Yunnan, you will see a sea of flowers.

In recent years, Yunnan has made a major effort to develop a flower industry; as a result, horticulture has become one of the pillar industries of the province.

(Source: Women of China English Monthly July 2013 Issue )

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