Naxi Culture and Dress - Dongba Characters & Traditional Clothing

The Naxi ethnic group has a population of over 250,000 people. It is divided into two dialect groups. An eastern one and a western one are located in Yunnan, Sichuan, and Tibet provinces.  

The Naxi Ethnic group has its own written language called "Dongba Characters". They include over 1,400 single characters and are considered unique "living pictographs". They are the only living people to use hieroglyphics in the world. Dongba Characters to this day preserve a rich literary culture that features works on religion, philosophy, art, astronomy, history, music, dance, and painting. Since the early twentieth century scholars from both China and abroad have been studying and translating this unique ancient form of writing in the hopes of better understanding ancient China and its culture. In the 1980s the Dongba Culture Research Bureau was set up to help further the study of the Naxi ethnic group and its culture.

While wandering along the ancient streets and alleyways of Lijiang's Old Town, a visitor will undoubtedly hear the wonderful Naxi Ancient music. The traditional Naxi classical music is considered a "living fossil" of Chinese music. After over 500 years of evolution, Naxi ancient music has developed its own unique style. It is a blending of Taoist and Confucian ritual songs. Played on traditional Chinese music, Naxi music is said to have the power to cleanse the heart and relax the mind.

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