Crow Magazine Vol.16-The Village of the Flat and Vast


Bailuo people (a branch of Yi people) live in the southeastern part of Wenshan, Yunnan. The ethic group owns a long and profound history and uses its own language. Unfortunately, the language is only verbal because it does not have its own characters or letters. The lifestyle of the Bailuo people is different from that of the other Yi people. They preserve traditional ways of dressing, folk customs and a unique architectural style called “Ganlan”.

 On our way to Chengzhai village, where Bailuo people live in. 

Bailuo people admire trees, therefore, cutting trees in the village is forbidden.

The unique Ganlan style buildings.


This is the place where the village holds events. During holidays, Bailuo people would dance and sing to celebrate.

Back from cattle herding. The old man is wearing a traditional headscarf.

Cats are often seen in the village.

Bailuo girls and women like to do embroidering and sewing in spare time. Usually, making a complete Bailuo suit includes about ten steps. From the growing of cotton to complicated material processing, and finally to real fabric works. Everything is handmade. A suit like this usually cost a woman an entire year. Bailuo People’s clothes have various symbols on it: dragon pattern for the elder generation; “X” and “S” pattern for parents’ generation and “S” pattern on dress for married women who haven’t bear children. As for the girls’ dresses, dots, but circle, triangle, square and diamond are very popular.

The women are going for a funeral. In their hands is the sticky rice./ A Bailuo woman in traditional clothes.

A look at Chengzhai Village
First from Wenshan Prefecture to Malipo County, then another 130-km ride along the mountain road, we finally arrived at Chengzhai Village. The architectures in Chengzhai Village are all of Ganlan style, surrounded by hundred-year old trees. When we arrived in Chengzhai, it was said that a young man had passed away recently. The women in the village were going to his funeral with sticky rice in hands. When we talked with village people, they told us that usually if it is an old man, people would dance happily as a farewell. But this time it’s different, everyone is really sad, so they told us that it is better not disturb them.

Old trees are everywhere in Chengzhai Village. Bailuo people admire trees and are told generation by generation to never cut trees within and near the village. Even when trees died, people would just leave it there. For the basic needs for wood, Bailuo people would rather buy from other villages than cut trees in their village. Their life is coped with nature. And this is revealed in their way of dressing.  Bailuo people in Chengzhai treasure beauty. Whether a family is dressed nicely is an important measurement to see if the woman at house is smart or diligent. Therefore, Bailuo girls start to learn embroidering and sewing from their mother at the age of five or six. The details of the clothes can show us how meticulous and loving they are. As for the boys and men, they are the skilled craftsmen that build all the Ganlan architectures. 


*Some text from the internet.