Beautiful Xishuangbanna and Dai Ethnic Group

The Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Xishuangbanna is located in southwestern China; where over a dozen of ethnic minorities live together, including Dai, Hani, Bulang, Jinuo, Lahu, Yao, etc. During the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty, this area was under the administration of local authorities of Nanzhao and Dali; during the period of Chunxi of Song (1180 A.D.), a leader of Dai called Bazhen established a local authority in Mengle called “Circle of Golden Hall in Jinglong”, taking Jinghong as the centre; in Yuan Dynasty the central government set up a local government called Cheli Overall Ministration, which was changed into Cheli Xuanwei Department in the Ming and Qing Dynasties; in the time of the Republic of China, it was Sipu Frontier Chief Bureau, changed into Sipu Frontier Chief Office; the Dai Autonomous Region was established on Jan. 1st, 1953, which was transformed into the Dai Autonomous Prefecture in June, 1955, governing counties of Jinghong, Menghai and Mengla, covering a land of 19, 220 km2.

According to their legend, once there was a Dai leader Payalawu. In order to catch a golden deer, he had climbed nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine mountains and crossed nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine rivers, and at last arrived at a beautiful golden lake. The golden deer jumped into the lake, and immediately lotus flowers broke out on the water, with verdured lake banks and hundreds of birds singing. Payalawu deeply fell in love with this “nice and mysterious land of happiness” – Mengbalanaxi, which is Xishuangbanna today. Xishuangbanna means “twelve thousand fields” in the Dai language. “Xishuang” means twelve, while “Banna” refers to a thousand fields. In the year 1570, the governor of Cheli, Dao Yingmeng, divided his venue into twelve units of land tax, each “Banna” being a land tax unit; based on which he set up twelve districts afterwards.

Xishuangbanna has a charming and beautiful landscape, and is abundant in natural resources. There are over 20, 000 kinds of plants, among which 5,000 are tropic higher plants, one sixth of the national sum. It is not only a kingdom of plant, but also a natural zoo, with more than 200 species of rare birds and animals. At the same time, it is the original producing area of “Nanyao” (southern herbs) and “Pu’er Tea”.