Torch Festival of Yi Ethnic Minority in Liangshan of Sichuan

Chinese Name:四川凉山彝族火把节
Torch Festival of Yi Ethnic Minority in Liangshan of Sichuan

The Torch Festival is an traditional festival of Yi, Bai, Naxi, Jinuo and Lahu ethnic groups , which mainly living in Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou..The Torch Festival is also called the “Oriental Carnival.”  It consists of a wide arrange of activities, including bull fight, goat fight, chicken fight, horse race, wrestling contest, singing and dancing performance and beauty pageant.

Type: traditional festival

Best time: the 24th or 25th day of the 6th lunar month

Recommended Visiting Hours: three thours

Address: Puge or Butuo county in Liangshan of Sichuan



The Liangshan Yi Torch Festival is a grand festival with the richest contents, the most spectacular scenes, the largest number of participants and the most abundant ethnic characteristics among Yi traditional festivals.

1.One of the first published list of intangible cultural heritage in China.

2.One of the ten major folk festivals in China and the top ten famous festivals in Sichuan.

3.Listed by UNESCO as the “World Intangible Cultural Heritage Examination and Approval Project 2010”.



Puge or Butuo county in Liangshan of Sichuan.



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History of Torch Festival of Yi Ethnic Minority


About the origin of the Torch Festival, there are several such legend:

The first legend

Long time ago, the gods envied the happy life on earth, then sowed countless locusts on the ground. Let them bite the crops. However, brave Yi people did not succumb to the gods. Led by the hero Attilaba, they came up with the idea of ​​using fire to eliminate locusts. People lit a torch, day and night in the field to kill pests. After a few days of arduous struggle, people finally eliminated the “bug”. In order to commemorate the victory of annihilation of the “bug” and celebrate the harvest of grain by using the torch, people started to host the torch Festival on June 24 of the Lunar Calendar and held a variety of commemorative activities.

The second legend

Long time ago, there was a strong man in the sky called Sitherabi, a strong man on the ground called Altiraba, and both of them had the strength to pull the mountains. One day, Sitherabi intended to wrestle with Altiraba, but Altiraba was in a hurry to go out. Before leaving, he asked his mother to serve Sitherabi with a discus. Sitherabi thought that since Altiraba took discus as meals, he must get great deal of strength, then he left quickly. When Altiraba, came back, his mother said that Sitherabi was away. He chased up and wrestled with Sitherabi . As a result, Sitherabi was killed by Altiraba. When God Entsguz knew the truth,he furiously sent a large number of locusts to eat the crops. On the night of June 24 in the Lunar calendar. Altiraba cut down many pine branches and made it into torches, then went to the fields to burn the insects. From then on, the Yi people set the day as the torch festival.

Evening party

At the day of the Torch Festival, every family in the village will build a number of torches in front of the door, which are used for activities. At the same time, villagers will choose an open land in the vicinity of the village, erecting a 10-20 meters long pine tree in the center of the open land. At the top of the pine tree has a stick covered with red paper flowers. Around the pine tree, firewood stacked into a pagoda-shaped large torch. The pine tree is the center of the evening party. In the evening, hearing the sound of gong and drum, everyone in the village go out to ignite the torches. All men and women bring a torch to the venue. After the arrival of the crowd, the host will give an order, and everyone raises a torch to the pagoda-shaped torch and ignite it. Suddenly the flames springing up to heaven, people laugh heartily, and begin singing and dancing passionately. At the end of the party, people will hold a torch and walk toward fields. They will walk to every corner of the field to pray for a good harvest and the eliminating of pests.



People encircled two fierce and horrific bulls. In the master’s cry, the spectators’ shouting, their horns came against each other’s horns, who won the final victory will be decorated with colorful clothes and receive a prize.  Everyone will come forward to praise the owner of this cow as a good animal husbandry.


Wrestling activities are very popular among Yi people, it has two forms, stumbling and not stumbling. The strongest and most capable wrestlers in different villages are selected for the contest, who fall down on the ground will be the loser. After receiving the prize, winners will come back village and celebrate with wine, meat and mutton.


The sheepfight has a sense of humor. Two rams walk up slowly holding their head high, when they find their rival, the will run towards each other, and soon separate, like nothing happened, then repeat this process again and again. In the end, no winner or loser will come out of these two rams.

Beauty pageant

Yi people from generation to generation love and pursuit beauty. “Beauty Pageant” has been the most important and characteristic activities of the Yi Torch Festival since ancient time. It is different from today’s “beauty contest.” The traditional folk “beauty pageant” activities that have lasted for thousands of years have been strict and demanding. The beautiful Yi girl dressed in traditional costumes, holding yellow umbrellas, and slowly performing “Dolehe” around the bonfire on the lawn. The judges are elders with high prestige. Their selection is both critical and natural. It depends not only on the appearance of the girls but also on their dress, as well as on their filial piety for their parents and grandparents. More importantly, according to their behave and morality.