Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lijiang China!

We had a fantastic visit to Lijiang a city at 7,000 feet surrounded by mountains and glaciers.  It is about 200 kilometers from Tibet and Burma. 
There are 22 ethnic minority groups in Lijiang making it a rather diverse population.  We visited three Nashi villages. 

From our travels in the Gobi Desert and now this part of China we learned about the fundamental importance of mountains. They are a vital source of water. This picture, in spite of its spectacular beauty, bodes ill for the region. There is very little snow cover on the mountains this year and it is already half way through the winter season.' Twill be a dry spring if the snow doesn't fall and rain doesn't come.

Spring Festival/Chinese New Year has a lot of decorating traditions. Miniature orange trees decorate homes and businesses much like our Christmas trees. This one is covered in lucky money red envelopes. 

Origins of Chinese language characters can be found in this recreation of ancient hieroglyphs.

Bird sellers are everywhere. All the birds are champion singers but a few are also little acrobats.

It's a wonder China isn't already de-forested in the rural areas what with the amount of wood that is used on a daily basis for cooking and heating.

We were walking down the street of the oldest Nashi village when we heard music. Following the sound, we crossed the threshold of an ancient doorway where we discovered this troupe of musicians jamming away in pentatonic bliss. 
Naturally, we took a seat and enjoyed the "show."

We were surrounded by all kinds of interesting sounding, ancient instruments. John was the first to venture forth and try his hand at playing with the native Nashi performers while I recorded him.

I tried my hand at playing a Chinese banjo and a lute.  First, I would watch them play and listen for the notes they were jamming on. Then I jumped in and joined the fun.
We contributed nicely to their booster fund.

We traveled to another village among the Nashi people in Lijang, China. This wall is an interesting view of their ancient language before Chinese characters came along. These hieroglyphs reminded us of ancient native American glyphs we've seen back in southwest U.S.A.

This village was more modernized with lots of cafes and shops. Felt a little like walking through Estes Park, Colorado.

While the village was geared toward capitalizing on the tourist trade, Nashi folks lived and worked there. I was impressed with this well laid out trunk garden. You would be amazed at the wide variety of vegetables in the Chinese diet. Mind you, this garden is flourishing in January, so that would indicate how temperate the climate is here. I think they are able to get 3 crops of rice a year. 

It was interesting to see these Nashi natives busking with African djembe drums which are more powerful. They know a good thing when they hear it. Interesting to hear their rhythms played on the djembe.  These fellows played Tibet-influenced music. They were selling a CD they're recorded. We always supported the local musicians we came across.

See that empty chair? I couldn't resist it.

There is a magnet between plazas and dancers in China. Someone cranks up a boom box and within mere minutes a line of dancers will appear. Happens all the time in Jinan. When I saw these folks  dancing a simple line dance snaking around the plaza, I just had to join in. It felt great being part of something in their culture since I can't communicate any other way.
You can see the unique back decoration of an ethnic Nashi female costume which has echoes of some native-American styles.

This is a famous statue in Lijang that celebrates the ancient way they made a living. Their men would pack up rice and goods on the backs of long caravans of horses and hike over the mountains to Tibet to trade. This round trip might last 6 months or more. The women 'held down the fort' and raised the children and the next crop in their absence and often married another husband, adding him to her family.

It was always amazing to see what these folks could do with wood. This photo can hardly do justice to the incredible beauty and intricacy of this carving of a dragon boat full of Buddah-loving chaps sailing on a churning sea of fish and monsters.

To think this use to be a humble tree. Just look at the next-life of that trunk & branches.

This carved wall reminded us of many of the carvings we saw in the Yucatan.

The night life on Bar Street is wild with a plethora of night clubs on both  sides of the creek with live music, dancing and partying into the wee hours.

This is a fine example of a Nashi lady in full regalia.

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