Sunday, November 15, 2009


The Naxi people are the traditional ethnic group in Lijiang, and our guide, who called himself "Rock" was excellent! The Naxi no longer live in Lijiang as that have for centuries. The Old Town has become just a tourist destination, and the Naxi faced exhorbitant property taxes. So most of their homes have been sold or rented out, and become a Han-run shop, hotel, or restaurant; including Rock's family home. So Rock took us to two smaller, more rural Naxi villages: Yuhu and Baisha. Life there is much as it has been for centuries (above is a street scene in Yuhu).

According to Rock men traditionally don't work although they were the original horsemen who traded tea along the Silk Road. The men's lives center around four things, according to Rock: drinking, smoking, mahjong and reading. Rock added that his grandfather also takes daily walks with his hunting dogs, and his hawks. Indeed, we did see me walking with their falcons or hawks on a gloved arm, through the streets.

Naxi women traditionally wear a cape on their backs with several circles. The circles are moons, and basically it symbolizes how women work from sunup to sundown, 24/7. Despite such demands, Naxi people live long lives, women even more so than men. I also noticed few of the elderly had glasses or hearing aids. Rock denied this was lack of money to get these items, saying they didn't need them. He claims it was the special Naxi tea that kept everyone healthy.