Yi Costume Festival 服装节

13 May 2018 in Santai, Dayao County

At the end of lunar march the Yi of Santai lay on their big show: the Yi Costume Festival, a grand occcasion for everybody to dress up.

Santai is a small town up a side valley in the remote northern mountains of Dayao County. The population here is overwhelmingly Yi, even in the town itself bar a few teachers and shopkeepers everybody is Yi.

In the countryside the Yi farm the steep slopes of the barren mountains. Their villages, placed whereever there is a little more farming land, are small collections of mud-brick houses. Between the houses, their livestock, mainly pigs and chicken, roam free. Groves of walnut trees provide pleasant shade - their nuts a major source of income.

Not much happens in Santai, it is so far from the county town that it does not even have a regular market.

But once a year, on the 28th day of the third lunar month, a date that usually falls into May, the Yi celebrate their Fuzhuang Jie, or "Costume Festival". It is a grand occasion for everybody to show off their finest dress - and a wedding fair, where young Yi meet each other.

On festival day, the Santai's only street is decked with freshly cut pine needles and in the morning arriving guests are received at the village gate. The early afternoon is given over to the usual school performances and in the evening a large and boisterous dance is held for everybody. In the lower part of the township meanwhile a large market takes place.

Festival held according to lunar calendar on 农历3月28.