Bibliography Reading List: Regional Studies: Dali around Erhai

大理白族自治州城乡建设环境保护局 (Dali Region Construction Protection Office ):


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Comprehensive encyclopedia of historic buildings in the Dali region.

大理白族自治州博物馆馆藏文物精粹 (Dali Prefecture Museum ):


Picture catalogue of the Dali Museum.

Christian Daniels and 马健雄 (Ma Jianxiong):

The Transformation of Yunnan in Ming China: From the Dali Kingdom to Imperial Province

From the Dali Kingdom to Imperial Province

This book examines how the Ming state transformed the multi-ethnic society of Yunnan into a province. Yunnan had remained outside the ambit of central government when ruled by the Dali kingdom, 937-1253, and its foundation as a province by the Yuan regime in 1276 did not disrupt Dali kingdom style political, social and religious institutions. It was the Ming state in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries through its institutions for military and civilian control which brought about profound changes and truly transformed local society into a province. In contrast to other studies which have portrayed Yunnan as a non-Han frontier region waiting to be colonised, this book, by focusing on changes in local society, casts off the idea of Yunnan as a border area far from civilisation.

洱源县水利电力局编 (Eryuan Water Power Office ):


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Detailed description of the water management system of Eryuan county. 

許烺光 (Hsu Francis):

Under the Ancestors' Shadow: Chinese Culture and Personality

Chinese Culture and Personality

Based on fieldwork in Xizhou from 1941 to 1943, Hsu analyses ancestor worship and clan structure in this Bai community (which he did not realize was not Han Chinese, the distinction was not clear then). It is an important historical work of Chinese anthropology.

李超 (Li Chao):


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Explanations for the names of Bai villages in the Erhai region. 

李家瑞 (Li Jiarui):


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An early collection of essays on Dali history, including the first known list of Benzhu names.

马长寿 (Ma Changshou):


Tribes and the slave system during Nanzhao, an early work that is probably mostly wrong.

马健雄 (Ma Jianxiong) and Christian Daniels:

Introduction: The agency of local elites in the transformation of western Yunnan during the Ming dynasty


By investigating Southwest China within the framework of the traditional centre–local dichotomy, previous scholarship has categorised it as a borderland. Scholars have interpreted the expansion of the Chinese state to the periphery as a civilisation project, which coupled with state-encouraged assimilation and acculturation ultimately aimed to turn ethnic populations into subjects of the emperor. Adopting the approach of historical anthropology and selecting local society as the focus of analysis instead of the state, this volume demonstrates the agency of local elites in reconstructing their own communities to adapt to Ming state institutions and ideologies. By emphasizing local agency, the authors show how shifts in state policies created fluidity between social boundaries and ethnic identities which in turn provided local elites with the leeward to manoeuvre and manipulate institutions to their own advantage. Daniels and Ma outline the new military and civilian institutions introduced by the Ming that formed the backdrop to the transformation of pre-1382 Yunnan society into an imperial province. They elucidate how protraction of the Dali kingdom’s socio-political-religious culture until 1382 arose out of peculiar historical circumstances during the Mongol-Yuan period, and discuss recent scholarship on the role of Buddhism and political power in the Dali kingdom period.

马健雄 (Ma Jianxiong):

庙与坝子水利: 明初以来洱海北部三个坝子的社会转变


Investigation on how, from the Ming dynasty on, social relations in the Erhai region changed, with local temples as focus points of village interaction and regulation of water issues.

马健雄 (Ma Jianxiong):

Local communities, village temples and the reconstruction of ethnic groups in western Yunnan, fourteenth to seventeenth centuries


This chapter traces the reconstruction of boundaries between ethnic groups in the lowlands of today’s Eryuan county from the early Ming by examining their settlement history, military rank, household registration and occupation. The author argues that the integration of military households into civilian lijia units for the purposes of tax collection and labour service assignments from the late sixteenth century led to the formation of Bai communities during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; these Bai communities formed the basis for the recognition of the Bai as an ethnic group in the mid-twentieth century. Marshalling empirical evidence from three valley basin societies, the author shows that the Ming transformation in western Yunnan did not result in the formation of fixed, stable ethnic identities, but created fluid social boundaries and ethnic identities. It was this fluidity that eventually led to the formation of new communities based on common property held under the name of village temples and managed by the gentry and village leaders from the seventeenth century onward. The author concludes that these communities were not shaped by language and custom, but emerged through the agency of the local elite, who managed wet-rice irrigation facilities and religious activities through village temples.

张绅 (Zhang Shen) and 杨凤英 (Yang Fengying):


First find of a bronze drum in Dali region.