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A Dai village changed by art

Updated:2020-11-12 11:41:01   Yunnan Gateway

The Palian village located in Wuhe township, southwest Yunnan province’s Tengchong city is a traditional village of Dai people. Under the support of local government and some artists, sightseeing and tourism have started to flourish here since last year. As farmhouses, orchards and folklore museums in Palian constantly hold workshops involving cooking, photography, traditional Chinese culture and fine art, a large number of tourists have been lured to this small village. Palian, therefore, is now considered one of the “most artistic” villages across the province.

Yang Xiugai, nicknamed A’gai, is a 30-year-old Dai lady who has never left Dalian — her home village. Sitting next to the Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve, Dalian was once an isolated and impoverished village hidden deeply in mountains. “The life was extremely difficult. My family couldn’t even afford to buy a new coat for me,” Yang recalled.

Since 2013 when China began to implement the policy of “targeted poverty alleviation”, villagers’ life in Palian has witnessed a great improvement. Roads, running water and electricity have all been available in the village; fruit farming is on the way to become Palian’s major industry. And more importantly, tourism has started to bloom under the support and assistance of local government of professional artists.  

In just one year, traditional Dai-style residences have been transformed into art galleries, and poems, paintings as well as creative graffiti can be seen on the walls across the village. Artists also turned seemingly useless and discarded objects into art pieces which amaze not only tourists but every villager of Palian.


From 2019 onwards, farmhouses, orchards and folklore museums in Palian have started to hold workshops involving cooking, photography, traditional Chinese culture and fine art on a regular basis, and a large number of tourists have been lured to this once impoverished village. And Palian is now considered one of the “most artistic” village across Yunnan.

According to Zhang Zhangju, the deputy head of Wuhe township, Palian village currently has over 20 eateries and 6 families running agrotourism business. During the May Day Holiday this year between May 1 to 3, Palian welcomed about 3,000 tourists every single day.


Yang Xiugai is one of the first person to enjoy the bonus brought by local tourism. She opened a snack bar a few years ago which prepares freshly squeezed juice and authentic Dai food for visitors. By doing so, Yang can earn as much as 2,000 yuan per month. In addition, the traditional Dai clothes that she makes in her spare time always draw tourists’ attention.


Nang Fenzhi, another local Dai lady who is in her 60s, also feels happy with her current life. What she enjoys the most is singing and in the meantime selling local specialties to visitors that come to visit the village. It’s worth mentioning that Nang and her neighbors even have a Wechat group in which they sing to each other via voice messages.

Writing by Zi Qiang(Xinhua); trans-editing by Wang Jingzhong; photographs by Hu Chao(Xinhua)

Keywords:   Palian tourism