An invitation to a Yi wedding

By Liao Yuan, a Yi ethnic member working in Kunming

On lunar 13 April 2015, I and Xi, a country fellow of mine, drove back home in Nanhua County of Chuxiong Prefecture. When we drove to a place about 2,000 meters high, it got foggier and foggier. I guess the visibility was only two meters, but we had to keep moving homewards. 

At about 11 am, we arrived at Jiujie Village where Xi's home was; and we had our lunch in his house. 

Jiujie Village is a big community co-inhabited by Yi and Hui ethnic members. Many young people had been working elsewhere, and Jiujie in itself is a place of abundance, so life there could be described as "well-off". We talked about many topics about Jiujie, and I suddenly found that the Yi ethnic members of Jiujie and those of Yiheime Village (Hongtupo Town, Nanhua County), where I had been invited to a wedding ceremony of the son of a relative surnamed Li, belonged to the same branch of the Yi. They all called themselves "Luoluo Yiwuxiangshu", and the two villages are only six kilometers away from each other.

At about 4 pm, people of my village began to head to the wedding banquet one after another. Instead of going back home, I awaited my family at a road cross where I heard some passers-by say several families had been holding wedding ceremonies the same day. I guessed many of them were invited to wedding ceremonies, because I saw most women were dressed in the dazzling Yi ethnic costumes as a local custom when visiting relatives on happy occasions.

At about 5 pm, members of my family clan showed up. They hailed to me and then asked some questions like "How are you? How is your work?" I joined them and headed for Li's house. Long time for me not to be at a wedding banquet!

When we reached the door of Li's house, from where Suona trumpets were heard and aroma of the wedding banquet was heavily oozing, we drew the goat that was offered to Li's family as a gift, and fired crackers to announce someone VIP had arrived.

Before we were let in, we were served liquor which is locally called "Lanmenjiu" (liquor served at the door), and seated in the sitting room. Some young guys began to get busy handing out cigarettes to the men and serving several rounds of liquor and tea. To offer and accept cigarettes in the countryside of Yunnan is a sort of etiquette even though you DON'T smoke. I remembered when I was young these things were done by the elderly, but now by young people. Mr and Mrs Li chatted with us with unspeakable smiles, and all of us (guests) expressed congratulations to them. We were then arranged to enjoy the wedding banquet full of assorted local (Yi ethnic) delicacies.

When the dinner was over, the show began. I swear few people in big cities have had the experience of this kind. The show included playing Suona trumpets, Yi ethnic folk dancing locally called "Tiaojiao", and singing locally called "Guanlongdiao". Tiaojiao is a traditional dance originating from Wuding County, but some relatives at home told me that a couple of years ago many young people in Yiheime Village (of Nanhua County) managed to establish a local troupe. 

The Yiheime Tiaojiao troupe has been known for its sonorous tone, and it, especially its female members, has earned a high popularity in the Yi-inhabited areas. At about 8 pm, Xi called me, saying I was sincerely invited to his house for a chitchat, and I went back to Jiujie in the evening.

The next morning, I went back to Li's house. The Guanlongdiao singing was not finished yet, with some sacrificial ceremonies going on; and once again I saw relatives lead a goat, touring around the house, singing and toasting. The singing lasted till the noon, and because the singers had been hired to sing all day and night, they were paid about 600 yuan each person--which was lifted from 300 previously. In the mind of the Yi people in Yiheime, no matter however frugal their daily life is, the Guanlongdiao singing is a must for grand moments. 

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