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Sichuan Travel Guide
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Sichuan Travel Guide

Sichuan Travel Guide

Located in southwestern China, Sichuan is a large province of 55 ethnic groups, in which 14 have lived there for over three generations. According to their respective percentage in the population (from largest to smallest), the 14 ethnic groups are the Yi, Tibetan, Qiang, Miao, Hui, Mongolian, Tujia, Lisu, Man, Naxi, Buyi, Bai, Zhuang and Dai. According to the statistics of the fifth nationwide population census in 2000, the population of ethnic minorities in Sichuan is approximately 4.15 million. Currently, the three autonomous prefectures, include Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Liangshan, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Ganzi as well as Qiang and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, have been found in Sichuan. The ethnic groups live in compact communities in Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Liangshan, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Ganzi, Qiang and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Aba, Tibetan Autonomous County of Muli, Yi Antonymous County of Mabian, Yi Autonomous County of Ebian and Qiang Autonomous County of Beichuan. The ethnic groups live in a vast land of 302.1 thousand square kilometers, accounting for 60.14% of the territory of Sichuan. Yi Autonomous Prefecture of Liangzhou is China’s largest ghetto for the Yi people with a population of 1.81 million, China’s second largest ghetto for Tibetans with a population of 1.22 million and China’s only ghetto for the Qiang people. Additionally, there are 18 cities in total for scattered ethnic groups. By the end of 2006, the population of ethnic groups has reached over 800 thousand. There are six autonomous counties and 92 autonomous villages has ethnic preferential policies.

Living in compact communities in Daliang and Xiaoliang Mountains as well as the Valley of Anning River, the Yi is the largest ethnic group in the population. The Yi is an old ethnic group with its own unique culture. The Yi people, young or old, man or woman, like to wear woolen felts, which are called “Cawaliang” in Chinese. The Yi people have developed their own language, writing characters and calendar. The Torch Festival, the most important festival for the Yi people, is held annually on June 24 in the Chinese lunar calendar.

The Sichuan opera is rich in diversity and easy to understand with various rhymes, humorous words and multifarious performances. Stunts such as face changing, spinning dances and fire-throwing (from the mouth) are impressive. The Sichuan cymbal and acoustic sounds are major artistic forms of the Sichuan opera. Xiangshu refers to a performance were an actor hides behind a curtain and mimics different sounds. Sichuan comedies are rich in meaning, reflecting the social life of the local people.

Face changing is a stunt employed by creating characters in the Sichuan opera. It’s also a romantic way of revealing the inner emotions of the characters in a play.