China's Yunnan rescues oral tradition of ethnic groups

Southwest China's Yunnan is compiling oral traditions of ethnic groups with small populations in the province, according to the provincial center for intangible cultural heritage protection.

In late March, the center sent three research teams to the settlements of the Jinuo, Nu and Dulong ethnic groups, respectively, to carry out preliminary investigations into their oral traditions which were believed to be on the verge of extinction.

Plans to compile the oral tradition records based on literature review, field research and consultation with institutions and scholars have since been made, said Yin Jiayu, director of the center.

Jinuo was the last of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the Chinese government in 1979. A team visited the Jinuo people for in-depth interviews to record their ethnic legends and myths, ancient songs and marriage and funeral customs.

They also registered information of nearly 100 people with oral tradition memories to ascertain the latest situation of the group's oral tradition inheritance.

The center has set up eight teams to compile oral traditions of eight small ethnic groups in Yunnan -- Pumi, Jinuo, Nu, Dulong, De'ang, Achang, Bulang and Jingpo.

From 2018 to 2019, the center completed the compilation of the oral tradition of Pumi people, from folk activities such as weddings and sacrifice to over 50 folk songs performed by six Pumi singers, as well as a large quantity of paper and audio-visual materials related to the group's oral tradition. 

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