The Diverse Ethnic Cultures of China

China is a melting pot of diverse ethnic cultures — cultures that central and local governments have recently stepped up to protect and preserve. This blog will take you into some ethnic minority areas to discover their traditional art and culture making China the great melting-pot that it is.

Huize County, Yunnan Province

Dongjing Music

Dongjing music is a style of Chinese ritual music generally performed by southern China’s Nakhi people in Huize county of Yunnan Province. This ancient musical form came from the central plains area during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. It is now a well-known brand in not only the local culture but the tourism market as well.

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Dongjing music differs according to where you are. In Lijiang, for example, it embodies the culture of Nakhi minority while in Dali, it’s the culture of the Bai minority that is displayed. However, in Huize, it displays the Han culture and is named Tanglang Music.


Nu Ethnic Songs and Dances

Boasting a magnificent cultural legacy are the Nu people, a small ethnic group living within Yunnan. The Yunnan Nationalities Village is a great place to experience some of that culture while also enjoying live demonstrations. Here is where you will find the locals proudly playing their distinctive musical instrument and singing the tunes of the Nu ethnic people.

Tongren County, Qinghai Province

Regong Art

Regong art is known as “the flower on the Tibetan Plateau” and is an important part of Tibetan Buddhism. With a history of more than 700 years, Regong art has been popular with ethnic Tu and Tibetan folk artists in the Qinghai Province and Sichuan Province for a very long time.

Regong art is an ancient style that includes sculptures, barbola, thangka, murals, and paintings, and is part of the first group of China’s national-level intangible cultural heritage items.

The new policy provides funds to inheritors who recruit apprentices and conduct required activities to inherit traditional culture.

Sichuan Province

Qiang Ethnic Mouth-String

The unique culture of the Qiang ethnic minority in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province has spread through the use of traditional musical instruments, such as the Qiang flute and the Qiang mouth-strings. Both instruments usually accompany each other, with the women playing the mouth-strings and the man playing the flute. The Qiang mouth-strings are usually played during major festivals such as New Year.

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region


“Khoomei” is a magical art that has been passed down for over two thousand years. With Khoomei one throat can produce three different sounds at the same time. This unique form has no professional coaching environment and almost died out when the elder singers passed away. Pieces are usually short though there are modern days artists who have used it in techno dance music.

Fenghuang County, Hunan Province

Miao Silverwork

The Miao ethnic group of China is known for their diversified culture and exotic yet earthy craftsmanship. Their silver work is intricate in its detail using a myriad of shapes and patterns.

Be sure to pay a visit to Fenghuang County in Central China’s Hunan Province to discover more about this age-old Miao tradition.

Xishui County, Guizhou Province

Red Miao Embroidery

The Red Miao ethnic group resides in the Guizhou Province of Southwest China and their embroidery has been passed down for generations.

The main colors of Red Miao’s embroidery are red, yellow, and black. The colors and the pictures on the clothes have their own meaning, all from nature and fairy tales told by their ancestors.

Because Red Miao clothes are all hand-made, it can take more than a year just to make a complete suit. Visitors to the county often see young girls and women doing embroidery.

Shiping County, Hunan Province

Yi Ethnic Folk Songs and Dance

Both local and central governments have stepped up efforts recently to preserve and protect the diverse ethnic cultures of China. Two renowned folk singers from Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, Li Huaifu and his sister Li Huaixiu, are doing all they can to protect the native dances and songs of their Yi ethnic group.

The protection of folk culture in Shiping is a good example in Yunnan province, which has 26 ethnic groups – the greatest variety in China. Their diverse history, customs, and cultures are the source of their distinctive music.

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Lesley Daunt

Lesley Daunt is a travel writer that has written for numerous newspapers and magazines, including The Huffington Post, Examiner, Digital Journal and more.
Lesley Daunt