Tips for Travelling in Ethnic Minorities Areas

1.     With respect to Naxi people, it is not allowed to throw wastes, spit, and wash diapers in the river; felling the riverside trees is also not allowed. Respect the elder. Never be seated on the threshold; never rush to the room of lying-in women; never spit to huotang, a kind of fireplace in the ground. Pregnant women cannot come to the bridal chamber.  

Huotang, a kind of Chinese fireplace in the ground

 2.       As for Yi people, it is forbidden to stride over huotang, a kind of fireplace in the ground, and to step on Guozhuangshi, a long stone behind the fireplace. Pregnant women should not attend the wedding. Never praise a child as beautiful or plump. When calling on Yi family, visitors should take guests seats of honor and should not play with priests. Horse meat, mule meat, dog meat, cat meat and monkey meat are prohibited by Yi people. 

3.       For Lisu people, it is a shame to steal, to say something vulgar before the elders, and to say bad words to hurt people. Things in the shrine should not be moved at will. Never stride over huotang, nor sit on the threshold. Felling scared trees or hurting cuckoos is regarded as barbarian. Horse meat, mule meat, dog meat are prohibited by Lisu people. 

Walk around prayer wheels clockwise in Tibetan areas.

 4.       Killing is the strictest taboo of Tibetan ethnic minority. Monks can eat beef and lamb but are abstain from killing ox or sheep in person. In temples, sacred mountains, holy lakes, not only is killing not allowed, but also digging medicinal materials, hunting, and cutting firewood. Never light your cigarette or candle with fire from a Tibetan rite called Weisang, or with a butter lamp; never stretch your foot in the direction of the spirits. Walk around the prayer wheel, Marnyi Stone, and Buddhist pagoda clockwise. While in the temple, visitors should keep quiet, don’t smoke, touch figures of Buddha, flip through scriptures, and strike the bell. When calling on a Tibetan family, visitors can not go to the scripture hall without particular permission.  

5.       With regard to other ethnic minorities in Yunnan, there are many taboos you should bear in mind. Strangers are banned from riding a horse to villages of Dai people. In Jingpo village, skull of ox head hung on the door is untouchable. When seeing a wooden pole placed in front of the door, visitors should retreat. In Tibetan area, visitors cannot wear shorts. And they cannot tread the threshold when calling on a Tibetan house, nor do they spit in public, let along hurt livestock or birds.