Sanya cultures and religions

The major religions in Sanya are Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, and Islam. The South Mountain Buddhism Culture Garden is very influential as a representative of a Buddhism worship and tourism center. The Christian church is located on the Xinmin Street, Hongsha Town. In additional to this, there are also six mosques (for the local Sunni Muslims) in Fenghuang Town (Pheonix Town).

Feature: an introduction to the Li brocade

The Li brocade is a kind of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabric, often made in colored cotton and sometimes, with fine, delicate threads. In the Li ethnic regions, one may frequently see Li-style skirts, blouses and tops, colorful hat and belts, bags, Chinese dragon quilts made of Li brocade. Those beautiful homemade textile products reflect the unique ethnic and local cultures and aesthetic values.

The patterns of Li brocade fall into six general categories, namely, human figure pattern, animal pattern, flora pattern, tool pattern, geometrical shape patterns, and Chinese Character Pattern.  The patterns on the Li brocade often reflect the close connection and deep affection between the Li ethnic group and the Nature. Those patterns even reflect the geographical characteristics of the region where the brocade makers dwell. Women living in the mountainous areas frequently choose to use abstract and exaggerated Hainan Deer Patterns, bird patterns, other animal patterns, butterfly patterns, bee patterns, bug patterns, kapok patterns, and dragon-bone flower patterns. In contrast, women living in plain area tend to use fish patterns, prawn patterns, frog patterns, or patterns of animals that are quite common in agricultural fields. Natural herbs and plants are their handy sources as the dye materials, making the cotton threads into various colors to achieve the characteristics of floweriness. However, these grassroots artists do not confine themselves in the creating of the common patterns. Sun and moon, stars and thunders, rivers and mountains, clouds and rain, bamboos and vines, Chinese dragons and phoenixes, eagles, sparrows, buffalos etc. can all be used in pattern designs when their sparks of inspiration are ignited by their life and the Nature.

The origin of the Li brocade can be traced back to the mid-Tang Dynasty when the Li’s brocade products were official tributes to the royal family. The Li People’s invaluable talents of producing Li brocades and a great variety of intricate patterns were faithfully recorded in documents in detail during the Song Dynasty. All the historical records indicate that the Li ethnic group achieved a high level of brocade produce quite early on in time.

In fact, the Li brocade even boosted the great development of textile skills in the mainland area of China during the Yuan Dynasty. Huang Daopo, the renowned reformer of textile skills and tools, lived in the Li ethnic region for more than thirty years and learned all the skills of making brocade from the Li People. When she came back to the mainland, she promoted the popularity of these skills and creatively made some innovative improvements. Her great efforts led to a grassroots revolution in textile manufacturing within China.

The customs of Li ethnic weddings

The local ethnic groups still faithfully adhere to their wedding customs up to today. Some of the customs are very unique and are retained within local practice. The most local practice is an Arranged Date with an Areca Gift. The family of the boy carefully selects a lucky date according to Chinese lunar calendar and formally visits the girl’s family with areca (a popular local fruit) as gift. There are other customs reflecting the influence of the mainland culture and indicating the culture exchange between the Hainan Island and the mainland in ancient times. For instance, the Red Paper Fate Match is to present a piece of red paper with will-be couple’s eight Chinese characters about their birth to a fortune teller, who will choose a lucky wedding date to bless the couple. The bridegroom’s family also needs to carry delicious local pies on shoulder poles to the bride’s family as a gift. The number of the pies should be an even one, implying that the couple is blessed. The bride also must go through a formal Hair Washing and Combing Ceremony on the eve of the wedding day. On the Wedding Day, the couple will knee down in front to the icon of Heaven and Earth for worship, towards their parents for gratitude, and bow to each other for mutual respect. Then they will enter into the wedding chamber with a bed on which lies scattered peanuts, Chinese dates (jujube), and lotus seeds, meaning “may you have a beloved baby as soon as possible”. The next day, the just-married couple will visit the bride’s family with some candies, cookies, and areca.

However, Li ethnic wedding customs are gradually coming under the influence of modern society. It seems that those Li ethnic people who have been working in urban areas of China are quite willing to add the modern tinge to their wedding ceremony while still adhering to the rules of their wedding customs. In the following picture, the bridegroom wears a modern suit and traditional neck jewelry with his best man, thus vividly illustrating this change. It is noticeable that the bride still wears a very traditional formal dress for Li women.

Resources from Government Official Website

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