Peddling exotic crap in Beijing

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  ,
Friday, October 3, 2008

Now, may I first say I am for preserving cultures and efforts to ensure ethnic groups maintain their traditions. It is sometimes argued that only through tourism, an ethnic minority is able to preserve it rich cultural heritage - even it is just the songs and dances that are revived for performances to visitors.

So recently when I heard about a new shop opening in Beijing, featuring Naxi crafts, I was interested.

But now, having seen this video, I am not so sure.

The soundtrack, you might here around Lijiang, but the gourd flute and its player - who died last week - are from the south of Yunnan, not Lijiang.

Then the title to the video: Exploring the Mystery of Dongba Cultures.
Are there more than one? The Dongba - or shaman - culture is dying out, and it was only a body of knowledge kept by a select few, not sold off to any Tom, Dick or Harriet.

Maybe the shop is a front for Beijing Tour, who state:
Lijiang in Yunnan Province is home to Naxi, an old ethnic minority group that holds a mysterious Dongba culture in China.

More correctly, Lijiang is home to a large percentage of migrants from other parts of China, who have moved to set up shop and do business in the tourism town. What's more, an estimated 1 million plus people from Beijing visit each year.

It's funny, because while this is a Shop-in-Beijing video, some of the crafts I've never seen as local or made by Naxi people. The tea pots? Nope. Those wooden relief carvings? They are a new thing on the streets, more often than not, made by outsiders, and incorporating different styles, not just Naxi.

As for those handmade clothing items. They are not Naxi. They are other ethnic minorities (mainly Miao). Who live in another province.

You can watch the video at:
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