Y. Franklin Ishida
Flying into Lijiang is a test in one’s nerves and trust in the pilots. The plane winds its way into the valleys, its wings looking like they may barely miss mountain ridges. It is a bit unnerving, but this is the normal arrival to the northern Yunnan Province city of Lijiang.
Lijiang is an ancient city that lies at the intersection of numerous ethnic groups: the Naxi, Lisu, Yi, Bai, Pumi, among others. Lijiang itself, located in a broad valley, was the capital of the Naxi kingdom. The other ethnic peoples were scattered in the surrounding mountain lands, coexisting despite differences in language and cultures.
The Lisu people, about whom I write here, are spread in the northern and western parts of Yunnan Province, inhabiting the very rugged mountainous parts of the province. They are one of the 56 recognized ethnic groups in China. They can also be found in neighboring Myanmar and Thailand, as well as some in India. North of Lijiang, though, is one of the centers of the Lisu lands.