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Impression Lijiang

"Impression Lijiang" is a cultural show demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai peoples of the area. The show takes place inside Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park at 3500 meters in an outdoor theater specifically designed to showcase the mountain which is used as a breath-taking backdrop.

Impression Lijiang is the second outdoor production of Zhang Yimou’s debuted open-air performance at the foot of Yulong (Jade Dragon Snow) Snow Mountain in southwest China. Around 500 local people from 10 ethnic groups have been selected from 16 towns and villages in Lijiang of Yunnan Province to perform daily folk songs, dances and rituals for tourists. The performance entitled Impression Lijiang was innovatively staged in the morning that Zhang Yimou spent two years producing this one-hour outdoor performance. The performance began with more than 400 male performers in their traditional costumes of respective ethnic groups shouting to the sky "we are farmers, we are stars".

Actors - local people

The actors, including 400 local folks in various costumes of 10 ethnic groups and 100 horses have been selected from 16 towns and villages in Lijiang of Yunnan Province to perform daily folk songs, dances and rituals for tourists at the foot of the mist-shrouded Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.

No lighting for artistic decoration

Unlike indoor or evening performances that can use lighting to cover up blemishes, an outdoor performance in full daylight allows no room for mistakes or "artistic decoration or artificial disguise," Zhang said, "No one dared to put an outdoor performance at day time before. I made this decision after having wide-ranging investigation."

"Impression Lijiang" is a series of musical performances that largely portray the life of the Naxi and Mosuo minority people. Westerners might initially be surprised by the matriarchal context of the performances depicting the women going to work while the men laze around, get drunk and sing songs to make their women proud. It should be considered that both cultures are quite different to most others, even to that of Han Chinese culture. The Mosuo are a strictly matriarchal culture while the Naxi (which is officially regarded as a parent culture to the Mosuo) has substantial matriarchal elements.

To balance things out there are performances that depict the famous tea trading of Yunnan, which was a dangerous activity for the men of the time as it involved negotiating the infamous and treacherous mountain Tea Trail. Such trading, however, has completely died out in recent decades.

Tickets cost 190 yuan and can be bought from the ticket booth in the Old Town (make a right at the water wheels and walk down the main street, the booth will be on your left). The ticket price does not include transportation to and from the theater (approx 1 hour drive) or the entrance fee for the park (80 yuan). There is also an Old Town Preservation fee that the park tries to charge as well, however, this can be avoided by claiming to have already paid at you hotel (and showing your hotel key). Bus 7 will take you to the theater for ¥10 and can be caught across from the Mao Zedong statue, but be sure to find out what time the last bus leaves the park.