The Beauty of the “Tribe of the Three Gorges” Hides Between the Mountains of China

A cloudy sky, with a temperature of almost 39 °C and two enormous mountains, separated by the Yangtze river, welcome tourists to the tribe of the Three Gorges.

A natural area of the city of Yichang, in the province of Hubei , to the southeast of China.

Crossing the river to arrive to the tribe takes approximately twenty minutes.

On the way there, visitors can see the majesty of the Yangtze River, one of the largest in China, and on its shores the traditional “black houses”, the type of housing in which the members of the Tujía ethnic group lived.

Coffins hanging from the mountain, a blue river in the middle of the jungle, wild monkeys, ancestral rituals to receive the boats, among other things, are part of the tourist attractions of this Tribe that, due to its natural wealth, has been labeled as a “Center of Protection of Popular Culture and Art of the Three Gorges” and has become one of the five main attractions of the city of Yichang.

Three Gorges is made up of the cannons Qu Tang, Xi Ling and Wu. According to experts, in ancient times it housed the inhabitants of the Tujia ethnic group, from the ancient Ba and Chi culture. Now, tourism, fishing, tea cultivation and agriculture have become the main source of income for the locals.

Neither the distance nor the high temperatures are an obstacle for daily ships crossing the Yangtze River full of tourists who seek to marvel at the natural landscapes and enjoy the traditional dances and ceremonies that take place in the village.

Upon disembarking the ship, visitors are guided to the entrance of the canyon to witness the ritual of reception of the ships. Dozens of men with naked torso, and totally synchronized, move their paddles, like a dance.

Tourists take the opportunity to immortalize the moment on their cell phones.

Further on, the contrast between the green mountains and the blue water that makes up the Xi Ling canyon are the main attractions. There, the visitors walk uphill through the mountainous area, while they enjoy the sound of the wind, the song of the birds and learn from the customs of the families that lived centuries ago in the area.

One of the most colorful events are weddings.

For the Tujia ethnic group, it was a ritual, in which the bride had to mourn at least one month before the wedding, as a sign of happiness. To do this, parents trained women from age 12 so they could shed tears easily on the day of the ceremony.

A group of young people recreate the scene for the visitors and tell that in ancient times, in the tribe existed “old women” who were in charge to look for the youngest boys and to relate them with the women whose families had certain similarity. On the day of the wedding, the groom had to fight to get the bouquet that his future wife would throw from a balcony.

The dramatization takes about half an hour.

Sitting on tables that simulate a patio, tourists are an active part of the show. One should always represent the groom and fight to get the bouquet of his future wife, amid the applause of the visitors.

Afterwards, the journey through the canyon continues uphill. A part of the way is accompanied by small monkeys that live in bamboo forests.

And, although there is no proof of their existence, the locals say that the so-called “wild men” live on the site, that they would be creatures of about two meters high. The government offers a reward of 5,000 yuan to whoever catches a photograph of them.

One of the attractions for tourists are the coffins hanging on the wall, a tradition that comes from the Ba ethnic group. According to the inhabitants, the coffins are shaped like old houses or ships and are made of rough wood.

In this case the coffins have a particularity, it is said that many of them have a couple inside. According to experts, in ancient times the inhabitants of that region of southern China believed that the dead would be closer to heaven if they hung the coffins that way.

After enjoying attractions such as the opera of the bells and a shadow show, the tour ends with a visit to the emperor’s castle. In the afternoon, with cell phones full of photographs and very tired, the tourists return from the island to the city. / Texto y fotos: LAC / Traducción al inglés EBG

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