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Ashima and the Sani people

An elderly Sani WomanAshima is a character in Yi folk legend, and she is the heroine in the long folk narrative poem-"Ashima". It is said that she grew up in a common family, and had a brother Ahe (they are not brother and sister but lovers in some legend). They were very clever, diligent and kind since childhood. When Ashima grew up and became a beautiful girl, the ruler Rebubala wanted her to marry his son, but he was refused. Rebubala was shamed into anger and kidnapped Ashma away taking advantage of his power, but Ashima would rather die than submit. In order to rescue Ashima, brother Ahe fight fiercely against Rebubala and his families with outstanding wisdom and bravery, and Ashima was released finally. But on the way back home, Rebubala instigated the Rock God to draw off water and Ashima was drowned. From then on, Ashima became an echo which "doesn't disappear even if the sun disappear, and doesn't stop even if clouds stop", and reverberates in the lofty ridges and towering mountains of the Sani region forever. She has lived in heart of generations of Sanis. Since 1950's, "Ashima" has been translated into Chinese, Russian, French, English, Japanese, etc and published. It was also revised into film. Nowadays, the name Ashima has spread all over the country and become well-known all over the world. 

The Sani is a branch of the Yis, which has a population of over 90,000. It mainly spread over the Stone Forest scenic spot in Shilin (the primary Lunan Yi Autonomous County) in Yunnan province. Its language belongs to the southeastern dialect. Sani people's clothes have a unique style. Men usually wrap head with black cloth, wear jacket with cloth buttons down the front, cover a sleeveless flax garment with buttons down the front, and wear black trousers. Women wrap a piece of cloth around their head which appears a little square with a board as framework, wear clothes with wide front, drape a sheep skin cape over shoulders, and wear long trousers instead of skirt. The Sani people are especially good at singing and dancing, and are versatile. Provided you enter Sani villages, you will hear clear and melodious sound of flute and melodious and resonant singing.

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