Traditional Art and Culture of Wa Minority

The Wa Ethnic Minority boasts rich and colorful literature, such as folklore, vivid myths, touching poems and legends. Famous myths include "Sigang Li", "ancestors of the human being", "the big snake is vomiting" and "the origin of all things", the most popular of which is "Sigang Li". The Wa people have created many oral stories to praise goodness and justice and to attack perfidiousness and hypocrisy. "The old man and the crocodile" is such a typical story.

Singing and dancing are very important to the Wa people. At festivals, the Wa people, wearing their best costumes, sing and dance day and night for several days. There are many forms of Wa folk dances including the drum dance, pole dance, sword dance, plume dance, lusheng dance, hand towel dance, string instrument dance, gong dance, and bamboo flute dance. The subdivisions of drum dance are wooden drum dance, tom-tom dance, elephant-foot drum dance, bronze drum dance, and bamboo drum dance. Of these, wooden drum dance best represents the characteristics of the Wa Ethnic Minority.


Wooden drum dance of Wa people (Photo from

Wooden drum dance is a traditional dance that is performed to worship Muyiji in the "Gerui" month of the Wa calendar (the 12th month of the lunar calendar). It consists of four main parts: "pulling wooden drum", "dancing in the house of wooden drum", "beating wooden drum", and "offering sacrifices to Muyiji", faithfully reproducing the solemn scenes of the ancient Wa people's unceasing and united struggle against nature and reflecting their yearning for a happy life.

The sculptures and paintings of the Wa people bear strong minority characteristics and high artistic levels. Ancient cliff paintings of the Wa people have been discovered in Yunnan Province in recent years. The cliff paintings in Cangyuan County, which describe the hunting, dancing and working scenes of the ancient Wa people with simple, straightforward and uninhibited patterns, are rare and valuable artistic treasures useful to the study of the history of the Wa Ethnic Minority .


Ancient cliff paintings of the Wa people (Photo from

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