Origin of the Yi Torch Festival

b.f."Yi Torch Festival"

There are records about the origin of the Torch Festival in the "Kunming County Annals" written in the Guangxu period of the Qing Dynasty: "There was a Yi woman Anan in the Han Dynasty. Her husband was killed by evildoers, and she swore that she would not submit to the killers. So she jumped into fire and died at that day (the 24th in the sixth lunar month). People felt very sad and held the festival for her.”

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Photo from baike.baidu.com

A description of another origin story from a different source goes: “King Piluoge of the Yunnanzhao (a local regime in ancient China) planned to meet of the rulers other five cities in the Songming Building. He wanted to trap and burn them to death so that he could swallow up their territory. The wife of King Dengdan—a woman named Cishan—tried to persuade her husband not to go, but he refused. Then she put an iron bracelet around the arm of her husband. He went as scheduled and was burned death. Cishan identified and brought back her husband's body according to the iron bracelet. Piluoge heard of her virtue and wanted to draw her over to his side, but Cishan closed the city gate and committed suicide. So people of Dian (an ancient name for Yunnan) burned torches to grieve over her."

In a folk legend, it is said that the Torch Festival stems from a time when God sent pests to destroy crops in the human world and Yi people drove them away with fire. Some people also say that the festival commemorate a fight in which ancestors defeated the Prince of the Devils by attacking them with fire.




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