The Dai Nationality, also spelled Tai in some area, is one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China. The Dai ethnic group is made up of several smaller groups who live in Dai Autonomous Prefectures, Yunnan Province.
The first Dai Prefecture was set up by Emperor Wu Di in 109 BC, during the Western Han Dynasty (202BC-9AD). Located in the conjunction of current Yunnan, Guizhou and Sichuan Provinces, Dai people’s habitat enjoyed a best climate for agriculture. During that time, they initially learned to create new techniques, including using oxen for tilling.
Traditional Dai women costume is a short, narrow-sleeved dress. They wear a waisted shirt that exposes a portion of the lower back over these garments. The shirt is usually composed with a calf and decorated with a stylish collar.
Dai people are gifted to be master of dancing. As early as 2,000 years ago, the Dai's folk art has reached a sophistication level. There are more than 300 kinds of Dai dances passed down to nowadays. Peacock dance which represents Dai people’s achievement on dancing is the most famous one. The performer starts dancing like a peacock flying out from its nest and looking around cautiously. Then it roams in the field and look for food. After done eating, the peacock goes to the river bank, bathing itself in the river and playing with the water. After a while, she shakes the water off, combs feathers and runs under sunshine. At the end of the dance, the peacock spreads out wings and flies into the sky. The dance vividly presents the beauty and elegant of peacock, which is called the most beautiful bird in the world.
Dai people celebrate Grand Water Splashing Festival in Mid-April, normally lasts three or four days. The Water-Splashing Festival is in celebration of the New Year in the Dai people's calendar. During the festival the Dai people wore colorful costumes, carried clean water first to wash the Buddha and then splash each other with water. According to the tradition it is a way of washing away the old year and ushering in the new. To celebrate the festival, doors of every house are decorated with multicolored pieces of paper, sheep and cows are slaughtered for feasting, and delicious glutinous rice cakes, rice noodles, and rice wine are served in each family. The occasion is marked by a variety of entertainment, including singing and dancing, fireworks displays, boat racing, and exhibiting Kongming (air-borne) lanterns. Not only been celebrated as the most important festival in Yunnan Province, Water Splashing Festival are attracting more and more tourists to participate as a famous activity.