Fortress Village - The Ethnic Minorities of Southwest China  
Brief Overview of Studies on the Bai People and Research Approaches

When it comes to research on the Bai people, the majority of scholars take a historical research approach, mainly because history is the most direct path to understanding the Nanzhao Dali Kingdom and the story of the “Bai King.” The history of the Bai people is also helpful in affirming the group’s uniqueness and legitimacy. Research done with a historical approach is mostly focused on pre-Nanzhao archaeological studies, ethnographical analyses, and the history of the Nanzhao Dali Kingdom. Results of archaeological research can be found in the papers of Wang Ningsheng and Li Donghong. For discourse on the topics related to ethnicity in Nanzhao Dali Kingdom, please refer to papers written by Fang Guoyu, Shiratori Yoshiro, and Zhang Xu. The history of the Nanzhao Dali Kingdom is researched mainly by analyzing two illustrated scrolls—the “Nanzhao tu juan” and “Zhang Sheng-wen hua juan.” This is because there is very little text material to work with, as Li Lincan and Li Yuming have pointed out. In addition to the scrolls, research results on the newly-excavated Buddhist scripture “Dali guo xiejing” can be found in the works of Hou Chong. The recently published “Dali guo shi” by Duan Yuming is another noteworthy book of history based on very limited sources.

In the realm of anthropology, C. P. Fitzgerald and Francis L. K. Hsu are known for their ethnographies, but the two scholars have completely different thoughts on their field investigation locations. As we can observe from C. P. Fitzgerald’s book, “The Tower of Five Glories: A Study of the Min Chia of Ta Li, Yunnan,” 6
C. P. Fitzgerald, The Tower of Five Glories: A Study of the Min Chia of Ta Li, Yunnan (London: The Cresset Press, 1941).
he sees Dali as a “Minjia” region, an area where non-Han ethnic minorities were gathered together.7
還有早期學者在雲南地區所作的調查,基本上他們也沒有特別意識到「特殊性」的問題。如Cornelius Osgood, Village Life in Old China (New York: Ronald Press,1963), as well as Fei Xiaotong (費孝通)and Chang ChihI(張之毅), Earthbound China: A Study of Rural Economy in Yunnan (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 1945)。
In contrast, Francis L. K. Hsu chose Yunnan’s Dali Xizhen (today’s Xizhou) to do his field studies, and points out in his two books “Under the Ancestors’Shadow”8
許烺光(Francis L. K. Hsu) 著,王芃、徐隆德譯,《祖蔭下:中國鄉村的親屬.人格與社會流動》(臺北:南天書局,2001年[1948])。
and “Exorcising the Trouble Makers: Magic, Science and Culture”9
許烺光(Francis L. K. Hsu) 著,王芃、徐隆德、余伯泉譯,《驅逐搗蛋者:魔鬼.科學與文化》(臺北:南天書局,1997年[1952 ])。
that Xizhen is one of the villages that can truly represent “rural China.” Because the Bai people has long been deeply involved with Han people, its members have a vague ethnic identity. Wu Yan-He once used the Bai people as an example to talk about ethnic identification issues that exist under China’s ethnic minority policies.

Materials obtained through ethnological investigations are divided into two types—investigation results from before the 1950s, and official investigation reports written after the 1950s. Examples of the former include: Shi Zhong-Jian’s “Dianxi kaogu baogao (Archaeological Report of Western Yunnan)” and “Dali fang bei ji” (Yunnan-sheng li Longyuan zhongxue zhong bianjiang wenti yanjiuhui youyinben, 1944); and Zheng Tian-Ting’s “Dali kaogu riji (Archaeological Diaries from Dali).” After the 1950s, the earliest discoveries of new material and creation of excavation work-logs include Li Jia-Rui’s “Dali Baizu zizhizhou lishi wenwu diaocha ziliao (Investigation Data on the History and Relics in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture)” (Kunming: Yunnan Renmin Chubanshe, 1958), Yunnan Province Editing Committee’s “Baizu shehui lishi diaocha (Investigation of the Society and History of the Bai People)” (volumes 1 to 4), and “Yunnan baizu minsu han zongjiao diaocha (Investigation on the Customs and Religion of the Bai People in Yunnan)” (Kunming: Yunnan Renmin Chubanshe, 1988).

Among the more general and simple introductions to the Bai people, the most notable publication would be Zhan Chengxu’s Bai zu jian shi (A Brief History of the Bai People). Books on Buddhist belief in Bai society include Zhang Xu’s Dali Bai zu shi tansuo (Exploration of the History of the Bai People in Dali), Zhang Xilu’s Nanzhao yu Baizu wenhua (The Nanzhao and Bai Culture) and Dali Baizu fojiao mizong (Vajrayāna Buddhism of the Dali Bai People), and Li Donghong’s Baizu fojiao mizong achili jiaopai yanjiu (Research on the Achili Sect of Esoteric Buddhism of the Bai People) (Kunming: Yunnan Minzu Chubanshe, 2000). Information on the Bai people’s belief in patron gods can be found in Yang Zhengyie’s Baizu benzhu wenhua (The Patron God Culture of the Bai People) and Dali zongjiao wenhua lunji (Essays on Buddhist Culture in Dali).
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