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The Nanjian Dish-Serving-Dances

Combined show and eating events are numerous and popular all over China. The Dish-Serving-Dances in Yunnan's Nanjian Yi Autonomous County, some 100 km south of Dali and Erhai Lake, is a bit different though. Dancing while serving their guests dishes, is an important etiquette of the local Yi people. 

This elegant and unique way of serving food is called the Serving Dance or Dish Dance. In Nanjian County, the people - primarily the local men - are carying the dishes from the kitchen to the table - on their heads or in their hands - dancing to the beat and melody of typical Yi nationality music, which servants often also make themselves during the serving ritual. The ceremonial combination of dance, music, food and drinks also includes artistic interludes with jumps and various forms of choreographies.

In villages of the Yi minority in Nanjian County, Dish-serving-Dances are common on all larger events, either for happy and joyfull celebtrations or also on sad gatherings, like a funeral. When performing, the men of the villages shave their head and also cook the food on their own, which they later serve dancing with their tray, jumping to guests to serve. It is said that it even increases the guest’s appetite.


For more information on how to get to Nanjian and attend such a Dish Dance, please get in touch with us directly.