Friday 23 May 2014
Lijiang is the main location for the Naxi national minority, descended from Tibetan tribes. They have their own language and script, as well as religion. The highlight for us was the nightly concert at the Naxi Music Academy. Most of the orchestra of about thirty are of Naxi ethnicity, with at least six in their 80s. They played ancient Naxi music, with one of the pieces written in 6 AD, another in 741 AD. The instruments were mostly also very old, some being saved from destruction during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s by being buried by their owners. Rex and I had a chat to the orchestra leader, Xuan Ke, after the show. He had been imprisoned for a total of 21 years, first by the Nationalists, then by the Communist government. He set the orchestra up, after a couple of attempts, about 10 years ago.