Research: Yunnan 2012

In 2012, Vivian Fung visited several communities in the Yunnan Province in Southwest China for ethno-musicological research to study minority music and cultures, which had inspired her Yunnan Folk Songs. Additionally, they are continuing to influence her work so by viewing these pages, you’ll get a great primer into Vivian’s world.

The following collection of video, photos, and articles is Vivian’s archive from that research.

All the locations visited on this trip are within the Honghe Prefecture (红河哈尼族彝族自治州). Honghe Hani Autonomous Prefecture is situated in the southeastern part of Yunnan Province, neighboring Kunming, the capital city of the province in the north and bordered by Yuxi, Qujing and Pu’er in the northwest, northeast and southwest. It also shares a boundary of 848 kilometers (527 miles) with Vietnam in the south.

Vivian’s reasoning for publishing this archive is twofold:  first, to be able to share the videos and photos of her trip;  and to increase an awareness of these minority cultures to the general audience.  The minority cultures and language are facing rapid change and are being threatened by growing modernization and assimilation that is prevalent throughout China.  This documentation is an attempt to preserve some of these oral histories.

Project Locations


阿扎河乡 Most of the Hani live in southern Yunnan province, where most are located in the valleys between the Yuanjiang and Lancang rivers, a vast area between the Ailao and Mengle mountains. About 1.5 million people are in the Hani people cluster, which includes other minority groups.

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垤施村 Of the more than 8 million Yi people, over 4.5 million live in Yunnan Province, 2.5 million live in southern Sichuan Province, and 1 million live in the NW corner of Guizhou Province. Nearly all the Yi live in mountainous areas, carving out their existence on the sides of steep mountain slopes far from the cities of China.

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元陽縣 is located in Honghe Prefecture in southeastern Yunnan province, China, along the Red River. It is well known for its spectacular rice-paddy terracing. Part of the area now forms the 45th World Heritage Site in China. It covers an area of 2,200 km2 (850 sq mi) and has a population of approximately 365,000 (2002), of which 88% belong to ethnic minorities and 95% is associated with agriculture. The majority of the inhabitants of the county are from the Hani ethnic group.

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建水县 is a city in Honghe prefecture, Yunnan province, China. It was historic center of the province and remains an important transportation crossroad. Previously, it has been known as Ling’an.

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昆明 is the capital and largest city in Yunnan Province, Southwest China. Known as Yunnan-Fu (云南府, Yúnnánfǔ) until the 1920s, today it is a prefecture-level city and the political, economic, communications and cultural centre of the province as well as the seat of the provincial government. Kunming is also called the Spring city due to its weather. The city is home to several universities, museums, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions.

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Niujie Shiping

牛街镇 (Niujiezhen)

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/龙武乡等 (Longwu Zhen) is a village of the Huayao branch of the Yi people, north of the Honghe river in the lands around Shiping County.

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All videos and photos are property of Vivian Fung. Yunnan Folk Songs was produced through a grant from the MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.


Many thanks to Professor Zhang Xingrong for his guidance during this trip; and to the Canada Council for the Arts and Guggenheim Foundation for funding travels and research.


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