From my base in Shenzhen, over 11 years of travel across
the Middle Kingdom to find what's ancient in a modern land

(more about my travels in China)

Chinese "Ethnicity"

One of my first experiences of China was a visit to Shenzhen's "Splendid China" and the "Folk Cultural Villages," kitschy theme parks with a Chinese spin ("See All of China in a Day!")

The Splendid China side is made up of miniatures of all of China's famous sites: Potala Palace in Tibet, Lijiang, the Three Gorges, and of course the Great Wall (actually said to be one full kilometer long).

But I find the Folk Cultural Villages more interesting. There are life-sized houses representing over 20 of China's 55 minorities, with people doing both domestic chores (cooking etc) and special performances (dances, knife-ladder-climbing, and so on). There's also a spectacular stage show, and a corny horseback exhibition centering around Genghis Khan and his boys (and girls).

The pictures below show some of the "villagers" in ethnic costumes. I'm sorry to say that, when I took these a few years ago, I didn't know enough Chinese to ask which of the minorities they represented. (The truth is, most of the "villagers" are actually Han Chinese, members of China's majority. Those who are outraged by this subterfuge may want to remember all the Italians posing as Native Americans in movies from the 1950s and 60s--or David Carradine's primary claim to fame.)

Anyway, I thought that the pictures might speak for themselves. And the last one is a park visitor whose mother has bought her a souvenir.

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