Mojiang Twins Festival: it's a wrap

By in News

Over the last two days, a cavalcade of couples, a drove of doubles and a torrent of twins came down to the city of Mojiang to celebrate the unicity of duplicate siblings.

Already in its 15th edition, the Mojiang Tropic of Cancer International Twins festival (第十三届中国墨江北回归线国际双胞胎节) is this year not only celebrating twins, but also the Hani sun festival and the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Mojiang Hani and Autonomous County.

The festival's renown is growing year-on-year, and this edition is the most ambitious to date. This ambition was previously expressed — at a press conference held by the local government and Yunnan State Television in 2017 — where a commitment to transform "Mojiang's festival into one of the largest annual minority events in Yunnan province" was outlined. This has certainly been accomplished, thus fulfilling the goal of "highlighting Mojiang's bountiful natural resources and unique agricultural products, while also utilizing YST's multi-platform wisdom and experience to bring increased exposure and business opportunities to the region." This also neatly ties in with provincial plans for increasing tourism across the province.

All 370,000 inhabitants — of different ethnic minority groups — welcomed the twin visitors and curious tourists from all over the world to their hometown, for a festive celebration of all things Mojiang. Activities were happening all over town — from a parade to a mass wedding ceremony at the Tropic of Cancer park.

The fortieth anniversary of Mojiang County

The city that was once known as Gongshun (恭顺) or Helang (他郎) — an established stopping point on the Tea Horse Road — became Mojiang (墨江) in 1915. In 1979 the Mojiang Hani Autonomous County was established. Over the last two days, the county celebrated with a ceremony, a parade, an exhibition showcasing 40 years of progress and a spectacular light show at the National Unity Gala. Delegations and leaders from across the province and the country attended the festivities.

Given its economic rise over these last few decades, there was certainly cause to be cheerful. Mojiang has as much reason to be hopeful about the future as it can be proud of its accomplishments in the recent past.

Since the establishment of the Mojiang Hani Autonomous County In 1979, it has made a steady economic rise. In 2018 a GDP of 6.534 billion RMB was achieved, an increase of 23 times the GDP of 1979. It is an indication of significant progress in the fight against poverty and the pace of change that is taking place in rural Yunnan.

Further development will focus on positioning itself in accordance with the "healthy living destination" provincial policy, as well as Pu'er tea culture. The Twin festival will continue to bring an annual tourism boost, and Mojiang furthermore aims to profit from its advantageous location as a trade center in the Belt and Road project, connecting Yunnan with Southeast Asia.

Twins

Offical twin event ambassadors were the local Hani sisters Hua Ma Chiya and Ma Chien-ho, who were first introduced at a press conference in Kunming. They graciously welcomed twins of all shapes and sizes to Mojiang.

One of the highlights was surely the surreal sight of 1000 pairs of twins who participated in a float parade around town.

The festival wouldn't be complete without a visit to the magical wells in Hexi (河西村), were local lore has it that this is the place that causes the extraordinarily high twin birthrate. It is estimated that inhabitants of Mojiang are 25 percent more likely to have twins than the world average.

Another element of the celebrations was a talent competition, where — as in previous years — musicians, dancers and acrobats competed.

The Hani sun festival

Mojiang's population consists of 62% Hani minority people, famous for terraced rice cultivation, creating landscapes of entirely cultivated mountains with rice paddies. Some elements of Hani minority culture have always been part of the festival, but this year Hani traditions took a more prominent place.

The Hani intangible cultural heritage element was — as before — expressed in a traditional long table feast where delicious food and ethnic folk song and dance performances were enjoyed by many. A new element that was introduced this year was the messy but fun 'mud-smearing' happening — traditionally performed at weddings and believed to dispel evil and disasters. A traditional Hani boxing contest was another new addition to the Hani cultural program. Visually, traditional culture was beautifully expressed in a costume display and a Hani rock painting experience.

Lastly, a traditional Hani folk wedding was performed at the Tropic of Cancer. The Mojiang Tropic of Cancer Marker Park — built in 1993 and covering 200 acres — happens to be the largest Tropic of Cancer memorial complex in the world. It integrates astronomy, geography, landscaping, ethnic culture, and tourism and aims to promote astronomy through popular science options such as gazing at the sun with a telescope.

Dazzled by the doubles — or was it the baijiu at the long table feast, we are already looking forward to next years edition of this wonderfully strange — and quintessentially Yunnan — experience.

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