Introduction / History The 380,000 Lolopo people live in southern China. The majority of the Lolopo live in Chuxiong Prefecture in China's Yunnan Province. They build their homes in the rugged mountains, but it was not always this way. More than a thousand years ago, the Lolopo were the dominant people groups in the region. Then wave after wave of Chinese settlers entered the area, seizing the best land from the Lolopo and forcing them to flee into the mountains.
Today they are one of the more than 100 different 'Yi' groups in China. Although the Chinese now call the Lolopo "Yi", they have never used this name for themselves. In their tongue, Lolopo means "People of the Tiger" or "Tiger, Dragon People". The Chinese used to call all Yi people "Lolo", but it was a derogatory term which carried a racist note with it. The Lolopo have worshipped and feared the tiger. In some locations, the Lolopo celebrate the "Tiger Dance Festival" during the first lunar month of every year. The people, clad in their finest traditional dress, come from far and wide to dance, drink, sing and have a big feast. The village elder dresses up as a tiger, and pretends to act like one. He is followed by sixteen other Lolopo men who dress up as mountain gods and panthers. They perform a dance and pray to the Tiger god for protection and prosperity. They then enter each home in the village and chant incantations in a bid to ward off evil spirits.
More than 350,000 Central Luoluopo live in the central and north central parts of Yunnan Province. The great majority are located in Chuxiong Prefecture. In a 1957 study, Chuxiong reportedly contained 140,000 Luoluopo. (Source: Operation China, 2000)