LI Zengbao

Folk musician

About This Project

My name is Zengbao Li, I’m 87 years old. I come from the Lahu minority group in Lancang County, Yunnan Province. In our community, there is a traditional reed instrument made of bamboo pipes called lusheng. We have a long tradition of dancing to the music of lusheng, clad in elaborate folk costumes. It’s my favourite instrument. I’m the representative successor of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Project in my community.


I’ve spent almost half of my life teaching young people to dance and play lusheng. This instrument is a carrier of our culture, connecting generations. In my family, there are five generations living together. Playing lusheng with my 21 grandchildren dancing around me was one of the best moments of my life.


Three years ago, my world began to dim. Although I tried my best to keep teaching, my deteriorating vision really affected me. When I got to the point that I couldn’t teach anymore, I was worried about how our traditional culture would be kept alive for future generations.


Luckily, the screening team from the The Fred Hollows Foundation and The First People’s Hospital of Lancang County detected a cataract. Having access to surgery for my treatable disease was only possible thanks to Australian eye doctor Fred Hollow’s legacy – a development organisation working internationally to end avoidable blindness.


I was thrilled to be able to resume teaching once my sight was restored. I even found out that the steps I was teaching them before were wrong! But I have nothing to worry about now. With clear vision, I can teach my students whatever I want, and our traditional Lahu culture can be handed down, generation to generation.


Li Zengbao is representative successor of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Project, Lancang County, Yunnan Province.

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