Pumi musician Li Haishu from Lanping county playing sixian
Pumi musicians performing Pumi traditional music in Europe

Pumi musician Li Haishu from Lanping playing Xifan tune with a leaf (Courtesy of Lijuan Qian)

‘Xifan tune’ (西蕃调)

‘Xifan tune’ is a Pumi love song. ‘Xifan’ is a historical name for the Pumi people. This song was sung by a Pumi women Li Haishu in Pumi language.

Fun fact: Pumi language only exists in spoken form, and many younger Pumi no longer employ it since they study Mandarin Chinese in school. Learning folk songs helps them sustain their mother tongue and its associated culture.

Lyrics: ‘My distant lover, when will you come to see me? On the day you come to see me then, then I will come out to meet you. There are flowers when you come. There’s water when you leave. I love you and you love me. We keep our love in our hearts.’ [Lyrics translated from Pumi language to Mandarin by Li Haishu]

Lijuan Qian. 2019. ‘The Music of China’. On Music of the World. Class 12, 13, 14 and 15. Herndon, VA. Connect for Education, Inc. (https://c4elink.org/).

Pumi singer Li Haishu singing “Xifan tune” (Photo and music: courtesy of Li Haishu).