Daur Ethnic Minority
Daur is a self-called name that means "cultivator". The name first appeared at the end of Yuan Dynasty (12.6-1368). They were officially named Daur according to their own will after 1949. Daur people are believed to be the descendants of Khitan, an ancient nomad tribe who lived in the lower reaches of Heilongjiang River and founded Liao Dynasty (916-1125).
Most of the Daur people's houses are thatched cottages shaped like the Chinese character "介" and face south. The frame of the house is usually made of pine wood or birch trees and the walls are piled with mud bricks plastered with several layers of mud. There are usually two, three or five rooms in the house. If there are two rooms, the western room is the bedroom and the eastern on is the kitchen room. If there are three or five rooms, the room in the middle is the kitchen and the rooms on both sides are the bedrooms. Daur houses are also known for the many windows. Generally, three jointed Kangs are built along the southern, northern and western walls of the bedroom. Normally elderly people sleep in the southern Kang (the most honored one in the house) in the western room, also the most honored room in the house. The sons, the daughter-in-law and the children usually sleep on the northern Kang or in the eastern room. The western Kang is usually for the guests.
Daur men wear blue or gray jackets with gowns usually opened on both sides. The buttons on their jackets are woven with animal skin strips. In winter, they wear caps, trousers and gowns made of deer roe fur or fox fur. Daur women wear long gowns with a waistcoat over it. They embroider beautiful patterns on the edges of the gown. The most unique part of the Daur clothes is their caps. They made caps of the head skin of roe deer. The skin is kept of its shape and made into a cap with the two ears and the horns pricked up on the head. The caps are very good to keep warm and make a nice disguise when they go hunting.
The staple food of Daur people are millet, rice, buckwheat and oat. They also enjoy pork, beef and mutton. They eat meat with hands. Sometimes, the meat of captured animals are dried and preserved. Dairy products are their major non-staple food. They also make milk into crème, cheese and butter.
Daur people are fond of sports. They are good at shooting, wrestling and some other common sports. The Daur region is also known as the "homeland of field hockey", Beikuo in Daur language. They also hold fire-ball contests at night. The fireballs are made of the lumps of the white fungus growing on the birches. People empty the fungus balls and put in some combustible substances like pine torches or dip felt balls into oil to make the balls for the contests. When it's time for the contests, people light the balls and the balls burn like fireballs in the wind. It's quite spectacular.
Daur people are adept at making handcarts. Dagulu (meaning big wheels) Handcarts they make are very famous in northern China. The handcart is light and very convenient to move on the grassland.
Anie Festival: It is one of the most ceremonious festivals for Daur people. They light the cow dung or horseshit in front of their houses to pray for good luck for the coming year. People hold various kinds of activities on that day. Hanbo Dance is an indispensable part in the celebration. The dance is sometimes slow and leisurely, sometimes fast and joyous and is very graceful.
Spring Festival : (January 1st of the lunar calendar) The Spring Festival is also one of the most important festivals for Daur people. When the festival is coming, people will stop working to prepare for it. They put up Spring Festival pictures, make some "hand-grasping meat", call on their relatives and hold various kinds of entertainments and sports activities until January 15th. January 16th is the day for Daur people to start going hunting or preparing for the farming work. January 16th is also called "Black Ash Festival". On that day, people apply ash from the bottom of the pan on the face of each other. This is believed to be a symbol of luck and happiness in the coming year.