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Introductions to major Nationalities in China

Last updated by chinatravel at 2014/8/13

Introductions to major Nationalities in China


Mongol


Hui


Tibetan


Uygur


Miao


Yi


Zhuang


Bouyei


Korean


Manchu


Dong


Yao


Bai


Tujia


Hani


Kazak


Dai


Li


Lisu


Va


She


Gaoshan


Lahu


Shui


Dongxiang


Naxi


Jingpo


Kirgiz


Tu


Daur


Mulam


Qiang


Blang


Salar


Maonan


Gelo


Xibe


Achang


Primi


Tajik


Nu


Uzbek


Russian


Ewenki


Deang


Baoan


Yugur


Jing


Tatar


Derung


Oroqen


Hezhen


Monba


Lhoba


Jino


Han

1 .Han Nationality

Han Nationality is the largest nationality among the 56 ethnic groups in China and the world at large. Han people are originally known as Huaxia descendants living in Yellow River drainage area. Later they assimilated and integrated with other nationalities. Starting from Han Dynasty, They were called Han Nationality.

Chinese belongs to Sino-Tibetan language system comprising seven dialects. Modern Chinese takes North Dialect as its basis and the pronunciation of Beijing people as its standard pronunciation. Chinese Characters are one of the ancient characters in the world, boasting a long history of about 6000 years. They evolved from oracle-bone inscriptions and inscriptions on bronze. By now, the total number of Chinese characters is 40,000 and that of the most commonly used ones is about 6000 to 7000. Chinese is one of the international official languages designated by the UN. There is no universal religion in China and parts of its population believe in Buddhism, Catholicism, and Christian. Han Nationality, as always, encourages the co-existence of various religious beliefs. Seeking happiness through one’s own efforts and respect (rather than adoration) on ancestors are the major traditions of Chinese people. In history, some Chinese of Han Nationality believed in Buddhism and Taoism; when Catholicism and Christian were introduced to China others started to believe in the foreign religions. For thousands of years, benevolence is the center of Chinese ethnics which emphasizes moral and ethnic education. Confucian School featuring the thoughts of Confucius and Mencius has exerted wide and deep influence on Han people.

Clothing

Widely distributed in the immense land area, Han people have developed various styles of residential houses. For instance, Han people residing in North China Plateau usually live in wood-made bungalows with four-section compound represented by Beijing four-section compound; Han people living in Northeast China are very similar to those in North China. But they are different in wall and roof. The walls of houses in Northeast China are much thicker so as to keep warm; those living in North Shanbei Province dig cave dwellings. That is because Huangtu Plateau has thick earth layers and low water levels. Cave dwellings are therefore warm in winter and cool in summer. Moreover, they do not take extra land area; Han people living in South China like to reside in wood houses which feature flying eaves and exquisite pavilions. Even in South China, construction styles of houses vary from each other according to different customs and natural conditions. For instance, buildings on rolling lands are built up close to mountains; houses in Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces usually constructed close to streets and rivers; earth towers in Fujian Province are huge and elegant while pavilions and towers in Suzhou look exquisite and elaborate.

Diet

Han people take grain as their staple food, and various meat and vegetables as assistant food. It is quite different from the diet habit of Tibetan, Mongol, and western nationalities. Besides, Han people gradually developed the eating habit of three meals one day. Each meal is arranged with different staple food, dish, and beverage. The components of three meals in different regions have common characteristics, but they still vary according to geographical locations, economic development, and conditions of life and production. Han people are good at cooking. Through various cooking methods and skills, such as fry, stew, cook, steam, and bake, as well as cold and dressed with sauce. They have developed different flavors which could be summarized as eight major cuisines, namely, Sichuan Cuisine, Guangdong Cuisine, Fujian Cuisine, Anhui Cuisine, Shandong Cuisine, Hunan Cuisine, Zhejiang Cuisine, and Jiangsu Cuisine.

Traditional Festivals

Han Nationality has many traditional festivals and they are as follows:

Spring Festival:

Spring Festival is the largest traditional Chinese festival. Before 1958, the festival is celebrated with vegetables and fast. But now such customs are gradually changed. Spring Festival is celebrated almost in the same way all over China.

Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival is celebrated on the last day of the first lunar month. On that day each family will cook sweet dumplings (made of sticky rice flour) as a ceremony of saying good bye to the spring festival.

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Zhongyuan Festival or Yueban, is celebrated for memorizing ancestors. During that day each family will lay out various fruit and cakes, and enjoy them while appreciating the bright and round moon. Before the festival, males who are engaged should send moon cakes to the family of their fiancés; in some places students should send moon cakes to their teachers; relatives usually send moon cakes to each other.

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice is a traditional festival on which people should eat sticky rice meal and bun.

Marriage

In the past most marriages were arranged by parents. Contract for a marriage was very popular. Some young people were arranged as husband and wife by their parents when they were not born. Before engagement, the go-between will be invited to the bride’s family as marriage interview. During the ceremony of engagement, the groom’s family should send some presents to his wife-to-be as betrothal gifts. On the wedding day, the bride should also bring gifts to the groom’s family as dowry.

On the wedding day, the groom will sit on a sedan and go to fetch the bride. Usually the sedan is decorated with music band. When the bride arrives at the groom’s family, she will bow to the groom’s parents and worship Heaven and Earth. After the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom will enter the bridal chamber while the groom’s family members will treat guests and friends with big dinner. In some areas, there are customs of tease the bride and listening to the love chatting between the bride and groom.

Funereal

Funerals of Han Nationality have many superstitious customs. But most of them emphasize expensive coffins and grand burial ceremonies. The dead person should be bathed before encoffined. The rite of burial can be divided into simple ones and grand ones. In a simple burial ceremony, the dead will be covered with new clothes; while in a grand one, the dead should be laid into a coffin. Coffin should be well made, and for rich families coffin is made of rare woods and painted with color paintings. Burial ceremony should be hold solemnly. After that there is the memorial ceremony which usually lasts ten days or more. Sometimes monks or Taoists are invited to chant scriptures because local people believe it can help the dead to reach paradise earlier.

Taboos in Diet

On the first, second, and third day of the first lunar month Han people do not eat raw food. They usually prepare cooked food before Spring Festival, and heat them if they wan to eat during the three days. According to the custom of Han people, eating something raw would bring bad luck while taking cooked food would bring good fortune. In some places, the local people like to get everything prepared so that they need not to touch any cooking ware during the three days. For instance, in some areas of Henan Province, the third day of the first lunar month is the birthday of rice. On that day local people never eat rice because they are afraid that the production of rice next year might be reduced. In the past there were a lot of taboos on the diet of women who are pregnant or have just given birth to babies. For example, in some regions pregnant females of Han Nationality never eat rabbit; otherwise, they believe, her baby would have a harelip. Still in many other areas raw ginger is considered as the cause of hyperdactylia on babies. In addition, in ancient times pregnant Han females were forbidden from dog meat, a kind of food which, according to the then customs, would lead to dystocia.

2.Ethnic Minorities in Northeast China

Manchu people mainly live in three provinces of Northeast China, namely, Jilin, Liaoning, and Heilongjiang. Liaoning Province is the most populated area of Manchu people. Besides, there is small number of Manchu people living in Inner Mongolia, Heibei, Shandong, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Beijing, Chengdu, Lanzhou, Fuzhou, Yinchuan, and Xi’an, etc.

Manchu Nationality has a long history. It can be dated back to2000 years ago when its ancestors lived in Xiaozhen County. Descendants of Manchu People remained living to the north of Changbai Mountain, close to the upper stream of Heilongjiang River and in the drainage area of Wusuli River. In the unification of China by Qing Empire compelled Manchu people to live in mixed communities for quite a long time. It was not until the Revolution of 1911 that Manzhou Nationality was renamed Manchu Nationality.

Manchu people have their own speaking and written language which is a branch of Tungus in Altai system. The written language of Manchu Nationality was invented at the end of 16th century on the basis of Mongol Characters. During 1640s, large population of Manchu Nationality migrated to the hinterland of China. After that they started learning and using Chinese.

Manchu people are very good at singing and dancing. Ancient styles of dancing evolved from the life of hunting and battles. In history males of Manchu Nationality like to wear long gowns of blue color, comb a pigtail at the back of head, put on cap with a round top, and wear trousers with several layers. When they started living together with Han people, their clothing gradually evolved into Han style. But Cheong-sam is passed down from generation to generation with its unique charm. Now it is a favored traditional costume of females in China.

(1) Korean

 Korean people mainly live in Jilin Province. Some of them reside in Heilongjiang, Liaoning, and Inner Mongolia Provinces as well as some major cities in China. The largest concentrated community of Korean people lies in Korean Autonomous Region of Jilin Province. It accounts almost half of the population of Korean Nationality in China. Besides, Changbai Korean Autonomous Region, which is located in the cuddle of Changbai Mountain, is another major concentrated community of Korean people.

Korean people have their own spoken and written language and it belongs to Altai language system. The written form of Korean language is phoneme character. It was invented in 1414 in the ruling period of Tang Dynasty and originally called Zhengyin. This kind of characters seems similar in shape to that of Chinese Characters.

The concentrated communities of Korean Nationality, especially their frontier area, have comprehensively developed agriculture, forestry, husbandry, fishery, and processing industries. The frontier area is reputed as the “Village of Rice” in North China, and it is also one of the major production sites of baked tobacco all over the country. Scalper raised in the area is one of the five quality breeds of scalper in China. Besides, Gen-seng and Hairy Deer-horn are the local produces famous at home and abroad.

Korean people are well known for singing and dancing. Males are good at wrestling and football, and females like playing springboard and swing. Korean dancing include tambourin dance, sword dance, fan dance, and witch dance.

(2) Hezhe Nationality

Hezhe Nationality has a long history. Ancestors of Hezhe people settled in the drainage areas of Songhua River, Heilongjiang River, and Wusuli River in Northeast China. They used to be a branch of Nuzhen in Ming Dynasty. Hezhe Nationality is considered as the core of ancient Hezhe Clan. It comprised of people from Oroqen, Ewenki, Manchu, Han, and Mongol nationalities, and developed to be a relatively steady body in early Qing Dynasty.

Hezhe people have their own spoken language but without written characters. In early times they recorded something through chopping timbers, splitting leather, or inserting grass. Hezhe language belongs to Altai branch of Tungus system, a kind of language with adhering characters. Generally speaking, it can be divided into two categories: Qileng and Hezhen. But it changed a lot in the process of communication and interaction with neighboring nationalities. In fact, Hezhe language is a lingua franca. Based on the original linguistic structure, many other compositions, such as Manchu language, Mongol language, ancient Asian language, and a little part of Chinese, were combined with Hezhe language. With a smaller population living separately, Hezhe people started communication with Han people much earlier than other ethnic minorities. Therefore, most Hezhe people understand the spoken and written forms of Chinese.

3 .Ethnic Minorities in Northwest China

(1) Mongol

Almost in every part of China you can find the residence of Mongol people. People of Mongol Nationality mainly live in concentrated communities of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region; some reside separately or gathered in provinces and cities of North China, such as Xinjiang, Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang, Qinghai, Gansu, Ningxia, Henan, Hebei, and Beijing, etc; there is smaller part living in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces of Southwest China. People of Mongol Nationality like to call themselves “Mongol” which stands for the burning fire forever.

Mongol people have a characteristic—their life is always accompanied by horses. In history their ancestors made outstanding achievement on the back of horses in the battle field. Today horse is closely related with the life of Mongol people, no matter in production, travel, diet, and recreation. The image of horse appears frequently both in their songs and dancing (such as Herd Horse Dance and Yataghan Dance). One of the most popular sports of Mongol people is horse race, and even the most famous musical instrument is called horse head accordion. Therefore, Mongol Nationality is reputed as “The Nationality on Horse Back”.

Mongol people have their own spoken language and characters. It has three dialects, namely, Inner Mongol, Weilate, and Barhubuliyate. The universal characters among Mongol people were invented from Hu characters in early 13th century. Husbandry is the major industry on which Mongol people make a living. Besides, they also develop processing industry and agriculture.

(2) Uygur

At the foot of Tianshan Mountain which is covered with white snow in Xinjiang of Northwest China lives a nationality good at singing and dancing. It is Uygur Nationality. Uygur people like to call themselves Uygur which represents unity or union. Uygur people mainly live in concentrated communities in Kashi and Hetian to the south of Tianshan Mountain in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Akasu, and Kuerle. Others reside separately in Ili with a smaller proportion in Taoyuan and Changde in Hunan province.

Uygur people have their own language and it belongs to Altai branch and Tujue language system. Uygur Characters are of pinyin style and based on Arab characters. After the founding of People’s Republic of China, Latin characters were introduced as the basis of new Uygur characters co-existing with the old one.

Uygur People depend on agriculture. They plant various crops, such as cotton, wheat, corn, and rice. Besides, Uygur people are good at gardening. The largest grape production base of China lies in Turpan Basin, 184 kilometers to the southeast of Urumchi, the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

(3) Hui

Hui is one of the most populated nationalities among ethnic minorities in China. Hui people mainly live in concentrated communities in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region as well as provinces such as Gansu, Xinjiang, Qinghai, Hebnei, Yunnan, Shandong, etc.

Hui is the abbreviation of Huihui Nationality. Its ancestors were Huihui people who migrated to East China after the three expeditions by Mongol people in 13th century, and Muslim immigrates residing in the costal areas of Southeast China during Song and Tang Dynasty. Through long time communication (such as intermarriage) with many other nationalities in history, Hui people gradually acquired the customs and living habits of Han, Mongol, and Uygur, and developed Huihui Nationality. 

Chinese is the shared language of Hui people today. However, they also retain some words of Arabic and Farsi in daily interaction and religious activities. Hui people living in bordering areas of China often use the language of local ethnic minorities.  

The habitation of Hui people is characterized by small scale concentration while wide distribution. In the hinterland of China, Hui people live together with Han people; while in border areas, they mainly live in mixed communities with other ethnic minorities; most population of Hui Nationality distribute in regions with convenient transportation, and therefore enjoy developed economy and culture.

In addition, Hui people rely on agriculture, and at the same time husbandry and manufacturing industries. Hui people are good at business, especially cafeteria.

4 .Ethnic Minorities in Southwest China

(1) Tibetan

Tibetan Nationality mainly live in concentrated communities of the following areas: Tibetan Autonomous Region, Haibei, Huangnan, Guoluo, and Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Region in Qinghai Province, Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Regions, Gannan and Tianzhu Tibetan Autonomous Regions in Gansu Province, Abei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and Tumu Tibetan Autonomous County in Sichuan Province, and Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province.

Tibetan people have their own spoken and written language. Tibetan language belongs to Cambodian branch, Sino-Tibetan language system. It can be divided into three dialects, namely, Weizang, Kangfang, and Anduo. Today’s Tibetan language is based on pinyin characters according to Sanskrit and Xiyu Characters in early seventh century. The booming period of Tibetan culture is from 10th century to 16th century.

Tibetan Opera has its own unique characteristics. Singing and dancing of Tibetan people fully reflect the national character of the nationality. The sculpture techniques of Tibetan people are also very famous. The Potala Palace on Hongshan Mountain in Lasa, the capital city of Tibet, is the palace complex with the highest altitude in the world. It is well known for construction style, frescos, sculpture art, and precious cultural relics.

Tibetan Medicines is a very important component of Chinese Medicines. It is especially famous in veterinarian. The famous medical book is Four Materia Medica. Besides, divination of Tibetan can predict eclipse and weather conditions in the local area.

(2) Dai

Dai Nationality is a unique nationality in Yunnan. Dai people mainly live in concentrated communities in Xishuangbanna, Dehong, Jingpo Autonomous Region, Dima, and Menglian in the tropical zone and sub-tropical zone.

Dai Nationality was one of the excellent nationalities in ancient times. “Dai” means freedom and peace. Dai Nationality has unique characters and Dai people like singing and dancing very much. They are good at imitating the movements and images of wild animals through elegant and vivid postures. Popular dances include Peacock Dance and Xiangjiao Dance. Peacock Dance is well known for the expression of fine emotion and elegance through dainty and graceful body movements. Therefore, the beauty of peacock is well expressed and even endowed with character of human beings. Audience of the dance would unconsciously enter inebriation, enjoying to their heart content the atmosphere of poem.

Dai language is a branch of Zhuang and Dong language family in Sino-Tibetan. Dai people have their own characters through which they record rich historical legends, religious classics, and poetry. Dai people are good at singing and dancing. They created colorful civilization and become well known for Dai Calendar, Dai Medicine, and long narration poems.

(3) Miao

Nationality has a population of about 970,000 people. Most of them live in concentrated communities spreading in Southeast Guizhou province, Damiao Mountain in Guangxi, Hainan Island, and the bordering areas among many provinces such as Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guangxi. Miao people have a long history. According to the record   in historical books, the ancestors of Miao Nationality lived in the drainage area of Yellow River and mid-stream of Yangtze River five thousand years ago, and they were the tribe called Nanman Clan. Miao people do not have their own written language, and their spoken language belongs to Miao-Yao language family of Sino-Tibetan system. Miao people like to live in mountainous areas and depend upon agriculture. Major crops include corn, dry rice, buckwheat, potatoes, and beans. Hemp is the economic crop of Miao People who plant it themselves and use it for weaving cloth. In terms of civil literature, Miao people have developed rich artistic forms, such as ancient songs, poetry, and love songs, etc. They like dancing very much and are famous for Lusheng Dance.

Miao people have their own language which comprises of three dialects, namely, Xiangxi, Qiandong, and Chuanqiandian. After 1956, Miao people designed a character diagram based on Latin. Through long term communication with Han people, most of the population has acquired Chinese.

Miao Nationality also depends on agriculture with hunting as an assistant industry. It boasts of various industrial arts featuring cross-stitch work, cere-dye, embroidery, brocade, paper-cutting, broidery, and accessory, which are well known at home and abroad. The technique of cere-dye has a long history of thousands of years. Miao clothing can be classified into over 130 categories in terms of style, capable of competing with that of any other nation in the world. Miao people are good at singing and dancing, and widely reputed for love songs and drinking songs. Lusheng, Chinese wind pipe made of reed, is the most representative musical instrument of Miao Nationality.

(4) Dong

Dong people mainly live in the cities of county level in Guizhou Province, Hunan Province, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. To be specific, they are Tianzhu, Jinping, Liping, Congjiang, Rongjiang, Jianhe, Sansui, Zhenyuan, Tongren, Jiangkou and Yuping Dong Autonomous County in Guizhou Province, Tongdao, Xinhuang, Zhijiang and Jingzhou Autonomous Regions as well as Suining, Huitong, and Qianyang etc, in Hunan Province, and Sanjiang, Longsheng, Rongshui, Luocheng, and Huanjiang in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Besides, there are still tens of thousands of people residing in cities of Hubei Province, such as Enshi, Xuan’en, and Xianfeng, etc.

Dong Nationality has its own spoken language which belongs to Zhuang-Dong Language family of Sino-Tibetan system. Dong language has no characters or written form at the very beginning. In 1950s Dong Characters were invented. Now most Dong people can understand and use Chinese.

Agriculture and forestry are the major industries of Dong people. They are good at planting Yugeng rice and raising fish in paddy field. Fir is a famous production of local forestry. Dong people have their own language but most of them have mastered Chinese. Dong Nationality did not have written language at the very beginning. It was not until 1958 that it invented pinyin based on Latin letters. Dong people have their own civil opera—Dong Opera.

Panpipe and dizi of Dong nationality are two traditional Chinese musical instruments. Dong people also boast of architecture. Each stockade village has unique design. It is constructed without using any nail or mortise, displaying the extract of Chinese ancient constructions such as pavilions and terraces.

(5) Bai

Bai Nationality is a nation good at singing and dancing. It boasts of a long history and developed culture with a population of 1,482,000. Bai people mainly live in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture which is reputed as “Famous Prefecture of Documents”. Over 4000 years ago, ancestors of Bai people started to work and live in this land, and created splendid erhai Culure. Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture used to be the capital of Nanzhao State in Tang Dynasty and Dali State in Song Dynasty. It remained as the political, economic, and cultural center of Yunnan province for over 500 years. Besides, there is a small part of Bai population living in Lijiang, Baoshan, and Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture. Bai people like to call themselves Baizi, Baini, and Baihuo, all standing for “the people of Bai Nationality”.

(1)  Naxi

Naxi people mainly live in concentrated communities of Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County of Yunnan Province. There are still a proportion residing in Weixi, Zhongdian, Ninglang, and Deqin in Yunnan, Yanbian, Yanyuan, and Muli of Sichuan, as well as Zhikang in Xizang. Naxi people used to be a branch of Guqiang people in Northwest China, and they migrated to Lijiang area in about third century BC and settled down.

Naxi people speak Naxi language which is a branch of Cambodian of Sino-Tibetan language system. It comprises of two dialects in the east and west. With Jinsha River as the water shed, 200,000 in the west can communicate with each other with the same language; the east can be further divided into three parts and each has its local colloquial language. Therefore, communication among Naxi people in the east is more difficult than that in the west.

Over 1000 years ago, Naxi people invented two kinds of primeval pictographs—Dongba Character and Geba Character of pinyin. They were known as the live pictographs which are rare in the world today. Dongba Scriptures written in Dongba characters has about 9000 volumes in China and around 11,000 collected in other countries. In 1957, Naxi people invented the pinyin character diagram based on Latin letters. Now Chinese is the popular language among Naxi people.

Naxi people make a living on agricultural production. They plant various crops, such as rice, corn, potato, wheat, beans, cotton, and hemp, etc. The banks of Jinjiang River are areas of forest with abundant produces of medical materials and special local products. Yulong Mountain District has a variety of plants and is reputed as “Treasury of Plants”. Handicraft industry has achieved development recently. Mid and small size corporations on other industries, such as machinery, mining, power generation, chemical fertilizer production, and manufacturing, are growing rapidly.

(2)  Yi  

Yi people mainly live in Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou, and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Boasting a population of 4,446,100 people (according to census made in 1997 in Yunnan), Yi Nationality is the largest nationality among all ethnic minorities in Yunnan Province. Most counties and cities of Yunnan are settled by Yi people, and the most populated areas are Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Ailao Mountain and Wumeng Mountain areas in Honghe River Hani Yi Autonomous Prefecture, and Little Liangshan Mount area to the north of Dianxi. Yi Nationality has a long history and it was recorded quite early in historical books. The ancestors of Yi people were known as Kunming people who had close relations with Shiqiang people in history.

Yi language comes from the family of Tibetan-Cambodian of Sino-Tibetan system. Comprising of six dialects, it has its own written characters, the earliest form of Chinese pinyin. Among them, the most widely used characters are about 1000. In 1957, a standard Yi language diagram was passed by. It came into forth at once specified with 819 standard characters.

Yi Nationality has splendid culture and art. Works on history, literature, medicine, and chronology written in Yi language are valuable documents. The popular civil dance with Yi people is called Tiaoye, a form of collective dance. Traditional industrial arts include embroidery, coating of lacquer, silver accessory, carving, and painting, etc. Yi people depend on agriculture with husbandry as their assistant industry. Handicraft industry is very developed.

Clothing of Yi people are diversified with about 100 categories.

5 .Ethnic Minorities in South and Mid China

(1) Zhuang

Zhuang Nationality is the largest nationality among all ethnic minorities in China. Zhuang people mainly live Wenshan Zhuang Autonomous Prefecture, Honghe River Hani Yi Autonomous prefecture, and Qujing area in Yunnan Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Lianshan of Guangdong Province, Congjiang of Guizhou Province, and Jianghua in Hunan Province, etc. Zhuang people have their own language but most of them can understand and speak Chinese. Zhuang language belongs to Zhuang-Dai language family of Sino-Tibetan system.

On the basis of many artistic forms such as civil literature, music, dance, and various crafts, Zhuang people created Zhuang Opera. Copper drum is the most representative musical instrument of Zhuang Nationality.

Agriculture is the major industry of Zhuang people. Gen-seng, toad, and fennel oil are famous special local products. The production of sugar cane in the residential area of Zhuang Nationality tops other places all over the country.

(2) Yao

Yao Nationality has a long history and splendid culture. Boasting over 2,134,000 people, Yao Nationality is a ethnic group who is industrious, brave, and good at singing and dancing. Yao people of several generations have lived in the mountainous areas of many regions in South China, such as Gaungxi, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangdong, Jiangxi, and Hainan. There are abundant precipitation, rich forest resources, minerals, and wild animals, etc. For instance, Yaoshan Mountain in Jianghua is reputed as “Green Treasury” and is well known as the largest natural vegetable kingdom in Guangxi Province; Grand Yaoshao Mountain in Jinxiu is honored “Village of Fir”, etc.

Yao People have their own language, a branch of Yao language family in Sino-Tibetan system. However, it is not shared by all Yao people. Half of the population speaks Mian language belonging to Miao-Yao language family, and two fifths speak Bunu language as a b ranch of Miao language. Some in Guangxi speak Lajia language which comes from Zhuang-Dong language family. In fact, most people speak Chinese and Zhuang language. They do not have written language and therefore have acquired the use of Chinese characters. Their spoken language cultivated rich oral literature.

Yao Nationality has about 63 abbreviations, such as Mian, Men, and Min, and 390 bynames, including Panyao, Landianyao, and Hongtouyao, etc. After the founding of People’s Republic of China, it is generally called Yao Nationality.

Due to the limitation of geographical locations, most Yao people retain their old living habits of hunting, fishing, and farming, entertainment forms of singing and dancing, exquisite Yao style clothing, moving legends, unique customs of marriage, and religious belief.

(3) Tujia 

 Tujia people mainly live Longshan, Yongshun, Baojing, and Guzhang counties of Tujia Miao Autonomous Region of Xiangxi in Hunan Province, and Laifeng, Hefeng, Xuan’en, Lichuan, and Enshi counties in Tujia Miao Autonomous Region of Enshi in Hubei Province, as well as Yinjiang and Yanhe in Guizhou Province.

Tujia people have their own spoken language and most of them understand Chinese. By now there are several concentrated communities who retain the use of Tujia language. They have no written language and therefore share Chinese characters with Han people.

Tujia people depend on agriculture. Embroidery and weaving are two traditional arts and crafts of Tujia females. Other traditional handicrafts include carving, painting, paper-cutting, and cere-dye. Tujia brocade, known as Xilankapu, is one of the famous brocades all over China.

Tujia people like singing mountain songs comprising of love song, labor song, nuptial song, sad melody, funeral march, and hands-waving song, etc. Traditional dances include hands-waving dance, Babao cooper bell dance, and Maogusi dance. Musical instruments include Chinese Clarinet, Chinese block, rattle drum, and big gong, etc.

(4) Li

Li people mainly live in concentrated communities of Dongfang, Baisha, Lingshui, and Changjiang Li Autonomous County, Ledong, Qiongzhong, and Baoting Li and Miao Autonomous County in South-mid Hainan Province. There is still a smaller part of Li Nationality residing together with other ethnic minorities in other cities and counties of Hainan Province.    

Besides agriculture, Li people also develop handicraft industry, husbandry, and business. Fishery and salt industry are very rich in the area of Li Nationality, one of the major production bases of rubber in China. Residential houses of Li people have two categories: ship style and pyramid style. The former is made of bamboo and it looks like the mat of boat; the latter is made of trunk with bamboo wall.

Li people have bold and plain characters. They are good at singing and dancing with unique glamour. Now bamboo pole dance is the most characteristic dance in Hainan.

6. Customs and Habits


Various ethnic minorities of China have developed unique characteristics and national styles in the process of historical development. They vary from each in customs and living habits, such as clothing, diet, residence, marriage, rtes, and burial ceremonies, etc. Each ethnic minority has the right to retain or change its customs or habits. In the aspect of social life, the Central Government of CPC protects the right of ethnic minorities in retaining or reforming their own customs and living habits.

The traditional culture of ethnic minorities is respected and protected by law. Each ethnic minority has the freedom and right to retain and develop its culture. In the long time of history, different ethnic minorities in China have developed their unique customs and habits according to specific natural, social, and economic conditions.

In terms of diet, people in South China like rice while people in North China favor food made of flour; Uygur, Kazak, and Uzbek people like grilled mutton, hand-taking rice, and pancake of wheat or corn flour; Mongol people like eating stir-fried rice, deep-fried lamb tail, and milk tea; Korean people like cake, cool noodle, and Kraut; Tibetan people favor roasted Qingke barley flour and buttered tea; Li, Jing, and Dai people like betel palm.

On clothing, Mongol people like to wear Mongol gown and riding root; Tibetan people favor Tibetan style gown; Uygur people like four-corner embroider camp; Korean people like boat style rubber overshoes; Miao, Yi, and Tibetan females like to wear silver accessories; Yi people usually wear Caerwa, a kind of woolen wrap with the shape of cloke.

In terms of residential house, Han people usually live in houses with courtyards; ethnic groups in the pastoral areas of Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Qinghai, and Gansu like to live in yurts; Dai, Zhuang, and Buyi people in South China favor Ganlan style buildings.

Chinese ethnic minorities have different customs on funeral. There are cremation, inhumation, water burial, and celestial burial. Hui, Uygur, and many other ethnic minorities follow inhumation; Tibetan people take celestial burial, inhumation, and water burial.

Various ethnic minorities have varied customs and traditions during Spring Festival. For instance, there are Tibetan New Year, Xuedun Festival; Corban and Lasser Bairam of Hui and Uygur people; Nadam Fair of Mongol people; Water-Sprinkling Festival of Dai Nationality; and Torch Festival of Yi people, etc. Each ethnic minority has the freedom and right to celebrate traditional festivals according to its customs.

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