She ethnic minority is one of the ethnic minorities in China with typical living habits. In the Tang Dynasty, they inhabited in the border areas of provinces of Fujian, Guangdong and Jiangxi, when they were called “Man”, “Manliao”, “Dongman” or “Dongliao”. At the end of the Southern Song Dynasty, they were named “Shemin” and “Quanmin”, which started to appear in historic books. The name “She” means using knife and fire. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the ethnic minority was recognized as one of the 56 ethnic minorities in China, and the name of “She” has been used since then. Some people of She ethnic minority use their own language, She language, which belongs to the Miao-Yao language group of Sino-Tibetan family. 90% of She people use the language similar to Hakka, with some differences in speaking. Some words are totally different from Hakka. Some people also use Southern Fujian dialect. She people don’t have their own scripts, and they commonly use Chinese languages. There is only one She Autonomous County, Jinning, which is located in the mountainous area of South Zhejiang Province. She people in Jinning was originated in 766 of the Tang Dynasty. It was more than 1200 years ago that they moved from Fujian Province to southwestern Zhejiang Province. Therefore Jinning is also called the hometown of She ethnic group.
There are many versions about the origin of She ethnic group. A popular version is that the She people and Yao people were originated together from the “Wulingman (also called Wuximan)” in Changsha City of Hunan Province in the Han and Jin dynasties. They shared the same origin with the Yao people. In the 7th century at the turn of the Sui Dynasty to the Tang Dynasty, She people lived in the border areas of Fujian Province, Guangdong Province and Jiangxi Province. After the Song Dynasty, they started to migrate to areas in middle and north part of Fujian Province. During the Ming and Qing dynasties, many She people lived in mountainous areas in eastern Fujian, southern Zhejiang and other areas.
In the Sui and Tang dynasties, She people living in the border mountainous areas of Fujian Province, Guangdong Province and Jiangxi Province began to engage in agriculture and hunting. The explored the wastelands in very tough environments. During the Tang Dynasty, the central government administrated areas such as Zhangzhou and Dingzhou in Fujian Province, and adopted a series of policies to develop the economy, which contributed to the development of the economy in mountainous areas where She people lived, and also enhanced the relationship between Han people and She people.
During the migration process and exploration process of She ethnic minority, She people created rich and colorful arts and culture with very distinctive ethnic features. She people have prolific literary art, such as folk songs which are an important kind of ingredient of the She literature,mainly sung in She language. She literature is mainly oral. She people love singing. At festivals, jubilant occasions, or when guests come to visit and even when farming at fields, She people like to sing. The number of the folk songs that have been passed down reaches more than 1000 with forty to fifty lines.
The traditional costumes and accessories of She ethnic minority are multicolored and beautiful. She people like wearing green blue, and materials that are usually home-weave flax. Nowadays, the men’s clothes of She ethnic minority are the same with those of Han people, but in some parts of eastern Fujian and southern Zhejiang, She women’s clothes and accessories are of distinctive ethnic features. There are decorative borders rimmed on the collar, cuff and the right front. They like wrapping their legs while wearing short pants. The hairstyle of women is different from that of the Han people. Young girls like tangling their hair with a red string to braid a plait and make a bun on the top of the head. Married women usually wear phoenix coronets, which are made by a stick of thin bamboo wrapped by red kerchief with a red cloth of about 30 centimeters long and 3 centimeters wide. Young, middle-aged and old men wear red, blue and black threads respectively in their hair. On the phoenix coronet, there is a round silver plate with three smaller silver plates. A silver hairpin is inserted on the coronet. The accessories such as silver necklace, silver bracelet, silver chains and silver earrings are worn, which are bright-colored and shiny.
Before the founding of the People’s Republic of China, She people adopted monogamy and have kept their traditional marriage customs of primitive simplicity. According to their custom, people with the same family name do not tend to get married with each other. People get married with people of different family names within the ethnic group, including Pan, Lan, Lei and Zhong. In the beginning, it was the traditional marriage custom to get married with other ethnic groups. However, with the oppression and discrimination policies of ancient rulers, it was a strict regulation of the ethnic group to forbid marriage with Han people. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the intermarriage of Han and She people increased, due to the carrying out of the policy of equality and unity among all ethnic groups. Nowadays, the men and women of She ethnic group enjoy freedom to choose their spouse.
The main festivals celebrated by She ethnic people include March Third Festival, Fenlong Festival (harvest praying festival), July the Seventh Festival, Autumn Begins Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Double Ninth Festival and Spring Festival. In addition, every year, on February 15, July 15 and August 15 of the Chinese lunar calendar, She ethnic people worship their ancestors. She people attach much importance to traditional festivals and worshiping of ancestors. When worshiping ancestors, they will offer sacrifices including two cups of wine, one cup of tea, three vegetable dishes, three meat dishes and seasonal wheat. During the festivals, besides wine and meat which are indispensable, there are habits and rules about what to eat. However, Ciba (cooked glutinous rice pounded into paste) is prepared in any festival. On the birthday of adults, people will prepare Ciba, and kill chicken and duck.
Taboos during the Spring Festival: It is forbidden to tote excrement with a carrying pole on January 1; it is forbidden to sweep the floor from January 1 to 4. On January 5, people see off the past year by burning the rubbish on the roadside after sweeping the floor. From the New Year’s Eve to January 3, and on January 15, it is not allowed to scold people, strike a fire, light up the lamp or borrow stuff from neighbors. It is forbidden to air clothes on January 15. It is forbidden to do farm work on January 20.
Marriage taboos: Women have the “trouble of 18”, which means that they should not get married at the age of 18, otherwise they will not be pregnant and will do harm to their husband. Men have the “trouble of 20”, which means that they should not get married at the age of 20. On the way to the husband’s home, the bride should never look backward; otherwise she will be divorced and remarried. It is also inauspicious to encounter pregnant woman on her way, because they think that the pregnant woman will ruin the happiness of the bride and the evil spirits will follow the bride to her husband’s home.
Burial taboos: The dead people’s birth year should not be the opposite birth year of his or her relatives. For example, if the dead was born in the Zi year, his or her son, daughter and daughter-in-law is forbidden to attend his or her funeral if they were born in the Wu year, because Zi year and Wu year are opposite to each other. During the funeral, it is forbidden to let the coffin bump on two sides of the house gate.
Belief in Hunting Deity:As hunting takes up an important role in She people’s life, She people have kept the faith in hunting deity since ancient times. Hakka people also worship the hunting deity under the influence of She people.
Belief in Sanshan Guowang: Sanshan Guowang (Three-Mountain-Guandian) is one of the most important deities of today’s Hakka people in eastern Guangdong Province. Many people think the Sanshan Guowang is the unique deity of Hakka people.