Hani Ethnic Minority

Written by Matteo Updated Jun. 18, 2021

Hani People in China largely spread across the counties of Xinping, Zhengyuan, Mojiang, Yuanjiang, Honghe, Yuanyang, Lvchun, Jingping, Jiangchen (the regions of Honghe, Banna, Simao, Yuxi etc.) on the western bank of the lower reaches of the Honghe River, southwest of Yunnan Province. According to the fifth National Census conducted in 2000, Hani has a population of 1,439,673.

Origin and History

As regards the origin of Hani People, four points of view are heard in the relevant academic circle, 1) Oriental Origin 2) Multiple Origins and Cultural Blending 3) Natives to Both Banks of the Honghe River 4) Shi Qiang Migrating Southwards

Oriental Origin: This school argues that Hani People share the same origin of Han People. This argument is based on the fact that in some Hani community of south Yunnan the names of father and son are interrelated, which originates from the Han regions of Nanjing, Shanxi, Henan, Jiangxi and Guizhou.

Multiple Origins and Cultural Blending: Scholars holding this view hold that Hani People is a blend of nationalities including northern hordes from the Qinghai - Tibet Plateau and southern agricultural people living on rice paddy from the Yunnan Plateau.

Natives to Both Banks of the Honghe River: Relied on the unearthed relics and antiques, this school forwards that Hani People is native to the Honghe River region and has nothing to do with those nationalities on the northwestern highlands.

Shi and Qiang Migrating Southwards: This is the most popular academic view, arguing that together with dozens of other nationalities in Yunnan speaking Yi language, Hani People is mainly derived from the ancient Shi and Qing clans.


The ancestors of both Hani and Yi were called "Wuman" during the Shui and Tang Dynasties. At the beginning of Tang, Hani began to separate from Wuman. They spread sparsely across the regions of the Lao Mountain and Wuliang Mountain and were called Heni. The Clan of Heman that appeared in the Liuzhao Mountain, southeast of Dian established economic and political ties with central China at that time by paying tributes to the central government for many times. With the rising of Nanzhao, all the other Hani clans fell under its reign. Together with Yi people of northeast and south Dian, they were called 37 Mans. In the middle of the 10th century laird system was set up after Hani had been entitled and recognized by the Duan royal family of Dali Kingdom.

In early Ming Dynasty Hani clans helped the Ming Army to conquer the palace of King Liang, the last stronghold of the Yuan government in Yunnan. The Yunnan Xinzhongshu Province was renamed Yunnan Buzhensi. In the Ailao Mountain region, the chief of the local government was selected from the Hani people, which helped bring Hani closer to the central government. After the middle of the 14th century Hani clans in Xinping, Yuanjiang, Mojiang, Puer and Zhengyuan started their transition to the higher development stage of feudalist society.

At the end of Ming Dynasty, when the Qing army was coming at Yunnan, Long Tao, the Hani chief united other people in the Liuzhao Mountain and Ailao Mountain. In 1665 the anti Qing rising took place in central and south Yunnan and the local governor Lu Changxian was elected as the rebellion leader. After the failure of the rising, the Qing army dismantled the local government and allocated this region to the governing of two provinces of Guangxi and Kaihua, which marked the end of the 500 years ruling of the Long Family in southeast Dian. This period however witnessed the Hani's melting and blending with other nationalities. Some of them migrated to the area around the Ailao Mountain at the southern bank of the Honghe River. Until then Hani of the Liuzhao Mountain region, southeast Dian vanished finally.

In the fall of 1853 under the leadership of Tian Silang (originally called Tian Yizhen, Hani nationality, living in Mojiang), 3,000 people of various ethnic origins rose in Zhenyan, Mojiang and Xinping. The rebels even took the whole Zhenyuan County and the region around Ailao Mountain.

1n 1917 led by the "Miao Queen" Ma Bomai, people from the Banana River reigned by Chief Jingpingmending rose again. Due to her unparalleled courage, Lu Meibei, a young lady from the Sha Village, Yuanyang County, was entitled Senior General by the "Miao Queen". In the spring of 1920 the rising army was defeated in the Malutang and Mao Mountain, Lu Meibei survived thanks to the protection of the locals. Later she was called Duoshaahbo(it means the grandfather of the Sha Village).

In the past century a series of risings for liberty and better life took place in this region but all ended in failure. Until the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the local Hani People won real liberation.


Hani nationality has a number of names for themselves; some most frequently used are Hani, Kaduo, Yani, Haoni, Biyue, Budu, Baihong etc.; other rarely used include Nuobi, Nuomei, Gehe, Haliao and Nami. In Tang and Song Dynasties, Hani was called Heman, in Yuan Dynasty called Wuman, in Ming Dynasty called Heni, in Qing Dynasty Woni or Heni. Although there are so many names, their pronunciations are all close to He (in Chinese it means peace and harmony). After the founding of the P.R.C., according to the wish of most Hani people, Hani became the common name for this nationality. As for those living outside China, Ahka is their name.


Hani Language, a branch of Yi Language, Sino-Tibetan Language Family, is spoken in three different dialect zones. Each Hani dialect varies tremendously from another, therefore people speaking different Hani dialects can not communicate with each other in their mother tongues.

Hani vowels, mostly have single syllable, are differentiated as tight and loose while compound vowels basically appear in the words imported from mandarin. Word order and empty words are important in the syntax. The ordinary sentence order is subject + object + verbs. In the past Hani People had no written characters. After the founding of the PRC in 1949, the Latinized Hani characters were created with the help of the central government. The Hani language spoken in Da Village of the Luchun County, a branch of the Haya dialect, was set as the standard Hani pronunciation. Meanwhile a large number of Hani language teachers were trained and many Hani textbooks compiled. Nowadays Hani language is taught in many of the local schools.

Costumes and Decorations

Hani dresses are mainly made of indigo dyed cloth. The pigments are all obtained from the wood or terraced field around the village.

Black is the favorite color of Hani People. All of the Hani people in Shenbaodill dress themselves in black, which has much to do with their deep and profound history, aesthetics, stage of social development, living environment as well as life style. For instance, people in Shenbaodi make a living by working on the terraced field. For these farmers and residents on high land, heavy and durable clothes that keep warm and endure dirty environment have obvious advantages. Additionally this is also demonstration of the hermit living style and attitude of the locals, their uncultured dress material and less developed dyeing techniques.

The Hani dresses and ornaments signify their agricultural life and work on the terraced fields. For instance, the embroidery and silver ornaments on the clothes stand for the terraced fields which go layers upon layers. The crabs, clams and fish suggest Hani People's adoration for water.

Hani men basically wear tight shirt, loose pants and black scarf while the female dresswith complex decoration. What is worthy of mentioning is that the ancient Hani did not have shoes and socks. They wore a sort of special wooden shoes, whose soles were not slippery and therefore good for walking on the muddy rice paddy.


Hani food is divided into natural and cooked food. Rice being their staple food; corn and barley are also their grain. Common Hani cooking methods are pickling, braising, stir-frying, steaming, baking, grilling, pot roasting and frying etc. Such typical Hani food as Steamed Rice, Sticky Rice Pie, Baiwang and Weiyan Tea will be addressed below.

Steamed Rice: Called Heche in Hani language, the rice should be submerged in cold water for at least four hours and then be dried and steamed until half done in a vase. After that the rice is put in a wood basin filled with water. The rice is beaten up with a wood bat so that it can absorb the water soon and become softer.

Sticky Rice Pie: To make it softer and stickier, the sticky rice should be kept in water for at least seven to eight hours before being steamed. The cooked rice is then shattered and made into pie. Packed by banana leaves, the fragrant and delicious pie is a top gift for relatives and friends.

Baiwang: A small amount of salt is put into the blood of pig, goat or dog to help with concretion in a short time. Then the blood cakes are grilled on charcoal fire with pork, radish slice, garlic leaves, chili, pepper and some other vegetable and seasonings. Finally some peanuts are sowed upon the top of the cake. The ready cake is a mixture of many colors and tastes, a very good dish for treating guests.

Weiyan Tea: It is made by cooking the yellow baked tea with fresh water. The ready tea is bright in color and strong in fragrance, being a favorite Hani beverage.

Unique Fish Mud: The Hani people in Pengduo Village of the Yimen County have a tradition of eating a large variety of fresh meat. Deer, goat, wild birds, loach and yellow eel often appear on their menu. They have a special way to cook fish, called fish mud. It is made when the fish in hand is not enough for a meal. The cooking method is like this: the fish gill and bowels and scales shall all be removed in advance then the fish is grilled on the charcoal fire until becoming golden in color. Then add hot peppers, salts, chili oil and many other seasonings to the fish. The special fish mud is a good delicacy for drinking wine or beer.
Many other Hani delicacies are equally recommendable: meat porridge, banana pickle, meat ball and bean powder soup, sour meat, bee chrysalis jam, stir fried bee chrysalis etc. Both Hani men and women are generally smokers and heated wine and teas are their favorite drinks. Chewing areca is also popular among the Hani People.

Etiquettes and Taboos

In general the center of a Hani house is the sitting room with the living room on the east the parents where there is an ancestral shrine, therefore not accessible to outsiders. The fire pool is the core of the Hani family life. Above the fire pool there stands a spider which can not be trampled. People should also avoid spitting at, striding over the fire pool and touching the firewood in the pool by one's foot. As to the doorsill, one ought not to stand or sit on it, and hack it with a knife. The unmarried ladies and widows are forbidden to give birth in the village.

Hani is a hospitable and warm-hearted people. When visiting an ordinary Hani family, you will be served with the Hani home-made cigarette pipe. If you are not a smoker, you should decline this kind entertainment in a courteous manner otherwise the hosts will be unhappy. When an elderly people enter the room, the young are supposed to stand up and give seats, cigarettes and teas to him. Passing cigarettes, teas or wine and suchlike to an old man, one should use both of his or her hands to show respects and good manners. In front of an old man, the young should avoid folding their arms or legs, blowing whistles, or talking loudly. When walking together, one should not walk before an old man. At the table the chicken head and liver are set aside for the old. At the banquet the host may offer the guests the chicken head and liver, the young guest should transfer the head and liver to the eldest afterwards. Hani religious rituals or family banquets normally start with some blessing remarks made by the elderly. People take turns subject to one's age to have wine and food. The oldest is the first to have wine, and then the turn passes down counter-clock wisely.

Shortly after the birth of a baby, some human images made by ginger, bamboo leaves or a saw – like wood knife are hanged over the door of the family. Others should avoid entering the room of the lying-in woman when seeing the images. In the Hani belief one's uncle (the brothers of mother) is the most senior, so if a baby does not know his or her uncle, he or she can not grow well. Therefore there is a very important Hani custom called "recognizing the uncle". On the day to recognize one's uncle, both the mother and young baby get up in the early morning. The mother wash the baby's face cleanly and dressed him or her neatly. The mother should also paint a black mark on the baby's forehead and tie some garlic to the baby's hat, aiming to ward off the evils. When everything is ready, the mother will carry the baby on her back and set off to the uncle's home. In the mother's bag there are many fried stirred yellow beans, steamed chicken eggs, sticky rice pies. The mother also carries a white umbrellas and a sickle with each of her hand. On the way whoever they meet, regardless of sex, age, nationality or religious belief, the mother will offer some beans and a big smile as gift. Traveling in the Hani region if you are lucky enough to encounter such a Hani mother, you are advisable to accept her kind offer and give your blessings in return.


Apart from the Spring Festival and Mid Autumn Day (the same as Han People) Hani nationality celebrate NianshouZhalete (in October), Chizhazha (also called May Festival), June Festival, Planting Rice Seedlings Festival (also called Yellow Rice Festival), and Tasting the Fresh Festival etc. The Hani calendar divides a year into three seasons, namely, cold, warm and rainy seasons, each lasting for four months. Two New Year Days (October New Year and June New Year) are celebrated in a year.

October New Year

It falls on the first Dragon Day of lunar October. The five to six days celebration is all about worshipping God and ancestors. A rooster is killed and cooked outside one's house. Each family member except girls who are about to get marry should eat one piece of the chicken. Afterwards three rice balls and some cooked meat are given to the eldest people in the clan. During the celebration a grand Jiexin Banquet (a banquet held in the centre of the street) which is an occasion for people to exhibit their cooking techniques and skills.

June New Year

It is celebrated in June, but the precise date is determined by the flamen. Rooster and goats are sacrificed to the God of Grain and Heaven. When building the autumn house for the God of Heaven, a bull is killed and sacrificed in front of one's door. After the ceremony the beef is averaged by the attendants, which implies that people are sharing the gifts from the God.

Hani Spring Festival

Days before the New Year eve the Hani women begin to prepare sticky rice pies, young men go out to the forest to collect firewood and a swing is built up in the center of the village. In the region of Simao, people also build up Moqiu which is like a seesaw. The first three days of the New Year celebration is all about playing swings and Moqiu on the village square. The Hani residents in Jinggu and Zhengyuan may dance and exchange folk songs in the evening; therefore it is a chance for the young to seek their lover.

Fresh Rice Festival

Falling on 24th of June, it is a Kaduo (Kaduo is a branch of Hani living in the Mojiang Hani Autonomous County) festival to celebrate the days when grains and other agricultural produces such as beans ripen. People are supposed to eat the newly ripe rice on the day which they believe that can bring about new energy and strength. If the rice has not been ready yet, Kaduo People will still grinds the fresh rice and eats the flour with other food.

Miao Aina Festival

After planting the rice seedlings in the early part of May, the Hani People in the county of Lv will celebrate the Miao Aina Festival. Aina means the holiday after planting seedling. When the day arrives, a pig and a goat are butchered, their meat are split among all the households of the village. After the day the water buffalo horn is blown to announce that the farmers and their cattle can rest for a while. There is a folk tale about this tradition. Many years ago, a little cowboy wanted his two bulls to browse on the hillside. Accustomed to daily farm work on the rice paddy, the bulls refused to obey the boy's order and stood still on the rice field. The boy had no way but blew his buffalo horn and said to the bulls: "Oh, my dear friends, you have done a good job recently. Now the sowing has been done and it is time for you to have a rest." The bulls understood his words and left for the hillside happily. Ever since then as part of the celebration, the local villagers will serve their bulls with best green grass, tea, wine and a bowel of rice and meat as gratitude and recognition of their hard work. Besides the plough, shovel and hoe are washed and laid in the yard. In the evening bonfires are burned up, and villagers dance and sing around the fire until midnight.

Limazhu Festival

In the language of Hani, Limazhu means the pretty and great scenery of spring. It is an important Hani festival that falls in the dynamic March every year when the camellia is blossoming. The Hani nationality living on the bank of the Honghe River is very fond of cuckoo and calls it Haboahma. Each year when the cuckoo start singing, the Hani villagers will prepare good wine and tasty food. The food tributes to cuckoo include steamed sticky rice (the rice is cooked with a kind of arbor blossom.) and red chicken eggs (the egg shells are painted red). There goes a legend as regards the origin of the festival. A long time ago, the cuckoo was sent by the God from the heaven to deliver the message of spring to the human beings. Exhausted after flying a long distance, the bird was about to drop into the sea. Suddenly a dragon tail emerged from the sea surface and turned out to be a big tree. The cuckoo therefore could stop and rest on the tree. After a good rest the cuckoo continued her long journey again and eventually fulfilled this great mission. The message helped the villagers with their spring sowing and they harvested a lot that year. To give thanks to the cuckoo, the Limazhu Festival was created and celebrated every year.

Moqiu Festival

As a significant traditional Hani festival, Moqiu arrives on the Pig Day or Dog Day of May in lunar calendar and so it is also called May Year Day. There is an inviting folk tale about the coming of the festival. Once upon a time, there were two Hani young people; the elder brother was called Ah Lang and the younger sister called Ah Ang. Ah Lang was famous for his great martial skills and the sister Ah Ang was pretty and clever. Both were kind and warm-hearted people, having good reputation among the villagers. At that time, the sun and the moon did not rise and set regularly: sometimes, for example, the sun might stay shining in the sky for several days. As a result the grain could not grow well on the earth. The brother and sister decided to fly up to the heaven and persuaded the sun and the moon to do their job regularly. They got chestnut wood from the woods and made the Moqiu. After they rode on it, the Moqiu started to revolve and rise up and they flied all the way to get to the heaven. With great efforts and true heart, they managed to persuade the sun and the moon in the end. Ever since then the sun only comes out in the daytime while the moon only emerges in the dark evening. But Ah Lang and Ah Ang never returned again. To memorize these two young people and express their gratitude, the villagers will make and play the Moqiu on The Pig or Dog Day of the lunar May every year. In the evening chicken, ducks, beef, fish and sticky rice pie are offered to the inventor of Moqiu, Ah Lang and Ah Ang. So the festival comes into being.

Old Man Festival

On the 15th of each winter month of the lunar calendar, Hani residents in the Kaduo mountainous region of the Xinping County will celebrate their aged national event- the Old Man Festival. In the early morning, young men go out to the mountain to dig out pine trees while women start preparing festival banquet at home. In the late afternoon when the sun is setting all the old men will assemble at Shenzhi (the place for this particular celebration) where many green and lush pine trees have already been planted. After the host announces the beginning of the celebration, music is played and rice wine, tea, chicken eggs, sticky rice and other tasty food are served to the old men under the pine trees. After the grand banquet, lads take out their three string instrument and young girl sing songs. Accompanied by the pretty music and rhythms, the old men start their dance called Yangmentao. At the end of the event the host will invite the old man to take turn to talk about how his or her kids treat him or her in the past year. Those good and filial children naturally win praises while those bad and unfilial will be scolded. In this way the good vogue of respecting the elderly are widespread in the Hani community.

Catch the Grasshopper Festival

The festival, called Ahselian in Hani, takes place on the first Rooster or Monkey Day after the 24th of June, lunar calendar. When the day comes, all the villagers go out to the rice paddy to catch grasshoppers. People form groups based on family; when each group has caught one bamboo pipe of the insects (basically one kilo each) they will stop and tear the grasshoppers into five parts, by the head, leg, body, buttock and wing. Then they lay the five piles of grasshoppers' body parts besides the rice paddy or drains as a warning for other insects. Half an hour later, the grasshoppers are brought back home for food. The stir-fired grasshoppers are said to be extremely delicious. When leaving the rice paddy for home, people will yell "Hey! Grasshopper! We won't catch you in three days any more and please don't eat our rice in three months."

Offer Sacrifice to One's Mother

Being an old convention that has been prevailing in the Hani communities in Kaduo of Xinping County, it is carried out on a particular venue called Dongba; therefore the event is also called Dongba Sacrifice to the Mother. The activity is held on the first Day of Bull in February and all the farm work should be ceased. In the early morning, young lads were sent out to shoot birds in the woods and young women to catch fish in the river. For those staying at home, they butcher pig and goat. At noon rice and wine are collected from the villagers (the amount is dependant upon the number of sons that a family has; one son should contribute one kilo wine and one kilo rice), together with the fish and birds caught in the morning, a lush banquet is prepared. When the sun is about to set down in the afternoon, all the villagers assemble in front of the tree of sacrifice to the mother. The eldest person in the village announces the opening of the ceremony. People sing the song Missing the Mother together and afterwards the banquet starts.

This ritual is indeed a kind of moral education to arouse one's love for mother. There is also a folk tale about this. Many years ago in Kaduo Village of the Ailao Mountain, there lived a widow and her only son. Seeing the son as an apple of her eye, the widowed mother tried whatever possible to give him a better life. Year after year the son gradually became a strong young man. He worked on the hillside and his mother served him food and drink every day. Having an evil heart, he always cursed or even beat his mother whenever the food was not good enough or came late. One morning the son saw a very touching scene in which an old sparrow feeding her naked babies, deeply moved and regretted, he made up his mind to treat his great mother well ever since. A few minutes later the mother came with a basket of food, he stopped his work and went for his mother. This time his unusual behavior scared the poor mother who thought that he would beat her again for unknown reasons. Dropping the basket, she ran away and her son was chasing behind. Not long later she was stopped by a river. So sad, the mother jumped into the river. Afterwards the son also reached the river and made a dive to rescue his mother. However he found nothing but a tree trunk. He was extremely sad and brought the trunk back home. He carved his mother out of the wood, placed it in front of his door and sacrificed his mother every day. It is said that the story took place on the first Bull Day of lunar February, that day consequently became the time for offering sacrifice to the mother.

Culture and Art

Literature: Hani People is noted for their abundant literature forms ranging from mythology, legend, poem, riddle to proverb among others. Mythologies and legends are the most ancient and numerous, mostly preserved in epics such as Ausemise, The Origin of the World, People in the Ancient Time, At the Entry of Chanaya etc. Ausemise is the most widely spread and far reaching Hani mythological epic. Narrative poetry also occupies a crucial position in Hani literature, a good example is Arjiluoqiluoye and Zhasizhayi.

Music and Dance: There are two types of Hani folk songs: Habare and Anqigu. Habare, solemn song for toast, is usually sung in religious rituals, festivals, weddings or funerals. Anqigu, sung on mountains, is all about love and notable for its pretty and light melody. Hani lads enjoy playing three or four string instrument while girls love Bawu (a sort of flute shaped musical instrument made of bamboo) and Xiangmie (a small blowing bamboo instrument). On important festivals or occasions, songs and music are heard overnight.

Traditional Hani dances are Fan Dance, Wood Peacock Dance, Lezuo Dance, Money Stick Dance, Hand-clapping Dance, Three Strings Dance and Big Drum Dance etc. All these dances are linked with ancient legends and accompanied by fixed music. Worthy of mentioning is the glowing, festive style and unique features of the Big Drum Dance.

Typical Hani musical instruments include Three Strings, Four Strings, Hulusheng, flute, Bawu and Xiangmie and suchlike. Bawu is the unique Hani musical instrument, which can generate elegant and touching melody, thus being good for expressing one's personal emotions.

Hani Architectures

Hani villages are normally located in those places featuring with lush forest, abundant water sources and fertile terraced field or hillsides. Common Hani buildings are straw house, mushroom house, sealing fire mansion as well as modern reinforced concrete structure building, among which, mushroom house is the best representative of Hani architecture and is elaborated as below.

As the name implies, the mushroom shaped house consists of earth wall, bamboo and wood scaffoldings and straws roof (the roof has four slopes). The ground floor of the house is for keeping livestock and furniture, and people live on the first floor, normally having three rooms (there is a square shaped fire pool in the middle room in which the fire is burning constantly). The second floor is covered with fireproof earth and for warehouse. Not only pretty seen form afar, the mushroom house is also noted for its great features: it is warm in the cold winter but cool in hot summer. Typical house of this kind is found in the largest Hani village – Mali Village of Yuanyang County, Honghe City.

Folk Handicrafts

In their daily life Hani people has created spinning, dyed cloth, bamboo mat, wood and bamboo ware, iron and silver utensil. Hani is a very artistic people. The embroidery design such as dragon, phoenix, bird, fish etc on the Hani costume, hat or leg wrappings are noted for their pretty colors and complex and sophisticated structure. The flowery cloth and backpack made in Xishuangbanna and bamboo hat produced in Mojiang are both durable life items and souvenirs adored by visitors.


Qiboran:A Hani village is indeed a big family based on the paternal blood relationship. It is called Qiboran in Hani which refers to the offspring of the same ancestry or the out reaching braches of a tree trunk. Naturally Qiboran variy in size (some has only dozens of households whereas the household number of others may go up to several thousand) due to their respective development circumstances and history. Regardless of size, each Qiboran has its own signs as below: 1) the woods to sacrifice to one's ancestors 2) the Moqiu tree trunk for sacrifice to the God of Heaven in the Kuzhazha Festival 3) the woods to scare away evil luck and ghost 4) the woods to separate the family and the homeless ghost 5) the spring well that supplies drinkable water for the whole village 6) a pair of drums catering to the special needs of the whole family

Ahjiujiu: In Hani language it means to rotate and circulate hands. As the name implies, when the manual labor is in urgent need, those in need can easily call upon their fellow villagers to come and help. Being a well preserved tradition among the Hani villagers, Ahjiujiu helps to distribute man power in a more preferred way in the busy season.

Wedding Customs

Monogamy is the fundamental wedding tradition of the Hani people. Marriage between relatives and people sharing the same family name are strictly forbidden. People should even avoid talking about sex and love between relatives. In a Hani village, a place called Liuran is allocated for the unmarried young people. When the evening comes, the well dressed youths will meet at Liuran and exchange songs there or in the woods at the edge of the village. In the Big Goat Street of the southern bank of the Honghe River, if number of the young girls seeking boy friends exceeds five; grand wine ball called Ahbaduo can be held. If the girl or boy falls in love with each other, they become Zhaha, which means stable friends.

If the love is approved by their parents, the young man's family will send a matchmaker to the girl's home with gifts. When the young man and his friends come to receive the bride, the other girls in the village will ambush and attack them with olives as a "penalty" for "stealing away" their sister. The olives indeed carry their best wishes and blessings for the young couple. The bitter taste of the olive means that the outset of one's life might be harsh and bitter, but it will be better and sweeter in the future. In the wedding banquet, the elderly people will sing sad songs to see off the bride. At the same time the bride in Liuyan also sing and cry. In some Hani villages such songs begin to be sung even three days before the wedding and many other girls or women may also join the singers. The more sadly they sing; the deeper love and attachment to their family are shown. In some places the bride should be carried by her brothers when leaving her home village. After arriving at the groom's home, the bride is supposed to kowtow before the shrine of the ancestors. Afterwards she should eat a bowl of half cooked rice served by the groom, which means that she will never change her mind and love.

Cow Relatives: This custom is often seen between Hani and Dai People in the county of Honghe. A cow is owned and raised by two families. When calves were born, they are shared by the two families. Once this "relative" link is established, it will remain unchanged.

Customs of Naming the Children

Once a married woman become pregnant, she will not travel away from home but do housework until giving birth. After the baby is born, a symbol of sex is hanged above the door to ward off the evil. At the same time a human image made of bamboo leaves is hanged above the bed aiming to protect the new born. Three to eleven days after the bay has come out, a ceremony of naming the child is held. If the new born is a boy, a young boy from the village will be asked to carry a hoe and dig for three times before the mother and son outside the house in a hope that when the new born grows up he will be courageous and industrious. If it is a girl, a young girl from the village will be selected for the ceremony. The young girl, taking some sticky rice in her left hand and a chopping knife in her right hand, hacks firewood for three times before the mother and daughter, hoping the girl will know how to be a good housewife when growing up. Afterwards a name will be given to the infant.

Yeche in Honghe, a branch of Hani People, has a very unique tradition when it comes to naming their children. Regardless of sex, a young child below the age of five or six normally has two or three names, in some cases, even seven or eight. But there is one point for certain, namely, these names should never be the same as that of any late male ancestors. After the child has reached the age of seven or eight, one name will be fixed and used for his or her entire life.

Funeral Customs

In the ancient time cremation prevailed in the Hani community. Until the middle of the Qing Dynasty cremation was gradually replaced by inhumation with wood coffin. Hani people normally select a piece of land exposed to the sun on the mountain as their cemetery. However the funeral conventions vary in different regions.

In Xishuangbanna, for example, after the old pass away, the dead will be preserved at home for three to five days, sometimes even for a whole week. In this period of time all the recreational activities cease; Beimas sing chant to see off the dead and bull is sacrificed. On the day of funeral, all the villagers participate and some life utensils that the dead used when alive are buried too.

In the southern bank of the Honghe River, the most ceremonious funeral is called Mocuocuo which means that dance for the dead. In this sort of ritual, more than three bulls are sacrificed and the coffin will stay at home for three to five months. Three cannons are set off before breakfast and dinner every day. A special ritual called Moshang is held every 12 days.

Religious Beliefs

Nearly all Hani People worship the nature, ghosts and spirits and ancestors and follow the belief that everything in the world has a soul. The natural phenomena that Hani People adore include mountain, water, tree, sun, moon, wind, thunder, hail and earthquake among others.

The notion of spirits takes a crucial position in the Hani religion. They believe that one has 12 spirits that spread and circulate in the body and has different jobs and functions. Not a single spirit is allowed to leave the body, one may otherwise get sick and in bad luck. They therefore have a complete system convention to keep and call back one's lost spirits.

The Hani's adoration for ghost and soul is derived from the notion that a man will die but his or her soul will not. After death one's ghost will depart from the body. The ghost of those die normally, guided by Beima, will return to one's ancestral homeland and serve as the guardian of the offspring. The ghosts of those died for not normal reasons or unmarried below the age of 35, however, are wild, homeless and evil, which can not return to the homeland but bat around and hurt the living. Only though some special religious ritual and the needs of such evil ghosts are met, the living people can stay sway from the ghost haunting.

In the traditional Hani culture, the God adoration is the most complex which has three generally three classifications: 1) God in the heaven such as Ouhu, Momi (the guardian of the human beings), Zuoma, Lama (God of the sun and moon), God of War and God of Conflicts etc. 2) Gods living on the earth and beneath the earth. Gods on the earth, for instance, are God for Safeguarding the Village, God of the Earth, God of Fire, and God of Nature and so on. Gods that reside beneath the earth are Beiao God, Zhaolong God for governing one's fortunes etc. 3) Ancestral Gods. Among all these Gods, Ouhu and Momi are the Creator and the Almighty in the world.

Ancestor worshipping is another important Hani belief. Each Hani family has a very old pedigree that passes on from father down to sons. They believe that the spirits of the ancestors resides in the tombs, Momiluoke, namely the entry to the heaven or the place where the ancestral shrine is worshiped. Therefore sacrifices should be done frequently to win the favors and protection of the God and ancestors.

Beima, in charge of various religious rituals, is classified as Yangpi (for hosting such important ritual as funerals and suchlike), Wengpi (for routine sacrifices or private rituals of less importance), and Sepi (Manily mid aged women, responsible for medical problems or evocation etc.) according to their different social responsibilities, knowledge, capability and seniority.

Although the Hani people resides in Honghe, Yuanyang, Lvchun and Jingping of south Dinan has reached the feudalistic development stage at the time between Yuan and Ming Dynasties, their ideology and religious belief still lagged behind their social development stage. Such primitive features as nature worship and ancestor worship still prevailed in the community. The primitive Hani religious belief argues that once a person is born, after three crying s one will have 12 spirits (Hani People call spirit Yuela) which are categorized as the first spirit, the second spirit and suchlike according to their declining significance and effect upon one's health and wellbeing. To enjoy lasting good health and luck, one should have all these 12 spirits circulate around oneself permanently. Once a spirits or more leave, one will be sick or trapped in ill luck. If the elementary spirit leaves, one will die. It is said that the elementary spirit will not go away at first; the spirits take turn to leave the human body starting from the 12th spirit, followed by the 11th, the 10th and so on and so forth. This is obviously a typical belief rooted in the Hani primitive religion.

Create My Trip

Need Help?

Request a custom itinerary today and get one step closer to your personalized trip

Create Your Trip