Ethnic Minorities in Guangxi
The Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is inhabited by as many as 12 different ethnic groups: Zhuang, Han, Yao, Miao, Dong, Mulam, Maonan, Jing, Hui, Shui, Yi and Gelo. People of each ethnic group have their own traditions and customs.
The Zhuang people, the most populous of the ethnic in China, are one of the major ethnic groups in Guangxi. With a population of 15 million, they live mainly mainly in the Nanning, Liuzhou, Liuzhou, Baise and Hechi areas.
As far back as 3,000 years ago, the Zhuang people had already settled in Guangxi in the Left and Right river valleys and along the Hongshui and Liujiang rivers. They have their origin in a branch of the ancient Baiyue people.
The Zhuang have their own language and use the written Zhuang language created in 1955.The Han language is also widely used.
The Zhuang people are born singers and dancers and they have regular gatherings. They also follow the custom of masquerading as Ancients. During the lunar New Year, the villagers masquerade as historical characters in a parade and perform the Spring Ox Dance
The Yao people in Guangxi are concentrated mainly in the Guilin, Wuzhou, Baise, Hechi and Liuzhou areas, with a total population of more than 1.3 million. As there are many branches of the Yao people here representing those in other regions, Guangxi is regarded as the home of the Yao people in China.
The Yao have many branches which collectively became known as the Yao people after the founding of People’s Republic of China.
It is customary for the Yao man to marry into the woman’s family. The first child takes the mother’s surname, and the second, the father’s.
There are differences in the spoken languages of the various Yao branches. As they have no written language of their own, they generally use the Zhuang and Han languages. The Yao people have a rich store of folk literary works. Besides belief in witchcraft and Taoism, nature, ancestor and totem worship is also popular.
There are over 4.2 million Miao people in Guangxi .They live in compact communities mainly in the Rongshui Miao Autonomous County and Longlin and Sanjiang counties.
The ancestors of the Miao people lived in the Hubei and Hunan provinces during the Zhou Dynasty. By the Qin and Han Dynasties, the majority of the Miao people had already settled in the Wuling, Zhangke, Yueshui, Ba and Nan areas, and a small number in the Liujiang River valley.
The Miao People believe in ancestor and nature worship, and that everything has a soul. They believe that their ancestors and spirits can help them avoid disasters and disease, and answer their wishes for children and wealth.
The Miao people celebrate their New Year in the 12th month of the lunar calendar. Another important Miao festival is held in the fourth month in memory of their hero.
With a population of over 280,000, the Dong people live mainly in the Sanjiang Dong Autonomous County.
The Dong people have their ancestral origin in the Baiyue people and have grown out of a branch of the Xi’ou people of the Qin and Han period. They are creators of colorful art and literature, and are skilled architects of wooden and stone structures. Their drum towers and the wind and rain bridges are the most famous of their masterpieces.
The Dong women favour silver jewellery. After a woman gets married, she visits her husband only on holidays or on special occasions, until she becomes pregnant. The Dong believes in polytheism and worship natural objects, such as an ancient tree, huge rock, well or bridge.
There are over 150,000 Mulam people in Guangxi, most of them living in the Luocheng Mulam Autonomous County. The Mulam are the original inhabitants of Guangxi.
The Mulam people also have the custom of “not settling in the husband’s house” before the wife is pregnant.
Among the special Mulam festivals are the Puowang Festival which is celebrated with a sacrificial ceremony in each village; the Ox Festival for offering sacrifices to the god of the ox shed; the Dragon Boat Festival on the fifth day of the fifth month, at which villagers burn paper boats and parade the fields to drive away pests; the Young People’ Festival, an occasion for young men and women to get together; and the Yifan Festival held after the Winter Solstice.
The Maolan people total more than 70,000 in Guangxi, the majority of them living in the Huanjiang Maonan Autonomous County.
The Maolan ethnic group got their present name in 1986. They have their own spoken language; most can speak the Zhuang and Han languages.
The Maolan ethnic group also have the traditional custom of “not settling in the husband’s house” and “changing clothes:. There are many restrictions on the remarriage of a widow. The Fenlong Festival, or the Fifth Month Temple Festival, is a special festival of the Maonan people which is celebrated mainly by offering sacrifices to gods and ancestors.
Guangxi Hui people or the Chinese Muslims, live mainly in the three cities of Nanning, Guilin and Liuzhou, with a population totaling over 20,000.
As the Hui have lived in the mixed communities for a very long time, they use the Han spoken and written language. Only on the religious occasions do they also use the Arabic language. The Lesser Bairam, or the Day Fasting Festival, which falls on the first day of the 10th month in the Islamic calendar, is the most important of the Islamic festivals. A month before the festival, the Hui people begin to fast from sunrise to sunset. Seventy days after the festival, there is the Corban prayer service.
The Jing people, numbering about 16,000, live in a distinct community in the Dongxing District of the city of Fangchenggang. Their ancestors emigrated to Guangxi from Vietnam in the early 16th century, and their language is very close to Vietnamese.
The Jing people are monogamous, and most marriages are arranged by the parents, Men and women bearing the same surname do not marry. They worship their ancestors and believe in poly theism; many of their gods are associated with the sea.
The single-stringed fiddle is a typical Jing musical instrument. Their opera is traditional and rich in national characteristics. The Ha Festival, the most important festival of the Jing people, is celebrated with songs sung by women villagers, who are called the “Ha Sisters”
The fewer than 10,000 Yi people in Guangxi live mainly in Longlin, Napo and Xilin counties, The Yi people are descendants of the ancient Qiang people who migrated to the south and intermarried with the southern tribes.The Yi believe in polytheism. The high priest was called Bimo. There is a form of marriage called “continued marriage” or “changing house”, in which a brother marries the widow of his deceased brother. The torch Festival is a popular holiday for young men and women. Carrying torches and musical instruments, they attend a bonfire dance party, singing and dancing until dawn.
The Shui people live mainly in Guizhou and Guangxi.The over 12,000 Shui people in Guangxi reside mainly in Nandan, Rongshui, Huangjiang, Hechi, Du’an and Laibin.
The Shui language is only a spoken language. They have an old, rudimentary written language, which is used chiefly by socerers in religious and superstitious activities. The Shui are polytheists, believing that everything has a soul. Sorcerers chant incantations and animals are slaughtered as sacrifices to gods and spirites at birth and when there is illness, a disaster or natural calamity.
The Shui are monogamous .and men and women of the same clan do not marry .After the wedding the bridegroom has to wait for an auspicious day to bring his bride home. After the autumn harvest, the Shui people celebrate the Duan Festival
There are only about 2,000 Gelo people living in Guangxi, most of them residing in Longlin and Xilin counties.
The Gelo people have their own unusual festivals. Tasting-the-New Festival is held before or after the summer harvest. On the Pest Catching Festival, people go out to catch locust and pupas and eat them fried in oil .On the day of the Ox King Festival on the first day of the 10th month, ploughing is stopped to give the oxen a day of rest.
The Gelo people are polytheists and worshippers of ancestors. As they have lived for a long time in mixed communities with the Han and other peoples, they follow more or less the same customs and traditions as others who live in the same areas