Introduction to the 15 Yunnan Native Minorities

In China, Yunnan is the province which has the biggest number of minority groups. Generally speaking, there are altogether 15 native minority groups in Yunnan with a population of over 5,000 respectively. They are as follows: Bai, Hani, Dai, Lisu, La'hu, Wa, Naxi, Jingpo, Bulang, Pumi, Achang, Nu, Jinuo, De'ang, and Dulong. This long article is an introduction to these 15 ethnic groups, and visitors can go to Yunnan Nationalities Village to experience their traditional customs.


Bai Nationality
The population of Bai group is about 1.39 million. They live in compact communities mainly in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Northwest Yunnan; others could be found in Kunming, Yuanjiang, Lijiang, and Lanping etc. 


Bai group have a long history. Their ancestors were called Dianbo, Sou and Cuan in the Qin Dynasty, Baiman in the Tang and Song Dynasties, Bairen and Churen in the Qing Dynasty. Bai people hold the white color in high esteem and call themselves Baizi, Baini, Minjiaren or Baihuo, which all mean white people. In 1956, they were officially named Bai Nationality.  


Since ancient times, Bai people have established a close relationship with Chinese Han and Yi in the interior and neighboring regions. After Nanzhao Kingdom, especially during Dali Kingdom, all the Bais in different areas became a nationality with similar languages, cultures and economic background. Now they have their own spoken language that could be detailed as Bai Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System; many Bai people are good at Han Language (Mandarin or Chinese); they use Han characters as their own written system. Besides Buddhism and Daoism, the worship of Patron God (Benzhu) is quite popular among Bai people; Patron God temples can be found in almost every village; a Patron God is actually the Guardian of a village or region.  


Bai houses are unique. The typical style is a compound with houses on three sides and a decorative screen wall to reflect the sunlight; the compound is with a major courtyard and four small ones at the four corners of the major one. Most of their houses are decorated with wooden carvings, stone carvings and marble facts, which add much luster to the traditional flavor of Bai architectures. 

Bai people regard white as an honorable color and like to wear white clothes. Men often wear white coats with black vests while women like to wear white or blue jackets with black and blue vests. Unmarried female like to have pigtails, or wear beautiful headdresses that show the four famous scenes in Dali, namely the flowers in Shangguan (the north part of Dali Basin), the wind in Xiaguan (the south part of Dali Basin), the snow on Cangshan Mt., and the moon in Er’hai Lake. Married women coil their hair and wrap it with black or embroidered cloth.


The major festivals of Bais are Raosanling Festival, the Torch Festival, the Patron God Festivals and Shibao Mt. Singing Festival etc. But the most important and grandest of all is the March Fair in Dali; it falls on lunar Mar 15th and lasts 7 days.    


Hani Nationality  
Hani group have a total population of about 1.29 million, living in mainly Ai'lao Mt. region between Honghe River (the Red River) in South Yunnan and Lancang River (Mekong River), which includes Honghe Prefecture, Mojiang, Pu'er and Jiangcheng of Pu'er Municipality (the former Simao Municipality) and Yuanjiang County of Yuxi Municipality. Hani people have enjoyed a long history; they share the same ancestors (Diqiang) with, Yi, Naxi, and Lahu minorities, and developed into the present nationality in the process of migration and multiplying. They were called Heman in the Sui and Tang Dynasties,Heni,Hani and Aini in the dynasties of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing. After the PRC was founded, they were named wholly Hani Nationality. 


The language of Hani belongs to Yi Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System. But they haven't yet developed their own written language. They mainly engage in agriculture and are good at making terraced paddy fields. They believe in a multi-god religion and their wizards are called Beima and Nima. Their typical houses are poled and cob-walled ones; in some areas, Ha’ni people have developed mushroom-like buildings. The principal festivals of Hani are known as Kuzaza Festival and the Lunar October Festival; the Lunar October Festival falls on the first dragon day of lunar October, on which occasion Ha’ni people will organize long street banquets inviting each other and expressing best wishes. 


Hani people cherish black color. Their clothes are often made of the cloth made by their own. Men like to wear loose and short coats, long trousers and black or white turbans. Women often wear collarless sleeves overcoats with buttons on the right; they wear short skirts and leggings. Young girls often have silvery bulbs, coins, and chains as chest ornaments.


Dai Nationality
The population of Dai in Yunnan is approximately 1.07 million. They have been living in the tropical and sub-tropical flatlands for centuries. Xishuangbanna Prefecture, Dehong Prefecture, Menglian and Jinggu Counties in Pu'er, Gengma and Shuangjiang in Lincang, Xinping and Yuanjiang of Yuxi, and Jinping in Honghe Prefecture are the main habitats of Dai people. 


Dai group has a long history. Their ancestors were one of Baiyue Tribes. They were addressed differently in different times, such as Shan, Jinchi, and Baiyi etc. They claim to be Dai, Daile, Daina, Daibeng and Daiya etc. Dai means people who ardently love freedom and peace. Dai nationality could be divided into three branches, Han Dai (Drought Dai), Shui Dai (Water Dai) and Huayao Dai (Flowery Dai). 


Dai people have developed their own language, both spoken and written, which belongs to Zhuang-Dong Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System. Dai characters include Daile and Daina characters, which have recorded a large number of Buddhist scriptures and folk literature. Dai people all believe in Hinayana (Theravada), so Buddhist temples could be found in every Dai village. Peacocks and elephants are the mascots for Dai people. They are traditionally good at singing and dancing, which is just charming and impressive. 


Dai houses are unique two-storeyed bamboo-wood structures on poles; the ground floor generally serves as the stable and storage house while the second floor is employed as the living quarters. Bedrooms are separated from the sitting room by bamboo boards; the whole family shares the same bedroom, only separated by colored mosquito nets; bedrooms are regarded as a mysterious place and no peeking is allowed for strangers. The traditional costumes of Dai women are attractive, graceful and simple. They, the female, usually wear short and tight jackets, and colorful long clinging skirts with silvery waistbands; they like to coil their hair up; the costumes present well the curves of their slim figures. Men usually wear collarless jackets with buttons in the middle, or loose short jackets and long trousers, and also wear white, blue or red turbans.  


Dai people worship water. The Water-splashing Festival that falls in middle April is the beginning of the New Year for them. On this grand occasion, Dais would get together, sprinkling water onto each other for happiness and best wishes. Besides, there would be games including dragon boat racing, sending firecrackers, throwing pouches and traditional cultural shows etc. 


Lisu Nationality
The population of Lisu group is 580,000, half of whom live in Nujiang Lisu and Nu Autonomous Prefecture, with the rest scattering in Lijiang, Dehong, Chuxiong and Baoshan etc. Their ancestors were a branch of ancient Diqiang nomadic people. They were called Liman, Shiman, and Shunman in the Tang, Song, and Yuan Dynasties; Lixie and Lisu in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the 8th century, their ancestors inhabited a wide region along Yalong River and Jinshan River (Yangtze River). From the 15th century to the 19th century, they moved gradually to the valleys of Lancang River and Nujiang River in Northwest Yunnan. 


Lisu people have their own language which belongs to Yi Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System. In 1957, the Chinese Government helped them create their new written system in Latin letters. 


In the course of production, Lisus have created their own Natural Calendar by which a year is divided into Flower-booming Month (March), Bird-tweeting Month (April), Cultivation Month (May), Hungry Month (June), Gathering Month (July and August), Harvesting Month (September and October), Wine-brewing Month (November), Hunting Month (December), New Year Month (January) and Construction Month (February). This special calendar is based on the topographical features and the climates. The traditional houses of Lisu are wood or bamboo houses named "Houses on Numerous Poles". They kept their clan systems and adopted the names of animals and plants as clan names, such as tiger, bear, sheep, snake, chicken, bird, bee, buckwheat, bamboo, flax, and tea, etc.


The costumes of Lisu women are very beautiful. Generally, they wear coats with buttons on the right, and linen trousers with different colors. So Lisu group could be divided into Black, White and Flowery Branches in the light of colors of the costumes they wear; e.g. the Flowery Lisu wear long skirts with colorful laces and turbans. Men usually wear linen gowns or coats with trousers stretching to the ankles, and turbans with swords worn on the left and arrow-bags on the right. 


The main festivals of Lisu include Kuoshi Festival (New Year), the Swords Pole Festival and the Harvesting Festivals etc. 


Wa Nationality
Wa group has a population of 360,200, mainly living in Cangyuan, Gengma, Shuangjiang, Zhenkang of Lincang Municipality, and Ximeng, Menglian, Lancang of Pu'er Municipality. Cangyuan and Ximeng are the two major counties where Was live in compact communities. Was were the decedents of Pu people; they were called Wangman, Cuci and Kawa in the Tang, Ming and Qing Dynasties. But they claimed to be Wa, Bu Rao Ke and Ah Wa. After liberation, they were named Wa Nationality out of their will.


Wa group have their own language which, including four dialects, belongs to Wa-De'ang Branch in Mon-Khmer Family of South Asian Language System. However, Was used to employ woodcutting, bean-counting and rope-knotting for record and notation. They expressed emotions by offering stuffs; e.g. chilly denotes indignation or anger, sugar or salt means friendship, and charcoals present hostility etc. 


Most of Wa people believe in primitive religion, but those from Cangyuan region take Hinayana. Was regard the wooden drum as a religious tool that has exceptional power; if they carry it back to their village and offer sacrifice by butchering oxen, they could expect god to bless them with a bumper harvest and a happy life; therefore each Wa village has a wooden drum house. 


The costumes of Wa people are unique, highlighted by those in Ximeng. They prefer black clothes with red decoration. Women usually wear short black collarless coats that just reach the upper part of the belly, and skirts with red, blue and black stripes; they wear long hair, silver hoops on the head, big earrings, thick necklaces and colorful strings of beads on the chests; the naked parts of their bellies and legs are decorated with rattan hoops. Men wear black or red turbans, black collarless short coats, and loose trousers, with swords on their waist; most of them are bare-footed, some wear earrings, silver necklaces and bracelets as well. 


Wa people are good at singing and dancing. Their dance is rich in contents and varies in form, overflowing with enthusiasm. He popular dances are Circular Dance, Wood Drum Dance, Rice Husking Dance, and Hair-swinging Dance etc. 


Naxi Nationality
Naxi group has a population of 281,000, most of who live in Lijiang and Diqing. The ancestors of Naxi were a nomadic tribe called Qiang from North China. In the Han Dynasty they lived along Dadu River and migrated to the upper reaches of Jinsha River during the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and were called Moshayi, Moxieyi and Mosuo. They called themselves Na, Naxi and Naru. Na means black and its extended meaning is great, while Xi means a person or nation; therefore, Naxi means people who worship black or a great nationality. 


Naxi people have a splendid culture, of which the highlight or essence is Dongba language that consists of the only surviving hieroglyphic characters in the world. Naxi group also have their own language which belongs to Yi Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System.


Naxi people believe in Mahayana Buddhism, Daoism and Lamaism. The famous Baisha Murals well reveal their attitudes of broad-mindedness and their assimilation of diverse cultures.


The costumes of Naxi men are not very different from those of Chinese Han. But Naxi women usually wear coats with loose sleeves and buttons on the right, vests, long trousers and pleated aprons; they also wear a goat-felt cape on the shoulders with the pattern of seven embroidered circles symbolizing diligence and hard working. 


Mosuo, a branch of Naxi, still keep the unique A'xia marital custom, and the trace of a matrilineal system could still be seen in this group. Therefore they are called the “living fossil” for study into the development of human family and marriage. 


Main festivals of Naxis are Bang Bang Hui (Farming Tools Fair) on lunar Jan 15th, Sanduo Festival on lunar Feb 8th, and the Live Stock Exchange Fair in March and June, etc.  


Jingpo Nationality
Jingpo group, with a population of about 121,900, live in compact communities mainly in Dehong Prefecture and Lushui County of Nujiang Prefecture. Some of them could be found in Tengchong County of Baoshan Municipality, Gengma of Lincang municipality, and Lancang County of Pu'er Municipality etc. They are also decedents of ancient Diqiang tribe; Luoxing and Xunchuan tribes in the Tang Dynasty were their ancestors. They called themselves Jingpo, Zaiwa, E'lang and Laqi. Since they live in mountainous areas, they are often referred to as Shantou which means "the top of a mountain", and the names given by Chinese Han are also related to their distributions. After liberation, they were named Jingpo Nationality as a whole.


Jingpo group use two languages, namely Jingpo language and Zaiwa language, both of which belong to Jingpo Branch in Tibet-Burmese Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System. The primitive means for communication were popular among Jingpos; the typical ones include making marks on wooden boards as records and expressing feelings by giving different plants. In 1957, the new Jingpo characters were created. 


Jingpos engage mainly in agriculture, and sometimes in gathering and hunting as well. They are fond of drinking wine and chewing tobacco and betel nuts. They are traditionally hospitable and will share the games with whoever is present. They believe in a primitive multi-god religion, but a few of them are Christians.


Jingpo women usually wear short black coats and purplish red tight woolen shirts. On grand occasions, they dress themselves up with numerous colorful beads, silver bulbs and silver pieces; some women have bamboo rattan hoops painted black or red on their waists. Men usually wear black round-collared coats with buttons down the front, short and loose trousers, and black or white turbans; the two ends of the turbans are often decorated with embroidery or small floss balls; they wear their knives and haversacks wherever they go.

The most important festival of Jingpo group is Mu Nao Zong Ge. Munao is a Jingpo word and Zong'ge is a Zaiwa word; both of them mean singing and dancing together. It falls on the 15th of lunar Jan and last three days.


Bulang Nationality
Bulang group has a population of 85,000. Most of them live in Bulang Mountain, Bada, Xiding and Daluo in Xishuangbanna Prefecture.

Bulangs are the descendents of the ancient Pu people. They were called Puziman, Puren or Puman in the Tang, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties respectively; in fact, these designations are homonyms in different history books. They claim to be Bulang which means "people living in mountains".


Bulang group has its own language which is Bulang Branch in Mon-Khmer Family of South Asian Language System. They use Han and Dai language as their written system. They believe in primitive religion; but influenced by Dai people, they also believe in Theravada (Hinayana). 


In Bulang Mt. region of Menghai County, the system of giving names based on the maternal side is still in effect, which is a good example of the uxorilocal aspect. After the wedding ceremony, the bridegroom has to stay with the bride's family for three years; after that when they have their own children, the husband can take his wife back to his own house. 


Bulang people's clothes are similar to those of Dai's. Men wear collarless black short coats, black loose trousers, and black or blue turbans; adults like to have their bodies tattooed. Women wear collarless tight coats and tight shirts; they usually coil hair in a bun and like to wrap the hair with black cloth. Both men and women are fond of dyeing teeth, drinking wine, smoking and even chewing betel nuts. 


The major festivals of Bulang are the Water Splashing Festival, and those of Chinese Han, etc.


Pumi Nationality
With a population of only about 31,000, Pumi group mainly live in Lanping, Ninglang, Yulong, Yongsheng and Weixi counties in the northwest of Yunnan. Their ancestors were the ancient Qiang, a nomadic tribe on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In the 13th century, they fought southwards to Yunnan with Kublai Khan. They were called Xifan or Baju in old times, and they claimed to be Pumiying, Pumi and Peimi, all of which mean white people in their own language, because they worship the color of white. In 1960, they were collectively named Pumi Nationality. 


Pumi group has their own language that is included in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System (the branch has not been decided yet); most of them speak Mandarin, Bai and Naxi languages; they have adopted Han and Tibetan written systems. They believe in primitive religions and regard white-fronted tiger as their totem. 


Pumi people usually wear short linen coats, loose trousers, white goat-felt vests, and short knives on their waists. Women in Ninglang and Yongsheng usually wear coats, pleated skirts, and wrap hair with cloth or coil it up; they also like wearing colorful waistbands.


The major festivals of Pumi are Da Guo Nian (the Spring Festival), Zhuan Shan Hui (Pilgrimages in a Mountain) Chang Xin Jie (New Rice Tasting Festival). Da Guo Nian is celebrated during the Spring Festival, it lasts three to fifteen days; on the New Year's Eve, a solemn adult initiation ceremony called "putting on trousers" or "outing on skirts" is held in those families with children at the age of 13.  


Jinuo Nationality
Jinuo nationality was not ascertained until 1980. The population of them is only 18,000, most of whom live in compact communities in Jinuo Mt. in Xishuangbanna Prefecture. They called themselves Jinuo which means the offspring of uncles; but they were called Youle by others. Their ancestors were one of the branches of ancient Qiang people; their language belongs to Yi Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System; they have no written system but employ Han characters. 


Before liberation, Jinuos still remained at the stage of the late primitive commune. There are also the traces of their past matriarchal society. The traditional houses were wood or bamboo structures with straw roofs. There is the Big House in Jinuo villages where several generations of the patriarchal families have lived. Every village has a Zhuoba (the headman) and a Zhuosheng (the headwoman). With the development of productivity and the increase of consumption, the Big House system has been disappearing.


Jinuos believe in primitive religion. They worship the sun and have their costumes and bags embroidered with the patterns of the sun. The Sun Drum is their important religious tool and the Sun Drum Dance is their unique dance. The major festival for them is the New Rice Festival celebrated after each autumn harvest. But the grandest one is Te Muo Ke Festival that falls in lunar December or January; on this occasion, people butcher oxen to offer sacrifice to Heaven (God); they sing and dance to the rhythms of the Sun Drum. Since Te Muo Ke is a time for people to cast farming tools for next season, it is also deemed as Iron-casting Festival or Blacksmith Festival.  

Achang Nationality
The population of the Achang nationality is only 29,000. They live in compact communities in Jiubao, Xiangsong of Lianghe County; Husa of Longchuan County in Dehong Prefecture. A small number of them are distributed in Mangshi, Yingjiang, Tengchong and Longlin counties. Achang group developed from the ancient Xunchuan Tribe. They were called Echang and Achang before the Yuan and Ming dynasties. Those living in Husa called themselves Mengsa, Mengsashan or Chensa, while those in Lianghe County addressed themselves as Hansan and Achang. After liberation, they were collectively named Achang Nationality.


Achang people have their own language which belongs to Achang Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System. Many Achang people speak Mandarin and Dai language. Some speak Jingpo language and Burmese. They use Han and Dai written systems.


Achang people are good at casting ironware. Their swords and knives are sharp and beautiful, and sought after by different ethnic groups. Husa Swords are known to all.


Achang people believe in supernatural beings and worship their ancestors. They also believe in Hinayana Buddhism. Their major festival is the Water Splashing Festival. But they also celebrate Huijie Festival in mid lunar September; on this occasion, besides trading, they perform with blue dragons and white elephants made of bamboo and paper, as well as the elephant-leg-shaped musical instrument. But the grandest of all is Woluo Festival which falls on lunar January 4th. They dance and sing far into the night. Achang people are good at singing folk songs. There is a saying that when three Achang people sing, the whole mountain will be filled with their songs.


Achang girls often coil their hair up. They wear coats with buttons down the front and long trousers. Married women wear pleated skirts. Men wear turbans, black, white or blue coats, and black trousers. They take their bags and long swords with them wherever they go.


Nu Nationality
Nu nationality has a population of only 27,000. They stay mainly in Lushui, Fugong, Gongshan, and Lanping counties of Nujiang Prefecture. A few of them are distributed in Weixi County of Diqing Prefecture. Those in Northern Fugong and Gongshan called themselves A'long and A'nu, and had kinship with Dulong nationality in ancient times. Those living in southern Fugong and Gongshan areas called themselves Nusu and were regarded as the descendants of Lulu people of the Tang Dynasty, who were called Luman in the Yuan Dynasty and Nuren in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The ancestors of these two tribes lived in the same regions together for a long time in Nujiang Canyon, and combined to form one nationality as time passed by.


The language of Nus belongs to Nu Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System. Since they have been living together in the same area with Lisus, most of them can speak Lisu language. But they use the Han written system. Most Nus believe in primitive religion, and worship their ancestors, but some believe in Lamaism and Christianity.


Nu people are good at playing musical instruments. Their major musical instruments are Pipa (lute), Kouxian (a kind of oral musical instrument), Dizi (Chinese flute) and Hulusheng (a kind of music instrument made from calabash). Young people express their love by means of Pipa and Kouxian. Lovers use music instead of words to communicate with each other. The major traditional festival of Nus is Fresh Flower Festival that falls on lunar March 15th. 


Both men and women wear linen clothes. Nu men usually wear long linen gowns with blue broche patterns. When they go out, they always bring their cutting swords, bows and fur arrow-bags. Nu women in Lushui and Fugong counties usually wear coats with buttons on the right, and long skirts decorated with colorful laces. They wear coral and plastic beads on their heads and chests as ornaments. But the women in Gongshan only wear chest ornaments.


De'ang Nationality
De'ang group has a population of about 16,400, most of whom live in Santaishan Mt. area of Lushi (Mangshi), Dehong Prefecture, and Zhenkang County of Lincang Municipality. Deangs share the some ancestors with Was and Bulangs, who were called Pu in the Han and Jin Dynasties; they were called Benglong in the Qing Dyansty; but they claimed to be De'ang or Da'ang. In 1985, they were officially named De'ang Nationality.


The language of De'ang belongs to De'ang Branch in Mon-Khmer Family of South Asian Language System. Since De'ang get along with Dais, Hans, and Jingpos, they majority can speak Dai, Han and Jingpo languages. Without a written language, they have employed the characters of Han and Dai.


Most of De'ang people believe in Hinayana Buddhism, so Buddhist temples could be found in most villages. They have a long history of planting and thus are quite experienced growers; they are deemed as "the Ancient Tea Growers". De'ang men usually wear black coats and loose trousers; women like to have their hair shaved, and then wrap the heads with black cloth; they wear big earrings, thick silvery necklaces, blue or black overcoats, and rattan waistbands; the colors of their skirts vary from branch to branch. De'ang people have the custom of tattooing, usually on legs and on chests with patterns of flowers, grass, tigers, deer, birds and scriptures or incantations in Dai characters. They have gotten used to chewing tobacco and reed seeds for the sake of protecting the teeth. The major festivals are Water Splashing Festival, Opening Door and Closing Door Festivals that originate from their Buddhist tales.


Dulong Nationality
Dulong group, with a population of about 6,000 only, is the smallest native minority group in Yunnan Province. They mainly live in Dulong River Valley of Gongshan County of Nujiang Prefecture, a few live in Fugong and Weixi. In the past they were called Qiao, Qiu Ren and Qu Ren by others and Dulong by themselves. In 1952, they were named officially Dulong Nationality. They have their own spoken language but no written form. 


Dulongs in Dulong River Valley could be divided into dozens of clans. Each one consists of several patriarchal families with several big families in each. The members of each family share the means of production. They eat together, cultivate together and share the harvests, which is a perfect reflection of the early patriarchal family system.


The costumes of Dulongs are quite simple. Both men and women wear black-white linen cloth woven by them themselves. They make a knot in the front; the same piece of cloth is used as clothes in the daytime but quilt at night. Both men and women wear loose hair and copper earrings, and bare-footed. In the old times, the women tattooed their faces. Nowadays, their costumes are greatly changed; they wear coats, trousers and tight skirts. Women like to wear colorful beads on their heads. 


Most of Dulong people believe in their own primitive religion while some take Christianity. The only festival is called Kaquewa, which is actually the New Year Festival; it falls in lunar December and the most impressive and traditional scene is ox butchering. 
Lahu Nationality
Lahu nationality has a population of about 412,800, most of whom live in Lancang, Menglian, Zhenyuan, Ximeng Counties of Pu'er Municipality, Shuangjiang, Gengma, Cangyuan counties of Lincang Municipality and Menghai County of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture. Lahus are the descendants of the ancient Qiang people. In the 3rd century, they lived around Er'hai Lake, and in about the 10th century, they migrated southwards in several groups to where they stay now. They were called Luohei in the Qing Dynasty. Lalu is the name given by them themselves. La means tiger, and Hu means roasting meat until it becomes aromatic. Lahu is hereto addressed as "A Tiger-hunting Nationality".


La'hu people have their own language that belongs to Yi Branch in Tibeto-Burman Family of Sino-Tibetan Language System. The majority of them believe in primitive religion and Mahayana Buddhism; some believe in Christianity. Their marital custom is called Cong Qi Ju (uxorilocal) which means that after getting married, the bridegroom should first live with bride's family for three years before setting up his own house.


Lahu men generally wear black turbans, short collarless coats, and loose trousers. They wear swords wherever they go. The costumes of women are of the typical plateau style. They wear overcoats with veins stretching to the waist. The overcoats are usually decorated with colorful and silver bulbs on the collars and vents. They wear long trousers.


The major festival of Lahu people is Kuota Festival, which is their New Year Festival. Besides, they also celebrate the Torch Festival on lunar June 24th, Nianli Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival. During a festival, they sing and dance until late at night.

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