China is a big family with 56 lovely family members. The Han nationality, which accounts for 91.59% of the total Chinese population, is the major ethnic-group of China. The other 55 make up almost 8.41%. 55 ethnic minorities distribute in extensively areas of China. Some ethnic groups dwell concentratedly over vast area, while some live in individual concentrated communities in small areas, the other distributes with the other ethnic group. All the minorities are characterized by their unique costumes and customs.
Here are the brief introductions of some of them who we consider as the typical.
The Zhuang ethnic minority group, with the population over 17,000,000 distributing mainly in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is the largest minority in population. They speak a language similar with Thai and they have their own written language which was devised based on the Latin letters in 1955.
The Zhuang people are excel at singing, so they hold the "Ge Xu" (Song festival) on the third day of Lunar March every year, which is treated as significant as the Spring Festival.
The Zhuang brocade, made of natural silk and cotton yarn, is one of the four most famous Chinese brocades. The history of Zhuang brocade dates back to the Song Dynasty (960- 1234). All the brocades are manual without using the power machine, so the designs of the brocades are amazingly exquisite.
The brass drum, apart from the Ge xu and Zhuang brocade, is also the cultural heritage of the Zhuang minority.
The Zhuang people always make the clothes and headwear by themselves, and the typical colors of the clothes are black, blue or brown. As to the diet taboo, the Zhuang people eat any meat, except for the frog. Instead, they pay special respect to the frog. They take delight in drinking the rice wine they made by themselves, and entertaining their guests by offering the rice wine. The Zhuang people are religious freedom, and most of them worship only their ancestors.
Achang ethnic minority group, with 34,000 people, mainly live on agriculture, particularly on rice planting, in Yunnan province. They speak Achang language, but don't have their own written language. The Achang craftsmen are expert in making knives that is of 600-year history, and planting the rice. They like rice and pickled mustard-green, and the women are in the habit of chewing tobacco to release the fatigue.
Achang people are good at singing, dancing and performing the vertical bamboo flute (Hulu Xiao). They sing and perform the flute always to the one he or she loves to express their love.
Traditionally, the Luo Waterloo Festival (wo luo jie) -- the most solemn festival is held in the fourth day of the first lunar month, when people gathered, singing and dancing, Besides, the Torch Festival on the 24th of Lunar June is of great significance, on which people pray for the harvest.
In the Achang customs there are some taboos, such as the people with the same last name are forbidden to marry each other and people never burn the pictures or dead hairs.
The Achang likes the simple and black clothes. The women wear tight-fitting and long-sleeved jackets with sarongs. They also wear headwear. The boys wear white head wrappings, while the married men wear dark blue, usually with a "Husa Knife" between the waists.
Some groups believe in primitive spirits and practice ancestor worship, while others believe in Hinayana Buddhism
The Bai ethnic minority group, in total 1,858,063, inhabit in the Bai Autonomous District in Yunnan Province. They prefer the rice and corn as well as the sour or spicy food. They are fond of drinking the toasted tea (Kao Tea).
The Bai people have many traditional festivals to celebrate, such as the grandest one--"March Meeting" (san yue jie) and the Torch Festival etc.
The Bai people are good at singing and dancing, especially performing their own traditional opera--Bai Ju, which was one of the music for the Royal in Tang Dynasty (618-907). The dance performed accompanied with songs is named Ta Ge. When people perform the Ta Ge, they just like walking gracefully on the sounds of the song.
On the wedding day, the bridegroom has to carry the bride on back, when they get to the crossroads on their way home. The Bai people believe in the Buddhism, especially in the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1370), the Buddhist temples could be seen here and there.
With a population of 92,000, Blang ethnic minority group live in the Yunnan Province. Unlike the Zhuang minority they don't have their own written language, while the oral language they speak, which belongs to the Austro-Asiatic languages, is of their own characteristics.
As the Bai minority, they prefer the rice and corn as well as the sour or spicy food. Besides, all the Bulang people, men or women, have a habit of smoking and drinking the tea and wine. The tea and wines they drink are home-grown and home-made. The famous Pu'er Tea and the jade wine are their proud.
The Bulang people live in the Ganlan houses made of bamboo, where the first floor is used to keep the livestock while the higher for people to stay in.
Like most of the minorities, the Bulang are skilled at dancing—the Jumping-song and play their national musical instrument-- the Three Strings. Also, the Bulang have their own festivals, such as the village-god worship, the cattle's foot-washing ceremony, and the grandest one-- Shankang Festival. When it comes to the religion, the Bulang, like many Achang people, believe in Hinayana Buddhism
As to the customs, the tooth-dyeing ceremony is the typical one. When the boys and girls are 15, the adults will dye their tooth black, which means they are grown up and have they right to participate in the social events. The black tooth is one of the beauty criteria for the female.
There are totally 16,000 Bonan ethnic minority people live in Gansu province in the northwest China. They have their own language, which belongs to the Mongolian branch of the Altaic language family. The Bonan are culturally similar with the Hui minority, and both of them are Islamic, so they celebrate most of the Islamic festivals, such as the Hari Ray and Corban Festival.
Bonan people live in the single story building, and unlike the Bulang and Achang who prefer the rice, they live on wheat and corn. As to the meat in the diet, only the mutton and beef are allowable, while the meat and the blood of horse, pig and donkey as well as other fierce animals are forbidden.
The Bonan people are intelligent and hospitable. The men love playing the traditional stringed and woodwind instruments, while the women love the paper-cutting. They may entertain the guests with the best foods that prepared in the shortest time to make the guests feel at home and themselves happy.
And there are many taboos in the daily life. Smoking and drinking are forbidden, smell the food with the nose and enter the kitchen are impolite and keeping long nail and cross over the axe or ropes are treated as bad luck or ominous. What's more, they are forbidden to marry the non-Islamic, unless the non-Islamic converts to Islamism soon after marriage. The newly-married bride can not eat anything provided by the bridegroom family, but only the foods sent from her parents. Last but not least, all the women must wear veils when they go out.
The Bouyei ethnic minority group is the aboriginal dweller in the southeast Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. 3,000,000 Bouyei people who are expert in agriculture live on the rice. The Bouyei people, men or women, prefer the blue, black and white clothes. Their houses are built, virtually neat the river valley, of stone and can stand through the storm for several hundred years.
The Bouyei people are as hospitable as the Banon, so that they always entertain the guests with the wine home-made. The wine plays an eminent role in their daily lives, so the farmers will made the wine by them-selves in the autumn after the rice harvest. By contrast to the Bonan people who never drink, the Bouyei people drink every day—using a bowl instead of a cup.
The Bouyei are religious freedom as the Zhuang, while they celebrate many festivals, such as the er-yue-er festival on the second day of lunar February and the san-yue-san on the third day of lunar March, the wu-yue-wu on the fifth day of lunar May, the liu-yue-liu on the sixth of lunar June and most of festivals the Han people celebrate like the mid-autumn day etc. Among them the liu-yue-liu on the sixth of lunar June is the most important one.
Though he doesn't have his own written language, the Bouyei ethnic minority group has a rich culture. The wax printing, which was well-known for hundreds years, together with the Bouyei opera that came into being one hundred years ago are the Bouyei people's typical cultural heritages.
As to customs, the gifts the Bouyei send their friends always are even number, and the fish is forbidden to kill for food.
The Chaoxian ethnic minority group distribute in the northeast of China, for the reason that they emigrated from the Korean peninsula. The Chaoxian minority has their own written language as the Zhuang does, while they speak both Chaoxian language and Chinese. The rice is the staple food for the 1,900,000 Chaoxian people, so they are known as the rice-nationality in the north China while he Bouyei in the south.
Apart from the rice-farming, the forestry is well developed, from where the three treasures in the northeast China-- ginseng, marten and the pilose antler come. The pickled cabbage is one of the special local products of the Chaoxian group, which the longer you pickle the better it tastes.
There are five festivals being celebrated in the Chaoxian group every year, namely the Spring festival, the lantern festival, the Qingming festival, the Duanwu festival and the Qiuxi festival (in the middle of autumn) . The Chaoxian people treat paying consistent respect to the aged as a virtue, so they set the 9th day on September as a special day for respecting the aged.
The Chaoxian people excel at singing and dancing and playing the musical instrument. There are over 40 musical instruments, such as the long drum and suona horn etc.
The language spoken by the 1,200,000 Dai ethnic minority people belongs to the Sino-Tibetan family and similar with that spoken by the Zhuang people in grammar and basic vocabulary. The rice is also the staple food of the Dai people in Yunnan, and the yummy Bamboo Rice (zhu tong fan) is one of the Dai attractions. The balsam pear is the vegetable they prefer for it can keep them fit and slim.
The buildings they live in are the same as the Bulang people, namely the Gan lan style buildings built of bamboos. There are other similar customs between the Dai and Bulang, such as they both believe in that the blacker one's tooth the more beautiful one is; they both believe in Buddhism.
Meanwhile, the Dai people have their own rich cultural heritages. The myths, ancient songs, the heroic epic and the narrative poems are indeed their cherished cultural heritages they can be proud of.
One of the well-known characteristics is the pavane (peacock dance), that has been enjoying a long reputation at home and abroad. The Dai people treat the peacock as a symbol of the luck, happiness and kind-heart, so they can perform the pavane vividly.
When we talk about the Dai, people always think of the water-sprinkling festival, which is held in the middle of lunar April. It is said that the one who is sprinkled more water will be more lucky and happier. On that day people will worship the Buddha as well.