The Zhuang Ethnic Minority
The Zhuang ethnic minority has a population of just over 16 million people. It is the largest minority group in China with a long history and culture. More than 90 percent of this ethnic group live in Guangxi Autonomous Region. Yunnan, Guangdong, Guizhou and Hunan Provinces are home to the rest.
Some of their traditional clothing styles
This ethnic minority has its own language that relates back to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages). It is divided into two dialects although both are very similar.
They have had many kinds of ancient beliefs dating back to ancient times. They revere their ancestors, though a central element of present day beliefs focuses on the power of nature Trees, mountains, the sun and the earth are divinities that posses great power. They make sacrificial food offerings to appease these divinities and to prevent disasters.
Rice and corn are the main crops due to the mild climate and and steady rainfall. All kinds of meat and vegetables are consumed and poached and pickled vegetables are popular.
The people are renowned for their hospitality. Guests are honored by the whole village and offered a plentiful supply of wine!. There is also a special way of drinking each others wine in the spoon by crossing each other's arms. The eldest person is also always the first to eat marking their seniority and importance within the culture.
Theeir clothing varies depending on the areas although it is the womens’ clothing that really has a rich abundance of styles. The women however, have numerous styles. In particular, the women from South-West Guangxi favour collarless jackets with black headbands and loose trousers.
They also like to wera sliver jewelry. Whereas the women living in the northwest Guangxi often wear collarless, embroidered jackets along with loose trousers, or pleated skirts and embroidered belts.
Ladies at a special inter-cultural fashion show
Like some other ethnic groups, the women are skilled at weaving and embroidering. The Zhuang brocade is renowned across China for its colour and durability and versatility. dying with wax is also a skill they have developed with impressive results.
Their frescoes carved on the steep cliffs are also famous. These two thousand year old carvings of ornate patterns, animals and figures and some other patterns carved 2,000 years ago are spectacular.
Another famous craft item is the bronze drum used in both ceremonial sacrifices and festivals. Images of the sun, frogs, dragon, dancing women and other patterns adorn the top and sides of each drum. These drums are now the main musical instrument for the festivals.
These people share many festivals with the Han although they still have many of their own including the Ox Soul Festival and the Devil Festival.
The Ox Soul Festival usually held in early April to celebrate the birthday of the king of oxen and to show their love of the ox. People give the ox a bath while others beat drums. The Parents of a family give the ox glutinous rice and sing folksongs. The festival represents peoples’ hope for a good harvest.
The Devil Festival is usually held in July. It is an important festival, second only to the Spring Festival for the Zhuang people. On the eve of festival day, every family cleans and tidies their home. On that day, duck, pork and good wines along with some candy and fruits are offered to their ancestors.
The people from the Zhuang ethnic group are monogamous although they have a special custom where the wife stays away from the husband's home after marriage, returning to live with her parents. The woman will move permanently to the man's home two or three years later. However, this convention is starting to fade away.
To learn more about the Zhuang people and other minorities click this 'Thinkquest Link. (Opens another window)
Click here to learn about the Miao Ethnic Minority
Click here to learn about the Yao Ethnic Minority
Click here to learn about the Dong Ethnic Minority
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